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Intel Coffeelake Core i3-9100F 4 Cores 4.2 GHz LGA1151 CL CPU $109 + Delivery @ Shopping Express


It begins! Discounts on the current gen intel CPUs now the next gen are coming (6 days away; no benchmarks yet, but the cheapest of the next gen intels, i3-10100 is already listed for $249 on CPL, and obviously won't be anywhere near twice as fast - the flagships are only a bit faster than the current flagships).

Paired with basic H310 motherboard (from around $95), and a budget GPU, this could make an great little gaming PC for a super tight budget (there won't be any games you can't play, just not always at higher res and/or 60+ FPS).

See it running in actual games:

Beside the popular Ryzen 5 3600: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gX2s5ANjVFc
2600 and i5-9400f: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSfURH7w7Yw

A couple of caveats:

  • Watch out for slightly-too-high benchmarks: While it actually gets similar FPS to the $205 Ryzen 3 3300X in some game benchmarks, those are usually done with a pricier Z370/Z390 motherboard (starting around $150 AUD) that can overclock the RAM, so cheaper boards will be a bit slower. Check the benchmarks. E.g.: in the Linus Tech Tips 3300X review, this i3-9100f is only 2 FPS slower playing GTA V at 1080p high, and actually 5 FPS faster in RDR, though 20 FPS lower in some other games. See: https://youtu.be/vD8Yk7JrBL8?t=163). But the $95 mobos won't quite get those kind of numbers. The video above uses a Z370, all I could find.

  • 4 cores: Only 4 cores, 4 threads. There are finally a couple of major games now that benefit from 6 cores or more. 6 cores may become important for gaming in the coming years (though of course there are no 6+ core parts in this price range, even the 1600AF is around $180 right now)

  • Weak upgrade path: This is the last gen on this mobo chipset. If you want an upgrade path, you are looking at waiting a few years until prices fall on the pricer CPUs from the same gen.

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    • +24

      You might want to base that decision on the actual speed rather than the marketing fluff like the i3/i5/i7/i9 moniker.

      For example, this i3 is faster in gaming than an old i7-2600. And even current laptop i7s are slower than this desktop i3.

      • -7

        Yes, but not if you're comparing it to a current i7.

        • +1

          you mean comparing it to ryzen 3100 ?

          • +3

            @phunkydude: Heck, I'm with you about AMD - after 15 years with intel I went in for the 3900X during the Black Friday sale and have never been happier.

            • @jaygee: Can't say I am that happy with the switch to AMD. Sure, the CPU is faster in general usage. However, there was the fussy RAM issue (if you go 4 DIMMs), multiple AGESA updates (not only those updates dragged on, it also meant some early compatibility issues). The irony is the WiFi 6 card I decided to put into the AMD system: an Intel (AX200). Blocking B450, X470 etc… from getting PCIe gen 4, that's more like Intel.

              I am hoping Zen 3 / Ryzen 4xxx desktop series CPUs won't go through the same thing again.

              • @netsurfer: The RAM controller is built into the CPU, and is much better with the 3000 series

                Are you using a zen 2 cpu?

        • +4

          It's pretty much the same performance as the previous gen i5 8400. At this price it's crazy good value

        • +3

          "Yes, but not if you're comparing it to a current i7."

          Thanks captain obvious.

      • +5

        It's faster, but don't you dare dis the best CPU ever made! i7-2600 4 lyfe!

        • +5

          YESS!!! My 2600k is still going strong at 4.6Ghz. Love that CPU.

        • i7-2600 4 lyfe!

          I'm still rocking an i5-3570 myself! (And that's a new purchase, last year. I only got rid of my 2c/4t sandy bridge i3-2100 because it couldn't play Breath of the Wild smoothly on Cemu. Everything else was still playable on High or Ultra settings in 1080p at 30 FPS or better).

          So weird that CPUs can remain viable for a decade these days. The current gen ones will probably last even longer.

          I'm only looking at CPUs now because I'm building a second gaming PC for the kids. Otherwise I wouldn't even bother for a couple more years.

      • +1

        I have this cpu in my desktop, bottlenecking my 5700XT. My laptop has a i7-8750H and scores much higher in cinebench, yes I know it has 6 cores vs 4 but the single core score is higher too.

      • 8 years old though lol. If you're like me and can appreciate small form factors then a ryzen 2400g, or 3400g as it would be now, would be better all in one

      • And you might want to accept people can have preferences that don't have to be based on benchmarks and fps?

        I didn't trash talk the processor, its use cases, didn't invoke any fanboyism or l33t bs, even commented positively on it being a deal and upvoted..but yes keep neg voting me & upvoting posts lecturing me on why its good even though I didn't express any arguments to the contrary :shrug:

      • +1

        Ouch, I'm using a 2600 😂. Not that bad tho

  • +1

    Hopefully some of the mid range cpus start dropping the new 10400 is cheaper than the 9400…
    Want to upgrade my server from a 9100F to something with a few extra cores and iGPU (for qucksync, never thought id use it for transcoding….)

    • Sounds like I need to upgrade my server, mine runs an E3-1265

    • quicksync transcoding is impressive.
      on the topic of transcoding, I'm curious to see what the new hdr tone mapping on 10th gen chips will mean for plex (and other transcoding).

  • Would say it's more on par with 2500U(laptop) benchmark than 3300X(Faraway)

    • +1

      Synthetic benchmark app performance like those are never a great indicator of actual game performance though. Take a look at the game benchmarks from the video I posted above and other reputable benchmarkers.

      • The benchmark on Average applications used is not great indicator but a game benchmarks shows better ? but…

        Hardly a gamer use i3 IMO.

  • +5

    For so many people on dual core older computer systems and want a dirt cheap upgrade if they can find a board around $100 this is good

    As soon as you start spending more then the value goes down the toilet and your better of with something else.

    • Once you replace your board, you need to buy Windows again (unless you have a retail copy). Most people will have OEM Windows, however.

      • +1

        you can buy windows keys for $15 online :) who pays for full retail windows these days

        • +1

          Sounds a bit dodgy to me.

          • +2

            @AussieZed: Actually, you can get authentic, 1-time-use OEM windows key for $15

      • It's scary how naive people can be. Surely no one makes a decision to buy or upgrade a PC on the basis of the cost of Windows. The other thing is that Windows licences are transferable. Just call Microsoft support. It's not the most pleasurable experience to note down a code spelt out to you over the phone, bit it's free, as in $0.

        • +1

          No, not OEM licenses.

  • +6

    Got one of these at around 100 from Computer Alliance on eBay last year for a light (1080p medium-high) gaming system. After tallying up the total cost of all components to build a PC it made me wish I had just gotten a complete i5 HP 800 G1 SFF PC for $170 and stuck a Low Profile GTX 1050 Ti in it when they were $160.

    Though I guess you'll have warranty at least and you can't get those LP GPUs at low prices anymore

  • +2

    No iGPU on this one, so might be tricker to use in a hackintosh setup.

    • +1

      why? if Intel HD 530/630 breaks sleep

    • Can't agree with this one. I'm running a 9600KF with a Hackintosh flawlessly; can even get Sidecar working (with a bit of screwing around).

  • +6

    Just my 2 cents on a budget CPU.

    That's an amazing price on a fast 4 core CPU.

    If you're looking at the cheapest possible gaming rig - I think it has to be Ryzen 3200G which has the integrated Vega graphics inside which is way better than Intel's integrated graphics. That way you could stick a graphics card in later, and eventually throw a better CPU in like a 3600 or 3700X without changing the motherboard.

    For budget gaming with this CPU, I'd stick a RX570 in there, and it would be fine, but id definitely upgrade both the 3200G or the 9100 as 4 cores is going to suck for anything released in the future.

    • +6

      Think the 3300x should really be the desire these days for a low end, unless you can get away with the APUs

    • +1

      why would you go RX570 when 1650S exists?

      • Hackintosh might be the only reason.

      • RX570 is cheaper, I was talking the cheapest possible 'reasonable' card.

        If we're talking a PC build around $500-600, there's a $100 difference between the RX570 and 1650s.

  • +6

    $100 cpu, and you'll still have a bloke out there asking if this can run Crysis 3 at 120fps/144hz whilst editing 4k photos on a 2nd screen.

    • Why won't people pay twice the money for Ryzen 3300x with 20% gaming performance increase.

  • +1

    AMD still can the more appealing base/starting point for a gaming platform long term if you factor in other system cost (eg motherboard, graphics card due to this lacks integrated GPU, and RAM)

    Price wise, H310s are very similar to A320, in ~$100 (both quite feature poor too). While the intel B360s and AMD B450s can be considered to be similarly priced.

    i3 9100F $109 (more often $139-$149 according to staticice) + H310 ~$100 = $209

    Ryzen 3300X $205 + A320 ~$100 = $305

    The Ryzen is generally 10-30% faster in gaming (depending on the game), and more if the game requires more than 4 threads. The $100 may seem much, however as both CPU lack integrated GPU, so you'll definitely need to consider a GPU to run the computer (before we even mention about the RAM). For a entry level gaming performance, GPU starts from at least $200 in current market, with RAM let say another $70 for 8GB. So we've got a rough comparison of $479 and $575, a difference of ~20%.

    The percentage margin will be smaller if we go with a B360/B450 (boards can be similarly price) comparison, which is actually a lot better in terms of features and good-value upgrade options further down the track.

    • +1

      If the 10-30% faster you are quoting is based on 2080 Ti, then it needs a bit of a rethink. On other graphics cards, that gap is going to shrink.

      i3 9100F is being discounted partly due to 3300X and the upcoming i3 replacement, which will have hyper threading enabled. The $100 can go towards a better low to mid range graphics card will make a bigger difference in gaming. Also, with Ryzen, you tend to need to buy better RAM modules.

      B450 board - unless you get certain ones which allow BIOS upgrade without CPU, you will need a shop willing to do the BIOS upgrade for you (some will charge you a fee to do that and they won't do that right away). Same goes for A320 except there is ZERO A320 board that you can firmware upgrade without a compatible/old CPU.

      It's easy for those reviewers because they have old CPUs and their old boards already have latest BIOS on. I get going through the overhead for a 3600 or better, but 3300X, if you want to be an early adopter and you don't want to buy current gen board, just be prepared or do your research before hand.

      Forget about the % difference, it is a math trick to numb your brain to forget the actual price difference.

      • I agree with you in terms of performance difference may be less if paired with more entry level graphics, or when the game is more GPU bound (although with the way forward 4 threads will become more and more of a bottleneck, if major titles are the games the user mainly play).

        I've had no issues so far with asking computer shops upon purchase to upgrade B350/B450 BIOS to the latest versions, even though I've only ever had 2 experiences so far, and both times they did them for free. The RAM modules for Ryzen, 3000MHz is generally sufficient, and Zen 2 has very good compatibility compared to pre-Zen 2. The prices are also not that much more expensive than <3000MHz, often $10 more if not the same price as 2666.

        It does make more sense to get a B550 board to make most of the AMD options, however the comparison using B450 is still valid for the 9100F, considering there is no future gen options for the particular intel platform.

        Although you do make a good point with moving the $100 budget towards a better GPU (even when the current GPU market prices are really not great, to say the least).

        The CPU alone at $109 is a pretty good price, especially if one doesn't mind getting second parts for the other system components.

        • +1

          Well, I asked two MSY stores. Neither would do it for free nor actually do it right away (have to come back and pick up later).

          Supporting future gen platform - honestly, this isn't really important for most people. When was the last time you actually upgrade a CPU and use the same board? Even so, what happened to that CPU? You sold it?

          Realistically, with Ryzen 4xxx desktop series (Zen 3), Samsung releasing PCIe Gen 4 SSDs, and B550 is finally out, it is unlikely that you don't want to pair it with at least a B550. Also, based on AMD's initial refusal to allow Zen 3 support on B450 and X470, it is obvious that we will have yet another round of AGESA update mess next time around. Last time for Zen 2 / Ryzen 3xxx, B450 and X470 boards received the updates later than X570, it will be the same thing all over again. With the smaller BIOS size, early B450 BIOSes were a bit of a mess with very restricted memory adjustments. It took close to 3 months for all the options to be re-implemented.

          When it comes to BIOS updates, B450 was already the second class citizen last time around. It certainly will be again next time around. Let's also not forget that early B450 BIOS could support PCIe gen4, AMD swiftly killed it in the subsequent AGEGA updates.

          • @netsurfer: Lol MSY, somehow I am not surprised they didn't do it, considering their 'service' model. (The boards I had were from PCByte, and Computer Alliance.)

            It's really just one extra gen, but it is more to do with the price of future upgrade options. Especially considering the current example is quite budget conscious.

            Personally I find PCIe Gen 4 less of a problem in terms of gaming performance and general usage. Usage cases that'll require PCIe Gen 4 likely will dictate the user to have a higher need and wouldn't be in the current budget bracket anyway.

            Again in the budget conscious context, future gen might not be of the upgrade option of choice but the same gen. A Ryzen 5 or 7 series CPU will likely cost less than a 9th gen i5 or i7, whether it'll be new or used. While the intel user will be stuck with the limited 9th gen i5/i7 options (and hence likely high prices), the AMD user will at least have more choices.

            I agree with your previous comment of doing one's own research before hand, and pick the platform that'll be of suitable for the user's circumstances, may it include the future or not.

          • +1

            @netsurfer: MSY doesn't do service.

            For many years their entire website was just parts.pdf
            A text only pricelist with no descriptions.

            They are a bit more flexible now after they got fined by ACCC for not taking returns on faulty goods

  • +4

    Obviously you could spend more and get more. Try comparing this to anything else at this price point, you won't beat it. Perfect for super budget gaming

  • +2

    It's about $40 cheaper than brick and mortar. If you're building a cheap system, $40 isn't nothing but I still wouldn't base my system on this discount.

  • Have to build a cheap system for the in laws, they basically just surf the net, general office use, would this be an overkill?

    • +10

      yeh, get a second hand optiplex equivalent

      • +2

        Thanks, that seems way cheaper than anything I could build

    • +2


      Just get one of these https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/192642693264

      • +1

        exactly right, i bought one of those for $150, look around on gumtree and whatnot, sometimes you find real bargains

  • +1

    My i5-8600k is already getting near 100% CPU usage on CoD MW. I wonder how this little guy will fair..
    Anyway will be liking the post because OP's write up is very helpful.

    • +1

      I don't imagine very well.
      Don't think anyone should buy this if they're expecting to play and run the triple A games out now and those that are coming out in the near future very well. I'd say this would more suit a productivity and or light gaming workload better such as a family computer.

      • +1

        I was playing CODMW on a 6600K with a R390 and was getting perfectly acceptable performance, over 60FPS 99% of the time, closer to 80 at 1080p

        (but i did upgrade to a 3600 / 2060 noticeable but not as much as you would think)

        • yes but the i3 9100 is being pushed to it's very limit in most demanding games. Micro-stutters etc. My point is that this CPU will need to be swapped out in a couple of years and there isn't really an upgrade path unless you invested in a good mobo.

          Maybe i'm a snob, but RDR2 @45fps with microstutters is a bleh from me.

  • Something to note is that frametimes are really bad on this chip. It might get an ok fps but it'll stutter on anything other a very low end gpu

  • Will it suppose on Lenovo tiny M900?

    • +1

      Unlikely, it requires a newer chipset.
      (There's ways to hack it to work on supported, might be possible on a OEM, wouldn't want to do it.)

    • +1

      no. not sure 100% but those use T series due to power supply limits.
      T series is like 35Watt cpu

  • +1

    really good value, probably the best bang for your buck cpu out there at the moment!

  • +1
    • Ooh $239 for i5-9400f too! Didn't see that.

      So they are cheapest for that right now too. Does seem less of a discount, though, with the usual price only about $20 more. Hopefully it'll drop further once the new CPUs are out.

  • +3

    Well, looks like it's FINALLY time to replace my trusty old i7 2600K!

    Just kidding, cannot be bothered dealing with new motherboard/ram/cpu/os reinstall/blah blah blah haha

  • Lol don't buy a current gen when they are doing mass price drops and increasing thread counts on 10th gen in just a few weeks.

  • 14nm++++++++++++?

  • Is this a viable upgrade from a i3-6100 and a H170-PRO motherboard?

    • +1

      A quick look at benchmarks suggests about a 20% increase in FPS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2L_xb2AZqUA

      (Personally I'd wait a bit longer).

      • +1

        Thanks for the reply! Yeah might have to wait since budget is really tight atm

  • Assume no USB4?

  • It’s been about 4/5 years since my last build.. can’t keep up with new tech (I am showing signs of aging). Can I use this on a h170 motherboard. I think I can only use 6th gen intel cpus?

    How would this perform vs my current i5-6500?

  • +1

    I think people are in a funny place re: motherboards if you buy this cpu. Ok the cpu is cheap but you need to buy an s1151 board which isnt that cheap and is it a smart buy given that the socket is dead?

    You may wait a little until the s1200 boards come out driving down prices of old stock 1151.

    I'm reluctant to buy now given the rapid use by date of 1151.


    s1200 boards are already in the pipeline w/ high end 490 models.

  • covefe lake