Select any two CPUs for comparison

Gaming Performance Comparison

Recommended System Requirements
Game Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz Core i5-2540M 2.6GHz
New World 117% 89%
Grand Theft Auto VI 255% 208%
Resident Evil 8 317% 262%
Battlefield 2042 202% 163%
The Ascent 414% 346%
Far Cry 6 241% 196%
FIFA 22 102% 75%
Forza Horizon 5 117% 89%
Halo Infinite 202% 163%
Days Gone 145% 113%

In terms of overall gaming performance, the Intel Core i5-2540M 2.6GHz is noticeably better than the Intel Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz 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 i3-3120M 2.5GHz was released over a year more recently than the Core i5-2540M 2.6GHz, and so the Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz is likely to have better levels of support, and will be more optimized for running the latest games.

The Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz and the Core i5-2540M 2.6GHz 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 Core i5-2540M 2.6GHz 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 Core i5-2540M 2.6GHz 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 i5-2540M 2.6GHz has a 0.1 GHz faster frequency, this is not always an indicator that it will be superior in performance, despite frequency being crucial when trying to avoid GPU bottlenecking. 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 Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz and the Core i5-2540M 2.6GHz have the same L2 cache size, and the same L3 cache size, so in terms of cache-related gaming performance, the two CPUs are too similar to judge.

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 Core i5-2540M 2.6GHz have the same TDP of 35 Watts, but the Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz has a lower lithography size, and so will affect your yearly electricity bills less adversely.

The Core i3-3120M 2.5GHz and the Core i5-2540M 2.6GHz both have an on-board GPU, which means that they will be capable of running basic graphics applications (i.e., games) without the need for a dedicated graphics card.

For an in-depth GPU comparison, click on the GPU comparison icon that you can find throughout Game-Debate:

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 CodenameIvy BridgeSandy Bridge
MoBo SocketrPGA 988A / B / Socket G1 / G2BGA 1023
Notebook CPUyesyes
Release Date30 Sep 201220 Feb 2011
CPU LinkGD LinkGD Link

CPU Technical Specifications

CPU Cores2vs2
CPU Threads-vs4
Clock Speed2.5 GHzvs2.6 GHz
Turbo Frequency-vs3.3 GHz
Max TDP35 Wvs35 W
Lithography22 nmvs32 nm
Bit Width-vs64 Bit
Max Temperature-vs100°C
Virtualization Technologynovsno

CPU Cache and Memory

L1 Cache Size128 KBvs128 KB
L2 Cache Size512 KBvs512 KB
L2 Cache Speed-vs-
L3 Cache Size3 MBvs3 MB
Max Memory Size-vs16 GB
Memory Channels-vs2
ECC Memory Supportnovsno

CPU Graphics

GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 4000 MobileIntel HD Graphics 3000 Mobile
Base GPU Frequency650 MHzvs350 MHz
Max GPU Frequency1350 MHzvs-
Displays Supported-vs-

CPU Package and Version Specifications

Package Size-vs-
PCIe Revision-vs-
PCIe Configurations-vs-

Gaming Performance Value

Performance Value

CPU Mini Review

Mini ReviewCore i3-3120M 2.5GHz is a middle-class mobile processor based on the 22nm Ivy Bridge architecture with most of the Ivy Bridge features activated (not Turbo Boost).
It features 2 Cores (4 Threads), clocked at 2.5GHz and integrated graphics called Intel HD 4000 which run at 650MHz (1100 MHz in Turbo mode). The CPU supports DDR3-1333 and DDR3-1600 memory types. Expect a TDP of up to 35 Watt.
Its gaming performance is quite good but would still become a bottleneck for high-end GPUs such as Radeon HD 7970M or GeForce GTX 680M.
Core i5-2540M 2.6GHz is a middle-class mobile processor based on the 32nm, Sandy Bridge architecture.

It offers 2 Physical Cores (4 Logical), initially clocked at 2.6GHz, which may go up to 3.3GHz and 3MB of L3 Cache.
Among its many features, Turbo Boost and Virtualization are activated.

The processor integrates weak Graphics called Intel HD Graphics 3000, with 12 Execution Units, initially clocked at 650MHz and that go up to 1300MHz, in Turbo Mode which share the L2 Cache and system RAM with the processor.
Both the processor and integrated graphics have a rated board TDP of 35W.

It offers average performance. This means it will become a bottleneck in some demanding applications.