Intel Core i3-9350KF Review

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The company’s Core series has undergone yet another incremental update with Intel’s Core i3-9350KF, but it is insufficient. With its Ryzen 9 and Threadripper 3000 series and the 7nm process, AMD has displaced Intel as the overall performance leader, but the harm also extends to Intel’s high-volume, low-cost products. In fact, Intel frequently has much lower levels of competition in these mainstream markets.

Intel added its Turbo Boost 2.0 function to the Core i3-9350KF for the first time on the range of CPUs, bolstering its defenses in the high-volume low-price market. Still, that’s it.

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The Ryzen processors’ dominance in price ranges either below or somewhat above the 9350KF puts Intel under assault. Competing AMD chips have more cores and threads as well as a number of other advantages, including the ability to overclock on motherboards with lower performance levels, the inclusion of PCIe 4.0 on third-generation Ryzen CPUs, and capable stock coolers that provide some room for overclocking.

It doesn’t help that the company’s full-featured models with built-in graphics engines are less accessible due to Intel’s continuing 14nm supply shortfall, which results in low-end processors being either overpriced or completely unavailable. The discussion regarding the Intel Core i3-9350KF is now complete. You give up integrated graphics for a $25 price cut over the full-featured model with this processor, which is identified by the “F” suffix.

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However, we discovered that in almost every application, those savings are insufficient to counteract the outstanding value of AMD’s rival products. especially if you don’t intend to employ cutting-edge overclocking, routinely use threaded apps, or are looking for integrated graphics that are capable.

So, for the extra money, what do you truly get that the Core i3-8350K doesn’t? There are a few variations in the specifications, I suppose. The primary one, amusingly, is that the new CPU actually sacrifices a feature; the Intel Core i3-9350KF lacks onboard graphics, as do all new 9th Gen CPUs with a “F” suffix. The Core i3-9350K from Intel will have the same GPU as the previous model, although it’s less commonly available as of this writing.

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In summary, for 1.33x the Core i3-8350asking K’s price, you get no additional cores, no additional threads, a loss of onboard graphics (useful at the very least for GPU troubleshooting), no modification to the supported memory, no new thermal interface material, and a boosting feature that, in our opinion, can be rendered irrelevant with less than a minute of overclocking.

You may have predicted that recommending the Intel Core i3-9350K even at this point in the review is improbable, but we’ll still run the numbers to see if there’s a silver lining and also include pertinent AMD comparisons.

Intel Core i3-9350KF Specs

Launched in January 2019, the Intel Core i3-9350KF is a desktop CPU with 4 cores. It is a member of the Core i3 family and utilizes Socket 1151 and the Coffee Lake Refresh architecture. The Core i3-9350KF has 8MB of L3 cache and runs at 4 GHz by default, but depending on the workload, it can boost to 4.6 GHz.

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The number of transistors in the Core i3-9350KF, manufactured by Intel on a 14 nm production node, is unknown. The multiplier on Core i3-9350KF is locked, which restricts overclocking options. 

The Intel Core i3-9350KF consumes a lot of power with a TDP of 91 W, hence adequate cooling is required. Dual-channel DDR4 memory is supported by Intel’s processor. With overclocking (and the appropriate memory modules), you can increase the officially supported memory speed of 2666 MHz even more. A PCI-Express Gen 3 connection is used by the Core i3-9350KF to communicate with other system parts. This processor lacks integrated graphics, thus you will need a separate graphics card.

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The Intel Core i3-9350KF supports hardware virtualization, which significantly boosts virtual machine performance. Additionally, IOMMU virtualization (PCI passthrough) is allowed, enabling direct host hardware usage by guest virtual machines. This processor can run programs that make use of Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX), which improves performance for applications that require lots of calculations. Along with AVX, Intel also supports the more recent AVX2 standard, but not AVX-512.

Essential information

Product Collection9th Generation Intel® Core™ i3 Processors
Code NameProducts formerly Coffee Lake
Vertical SegmentDesktop
Processor Numberi3-9350KF
Launch DateQ1’19
Lithography14 nm
Recommended Customer Price$148.00 – $159.00
Use ConditionsPC/Client/Tablet

Intel Core i3-9350KF specs

Total Cores4
Total Threads4
Max Turbo Frequency4.60 GHz
Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 Frequency4.60 GHz
Processor Base Frequency4.00 GHz
Cache8 MB Intel® Smart Cache
Bus Speed8 GT/s

Memory specs

Max Memory Size (dependent on memory type)64 GB
Memory TypesDDR4-2400
Max # of Memory Channels2
Max Memory Bandwidth37.5 GB/s

Intel Core i3-9350KF performance & gaming

Due to the enormous allocation of threads and cores that considerably surpass Intel’s Core i3-9350KF, Ryzen continues to dominate heavily threaded rendering workloads. In threaded tests, AMD’s first-generation Zen architecture (3400G) frequently outperforms the 9350KF, but the third-generation Ryzen 5 3600X and 3600 models easily triumph. When we turn to single-threaded rendering tests, the situation is different, with the Core i3-9350KF gaining the lead due to its higher clock rates.

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The compression/decompression benchmarks for 7zip and Zlib mainly rely on threading and operate directly from system memory, eliminating the typical storage bottleneck in tasks of this nature. Without any storage throughput limitations, Ryzen leads these tests, but AMD’s X570 platform also provides access to the PCIe 4.0 interface. When you combine the Ryzen processors with a quick PCIe 4.0 SSD, these enormous increases will mainly translate to real-world application performance.

The third-generation Ryzen processors significantly outperform the Core i3-9350KF in the heavily threaded y-cruncher benchmark, which computes pi using the demanding AVX instruction set, in part because of their additional threads and AMD’s AVX advancements.

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The 3DMark DX11 and DX12 tests assess the amount of raw processing horsepower exposed to the game engine, whereas synthetic gaming benchmarks frequently don’t reflect real-world performance. Although most game engines now available don’t scale as linearly with increased computing power, these tests allow us to predict how games might use processing power as the engines advance.

In the DX11 and DX12 tests, the Ryzen 3600-series processors take advantage of their larger thread allocation to easily win, even outperforming Intel’s Core i5-9600K with its six threads supported by physical cores.

Therefore, it is not surprising to see the 9350KF struggle due to its quad-core, quad-thread architecture, as the priced Ryzen 5 3400G matches it in the DX12 tests at standard settings and easily defeats it in the DX11 test at both stock and overclocked settings. The Core i5-9400F, a similarly priced Intel CPU with two extra cores, also decisively defeats the 9350K in these highly threaded tests.

In the VRMark test, which rewards per-core performance, the 9350KF proves itself (a mixture of frequency and IPC). Due to the inclusion of its 4.6 GHz boost clock, the 9350KF outperforms its predecessor, the 8350K, by a significant margin at stock settings.

It is not a surprise that Intel chips dominate in this comparison of the AI engine performance in a turn-based strategy game because Civilization VI values per-core performance. However, the Core i3-9350KF is quite competitive with the base Ryzen 5 3600X.

An open-source chess engine called Stockfish is built to scale well up to 512 cores and get the most performance out of multi-core processors. The 7nm Ryzen 5 3600X and 3600 take a significant lead over the Core CPUs because to this scalability, which benefits AMD’s threading strength. With four cores and eight threads, the 12nm Ryzen 5 3400G also outperforms the competition.

Final thoughts on Intel Core i3-9350KF 

Overall, even in gaming, the Intel Core i3-9350KF simply doesn’t provide enough of a benefit to merit our endorsement at this price point. Not to mention, because of ongoing shortages, these processors have become the target of price gouging.

The Ryzen 5 3600 costs a little bit more, but it offers greater performance across the board and cheaper total platform costs. If you’re looking for a decent budget build, you’re better off going down a rung to the Ryzen 5 3400G. Although Intel’s own Core i5-9400 is more suitable for most users than the 9350KF, it is still inferior to the Ryzen 5 3600, placing AMD firmly in control of the low-end and mainstream markets.

Intel Core i3 9350KF 5

Is Intel Core i3-9350KF worth it?

You give up integrated graphics for a $25 price cut over the full-featured model with this processor, which is identified by the “F” suffix. However, we found that in virtually every application, such cost reductions are not enough to make up for the superior value of AMD’s competitors’ products. Especially if you don’t intend to employ cutting-edge overclocking, routinely use threaded apps, or are looking for integrated graphics that are capable. 

The Core i3-9350KF, a ghost at retail, is the Core i3-9350K with no graphics. Due to Intel’s shortages, it gives a $25 discount for this model, which is frequently the only option available at the checkout. Additionally, Intel raised the price by $5 above the Core i3-8350K of the previous generation. 

The four threads of the quad-core 9350K/F processors operate on physical cores because Hyper-Threading is not included, and the “non-F” variants have the UHD Graphics 630 engine.

While the majority of games don’t benefit much from this engine, Intel aims to change that with its upcoming chips, it is valuable for troubleshooting. The majority of buyers of unlocked processors probably do not intend to use integrated graphics and will choose to combine the chip with a budget Radeon or GeForce graphics card instead. 

Overall, the Intel Core i3-9350KF simply doesn’t offer enough of a boost, especially in gaming, to earn our recommendation at this price. Not to add that these processors are now the subject of price gouging as a result of the persistent shortages.

Although the Ryzen 5 3600 is somewhat more expensive, it provides better performance all around and lower total platform expenses. AMD has complete dominance over the low-end and mainstream markets, even if Intel’s Core i5-9400 is better suited for the majority of consumers than the Core i3-9350KF.

Is Intel Core i3-9350KF good for gaming?

The most significant factors to consider when choosing a CPU for gaming are the clock speed (or frequency), number of cores and threads, cache capacity, and memory type supported. Additional factors such as integrated graphics and overclocking requirements may also impact your choice.

Modern quad-core Core i3 CPUs may seem insufficient for gaming when compared to flagship processors with eight or more cores. It may appear much less capable if you have an older Core i3 chip with only two cores and four threads.

However, mid-tier hardware is not required for PC gaming. (In reality, we constructed a $300 gaming PC with a processor that was less expensive than a Core i3.) Your system won’t be as quick as if you had a Core i5, but you may still use it with a graphics card.

We recommend going with a similarly low-cost graphics card, spending little more than $150 to $200. Then, experiment with the settings until you find a nice mix of visual quality and frame rate. You may need to reduce the resolution and/or graphics presets depending on the GPU and the game, but you should be able to find a functional sweet spot.

Let’s take a look at some game tests & performance of this CPU.

Given that Civilization VI places a high importance on per-core performance, it is not surprising that Intel processors lead this comparison of the AI engine performance in a turn-based strategy game. However, the Intel Core i3-9350KF is quite competitive with the base Ryzen 5 3600X. 

Escalation loves cores and threads in Ashes of the Singularity, although clock rates undoubtedly matter. After tuning, the 9350KF is shockingly quick, almost matching the six-core -9600K. Additionally, the base 9350KF outperforms the Ryzen 5 3400G, and we observe a substantial improvement over the previous generation 8350K. But overclocking brings the Ryzen 5 3400G and the 9350KF into a tie. 

High clock rates are preferred by Civilization VI, as is evident from the overclocked 9350KF’s dominating lead over the rest of the test pool. However, it’s noteworthy that the 9600K would prevail following identical tuning efforts. At standard settings, the Ryzen 5 3600 outperforms the 9350KF and tuning puts it in the same ballpark. Most gamers won’t be able to tell the slight difference between the tweaked chips at FHD resolution. 

Can you overclock the Intel Core i3-9350KF?

Our Core i3-8350K, which achieved a magnificent 5.1GHz, served as the benchmark in this case. Even though that was operating at a barely bearable 1.34V, the quad-core CPU ensured that temps stayed within acceptable ranges.

We expected the Intel Core i3-9350KF to perform better without an iGP, but even raising the voltage to 1.35V and adjusting the load line calibration just in case prevented us from exceeding 5.1GHz in prolonged load tests without experiencing instability. The final result, albeit a nice overclock, was 5GHz with a vcore of 1.32V, which is a little disappointing. Your experience may differ from mine because, as always, the silicon lottery influences these comparisons.

With the 9350KF, overclocking was a rather simple process: We adjusted the CPU core voltage to 1.34V and dialed in a 5.1 GHz overclock, which is a 100MHz increase over the 8350K from the previous generation. The fact that we could run the device at these voltages without an AVX offset is more significant.

That enhancement most likely resulted from the more experienced 14nm technique. For the 8350K, for instance, we had to reduce the AVX clock rate to 4.8 GHz, indicating that our Intel Core i3-9350KF sample, which we bought at a store, had higher-quality silicon. Your results may vary since you are still subject to the vagaries of the silicon lottery. 

What temperature should an Intel Core i3-9350KF run at?

The internal temperature of an Intel CPU is monitored.

It will slow down or turn off to protect itself if it notices an unsafe temperature.

Around 100 c marks that moment.

The lifespan of the CPU won’t be compromised unless operating at excessively high voltages results in significant heat.

How much power does the Intel Core i3-9350KF draw?

The Intel Core i3-9350KF uses a lot of power with a TDP of 91 W, hence adequate cooling is required.

We should also discuss power consumption, and to begin with, at least on our test motherboard, the idle overclocked statistics appear to be a feature of the most recent EFIs supporting 9th Gen Intel CPUs. After applying XMP and plumbing in our vcore and multiplier, we just report the results.

For some reason, this has caused the idle power usage to be approximately 90W rather than around 50W at stock speed. The Core i5-9600K experienced the same situation; we just wanted to emphasize this as something we now anticipate rather than a problem with the CPU.

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