Should you’re on a decent finances constructing your PC, you will discover a workable processor for beneath $100. Each AMD and Intel have choices that fall into this worth band within the type of the Intel Core i3-12100F and the AMD Ryzen 3 4100. However which is the very best $99 CPU?
Intel’s Alder Lake Core i3-12100F is the GPU-less variant of the Core i3-12100 that sits atop our checklist of finest low cost CPUs and dominates different low-cost chips in our CPU benchmark hierarchy. If you do not have a graphics card and want an built-in GPU, you possibly can seize the 12100 for $122, however apart from the lack of QuickSync video encoding (as a result of built-in GPU), these chips are interchangeable.
The 7nm quad-core Ryzen 3 4100 is a part of AMD’s new technique of utilizing its monolithic (single-chip) ‘Renoir’ APU silicon to deal with the sub-$150 market that it had successfully ceded to Alder Lake. Nonetheless, AMD determined to make use of the Zen 2 structure for the Ryzen 3 4100 though its most fashionable chips include the Zen 3 structure, and even these are quickly to be dated — AMD launches its Zen 4 designs this fall. That is not the finest scenario for AMD as a result of the dated Zen 2 structure imposes efficiency and connectivity tradeoffs — as an illustration, the chip has the PCIe 3.0 interface so it might probably’t benefit from the finest SSDs for efficiency, all of which use PCIe 4.0.
In the meantime, Intel’s Core i3-12100/F comes with the corporate’s ‘Intel 7’ course of node and its most fashionable Golden Cove structure that powers the chips’ 4 P-cores. Moreover, the Core i3-12100/F helps the newest interfaces, like DDR5 and PCIe 5.0, and provides broader connectivity choices, however you will want a brand new motherboard. In distinction, the Ryzen 3 4100 drops proper into current AM4 motherboards to supply an improve path for Ryzen homeowners.
Beneath we’ve put the Ryzen 3 4100 and Core i3-12100F by a six-round faceoff to see which chip takes the crown in our gaming and utility benchmarks, together with different key standards like energy consumption and pricing. Let’s see which is the very best CPU beneath $100.
Options and Specs: Ryzen 3 4100 vs Core i3-12100F
|Value – Avenue/MSRP||Design – Arch.||Cores / Threads||Base/Increase (GHz)||TDP / PBP / MTP||Reminiscence Assist||L3 Cache|
|Core i3-12100 / F||$122 – $99 (F)||Alder Lake||4 / 8 (4P+0E)||3.3 / 4.3||60W / 89W||DDR4/5-3200/4800||12MB|
|Ryzen 3 4100||$99||Zen 2 – Renoir||4 / 8||3.8 / 4.0||65W||DDR4-3200||4MB|
The quad-core eight-thread Core i3-12100 comes with built-in graphics for $122, however, when you’ve got a graphics card, you possibly can go for the graphics-less Core i3-12100F mannequin for $99. In any other case, each Core i3 chips have the identical specs and efficiency, although you lose QuickSync capabilities with the F-series mannequin.
The 12100F comes with a 60W/58W PBP (base) and 89W MTP (peak) energy ranking. The chip clocks in with a 3.3 GHz base, boosts as much as 4.3 GHz and has 12 MB of L3 cache. The Core i3-12100F helps DDR4-3200 or as much as DDR5-4800 reminiscence, however caveats apply. PCIe help varies by motherboard, however the chip exposes as much as 16 lanes of PCIe 5.0 and a further 4 lanes of PCIe 4.0 from the chip for M.2 storage.
The Core i3-12100F has a locked multiplier, so the CPU cores aren’t overclockable. Nonetheless, Intel does help reminiscence overclocking on Z690, H670, and B660 motherboards (Z690 would not make sense for this class of chip, although), and the chip comes with a bundled Laminar RM1 cooler. The usual 12100 mannequin comes with the UHD Graphics 730 engine with 24 EUs that function at 300/1400 MHz.
As with different 65W Ryzen 5000 chips, the quad-core eight-thread Ryzen 3 4100 comes with a Wraith Spire cooler. The $99 chip operates at 3.8 / 4.0 GHz base/increase clocks and comes with 4MB of L3 cache. It has a disabled Vega graphics engine, and there’s no choice for a graphics-equipped AMD equal on this worth vary.
The Ryzen 3 4100 helps 20 lanes of PCIe 3.0 as a substitute of PCIe 4.0, which is a big draw back if you wish to use a PCIe 4.0 SSD absolutely. As a result of slower interface, this chip could be finest with older, lower-end AM4 motherboards (you do not need to pay for PCIe 4.0 performance you do not want). The 4100 is suitable with the broad ecosystem of coolers for the AM4 socket and drops into 300-, 400- and 500-series motherboards (Socket AM4). The Ryzen 3 4100 is absolutely unlocked for overclocking the CPU cores, reminiscence, and cloth.
The Ryzen 3 4100 has the growing older Zen 2 structure that debuted in 2019, so it solely helps the PCIe 3.0 interface and has a relatively paltry 4MB of L3 cache. The chip additionally would not have built-in graphics, a wash with the Core i3-12100F on the $99 worth level. Notably, there is not an equal ~$120 mannequin with an iGPU as we see with the Core i3-12100.
Intel’s Alder Lake has a transparent connectivity benefit: With DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 on the menu, AMD’s growing older AM4 platform is outclassed. After all, the help for DDR5 reminiscence would not think about a lot with a chip at this worth level, however the sooner PCIe interface (4.0 for the M.2 SSD slot) is a pronounced benefit over the Ryzen 3 4100. Today, you may get a PCIe 4.0 SSD just like the Essential P3 Plus for lower than $100.
The Ryzen 3 4100 does help full overclocking (see how you can overclock your CPU), whereas the 12100F is restricted to reminiscence overclocking solely. Nonetheless, as you will see within the benchmarks under, that does not matter a lot.
Gaming Benchmarks and Efficiency: Ryzen 3 4100 vs Core i3-12100F
We’ve extra in-depth testing in our Ryzen 3 4100 evaluation. Head there for extra particulars in regards to the check setup.
Beneath you possibly can see the geometric imply of our gaming checks with the Ryzen 3 4100 vs the Core i3-12100 / 12100F at 1080p and 1440p, with every decision cut up into its personal chart. As common, we’re testing with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 to scale back GPU-imposed bottlenecks as a lot as attainable. Variations between check topics will shrink with lesser playing cards or larger resolutions. After all, you’d by no means see these low-end chips paired with an RTX 3090, however this permits us to focus on unrestrained chip efficiency.
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The primary few charts above comprise the geometric imply of our customary gaming check suite, however we additionally embody the person recreation benchmarks within the album.
The quad-core Zen 2-powered Ryzen 3 4100 is well the slowest chip within the lineup. That is not too stunning given its older structure, tame 4.0 GHz increase clock, and scant 4MB of L3 cache. In distinction, the Core i3-12100 / 12100F’s Golden Cove P-cores give even the Zen 3-powered Ryzen 5000G chips a stiff problem, so it is not stunning that the Zen 2 Renoir chip lags the competitors.
The Ryzen 3 4100 merely cannot compete with the Core i3-12100F in gaming. For related or barely decrease pricing, the Core i3-12100F is a whopping 49% sooner than the Ryzen 3 4100. There is no doubt – finances avid gamers ought to go for Intel’s chip over the Ryzen competitors.
Intel nonetheless limits Core i3 overclocking to the reminiscence, lowering good points to some share factors. In distinction, AMD permits full overclocking of each Ryzen 4000 fashions, but it surely is not too helpful for both chip. The overclocked Ryzen 3 4100 is a mere 3% sooner than the inventory config,
In our evaluation, we dubbed the Core i3-12100 ‘the little gaming large,’ and this sequence of checks show it. The Core i3-12100F scores an amazing win because it fully outclasses the Ryzen 3 4100.
The Core 3-12100F additionally punches up in opposition to far more well-equipped Zen 3 processors and is equally spectacular in comparison with Intel’s higher-end Alder Lake fashions, delivering 88% of the 12400’s gaming efficiency however for 56% much less money.
Software Efficiency: Ryzen 3 4100 vs Core i3-12100F
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We are able to boil down productiveness utility efficiency into two broad classes: single- and multi-threaded. The primary slide above reveals the geometric imply of efficiency in a number of of our most necessary checks in every class, however you’ll want to have a look at the person benchmark leads to the album.
The Core i3-12100 / 12100F is 44% sooner than the Ryzen 3 4100 in our cumulative measure of single-threaded efficiency, exhibiting that its efficiency in single-threaded work, which is usually latency-sensitive, merely is not as much as par with extra fashionable choices. This poor exhibiting helps clarify the Ryzen 3 4100’s lackluster gaming efficiency.
We do have to keep in mind that the Core i3-12100F is especially spectacular in single-threaded work, although – the $550 Ryzen 9 5950X is the one Ryzen chip that may match the Core i3-12100F’s single-threaded efficiency in our CPU benchmarks hierarchy. You will need to look to different Alder Lake chips to seek out sooner efficiency in single-threaded work.
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The Ryzen 3 4100 doesn’t fare a lot better within the threaded benchmarks. The quad-core 12100 is 40% sooner than the quad-core Ryzen 3 4100, leaving the Core i3-12100F because the uncontested winner in all three sides of efficiency – gaming, single- and multi-threaded work.
The Ryzen 3 4100 vs Core i3-12100F competitors isn’t even shut in our productiveness benchmarks. The Golden Cove-equipped Alder Lake Core i3 is just too highly effective for the outdated Zen 2 structure, giving the Core i3-12100F the lead in each efficiency metric.
Overclocking: Ryzen 3 4100 vs Core i3-12100F
Intel has lengthy locked overclocking to its expensive Ok-series fashions, whereas AMD has freely permits overclocking with virtually all SKUs on virtually any platform (A-series excluded). Nonetheless, we see some enchancment right here from Intel — it has now enabled reminiscence overclocking on its B- and H-series chipsets.
Reminiscence overclocking really pays off with the higher-end locked Intel fashions, but it surely would not quantity to a lot further efficiency with the Core i3-12100F. As we noticed in our benchmarks, overclocking the reminiscence solely gained a number of share factors and certain is not definitely worth the effort or value. You’ll be able to circumvent Intel’s overclocking restrictions by choosing sure motherboards that unlock the core frequencies through an unsanctioned backdoor approach. Nonetheless, these boards are dearer and do not make a lot sense for a chip on this worth class.
AMD is extra beneficiant with the Ryzen 3 4100’s overclockability, so you possibly can manipulate core clocks and the reminiscence and cloth frequencies. Nonetheless, right here we once more noticed little profit – we gained ~3% in gaming and almost nothing in most utility benchmarks.
AMD will get the nod for its absolutely unrestricted overclocking. Nonetheless, overclocking on lower-end chips is of little use with both the Ryzen 3 4100 or the Core i3-12100F. After all, you can pair the latter with a dearer motherboard that circumvents Intel’s locked core frequencies, however that does not make a lot sense for this class of chip.
Energy Consumption, Effectivity, and Cooling: Ryzen 3 4100 vs Core i3-12100F
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The Ryzen 3 4100 consumes much less energy than the Core i3-12100 / 12100F but additionally delivers far much less efficiency in each sort of workload. In the meantime, the Alder Lake chips have improved Intel’s energy effectivity metrics, however the excessive energy limits lead to larger peak energy consumption and fewer effectivity.
The quad-core Ryzen 3 4100 attracts a stunningly-low quantity of energy through the heavy HandBrake and y-cruncher energy measurements, which delivers the superior total effectivity we are able to see within the renders-per-day-per-watt metrics.
The final slide within the above album tells us fairly a bit about energy effectivity. On this chart, we calculate the cumulative quantity of vitality required to carry out the workload. Then, we plot this ‘activity vitality’ worth in Kilojoules on the left facet of the chart. This workload is comprised of a set quantity of labor, so we are able to plot the duty vitality in opposition to the time required to complete the job (backside axis), thus producing a extremely helpful energy chart.
Keep in mind that sooner compute instances, and decrease activity vitality necessities, are very best. Meaning processors that fall the closest to the underside left nook of these charts are finest. The Core i3-12100F is far sooner, but it surely additionally attracts extra energy.
The Ryzen 3 4100 consumes much less vitality and delivers extra efficiency per watt than the Core i3-12100F, taking the win on this class. It is too unhealthy that superior effectivity comes with markedly decrease efficiency. It is noteworthy that whereas the Core i3-12100F is not fairly as environment friendly, its energy consumption is affordable, given its efficiency.
Pricing: Ryzen 3 4100 vs Core i3-12100F
The Core i3-12100F and the Ryzen 3 4100 each have a $99 MSRP, and you’ll frequently discover them close to the prompt pricing. As well as, each chips have a succesful bundled cooler that’s greater than ample to guarantee inventory operation, leaving platform pricing and performance-per-dollar as the first differentiator between the 2 choices.
The Core i3-12100F is proscribed to 600-series motherboards, and naturally, the B- or H-series is an efficient match. The Ryzen 3 4100 is suitable all the best way again to the primary era 300-series motherboards. In reality, first-, second-, and third-gen Ryzen upgraders can merely drop the chip into their current motherboard after the requisite BIOS improve.
An honest entry-level B660 motherboard for the 12100F is principally the identical worth as an entry-level B550 for the Ryzen 3 4100, however a B550 isn’t the most suitable choice as a result of unneeded help for PCIe 4.0. It can save you roughly $10 by choosing a B450 motherboard, however keep in mind that you’ll want to make sure the BIOS helps the 4100.
Stepping again to a B350 might prevent some coin, however at that time, you’re usually searching for a used motherboard, and we don’t typically advocate taking that method. Additionally, utilizing A-series or H-series boards is an choice, however pricing will range broadly throughout generations.
The Core i3-12100F drops right into a extra fashionable platform that doesn’t carry egregious premiums given the characteristic set, taking the win.
Whatever the platform, the Ryzen 3 4100 merely can’t compete with the Core i3-12100F within the performance-per-dollar class – the efficiency delta is simply too massive. Some may advocate the Ryzen 3 4100 to improve an current system, however we expect upgraders could be higher off searching down a used Ryzen 5 3600 (or different prior-gen Ryzen) as a substitute.
Backside Line: Ryzen 3 4100 vs Core i3-12100F
|Ryzen 3 4100||Core i3-12100 / 12100F|
|Options and Specs||X|
|Energy Consumption, Effectivity and Cooling||X|
As you possibly can see above, the Intel Core i3-12100F vs Ryzen 3 4100 rivalry finally ends up being a lopsided affair with a four-to-two win in Intel’s favor. Additionally, you can argue that the lackluster overclocking outcomes for each chips actually should not issue into the competitors, which might additional make it even clearer that the Intel Core i3-12100F is the very best CPU beneath $100.
These two chips actually are polar opposites. AMD largely deserted the worth phase because it handled unprecedented demand and a pandemic that roiled provide chains, fueling shortages. AMD deliberate these Zen 2 chips throughout a time after we wanted each single piece of silicon as finances chips disappeared from cabinets…for a number of years. That scenario modified quickly as financial turmoil introduced the scarcity to a screeching halt, and Intel’s ultra-competitive Core i3s started transport in droves. That leaves AMD with a lackluster product after demand has evaporated.
There at the moment are loads of chips and AMD has a brand new and wholly uncompetitive lineup of Zen 2-based Renoir processors to deal with the low finish of the market. That is though it has extra fashionable Cezanne-based APUs that would conceivably be minimize all the way down to serve the identical phase.
The Ryzen 3 4100 has no redeeming qualities that advantage a advice, even if you happen to’re upgrading an current system. The Core i3-12100F outclasses the 4100 in each efficiency metric – it is 49% sooner in gaming, 44% sooner in single-threaded functions, and 40% sooner in multi-threaded work. These are stunning variations contemplating these are each quad-core eight-thread chips, highlighting simply how dated the Zen 2 structure has turn into. The design even confers a PCIe 3.0 connectivity limitation that is evident in comparison with the Core i3-12100F’s help for each PCIe 4.0 and 5.0.
With the identical pricing and the large variations in efficiency, it is exhausting to think about the Ryzen 3 4100 a severe contender for finances builders. In reality, most upgraders would most likely fare higher with a used or closely discounted prior-gen chip, just like the Ryzen 5 3600. Because of this, the Zen 2-powered Ryzen 3 4100 seems like a footnote from an period the place builders would accept actually any finances chip they might discover at retail.
In distinction, the Core i3-12100F is among the finest finances chips we have seen in years, and provide has been regular. The 12100F’s price-to-performance ratio is unimaginable, and the chip has a contemporary structure and options that may stand the check of time. In distinction, the Ryzen 3 4100 was already outdated earlier than it was even launched, so any system constructed across the chip will not have any longevity.
The Core i3-12100 / 12100F stays the hands-down winner for finances gaming builds. Most finances builders are searching for the very best all-rounder chip they will purchase, and right here the Core i3-12100 / 12100F unquestionably provides the very best mix of efficiency in gaming, single- and multi-threaded work, together with a contemporary platform.
|Intel Socket 1700 DDR4 (Z690)||Core i3-12100, Core i5-12400|
|MSI Z690A WiFi DDR4|
|2x 8GB Trident Z Royal DDR4-3600 – Inventory: DDR4-3200 14-14-14-36 / OC: DDR4-3800|
|AMD Socket AM4 (X570)||Ryzen 5 4150, 5600, 5500, 4600G, 4500, 3600, Ryzen 3 4100, 3300X|
|MSI MEG X570 Godlike|
|2x 8GB Trident Z Royal DDR4-3600 – Inventory: DDR4-3200 14-14-14-36 | OC/PBO: DDR4-3800 (5600X, 5600), DDR-4000 (5500), DDR4-4400 (5600G),Second-gen DDR4-3600|
|All Techniques||Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3090 Eagle – Gaming and ProViz functions|
|Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti FE – Software checks|
|2TB Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus|
|Arctic MX-4 TIM|
|Home windows 11 Professional|
|Cooling||Corsair H115i, Customized loop|
|Overclocking be aware||All configurations with overclocked reminiscence even have tuned core frequencies and/or lifted energy limits.|