Performance

I’m not a big one on posting first-party benchmark results, but the high-level overview from Intel was this:

  • At 3.3 GHz, 12900K is +19% better in Single Thread Performance over the 11900K
  • Over the 11900K, the 12900K is +19% better at 1080p High with RTX 3090
  • Over the 11900K, the 12900K gets +84% better fps when concurrently streaming
  • Over the 11900K, the 12900K is +22-100% better in content creation (Adobe)
  • Over the 11900K, the 12900K is +50% faster in BlenderMT at 241W (vs 250W)
  • Over the 11900K, the 12900K performs the same in BlenderMT at only 65W (vs 250W)

All of Intel’s tests were using Windows 11, with DDR5-4400 vs DDR4-3200. Intel did have a small one slide of comparisons against AMD in gaming with an RTX 3090, however they stated they were done without the latest L3 patch fix, and admitted that they would have preferred to show us full results. By the time this article goes live, we may have seen those results at Intel’s event.

This is a reasonable set of data, very focused on the Core i9, but when the reviews come out we’ll be able to see where it sits compared to the other parts, as well as the competition. The only thing that concerns me right now leading up to the launch is the behavior of demoting workloads to E-cores when not in focus when on the Balanced Power Plan (mentioned on the Thread Director page). It won’t be until I get hands-on with the hardware as to whether I see it as an issue or not.

Another factor to mention is DRM. Intel has made statements to this, but there is an issue with Denuvo as it uses part of the CPU configuration to identify systems to stop piracy. Due to the hybrid nature, Denuvo might register starting on a different core (P vs E) as a new system, and eventually lock you out of the game either temporarily or permanently. Out of the top 200 games, around 20 are affected and Intel says it still has a couple more to fix. It’s working with Denuvo for a high-level fix from their side, and with developers to fix from their end as well. Intel says it’s a bit harder with older titles, especially when there’s no development going on, or the IP is far away from its original source. A solution to this would be to only launch those games on specific cores, but look out for more updates as time marches on.

Conclusions

Well, it’s almost here. It looks like Intel will take the ST crown, although MT is a bit of a different story, and might rely explicitly on the software being used or if the difference in performance is worth the price. The use of the hybrid architecture might be an early pain point, and it will be interesting to see if Thread Director remains resilient to the issues. The bump up to Windows 11 is also another potential rock in the stream, and we’re seeing some teething issues from users, although right now users who are looking to early adopt a new CPU are likely more than ready to adopt a new version of Windows at the same time.

The discourse on DDR4 vs DDR5 is one I’ve had for almost a year now. Memory vendors seem ready to start seeding kits to retailers, however the expense over DDR4 is somewhat eyewatering. The general expectation is that DDR5 won’t offer much performance uplift over a good kit of DDR4, or might even be worse. The benefit of DDR5 then at this point is more to start on that DDR5 ladder, where the only way to go is up. This will be Intel’s last DDR4 platform on desktop it seems.

On the processors themselves, the Core i5 and Core i7 parts look very competitive and in line with respective popular AMD processors. Both the Core i5 and Core i7 have extra E-cores, so we’ll see if that comes in handy for extra performance, or they’ll just end up burning power and performance per watt needs re-examining. The Core i9 challenge is probably sided on Intel for single thread, but all the questions will be over proper multi-threaded performance.

Intel 12th Gen Core, Alder Lake
AnandTech Cores
P+E/T
E-Core
Base
E-Core
Turbo
P-Core
Base
P-Core
Turbo
IGP Base
W
Turbo
W
Price
$1ku
i9-12900K 8+8/24 2400 3900 3200 5200 770 125 241 $589
i9-12900KF 8+8/24 2400 3900 3200 5200 - 125 241 $564
i7-12700K 8+4/20 2700 3800 3600 5000 770 125 190 $409
i7-12700KF 8+4/20 2700 3800 3600 5000 - 125 190 $384
i5-12600K 6+4/20 2800 3600 3700 4900 770 125 150 $289
i5-12600KF 6+4/20 2800 3600 3700 4900 - 125 150 $264

After not much CPU news for a while, it’s time to get in gear and find out what Intel has been cooking. Come back on November 4th for our review.

Package Improvements and Overclocking
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  • shabby - Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - link

    Typo in the 12600 charts... 20 threads or 16? Reply
  • nandnandnand - Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - link

    16 threads.
    2p + e = 2*6 + 4

    Thread count typos are going to happen a lot with Alder Lake, Raptor Lake...
    Reply
  • at_clucks - Friday, October 29, 2021 - link

    20-30 years ago it was really easy to know everything important about a CPU (frequency more or less, maybe multiplier/FSB) just by looking at the model name. Intel made it really confusing for the past few generations even for the relatively mundane setup with multi-identical-cores at a certain frequency. Now with the different types of cores, different base and turbo frequencies, different thread count, etc. you'll have to search for the table every time.

    And we're in the easy part now, just high end, all models ending in "00". Can't wait for the "12672KSF" which has random tweaks here and there depending on what they could get out of the wafer.
    Reply
  • yeeeeman - Friday, October 29, 2021 - link

    Neah, if you went to school at least you can count. Reply
  • Hifihedgehog - Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - link

    AMDead… until Zen 4. Zen 3+ is dead to me, because Zen 3+ is a band-aid solution to hobble along until they can get Zen 4 is out the door. Packing on a cache block is not going to beat this. Only a fresh and fast microarchitectural update can regain performance for AMD. And that update is Zen 4. Reply
  • Hifihedgehog - Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - link

    Also, timing is crucial and hitting the moving target. Zen 4 may beat Alder Lake but can it beat Raptor Lake which will likely come out late next year? If not, AMDead will be dead even with Zen 4, even if Zen 4 is a huge improvement over Zen 3. AMD has to compete against Intel’s best at time of release, not against itself. Reply
  • schujj07 - Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - link

    Yes because we have independent benchmarks out already from real world usage and not Geekbench. Don't forget to look at the power usage on the new Intel CPUs. They very well could be faster than AMD, however, if they need double the power to be 15% faster that really isn't a win. Reply
  • shabby - Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - link

    Don't think intel cares about losing the efficiency crown on the desktop, they just want to be at the top of the charts at all costs. Now in the server department with dozens of cores then it starts to bite them in the ass. Reply
  • Hifihedgehog - Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - link

    Most desktop users could care less about power efficiency. If this were a laptop or notebook question, that would be a totally different story. That is an interesting point you bring up, though! It's likely why Intel released desktop BEFORE mobile. Historically, they release first to mobile and then desktop. Power efficiency may be very well why they opted to avoid pushing it to mobile first. Or not at all. They may just be trying to counter AMD where it hurts most, in their current Ryzen stronghold. Reply
  • schujj07 - Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - link

    Power efficiency does make a slight difference on the desktop. If you need use a huge AIO or air cooler compared to a mid range air cooler that hurts your pocket book. That can also make your system louder than the comparable other system. Not to mention it will affect your summertime electric bill if it keeps heating up the room so your AC is kicking on. Reply

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