Just over a month ago Intel pulled the trigger on the rest of its 12th generation "Alder Lake" Core desktop processors, adding no fewer than 22 new chips. This significantly fleshed out the Alder Lake family, adding in the mid-range and low-end chips that weren't part of Intel's original, high-end focused launch. Combined with the launch of the rest of the 600 series chipsets, this finally opened the door to building cheaper and lower-powered Alder Lake systems.

Diving right in, today we're taking a look at Intel's Core i3-12300 processor, the most powerful of the new I3s. Like the entire Alder Lake i3 series, the i3-12300 features four P-cores, and is aimed to compete in the entry-level and budget desktop market. With prices being driven higher on many components and AMD's high-value offerings dominating the lower end of the market, it's time to see if Intel can compete in the budget desktop market and offer value in a segment that currently needs it.

Below is a list of our detailed Intel Alder Lake and Z690 coverage:

As a quick recap, we've covered Alder Lake's dual architectural hybrid design in our Core i9-12900K review, including the differences between the P (performance) and E (efficiency cores). The P-cores are based on Intel's high-performance Golden Cove architecture, providing traditional high single-threaded performance. Meanwhile the Gracemont-based E-cores, though lower performing on their own, are significantly smaller and draw much less power, allowing Intel to pack them in to benefit multi-threaded workloads.

Intel Core i3-12300 Processor: Less is Moore

Aside from the two top Core i5 models (i5-12600K and i5-12600KF), all of chips below that level, including the Core i3, Pentium, and Celeron series, only feature Intel's Golden Cove P-cores. Intel's 12th generation Core i3 processors feature four such P-cores, with 12 MB of L3 cache, and all but one (i3-12100F) uses Intel's Xe-LP architecture-based UHD 730 integrated graphics.

Intel's 12th generation Alder Lake desktop processors have been split into the following naming schemes and Performance (P) core and Efficiency (E) core configurations:

  • Core i9: 8 Performance Cores + 8 Efficiency Cores
  • Core i7: 8 Performance Cores + 4 Efficiency Cores
  • Core i5: 6 Performance Cores + 4 Efficiency Cores/6P Only
  • Core i3: 4 Performance Cores Only
  • Pentium: 2 Performance Cores Only
  • Celeron: 2 Performance Cores Only

The Intel Core i3-12300 is the top i3 SKU in the lineup and has a base frequency of 3.5 GHz (60 W), with a turbo frequency of 4.4 GHz (89 W). Other variants vary in core frequency, with different models focusing on lower-powered systems, including the Core i3-12300T, which has a base TDP of 35 W at 2.3 GHz, with turbo clock speeds reaching 4.2 GHz with a 69 W TDP.

Intel Core i3 Series (12th Gen Alder Lake)
Processor Cores
Base (MHz)
Turbo (MHz)
IGP Base
i3-12300 4+0 3500 4400 12 730 60 89 $143
i3-12300T 4+0 2300 4200 12 730 35 69 $143
i3-12100 4+0 3300 4300 12 730 60 89 $122
i3-12100F 4+0 3300 4300 12 - 58 89 $97
i3-12100T 4+0 2200 4100 12 730 35 89 $122

At the time of writing, there are five Core i3 processors announced so far. While the interpretation of TDP can be taken in different ways depending on the company and how it is measured, Intel has gone one step further by offering both TDP at the base frequency and turbo frequencies. Three of these are standard non-K SKUs, while two of these feature the T naming moniker, which signifies that they have a base TDP of just 35W, perfect for lower-powered systems.

Interestingly, only one of the Core i3 processors, the i3-12300T has a turbo TDP of 69 W, while the rest have a rating of 89 W with turbo enabled, including the i3-12100T. The odd one out is the Core i3-12100F, which has a slightly lower base TDP of 58 W, likely as this is the only Core i3 not to include Intel's UHD 730 integrated graphics. It is also the cheapest, with a per 1k unit price of $97.

For this generation Intel has also refreshed its stock CPU coolers, which is the first time it has done this in quite a long time. Although none of the K-series processors include one, aftermarket cooling is necessary to utilize its Thermal Velocity Boost (TVB) and Intel's new 'infinite turbo.' This means that the processor under heavier workloads will try and use turbo as much as possible, which can mean better cooling is needed on the parts with higher P and E-core counts. In the case of the Core i3 series, the maximum TDP figure Intel provides is 89 W, so any conventional CPU cooler should be able to sustain turbo clock speeds for a more extended period of time.

The Core i3 series is shipped and bundled with Intel's new Laminar RM1 CPU cooler, which is similar in size to previous iterations of its stock cooler. Unlike the RH1, the RM1 doesn't feature RGB LED lighting and uses a traditional push-pin arrangement to mount into the socket. Intel hasn't stated which material it uses, e.g., copper or aluminum, or a combination of the two, but regardless of the materials used, for sub 100 W workloads these coolers should be more than ample for the Core i3 series.

The Budget CPU Market: Core i3-12300 versus AMD

Users have lots of choices available in terms of LGA1700 motherboards, including Z690, B660, H670, and H610, as well as support for either DDR5 and DDR4 memory. Users can pair up the Core i3-12300 with the more expensive DDR5 and Z690 for the absolute greatest performance, but the target audience for the Core i3 is users on a budget. This means that users are more likely from a cost perspective to build a system with one of the more affordable B660, H670, and H610 chipsets and pair that with DDR4 memory.

In terms of the competition from AMD, the green team is effectively absent from the sub-$200 quad core market for the moment. AMD does have a more-or-less direct competitor to the Alder Lake i3s in the Ryzen 3 5300G. However, as that chip is OEM-only (and terribly expensive on the gray market), as far as the retail market and individual system builders are concerned, it's all but unavailable. Which means that, at least amidst the ongoing chip crunch, Intel has the run of the market below $200. That said, we are including it in our graphs for completion's sake, and to outline where AMD would be if they could provide their quad core chips in greater volumes.

The next best competitor for the i3-12300 then is arguably the Ryzen 5 5600X, which is an ambitious task and admittedly somewhat lopsided task. The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X is based on its Zen 3 architecture and has six cores versus the four of the i3-12300, while the 5600X also benefits from four more threads (12). Intel's Alder Lake architecture also benefits from PCIe 5.0, but right now there aren't any (consumer) devices that can utilize the extra bandwidth available. The AMD Ryzen 5000 series uses PCIe 4.0 on X570, with PCIe 4.0/3.0 on B550 and below.

Intel Core i3-12300 CPU-Z screenshot, 4C/8T

Aside from architectural, core count, and thread count differences between the Intel Core i3-12300 and the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, the next biggest difference is the price. The Ryzen 7 5600X has an MSRP of $299, although it can be found at Amazon at the time of writing for a recently trimmed price of $229. The Intel Core i3-12300 is much cheaper in contrast, with a per 1k unit pricing of $143. With the first shipments just now hitting the market, we expect the retail MSRP to be around the $160-170 mark.

Other processors from AMD that could be considered competitors are the 5000 series Cezanne APUs. This includes the Ryzen 5 5600G, which is currently $219 at Amazon. Despite being more focused on entry-level gaming with integrated Vega 7 graphics, it consists of six cores with a base frequency at 3.9 GHz and a turbo frequency of 4.4 GHz; the 5600G also benefits from twelve threads.

Finally, boxing things in from the other direction, Intel also has the Core i5-12600K processor with six P-cores and four E-cores, with a price tag of $280 at Newegg. We will be reviewing the Core i5 a bit later this month, and it is currently on our testbed undergoing our CPU test suite at the time of writing.

Test Bed and Setup

Although there were some initial problems with the Intel Thread Director when using Windows 10 at the launch of Alder Lake, the P-core only Core i3 stack doesn't need to worry about this. For our testing, we are running the Core i3-12300 with DDR5 memory at JEDEC specifications for Alder Lake (DDR5-4800 CL40). We are also using Windows 11 from now on for our CPU reviews.

For our test bed, we are using the following:

Alder Lake Test System (DDR5)
CPU Core i3-12300 ($143)
4+0 Cores, 8 Threads
60W Base, 89W Turbo
Motherboard MSI Z690 Carbon WI-FI
Memory SK Hynix
2x32 GB
DDR5-4800 CL40
Cooling MSI Coreliquid 360mm AIO
Storage Crucial MX300 1TB
Power Supply Corsair HX850 
GPUs NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti, Driver 496.49
Operating Systems Windows 11 Up to Date

All other chips for comparison were run as tests listed in our benchmark database, Bench, on Windows 10.

LGA1700: Reports of Bending Sockets
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  • Alistair - Friday, March 4, 2022 - link

    actually a quad core is great for 360hz gaming also, the problem is the locked clock speed

    if Intel would release an unlocked quad core that can run at 5ghz+ it would be a dream chip

    that's why they don't release it, they want gamers to buy useless 16 core CPUs for gaming, as the game FPS is higher from cache and clock speed, not core count
  • mode_13h - Saturday, March 5, 2022 - link

    I definitely agree that you shouldn't have to buy more cores just to get higher peak clock speeds.

    With Intel's Xeon CPUs, it would typically be the case that models with fewer cores would have higher base & peak clock speeds. I think that started to change when AMD setup their product stack so that each step enabled more cores and/or higher clock speeds. As Intel moved to 6- and 8-core mainstream CPUs, they did the same thing.

    Where AMD sort of bucked the trend was with the 3300X. That little screamer was an absolute performance bargain. I almost bought one, a couple times - first, when it launched, and then I passed on it because it was selling above list price when it came back in stock in late 2020 or early 2021.

    Anyway, I wish AMD would do something like that with a Zen3 or Zen3+, though it's looking unlikely.
  • Mike Bruzzone - Friday, March 4, 2022 - link

    Hi Werewebb,

    Agreed, modern quads work great for Office essentials and home essentials including facility management and security.

    I'm speaking English, are we communicating I think so, on what dialect on practice area can however lead to interpretative earning to confer in another practice area for comprehension cross practice cross functions achieving dialogue and I think so.

    "An Alder Lake quad-core is equal or better than a Ryzen 5 2600. All benchmarks also show substantial improvements in 1% lows. What matters most is overall performance, not simply the number of cores."

    Encoding, transcoding and compiling for octa centric advantages,

    AMD with 3300x went after Ivy Bridge EE quad and won and there are plenty of priced right E5 1600 v2 quad and a bunch v2 hexa plus Haswell EE all cores just entered used market plenty of good choices especially if you have a board that can be upgraded.

    Channel this last week;

    Core Haswell desktop returns to secondary market + 46.6%, and mobile + 7.5% in prior eight weeks and the replacement trend is from Haswell forward in time.

    Ivy Bridge EE + 161.11% octa/hexa return to used market prior eight weeks presents a telling indicator.

    Haswell Extremes all SKUs + 180% in the prior eight weeks is a strong desktop upgrade indicator.

    i7 Refresh + 14%, 4790 comes back to secondary + 17.8% and 4790K + 14% that is 10% of 90_

    i5 Refresh 4590 comes back to secondary + 403% and 4690 sells down < 69% at 19% of 4590
    i3 Refresh + 81% and 4150 comes back + 161%

    Pentium Refresh + 5.5%
    Celeron Refresh + 14.5%

    i7 Original 4770 + 131% and K + 217% that is 24.1% of 70_

    i5 Original + 169% and 4570 + 98%, 4570S + 952%, 4570T + 49.7% and 4570T is 26.3% of 4570_ all varients

    i3 Original + 4% and 4130T + 13.7%

    Pentium Original + 18.8% and G3220 comes back to secondary + 21.8% followed by 3420 + 19.2%

    More in in comment line, several comments actually keep scrolling down until you find last week's Intel channel data and sales trend;



    The vast majority of people are just fine running a modern quad-core.
  • nandnandnand - Thursday, March 3, 2022 - link

    The explanation from here should be mentioned for AppTimer: GIMP since the results are so weird:


    Maybe the test should be dropped entirely.
  • Slash3 - Thursday, March 3, 2022 - link

    It is, in fact, a deeply stupid test with no value.
  • mode_13h - Thursday, March 3, 2022 - link

    "As it turns out, GIMP does optimizations for every CPU thread in the system, which requires that higher thread-count processors take a lot longer to run."

    Holy cow. I don't believe that. There's something else going on there, like maybe code using a stupid spinlock or something... which could actually be the case if some plugins or the core app used libgomp.

    At the time that article was written, the only Big.Little CPUs were in phones (okay, let's forget Lakemont - nobody was running GIMP on a Lakemont). There was absolutely no reason for it to do per-thread optimizations!
  • lmcd - Friday, March 4, 2022 - link

    No one ran anything on a Lakemont, as no one ran a Lakemont.
  • mode_13h - Saturday, March 5, 2022 - link

    Right. I was just noting that for completeness.
  • nandnandnand - Sunday, March 6, 2022 - link

    Lakefield, you mean! Although Intel does appear to have had a Lakemont, Google "Intel Lakemont" to find another deceased product.

    I have used GIMP on RPi4 (which can be rough but usable) so I can imagine Lakefield would be better. Lakefield was too expensive for relatively bad performance (couldn't run all 5 cores at once apparently). Intel gets another swing at it with the Pentium 8500 and other Alder Lake chips.
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, March 8, 2022 - link

    Thanks for the correction.

    Yeah, I get the feeling Lakefield was testing out a few too many new technologies to be executed well. At least it served as a test vehicle for Big+Little and their die-stacking tech.

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