Intel 12th Gen Core i3 12100 and i3 12300 Review
Published: 23rd January 2022 | Source: Intel | Price: Core i3-12100 £120, i3-12300 £130 |
Thanks to the current global climate, and the current 'abyss gazing' British economy following the removal of ourselves from the EU, the $ to £ conversion rate is nearly identical so the pricing of the new Core i3s - £130 for the 12100 and £140 for the 12300 - is extremely close to actuality. We've seen the i3-12100F for £120 and the i3-12100 for £130. Given that whichever you choose you're getting a 4C8T 4.3 GHz processor for less than a mechanical keyboard, it's fair to say that those of you who need an affordable rig will be happy with the new Core i3s.
For our results we tried very hard, where possible, to give you a selection of similar processors - Ryzen 3 or older Core i3s - as well as processors which had a similar core selection. Because we're all guilty of the "if I spend another x then I can get the next model up" system building then we've also introduced both the Core i5-12400 and Core i5-12600 to the mix to show you how you could improve, or perhaps just a future upgrade path.
From our testing it's clear that the days where the Intel Core i3 was the kind of processor you only used to browse the internet and perform some very light gaming is now a serious contender as an all-rounder. No of course it won't break records, nor give you jaw-dropping calculative ability, but any 4/8 4.3 GHz CPU will always be a capable performer and if you are on a limited budget then you'll understand that some waiting is involved in any heavy CPU task. It wasn't that long ago that more famous processors, the Core i7-7700K for example, was a 4.2 GHz quad-core hyperthreaded CPU, and nobody complained that it was lacking in performance. The fact that a few generations later the bottom of the range Intel "Core" processors have the same performance, but with the addition of support for DDR5 and PCI Express 5.0.
Lastly, we've often said here at OC3D Towers that if you're limited in your finances then putting the majority of your financial eggs in the graphic card basket is the best way to maximise your budget. As you can see from our gaming results the Core i3 pairing are more than capable of keeping our RTX 2080 Ti fed with things to do and giving you high frame rates. Admittedly you're less likely to put a 12th Gen Core i3 with such a GPU, but it's nice to know that even if you go on a high-end card you aren't left twiddling your thumbs waiting for the CPU to catch up.
What the Core i3 Alder Lake processors show is how far CPUs have come in terms of cores and clock speed for extremely low cost of entry. Pair them with high end components as we did here - DDR5 and RTX 2080 Ti - and it isn't left behind, or put it with something more in keeping with the i3 cost - DDR4 and equivalent GPU - and you'll still be enjoying a very good system for the money. Neither the Core i3-12100 nor Core i3-12300 particularly stand out from the other, and our benchmarks show that whichever you decide upon you'll get very close performance rewards for your decision.