Intel Core i3-9100F vs. Ryzen 5 1600 AF

After recently testing the Ryzen 5 1600 AF, you should know everything about this nimble CPU. How it works, where to buy it, what you need to support it and so on. In short, it is an incredible value. If you're lucky enough to have it available in your area and want something for less than $ 100, there's simply no better option, or at least that's our opinion.

However, we've seen some responses claiming the Core i3-9100F is a better choice. It is also cheaper and more widely available. It is currently one of Intel's most popular CPUs as it only costs $ 80. So before we look at the benchmarks, let's look at Intel's budget processor.

The Core i3-9100F is a 4-core / 4-thread Coffee Lake CPU, which means that it is almost identical to a quad core of the 8th, 7th and 6th generation. It's also not that different from a 4th generation Haswell quad-core, except for the upgrade to DDR4 memory.

I was there, did that … as part of the 6th generation, it was basically what we knew as the Core i5-6600, which was retailed for $ 215. As part of the 7th generation, it's located near the Core i5-7600, which is also available for retail at $ 215. Quad cores were renamed Core i3 for the 8th generation for the first time, although they did not support Turbo Boost. The 9th generation i3-9100F roughly corresponds to the i3-8100, but is equipped with activated turbo and supports up to 4.2 GHz for single-core workloads.

Considering this, the 9100F is more like a Core i5-7600K in that it was also raised to 4.2 GHz, although it had a higher base clock at 3.8 GHz, while the Core i3-9100F can drop to 3.6 GHz . If we go through the technical data as before, it seems clear that there will be very little delta if you compare the 7600K and 9100F at least immediately. The older Core i5 is overclocked as a K part, while the 9100F is locked regardless of the chipset used. The Core i3 processor only supports overclocking of the memory with a motherboard of the Z series.

This raises the question of why Intel fans claimed the 9100F would dust the 1600 AF when we included the Core i5-7600K results in this test. Anyway, today we're going to use them against each other to find out which budget CPU to invest in.

Let's jump into the blue bar graphs and do our thing. We used a Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Ultra to test the i3-9100F, which is equipped with DDR4-3200 CL14 memory. The same memory was used for all other processors as well as for an RTX 2080 Ti graphics card to reduce potential GPU bottlenecks. This allows us to look at CPU performance and not GPU performance as this is not a mid-range GPU test.

Benchmark time

We got Cinebench R20 multi results straight away, and the margins you see here are translated into any application that can use 6 or more cores: basically any video editing tool, 3D rendering application, code compiler and so on .

These are also things that aspiring developers want to do 100% with a budget processor like the Ryzen 5 1600 AF. These are not just general purpose processors for word processing, internet surfing and email. Given the results here, the Core i3-9100F may be better suited for such an application.

The 1600 AF was 76% faster in Cinebench R20 because it contains two additional cores with SMT support for three times as many threads. As expected, the 9100F is very similar to the Core i5-7600K, with almost identical results in this test.

The 9100F offers a single-core clock speed advantage, while the 1600 AF only clocks up to 3.6 GHz, the 9100F by 17% to 4.2 GHz. Despite this significant clock speed advantage, the 9100F is only 4% faster than the 1600 AF when using a single core due to the strong IPC performance of Ryzen's 2nd generation, with a workload that is not particularly memory sensitive.

The 1600 AF is also an unlocked part and can usually be overclocked to around 4.2 GHz using a cheap $ 20 tower cooler, which is a clock rate increase of around 15% over the standard specification.

A look at the performance in 7-Zip shows that the 1600 AF is almost twice as fast when compressing as the 9100F, here it was a whopping 93% faster. In fact, the Ryzen processor was only 11% slower than the Core i7-8700K and in a completely different league than the Core i3 model.

When it comes to decompression work, this number is reduced to a massive lead of 127%, making the Ryzen CPU worlds faster than the 9100F and only 3% slower than the 8700K.

It is total annihilation in Blender too. Here the 1600 AF was 85% faster than the 9100F. Again, at least in terms of performance, it makes more sense to compare the Ryzen 5 part with the Core i7-8700K, since it was only 13% slower in this test.

The 9100F has the advantage of using less power. However, the performance per watt is worse when comparing the total system usage. Here the 1600 AF consumed 50% more electricity, but was 85% faster, i.e. significantly more efficient and this is mainly due to the SMT support.

Gaming benchmarks

For games with a budget CPU, we first have Assassin's Creed: Odyssey. This game punishes quad cores and, as expected, the 9100F fairs are no better than the 7600K. Granted, we're still looking for playable performance with the quad cores, but frame stuttering becomes a lot clearer on these CPUs.

The 1600 AF, on the other hand, is silky smooth with 1% lows of around 60 fps and an average frame rate of 77 fps, which makes the Ryzen processors 24% faster than the Core i3.

Battlefield V is even more sophisticated than Assassin's Creed: Odyssey and here stuttering frames is a massive problem with the quad-core chip. For the 9100F, there is a 137% performance difference between the low and average frame rates of 1% for the 9100F, while for the 1600 AF there is only a 38% difference.

The Ryzen 5 part was 9% faster if you compare the average frame rate, but a massive 86% faster if you look at the 1% low results.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is another modern CPU-demanding title, and here the 1600 AF was up to 28% faster.

Division 2 is a title that always has CPU requirements, and here the 1600 AF was 43% faster than the 9100F when comparing the average frame rate and 33% faster when the result was 1% low.

Far Cry New Dawn is not a CPU-demanding game, at least not in the sense that it uses core-heavy CPUs very well. However, we consciously include this title as it is a good example of how some older titles behave with modern processors.

It's also important to note that while the 9100F is 14% faster than the 1600 AF, the Ryzen 5 processor always allowed over 60 fps and didn't suffer from poor frame time performance. However, the game ran very smoothly.

Hitman 2 is usually not a great title for Ryzen CPUs. For example, the 3rd generation Ryzen 7 3700X even lags behind the Core i7-7700K. However, this title also requires more than 4 threads. Thanks to Hyper-Threading support, the 7700K is over. The 7600K has problems and it's exactly the same story as the 9100F. The game is still playable and relatively smooth, but the 1600 AF has a clear advantage here.

Finally we have the results of Total War: Three Kingdoms and again the 1600 AF has replaced the 9100F, this time with an average of 10% more frames and a 23% improvement with 1% less performance.

Wrap up

We do not believe that this comparison requires further analysis. It's obviously clear that investing in a quad-core isn't even worth saving $ 50 if you want to build an inexpensive gaming PC. You'll have to deal with frame stuttering in a number of more challenging old and new titles.

The quad-core i3-9100F was hopeless in Battlefield V, pretty bad in Assassins Creed: Odyssey, pretty useless in The Division 2, and weak in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The Core i3 did well when playing older or less demanding titles like Far Cry New Dawn, but also the 1600 AF or another hexa-core or better Ryzen processor.

We're not far from reaching a point where quad cores become unusable for serious gaming. So it's just silly to invest in one today to save a small amount of money. For customers based in the United States, the Ryzen 1600 AF effectively eliminates the Core i3-9100F as both are available for around $ 85. Your mileage varies in other regions where the 1600 AF may not be as cheap or may not be available.

Where you can't get the 1600 AF, the Ryzen 5 2600 is the next best for $ 120. However, this is a sharp 41% price increase. Alternatively, you can get a similar experience to the $ 9100F with the Ryzen 3 3200G for $ 94. That's just $ 11 more for a CPU with a decent iGPU and on a platform that currently supports up to a 16-core / 32-thread processor, which gives you an amazing way to upgrade years later.

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