Intel Core i3-12100 Alder Lake CPU Clobbers Ryzen 3 3300X In Entry-Level Benchmark Showdown

Intel Alder Lake CPU
If you read our Alder Lake performance review, then you're already familiar with how Intel's upper-tier 12th Gen Core processors handle themselves in a variety of workloads (Spoiler: really well). But what about the other end of the spectrum? We can't say for sure until Intel fleshes out its lineup with more SKUs and we've had a chance to test them. But in the meantime, someone managed to get their mitts on a Core i3-12100 engineering sample and ran a bunch of benchmarks with it.

To be very clear, the Core i3-12100 does not officially exist yet. Meaning, it is not a part that has been announced. At present, this is what Intel's Alder Lake stack looks looks like...

Intel Alder Lake SKUs
Intel Alder Lake SKUs - Click to Enlarge

There are six SKUs, though it really boils down to three main models that are available with or without onboard Xe graphics, and all of them have unlocked multipliers. In terms of recommended customer pricing (batches of 1,000 units sold to vendors), the chips range in price from $264 (Core i5-12600KF) to $589 (Core i9-12900K).

Unofficially, the Core i3-12100 eschews the hybrid makeup of those Alder Lake CPUs and only uses performant Golden Cove cores (P-cores). It purportedly features a 4-core/8-thread makeup, with a 3.3GHz base clock, 4.3GHz max turbo frequency (single-core), and 12MB of L3 cache.

Intel Core i3-12100 Battles AMD's Ryzen 3300X And 3100 In Leaked Benchmarks

The folks at XFastest managed to get their hands on one of these chips. They plopped it into an ASRock Z690 Steel Legend motherboard and flanked it with 16GB of DDR4-3600, a GeForce RTX 3060 Ti graphics card, and a 512GB Samsung 960 Pro solid state drive.

For points of comparison, they tested it against AMD's Ryzen 3 3300X and Ryzen 3 3100 processors. Note that these are Zen 2 chips, rather than Zen 3. AMD never released to retail any Ryzen 3 SKUs based on Zen 3.

The memory, GPU, and storage were kept the same, but obviously they had to a use a different motherboard—an ASRock X470 Taichi Ultimate.

Intel Alder Lake PCMark 10 Graph
Click to Enlarge (Source: XFastest)

In PCMark 10, the Core i3-12100 beat both AMD chips by double-digit percentage points (13.8 percent over the 3300X and 21.4 percent over the 3100). PCMark is a benchmark that tends to favor fast storage, though all three setups were equipped with the same SSD.

Intel Core i3-12100 Cinebench R23 Graph
Click to Enlarge (Source: XFastest)

Turning its attention to Cinebench R23, the site obtained a single-thread score of 1,649 and multi-thread score of 8,474 for the Core i3-12100. Meanwhile, the 3300x posted single and multi-threaded scores of 1,280 and 6,723, respectively. For the low-end Alder Lake part, it won the single-thread bout by 28.8 percent and the multi-core showdown by 26 percent.

A similar story played out in a bunch of benchmarks. Here's a brief rundown of a few of them, with how much better the Alder Lake CPU fared compared to the 3300X...
  • PugetBench for Premiere Pro: +81.8 percent
  • 3DMark Time Spy: +6 percent
  • Cyberpunk 2077 w/ DLSS: +15 percent
  • V-Ray: +20.8 percent
It wasn't quite a clean sweep, though. In 7-Zip, the Core i3-12100 posted a 9.9 percent better compressing score, but in the decompressing test, it lost by 13.7 percent. And interestingly, there was no difference whatsoever in Cyberpunk 2077 at 1080p Ultra without DLSS, indicating a clear bottleneck at play.

That said, losses and ties were rare for the Core i3-12100 among the benchmark roundup. Whether it's fair to compare Alder Lake to Zen 2 is another question, and not everyone will offer up the same answer. On one hand, it should be a no-brainer that Intel's latest architecture pummels AMD's last-generation architecture. But on the other hand, there aren't any 4-core/8-thread Zen 3 desktop processors to compare against. It also boils down to pricing (which gets a little more complicated if factoring in DDR5, which these benchmarks don't, and Z690).

In any event, if these scores are accurate, the Core i3-12100 could be a very interesting budget chip whenever it arrives.