Intel Core i3-12100 and i5-12400 review: Fast, affordable, hard to criticize

Zoom / 12th generation Intel Core i3 and i5 processors are good choices if you want good performance but need to save money.

Andrew Cunningham

This hasn’t been a great time to build a PC on a budget. Some of that is due to persistent supply issues and particularly bad GPU shortages (albeit possible). very gradually dilution). Some of that is because the products on offer haven’t gotten much better lately — Intel’s best budget and mid-range processors were stuck with outdated architecture due to manufacturing issues, and AMD chose to focus on high-end products instead.

in anticipation of New AMD Subprocessors – $200Today, we’re looking at a pair of the best $200 Intel processors in years. Core i5-12400 processor ($210 with the GPUAnd the $180 without one) is a hexa-core processor that delivers great performance for budget gaming PCs and anyone who wants to do light photo and video editing work without spending a lot of money. and Core i3-12100 (About $150 with GPU or $120 without) is a quad-core chip that can handle gaming when paired with a GPU but is ideally suited for browsing, office work, school work, video calling, and anything else you could want from a basic desktop in a home office setup.

performance and energy efficiency

We mainly compare the Core i3-12100 and Core i5-12400 with their direct predecessors: Core i3-10100, Core i5-10400 and Core i5-11400. We also brought up the Ryzen 5 3600 as a point of comparison, which was selling for $200 but wasn’t widely available at that price for a while; Comparisons with the latest Ryzen 5 5500 and 5600 CPU will follow after these chips are released.

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Some details about our test systems:

We chose to use a B660-based DDR4 motherboard to do all of our testing on these CPUs since it’s the type of board you’d be pairing these chips with if you’re already building a PC on a budget. You could Always choose to put a Core i3 or i5 chip in an expensive Z690 motherboard with DDR5 RAM, but you’ll pay a lot of money for little or no return on that investment. For consistency, all CPUs were also paired with a Vetroo V5 . CPU FanAn economical air cooler that delivers a step up from the box fan built into these CPUs.

Alder Lake single-core performance is impressive no matter which CPUs you buy; The new chips easily outperform their 10th and 11th generation counterparts and the Ryzen 5 3600. This is important to keep overall performance (and most games) feeling nimble.

For multi-core performance, note that the quad-core Core i3-12100 either outperforms or approaches the six-core Core i5-10400 in our Cinebench and Handbrake tests—there are fewer cores, but they’re much faster. The Core i5-12400 also easily beats previous-generation Intel processors and Ryzen 5 3600 in these tests. But if you do a lot of CPU-related rendering tasks or video editing, note that there is a huge gap between the i5-12400 and the i7-12700, especially when you raise the power limits of the i7. Two additional P-cores and four E-cores make it even more capable when using all of these cores at the same time.

When comparing energy efficiency, it should be noted that when using Intel stock power settings, the entire system power consumption in the Handbrake encoder test is not who – which different when using any of these processors. This means that any system that can get work done as quickly as possible is usually the most efficient. The only time the curve gets muddied is when you raise the power limits on high-quality processors, which get work done quickly at the expense of efficiency.

You’ll also notice, as we did in Our Mac Studio review, the relative inefficiency of Intel CPUs compared to Apple’s M1 chips. Intel’s CPUs are fast (the M1 beats the Core i3 during our tests), but Apple’s chips use much less power. True, if you’re buying a PC primarily to play games, it doesn’t matter how good the M1 is because it can’t run Windows or games that require Windows. But it’s worth keeping the comparison in mind when considering Intel’s overall market position and its recent loss to Apple as a customer.

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