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.

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. 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.

Intel Core i3 9350KF 2

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. 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.

Intel Core i3 9350KF 3

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.

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.

Intel Core i3 9350KF 4

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 less 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 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.

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Intel Core i3-9350KF
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