Intel Alder Lake is the 12th generation of chips from the famous chipmaker, which promises unprecedented performance thanks to a new hybrid architecture for Intel desktop processors. While the full line of Alder Lake desktop and mobile processors will roll out through 2022, a handful of Alder Lake desktop processors are now available for purchase, including the top-of-the-line Core i9-12900K.
This is important because Intel’s long reign as the market leader in processors (bitterly contested by AMD) has been compromised this year by the exceptional performance and efficiency of Apple’s new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. These two new pieces of Apple silicon debuted in the new MacBook Pro 2021 (14-inch) and MacBook Pro 2021 (16-inch) laptops, and in our own 2021 Macbook benchmarks, Apple’s latest chips helped the newer ones. MacBooks to surpass the lion’s share of Windows. laptops we tested, all of which contained 11th Gen Intel Tiger Lake processors.
Of course, the M1 Pro and M1 Max are tailor-made for Apple laptops, while Intel builds chips for everyone. And we can’t compare Alder Lake’s processors launched in November 2021 with Apple’s silicon anyway, because Intel is only releasing a handful of its desktop chips initially; We’ll have to wait a bit (potentially until 2022) to see Alder Lake’s laptop chips and find out how well they stack up against the competition.
But now that we have our first real glimpse of what Intel’s Alder Lake processors are capable of, we can start to see how the processor market will heat up in 2022. Intel’s 12th generation chips promise remarkable power, but from here on out. early in 2022, we expect to see not only a new generation of Ryzen processors from AMD built on its Zen 4 architecture, but a new Apple M2 chip powering the long-rumored 2022 MacBook Air.
Without further ado, here’s everything we know so far about the 12th Gen Intel Alder Lake processors.
Intel Alder Lake: Price and Release Date
Intel put 6 of its new Alder Lake desktop processors up for pre-order on October 27, 2021, with a release date slated for November 4. All told, the company plans to release at least 60 Alder Lake family processors through 2022, with models for desktop and mobile devices.
Currently, you can order from your choice of two Alder Lake Core i5, Core i7, or Core i9 processors, with prices ranging from $ 264 to $ 589. At the bottom of the scale, you can get a new Core i5-12600KF for an MSRP of $ 264, or a Core i5-12600K for $ 289. A Core i7-12700KF will set you back $ 384, while the Core i7-12700K costs $ 409. At the high end, a new Core i9-12900KF will set you back $ 564, while a Core i9-12900K costs $ 589. These prices are very close to what Intel is asking for its current Tiger Lake chips, although the current chip shortage may make prices volatile for some time.
The big difference between the two processors at each level is that the K variants come with integrated Intel UHD Graphics 770 graphics, unlike the cheaper KF variants. So if you are planning to squeeze one of these into a desktop with a discrete GPU, the cheaper chip is probably right for you.
However, keep in mind that these Alder Lake processors use the new Z690 chipset, which means you will need a motherboard with Z690 to use them.
Intel Alder Lake: specifications and performance
|Processor||Cores||Son||Graphic||Base clock speed in GHz||Maximum clock speed (single core)||Max Intel Turbo Boost clock speed (all cores)||MSRP||Power range|
|I9-12900K kernel||16 (8P + 8E)||24||Intel UHD Graphics 770||3.2 (P-core), 2.4 (E-core)||5.1 (P-core), 3.9 (E-core)||5.2 GHz||$ 589||12-28W|
|Core i9-12900KF||16 (8P + 8E)||24||Nothing||3.2 (P-core), 2.4 (E-core)||5.1 (P-core), 3.9 (E-core)||5.2 GHz||$ 564||12-28W|
|Core i7-12900K||12 (8P + 4E)||20||Intel UHD Graphics 770||3.6 (P nucleus), 2.7 (electronic nucleus)||4.9 (P nucleus), 3.8 (electronic nucleus)||5.0 GHz||$ 409||12-28W|
|Core i7-12900KF||12 (8P + 4E)||20||Nothing||3.6 (P nucleus), 2.7 (electronic nucleus)||4.9 (P nucleus), 3.8 (electronic nucleus)||5.0 GHz||$ 384||12-28W|
|Core i5-12900K||10 (6P + 4E)||16||Intel UHD Graphics 770||3.7 (P nucleus), 2.8 (electronic nucleus)||4.9 (P nucleus), 3.6 (electronic nucleus)||N / A||$ 289||12-28W|
|Core i5-12900KF||10 (6P + 4E)||16||Nothing||3.7 (P nucleus), 2.8 (electronic nucleus)||4.9 (P nucleus), 3.6 (electronic nucleus)||N / A||$ 264||7-15W|
As you can see from the specs table above, these new Alder Lake chips are the first Intel x86 desktop processors to be built on a hybrid architecture. This means that they have a set of high-power performance cores and a weaker, high-efficiency core group on each chip, as well as a new integrated microcontroller called the Intel Thread Director that aims to intelligently manage them. workflow across all cores for optimal performance. .
If this sounds familiar to you, it’s because Apple’s silicon like the M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max all rely on a similar hybrid architecture of high-performance, high-efficiency CPU cores on a single chip. In fact, Apple takes it a step further by putting a multi-core GPU on the same chip and allowing both CPU and GPU to access the same pool of shared unified memory.
However, it is the high power / high efficiency hybrid processor core configuration that helps give Apple chips like the M1 Pro and M1 Max their incredible energy efficiency, allowing modern MacBook Pros to last up to 15 hours ( according to our laboratory tests) on a single charge. While power efficiency is less critical in desktop processors since you don’t have to worry about a battery, it’s still pretty exciting to see Intel roll out its first hybrid desktop processors. Power efficiency is always important for desktops, and we can’t wait to see what kind of battery life improvement we’ll see in Windows laptops with new Alder Lake processors.
They are also the first Intel desktop processors to use DDR5 RAM and to be built on a 7 nanometer process, an improvement over the 10nm process used in the 11th generation Intel Tiger Lake processors. This puts these new chips in line with AMD’s current Ryzen processors, which are also built on a 7nm process. However, the next generation of Ryzen chips are expected to be built on a 5nm process, so they could prove to be even more powerful when they hit the market in 2022.
Intel Alder Lake: graphics and gaming performance
The first Alder Lake processor series that Intel is launching is clearly marketed to builders of high-performance PC platforms, and the company is keen to back that up with promises of improved performance in demanding PC games.
Notably, Intel markets the high-end Core i9-12900K as the “world’s best gaming processor”, claiming it can deliver up to 28% more frames per second in Hitman 3, up to 24 % better FPS in Counter -Strike: Global Offensive, and up to 23% more FPS in Far Cry 6. These comparisons are based on Intel’s own testing against its older Core i9-11900K processor using a Windows 11 Pro 1080p system with an Nvidia RTX 3090 GPU, and they suggest that at least at the high end, Alder Lake processors will offer a significant performance improvement over older Tiger Lake chips from Intel.
Intel also shared a few references showing how its new Alder Lake chips compete with AMD’s high-powered Ryzen 5950X processor, and you probably won’t be surprised to hear that the Core i9-12900K performed better overall – well. that in honor of Intel, it did so. show two instances where the Ryzen-powered system matched or exceeded the gaming performance of the latest Alder Lake chip.
Specifically, Intel claims that on the same 1080p Windows Pro system (with an Nvidia RTX 3090 GPU and 64GB of DDR4 RAM), the Core i9-12900K provided up to 15% more FPS than the Ryzen 5950X in Hitman. 3, up to 14% more FPS. in Far Cry 6, and up to 11% more FPS in Age of Empires IV. However, both the AMD system and the Intel system provided roughly the same amount of FPS when running Crysis Remastered, and Intel claims that the Alder Lake system provided up to 3% less FPS than the system. AMD while running Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
So, while it’s clear that Intel’s latest high-end desktop chipset Alder Lake will deliver outstanding gaming performance, they probably won’t be much better than the competition. But if you’re planning on overclocking your new processor, Intel says you should have an easier time than ever with its Intel Extreme Tuning Utility 7.5 update. This utility will allow you to overclock efficiency cores and DDR5 RAM in unlocked Alder Lake processors (unlocked Intel processors have a K flag in the name), and its Intel Speed Optimizer feature is intended to streamline the process. one-click overclocking. .
Intel Alder Lake: Outlook
While we’ve only seen part numbers so far provided by the maker of a handful of desktop chips Alder Lake, that’s already something to get excited about if you’re passionate about PC performance. After witnessing Apple’s remarkable success using Hybrid SoCs in the latest MacBooks and the 2021 iMac and Mac mini, it’s exciting to see Intel take a similar path to deliver hybrid chips for desktops. . Of course, we’ll have to wait and see if Alder Lake laptop chips can help modern Windows laptops match the incredible energy efficiency of M1-powered MacBooks.
But if you are primarily a desktop PC user, these new processors hold tremendous promise. With their high performance / high efficiency hybrid core bays under the leadership of Director Intel Thread, these new Alder Lake chips could potentially make life a lot easier for gamers, streamers, content creators, and anyone else who regularly encounters CPU bottlenecks.
Of course, we have new Apple silicon and the next generation of AMD Ryzen chips on the horizon, so Intel could be in a real fight in 2022. We’ll just have to wait and see how good desktops and laptops are. Alder Lake perform in our lab, where we put every PC we review through a battery of synthetic and real performance tests. Stay tuned!
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