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Gaming Performance Comparison

Recommended System Requirements
Game Core i3-7120 2-Core 4.0GHz APU A12-9800E 4-Core 3.1GHz
Cyberpunk 2077 31% 40%
Hitman 3 77% 89%
Resident Evil 8 46% 56%
Assassins Creed: Valhalla 77% 89%
FIFA 21 23% 31%
Grand Theft Auto VI 116% 131%
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War 27% 36%
Genshin Impact 0% 6%
Far Cry 6 107% 122%
The Medium 126% 141%

In terms of overall gaming performance, the Intel Core i3-7120 2-Core 4.0GHz is noticeably better than the AMD APU A12-9800E 4-Core 3.1GHz 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 i3-7120 2-Core was released less than a year after the APU A12-9800E 4-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 APU A12-9800E 4-Core has 2 more cores than the Core i3-7120 2-Core. With 4 cores, the APU A12-9800E 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 AMD APU A12-9800E 4-Core 3.1GHz have the same number of threads. The APU A12-9800E 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 APU A12-9800E 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 has a 0.9 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. In this case, however, the difference is probably a good indicator that the APU A12-9800E 4-Core is superior.

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 APU A12-9800E 4-Core has a 1536 KB bigger L2 cache than the Core i3-7120 2-Core, and although the APU A12-9800E 4-Core does not appear to have an L3 cache, its larger L2 cache means that it wins out in this area.

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 APU A12-9800E 4-Core has a 16 Watt lower Maximum TDP than the Core i3-7120 2-Core. However, the Core i3-7120 2-Core was created with a 14 nm smaller manufacturing technology. Overall, by taking both into account, the Core i3-7120 2-Core is likely the CPU with the lower heat production and power requirements, by a small amount.

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 APU A12-9800E 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 LakeBristol Ridge
MoBo SocketLGA 1151Socket AM4
Notebook CPUnono
Release Date29 Jul 201705 Sep 2016
CPU LinkGD LinkGD Link
Approved

CPU Technical Specifications

CPU Cores2vs4
CPU Threads4vs4
Clock Speed4 GHzvs3.1 GHz
Turbo Frequency-vs3.8 GHz
Max TDP51 Wvs35 W
Lithography14 nmvs28 nm
Bit Width64 Bitvs64 Bit
Max Temperature100°Cvs90°C
Virtualization Technologynovsno
Comparison

CPU Cache and Memory

L1 Cache Size128 KBvs320 KB
L2 Cache Size512 KBvs2048 KB
L3 Cache Size3 MBvs-
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 mmvs-
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 AMD APU A12-9800E 4-Core 3.1GHz is a budget APU based on AMD's 28nm Excavator microarchitecture. It offers 4 physical cores (4 logical) initially clocked at 3.1GHz, rising to 3.8GHz in boost mode. It has an unlocked multiplier and therefore can overclocked using traditional methods. It has 2MB of L2 Cache. This processor also supports DDR4 based RAMs with maximum memory support of 64GB. It has a maximum Thermal Power Design of 35W, making it a low-end, power-efficient CPU. Among its many features are Cool n Quiet, CoolCore Technology, Extended Frequency Range (XFX), Pure Power and Precision Boost are enabled. The APU A12-9800E 4-Core 3.1GHz features integrated Radeon R7 3rd Gen GCN graphics with 512 Shaders and a maximum clock speed of 900MHz. This is a low-end graphics chip that will struggle to run any modern game at 720p.