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Intel Core i3 2120 Review



Is the Core i3 2120 a processor for the enthusiast? Yes and no. As a toy to use for overclocking and searching for the upper limits of the performance ladder, it is not. As a processor for use in a low-cost gaming rig or home theater PC, the i3 2120 is more than adequate. Not that you can't overclock this little gem, but overclocking is seriously hampered by the locked multiplier on the CPU and lack of Turbo Boost technology support. The bclock can be bumped up for a small boost in performance on the CPU side of the chip. I was able to boost up the bclock to a fairly decent 105.8MHz to drive the processor speed up to 3492MHz — a 192MHz increase over the baseline 3300MHz. Not stellar, but worth the effort and about average for the Sandybridge lineup. The HD 2000 graphics core saw some overclocking action as well, with a boost up to 1350MHz that proved to deliver a decent boost in IGP performance. The question is how many will take advantage of these overclocking options? Priced at $139, the Core i3 2120 comes in right at the same price point as the A8-3850 from AMD. Comparing the two together directly shows that Intel's architecture at that price point seems to be superior at just about every turn. The exception is in gaming performance using the IGP, where AMD's 6550D delivers performance along the lines of Intel's HD 3000 graphics engine. When using a higher-end discrete video card, the results flip the other direction with the i3 2120 outperforming the A8-3850 at stock speeds and the higher overclock on AMD's offering almost evening the field...but not quite.

Sporting two physical cores with Hyper-Threading support, the i3 2120 has proven itself to be a potent little performer against its direct competition. As a low cost, low power solution, it offers improved performance in applications used every day for compressing data and editing pictures or movies. Having few faults, the i3 is able to perform all the tasks asked of a modern multimedia PC for a low cost of entry.



  • Performance
  • Low cost
  • Low power
  • Sandybridge architecture
  • Hyper-Threading



  • Limited overclocking
  • Lacks Turbo Boost support
  • HD 2000 IGP


OCC Silver

  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Specifications & Features
  3. Testing:Setup & Overclocking
  4. Testing: Apophysis, WinRar, Geekbench, Bibble 5
  5. Testing: Office 2007, POV-Ray
  6. Testing: Sisoft Sandra 2011
  7. Testing: Sciencemark, Cinebench, HD Tune, PCMark 7
  8. Testing: Aliens vs. Predator
  9. Testing: Sid Meier's Civilization V
  10. Testing: Batman: Arkham Asylum
  11. Testing: Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
  12. Testing: IGP testing
  13. Conclusion
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