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Gaming Performance Comparison

Recommended System Requirements
Game Core i3-2120T 2.6GHz APU A6-3500 Triple-Core
Cyberpunk 2077 119% 167%
Hitman 3 195% 259%
Resident Evil 8 143% 196%
Assassins Creed: Valhalla 195% 259%
FIFA 21 105% 149%
Grand Theft Auto VI 260% 338%
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War 112% 158%
Genshin Impact 66% 102%
Far Cry 6 245% 321%
The Medium 275% 357%

In terms of overall gaming performance, the Intel Core i3-2120T 2.6GHz is noticeably better than the AMD APU A6-3500 Triple-Core 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 i3-2120T 2.6GHz was released less than a year after the APU A6-3500 Triple-Core, and so they are likely to have similar levels of support, and similarly optimized performance when running the latest games.

The APU A6-3500 Triple-Core has 1 more core than the Core i3-2120T 2.6GHz. However, while the APU A6-3500 Triple-Core will probably perform better than the Core i3-2120T 2.6GHz, both CPUs are likely to struggle with the latest games, and will almost certainly bottleneck high-end graphics cards. This should not affect games that are a few years old, and even the latest games should at least be playable on very low settings, as only recently have game developers begun to harness the power of multiple cores.

The Core i3-2120T 2.6GHz has 1 more threads than the APU A6-3500 Triple-Core. The APU A6-3500 Triple-Core has one thread per physical core, whereas the Core i3-2120T 2.6GHz 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 i3-2120T 2.6GHz and APU A6-3500 Triple-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 i3-2120T 2.6GHz has a 0.5 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 enough that it possibly indicates the superiority of the APU A6-3500 Triple-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 APU A6-3500 Triple-Core has a 2560 KB bigger L2 cache than the Core i3-2120T 2.6GHz, and although the APU A6-3500 Triple-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 Core i3-2120T 2.6GHz has a 30 Watt lower Maximum TDP than the APU A6-3500 Triple-Core (though they were created with the same size 32 nm manufacturing technology). What this means is the Core i3-2120T 2.6GHz 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 i3-2120T 2.6GHz and the APU A6-3500 Triple-Core 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 CodenameSandy BridgeLlano
MoBo SocketLGA 1155/Socket H2Socket FM1
Notebook CPUnono
Release Date04 Sep 201108 Aug 2011
CPU LinkGD LinkGD Link
Approved

CPU Technical Specifications

CPU Cores2vs3
CPU Threads4vs3
Clock Speed2.6 GHzvs2.1 GHz
Turbo Frequency-vs2.4 GHz
Max TDP35 Wvs65 W
Lithography32 nmvs32 nm
Bit Width64 Bitvs64 Bit
Max Temperature65°Cvs71°C
Virtualization Technologynovsno
Comparison

CPU Cache and Memory

L1 Cache Size128 KBvs384 KB
L2 Cache Size512 KBvs3072 KB
L3 Cache Size3 MBvs-
Max Memory Size-vs-
Memory Channels-vs2
ECC Memory Supportnovsno
Comparison

CPU Graphics

GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 2000 DesktopRadeon HD 6530D
Base GPU Frequency850 MHzvs443 MHz
Max GPU Frequency1350 MHzvs-
DirectX10.1vs11
Displays Supported-vs-
Comparison

CPU Package and Version Specifications

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

Gaming Performance Value

Performance Value

CPU Mini Review

Mini ReviewCore i3-2120T 2.6GHz is a super power efficient CPU based on the 32nm, Sandy Bridge architecture.

It offers 2 Physical Cores (4 Logical), clocked at 2.6GHz and 3MB of L3 Cache.
Among its many features, Turbo Boost and HyperThreading are activated.

The processor integrates weak Graphics called Intel HD Graphics 2000, with 6 Execution Units, initially clocked at 650MHz and that go up to 1100MHz, 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.
APU A6-3500 Triple-Core is a performance CPU based on the 32nm, Lynx architecture.

It offers 3 Physical Cores (3 Logical), initially clocked at 2.1GHz, which may go up to 2.4GHz and 3MB of L2 Cache.

The processor integrates average Graphics called Radeon HD 6530D, with 320 Shader Processing Units, clocked at 443MHz, which share the L2 Cache and system RAM with the processor.
Both the processor and integrated graphics have a rated board TDP of 65W.

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