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Pick up Intel's cheapest 12th-gen Core processor for £105

It's surprisingly rapid for gaming, matching the Core i5 11600K and Ryzen 7 3700X.

Wanna know something cool? You can pick up Intel's cheapest 12th-gen Core processor for £105 after a discount at CCL, with the Core i3 12100F offering incredible performance for this kind of money.

It's able to outmatch some classic great value gaming CPUs, like the Ryzen 5 3600X and Core i5 11400F, and even comes close to the powerful (and more expensive) Core i5 11600K. All this with PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 support, given the right motherboard - and this is a surprisingly great way to jump on 12th-gen, while leaving plenty of space to upgrade to a higher tier CPU down the road.

So we have an idea of the overall performance - but what is the Core i3 12100F anyway? This is a quad-core, eight-thread CPU, basically the lowest core count design that you can get away with for modern gaming. However, each of these cores is incredibly powerful compared to past generations, with up to a 4.3GHz turbo boost and a huge IPC (instructions per clock) advantage over previous generation Intel efforts.

The 12100F is also cheaper than the similar 12100, as it doesn't include integrated graphics - not really needed for most people who have a discrete graphics card, as you'll no doubt want for gaming. However, you still get Intel's quite decent stock cooler with the 12100F, so you don't need to allocate any of your budget there - a good £20 to £40 savings. As this CPU doesn't end with the letter K, it isn't unlocked, so overclocking isn't possible. However, you can at least set your RAM to its rated XMP speed, even on a budget B660 motherboard.

So: awesome gaming CPU for the money, and well worth picking up if you want a cheap Intel system that nonetheless has access to all of the latest tech in terms of PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 (although DDR4 motherboards are also available, of course).

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Will Judd

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Will Judd is a journeyman from the forges of Digital Foundry, here to spread the good word about hardware deals and StarCraft.

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