AMD's Ryzen 3 3300X ($120) has been busy swatting members of Intel's current lineup of gaming-focused CPUs out of the sky on value, as well as in performance with lightly threaded games. So, how does the Core i3-10100 do in the face of such firepower? It takes cover..mostly. The Core i3-10100 is sometimes slower than its predecessor, the Core i3-9100, and the 3300X has proven itself to be a four-core CPU that punches above its weight in popular games, making it a hot pick for cost-conscious PC builders and buyers.
Unless you need onboard graphics or must be on Intel's LGA 1200 socket, the Ryzen 3 3300X is categorically a better choice (and if you do need onboard graphics, the $99 AMD Ryzen 3 3200G might finish the fight). Otherwise, in those limited scenarios, the Core i3-10100 fulfills its role within Intel's stack dutifully enough. The Ryzen 3 3300X and 3200G just do it better, for the money, in AMD's. Since 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions.
Should you go below the Core i series?
(See how we test.). To start off our discussion of the Intel Core i3-10100 and where it sits against AMD's lineup of entry-level CPUs, let's look at some of basic specs of both.. The four-core/eight-thread Intel Core i3-10100 lands in the 10th Gen stack as Intel's entry-level Core CPU, the next step up from a Celeron or a Pentium. And at least on paper, it looks like an upgrade in every way from the Intel Core i3-9100 for the same price.
Choosing between an Intel Core i3, i5, i7 and i9
On the street the processor is both widely available at the time of publish (not something we can say for the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X), and also going for cheaper than Intel's original recommended $122 selling price (between $110 and $120, depending where you shop).
Core i3-12100 Application Benchmarks — The TLDR
Read Our Intel Core i5-10600K Review. The chip also adds back in a critical feature that was missing from several 9th Generation Intel desktop chips, including the Core i3-9100: Hyper-Threading. The Intel Core i3-10100 now supports up to eight threads across its four cores, but, as we discovered in our benchmarking the return of that feature in 10th Generation (specifically at this tier of CPU), it may not be the welcome-back gift we were hoping for.
- Now it's time to talk about the LGA 1200-pound gorilla in the room.
- Sure, Intel's insistence on demanding yet another platform upgrade out of its users as a part of its move to 10th Generation in 2020 might make sense at the level of the $488 ($549 street) Intel Core i9-10900K, or even the midrange (around-$275) Intel Core i5-10600K, depending on the features you need.
Intel Core i3-10100
But for the Core i3 price tier? A new motherboard could end up costing more than the chip itself!
- As a part of the move from LGA 1151 to LGA 1200, the Intel Core i3-10100 is only compatible with motherboards that use one of the following new-for-2020 chipsets: Intel B460, H410, H470, or Z490.
- (It should also work with the LGA 1200-based boards for the coming 11th Generation "Rocket Lake" processors.) There are a number of budget-chipset options available in that lineup, but budget or otherwise, it's hard to stand up to what AMD is offering on platform compatibility these days.
Intel Core i9-10900K
Just for starters, the AMD Ryzen 5 3400G, Ryzen 3 3200G, and Ryzen 3 3300X are all compatible with the same socket: Socket AM4. That same courtesy stretches up and down through many members of the Zen family, but for the sake of processors under $150, the difference between "upgrading today" and "not yet" can often hinge on the cost of a new motherboard between generations..or whether you need one at all.
- To offset some of the cost benefits either the AMD Ryzen 3 3100 or Ryzen 3 3300X might have over Intel at this price, the Core i3-10100 hits back with the inclusion of its UHD Graphics 630 integrated graphics processor (IGP), eliminating the need for a separate video card.
- This more fairly puts the Core i3-10100 in competition with the $99 "Zen+"-based AMD Ryzen 3 3200G or the around-$150 AMD Ryzen 5 3400G on either side, with their Radeon RX Vega 8 and RX Vega 11 IGPs, respectively.
Should you wait for the 12th Gen Intel series?
(These AMD chips, mind you, are thin on the ground at those prices in early 2021 due to supply issues.). Intel includes its familiar, basic stock cooler in every Core i3-10100 box, which makes sense at this CPU tier. Oftentimes, buyers of processors under $200 (and especially those purchasing CPUs with an IGP) just want something they can install in one shot and not have to think about.
Watch Dogs Legion on Core i3-12100
In that role, Intel's stock cooler handles the job just fine. Gamers might still want to saddle up with something slightly beefier, but it will do the job. We tested the Core i3-10100 on an Asus ROG Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi) motherboard, with 16GB of G.Skill memory clocked to 3,000MHz (for comparability with our earlier CPU reviews), and an Intel SATA boot SSD paired with an ADATA SATA M.2 secondary drive. All this was packed in ADATA's XPG Invader chassis, fitted with a Deepcool GamerStorm Captain 240 EX 240mm liquid cooler and a 750-watt Corsair power supply.
Encoding Benchmarks on Core i3-12100
We test CPUs using a variety of synthetic benchmarks that offer proprietary scores, as well as real-world tests using consumer apps like 7-Zip, and 3D games such as Far Cry 5.
- For chips at the tier of the Intel Core i3-10100, we also run several games on the IGP.
3DMark, VRMark, Chess Engines on Intel Core i3-12100
Included in the charts below is a variety of like-priced competing and sibling AMD and Intel CPUs, as well as some much higher-end ones for context.
Intel Alder Lake-S Core i3-12100 Specifications and Pricing
- The Intel Core i3-10100 isn't meant to be a multi-threaded rock star on this particular stage, but a few of the tests are still important metrics for users who perform single-threaded tasks often.
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