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Gaming Performance Comparison

Recommended System Requirements
Game Core i3-7120 2-Core 4.0GHz Core i3-9350KF 4-Core 4.0GHz
Cyberpunk 2077 31% 29%
Hitman 3 77% 5%
Assassins Creed: Valhalla 77% 5%
Resident Evil 8 46% 22%
FIFA 21 23% 34%
Grand Theft Auto VI 116% 16%
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War 27% 32%
Genshin Impact 0% 47%
The Medium 126% 21%
Far Cry 6 107% 11%

In terms of overall gaming performance, the Intel Core i3-9350KF 4-Core 4.0GHz is massively better than the Intel Core i3-7120 2-Core 4.0GHz 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.

The Core i3-9350KF 4-Core was released less than a year after the Core i3-7120 2-Core, and so they are likely to have similar levels of support, and similarly optimized performance when running the latest games.

Both CPUs exhibit very powerful performance, so it probably isn't worth upgrading from one to the other, as both are capable of running even the most demanding games at the highest settings (assuming they are accompanied by equivalently powerful GPUs).

The Core i3-9350KF 4-Core has 2 more cores than the Core i3-7120 2-Core. With 4 cores, the Core i3-9350KF 4-Core is much less likely to struggle with the latest games, or bottleneck high-end graphics cards when running them.

Both the Intel Core i3-7120 2-Core 4.0GHz and the Intel Core i3-9350KF 4-Core 4.0GHz have the same number of threads. The Core i3-9350KF 4-Core has one thread per physical core, whereas the Core i3-7120 2-Core uses hyperthreading and has 2 logical threads per physical core.

Multiple threads are useful for improving the performance of multi-threaded applications. Additional cores and their accompanying thread will always be beneficial for multi-threaded applications. Hyperthreading will be beneficial for applications optimized for it, but it may slow others down. For games, the number of threads is largely irrelevant, as long as you have at least 2 cores (preferably 4), and hyperthreading can sometimes even hit performance.

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 i3-7120 2-Core and Core i3-9350KF 4-Core are not from the same family of CPUs, so their clock speeds are by no means directly comparable. Bear in mind, then, that while the Core i3-7120 2-Core and the Core i3-9350KF 4-Core both have the same clock frequency, this is by no means an indicator that the two CPUs will provide the same level of performance. As such, we need to look elsewhere for more reliable comparisons.

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 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.

The Core i3-7120 2-Core has a 40 Watt lower Maximum TDP than the Core i3-9350KF 4-Core (though they were created with the same size 14 nm manufacturing technology). What this means is the Core i3-7120 2-Core will consume significantly less power and consequently produce less heat, enabling more prolonged computational tasks with fewer adverse effects. This will lower your yearly electricity bill significantly, as well as prevent you from having to invest in extra cooling mechanisms (unless you overclock).

The Core i3-7120 2-Core 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 Core i3-9350KF 4-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 UHD Graphics 630, 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.

CPU Core Details

CPU CodenameKaby LakeCoffee Lake
MoBo SocketLGA 1151LGA 1151
Notebook CPUnono
Release Date29 Jul 201706 Jan 2019
CPU LinkGD LinkGD Link
Approved

CPU Technical Specifications

CPU Cores2vs4
CPU Threads4vs4
Clock Speed4 GHzvs4 GHz
Turbo Frequency-vs4.6 GHz
Max TDP51 Wvs91 W
Lithography14 nmvs14 nm
Bit Width64 Bitvs64 Bit
Max Temperature100°Cvs-
Virtualization Technologynovsno
Comparison

CPU Cache and Memory

L1 Cache Size128 KBvs-
L2 Cache Size512 KBvs-
L3 Cache Size3 MBvs8 MB
Max Memory Size-vs64 GB
Memory Channels-vs2
ECC Memory Supportnovsno
Comparison

CPU Graphics

GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 630
Base GPU Frequency350 MHzvs-
Max GPU Frequency1150 MHzvs-
DirectX12vs-
Displays Supported-vs-
Comparison

CPU Package and Version Specifications

Package Size37.5 mm x 37.5 mm x 4.4 mmvs37.5mm x 37.5mm
Revision-vs-
PCIe Revision-vs-
PCIe Configurations-vs-

Gaming Performance Value

Performance Value

CPU Mini Review

Mini ReviewThe Intel Core i3-7120 2-Core 4.0GHzis a low-end CPU based on Intel's 7th Gen 14nm Kaby Lake microarchitecture. It offers 2 physical cores (4 logical) clocked at 4.0GHz. It does not have an unlocked multiplier and therefore cannot be overclocked using traditional methods. It has 3MB of L3 Cache. Level 3 cache is a static memory bank of a processor and it is used to feed it instructions. This processor also supports DDR4 based RAMs with maximum memory support of 64GB. It has a maximum Thermal Power Design of 51W. It is on par with competitor processors. Among its many features are Intel Enhanced Speedstep, HyperThreading and Virtualization. It integrates Intel HD Graphics 630 on board. It has a base frequency of 350MHz which can go up to 1.1GHz, as well as offering DirectX 12 support. This CPU is likely to offer good computational performance but may suffer from performance dips on higher resolutions and more demanding applications. Despite the HyperThreading, having just dual-cores means this is a bad budget choice for modern gaming.The Intel Core i3-9350KF 4-Core 4.0GHz is a mid to low-end CPU based on Intel's 9th Gen 14nm, Coffee Lake refresh microarchitecture. It offers 4 physical cores (4 logical), initially clocked at 4.0GHz, which may go up to 4.6GHz using Turbo Boost. It has an unlocked multiplier and can therefore be overclocked using traditional methods. It has 8MB of SmartCache. Intel SmartCache refers to the architecture that allows all cores to dynamically share access to the last level cache. Level 3 cache is a static memory bank of a processor and it is used to feed it instructions. This processor also supports DDR4 based RAMs with maximum memory support of 64GB. It has a maximum Thermal Power Design of 91W. It is on par with competitor processors. Among its many advanced features are Intel Optane Memory support, Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 and Virtualization technology. It Intel Core i3-9350KF features no onboard integrated graphics. This CPU is likely to offer decent computational performance and will not be a bottleneck in all but the most CPU-intensive AAA games in 2019.