In terms of overall gaming performance, the Intel Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz is significantly better than the Intel Pentium Dual Core 2020M 2.4GHz when it comes to running the latest games. This also means it will be less likely to bottleneck more powerful GPUs, allowing them to achieve more of their gaming performance potential.
Both the Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz and the Pentium Dual Core 2020M 2.4GHz were released at the same time, so are likely to be quite similar.
The Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz and the Pentium Dual Core both have 2 cores, and so are quite likely to struggle with the latest games, or at least bottleneck high-end graphics cards when running them. With a decent accompanying GPU, the Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz and the Pentium Dual Core may still be able to run slightly older games fairly effectively.
More important for gaming than the number of cores and threads is the clock rate. Problematically, unless the two CPUs are from the same family, this can only serve as a general guide and nothing like an exact comparison, because the clock cycles per instruction (CPI) will vary so much.
The Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz and the Pentium Dual Core are from the same family of CPUs, and thus their clock speeds are directly comparable. With this in mind, it is safe to say that with a 0.1 GHz faster base clock rate, the Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz manages to provide marginally better performance than the Pentium Dual Core.
Aside from the clock rate, the next-most important CPU features for PC game performance are L2 and L3 cache size. Faster than RAM, the more cache available, the more data that can be stored for lightning-fast retrieval. L1 Cache is not usually an issue anymore for gaming, with most high-end CPUs eking out about the same L1 performance, and L2 is more important than L3 - but L3 is still important if you want to reach the highest levels of performance. Bear in mind that although it is better to have a larger cache, the larger it is, the higher the latency, so a balance has to be struck.
The Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz and the Pentium Dual Core have the same L2 cache size, but the Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz has a 1 MB bigger L3 cache, so in this area, it wins out over the Pentium Dual Core.
The maximum Thermal Design Power is the power in Watts that the CPU will consume in the worst case scenario. The lithography is the semiconductor manufacturing technology being used to create the CPU - the smaller this is, the more transistors that can be fit into the CPU, and the closer the connections. For both the lithography and the TDP, it is the lower the better, because a lower number means a lower amount of power is necessary to run the CPU, and consequently a lower amount of heat is produced.
Both the Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz and the Pentium Dual Core have the same TDP of 35 Watts, and were created with the same manufacturing size of 22 nm, which means they will affect your yearly electricity bill about equally.
The Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz has an on-board GPU, which means that it will be capable of running basic graphics applications (i.e., games) without the need for a dedicated graphics card. The Pentium Dual Core, however, does not, and you will probably have to look for a dedicated card if you wish to use it at all.
For in-depth GPU comparisons with the Intel HD Graphics 4000 Mobile, click on the following GPU overview comparison icon (visible throughout Game-Debate), and choose a GPU from the list to compare against:
On-board GPUs tend to be fairly awful in comparison to dedicated cards from the likes of AMD or Nvidia, but as they are built into the CPU, they also tend to be cheaper and require far less power to run (this makes them a good choice for laptops). We would recommend a dedicated card for running the latest games, but integrated GPUs are improving all the time and casual gamers may find less recent games perform perfectly acceptably.