After years of delays, Intel has lastly moved on to a extra superior manufacturing node, bringing new ranges of efficiency and effectivity to its desktop processors. As it will have it, this technological step ahead additionally coincides with the introduction of Intel’s new Hybrid structure that introduces a mixture of large (P) and little (E) cores all on a single monolithic die. Codenamed “Alder Lake,” we’re taking a look at what’s the most fun new technology of processors from Crew Blue in years. Intel appears to suppose in order properly, as a result of it despatched us a 12900K to overview for gaming efficiency, options, and worth. And general, we’re very impressed with it together with the remainder of the twelfth gen Intel CPUs.
As we rigorously famous in our 11700K overview, the final a number of generations of processors from Intel supplied smaller efficiency enhancements that always got here at the price of lowered energy effectivity, although the revision of PCIe 4.0 assist was welcome for Rocket Lake. Understandably, the final a number of Intel generations didn’t go away a complete lot for many avid gamers to get enthusiastic about in the event that they already had a six-core CPU or higher. AMD additionally managed to launch the Ryzen 5000 Collection, which introduced fierce competitors to Intel and has arguably been the higher purchase since its launch in late 2020.
Intel’s twelfth technology is all about ahead momentum although, as Alder Lake presents a notable enhance in single-threaded efficiency for gaming by way of its P-cores plus an enormous leap in multi-threaded efficiency due to the brand new E-cores. Intel has boosted the effectivity of its present highly effective CPUs due to the node shrink to 10nm (identified formally because the Intel 7 node) and basically tacked on one other built-in processor to deal with background duties and help in functions that profit from extra cores. For avid gamers, Intel twelfth technology CPUs are price getting enthusiastic about. For content material creators, these CPUs are absolute recreation changers.
And whereas there’s quite a bit to love about Intel’s complete new lineup of Ok-Collection CPUs, you’re definitely not required to exit and purchase one to take pleasure in most of as we speak’s video games at fundamental framerates. The i9 sequence has by no means actually been about fundamental experiences although. As Intel’s newest flagship CPU, the 12900K has the potential to ship excessive refresh experiences with startlingly spectacular 1% and 0.1% framerate lows that end in silky easy gameplay even whereas multi-tasking. On this overview, we’ll run by way of the specs, options, some efficiency benchmarks, value of entry, after which give a closing advice for whether or not or to not purchase Intel twelfth gen, particularly the i9-12900K on this case.
Main variations with Intel twelfth gen
As we already touched upon, the 8+8 Hybrid core configuration is likely one of the key differentiators for the newest i9 compared to earlier generations. What this implies is that Intel makes use of two various kinds of cores on a single CPU. The P-cores are designed for low latency, excessive efficiency functions, which pertains to gaming so far as we’re involved. The E-cores are designed to deal with functions with an emphasis on energy effectivity, which pertains to background processes and supporting apps like social apps, recreation launchers, RGB software program, recording software program, peripheral tuning, and many others.
The P-cores are primarily based on the Golden Cove structure that additionally appeared on Rocket Lake eleventh gen desktop CPUs, whereas the Gracemont E-cores are largely new. The P-cores are thought of the “large” cores that function hyper-threading and clock as excessive as you’d anticipate from earlier generations, however the E-cores solely have single threads and are smaller cores that clock decrease and as a substitute depend on spreading out workloads throughout a number of cores to deal with duties. Intel tacks on 4 of those E-cores for the i5 mannequin, and as much as eight of those on the i9. The results of the Hybrid design is a extra environment friendly and better-performing processor than the normal Intel method with all P-cores. Coupled with the node shrink, Intel is now capable of supply higher efficiency with out utilizing considerably extra energy like was seen with the final a number of generations.
General, this Hybrid core design permits Intel twelfth gen processors to allocate extra sources in direction of producing larger framerates, whereas additionally conserving the system operating easily general. To assist Home windows ship these duties to the appropriate cores, Intel additionally created its Thread Director scheduler, which was designed for Home windows 11. You possibly can nonetheless use Home windows 10 with twelfth gen Intel processors do you have to want, however Intel has optimized the design to work with Microsoft’s “newest and biggest” OS.
Intel has additionally made a number of main steps ahead in different areas for its twelfth gen CPUs. DDR5 assist is elective for people who wish to be early adopters of the brand new spec, and Intel formally helps DDR5 as much as 4800, whereas DDR4 assist stays at 3200. Alder Lake CPUs on the Z690 platform additionally function improved PCIe 4.0 assist for the motherboard chipset and PCIe 5.0 assist on the processor. The PCIe 5.0 assist extends to the highest PCIe x16 slot, so future generations of graphics playing cards will likely be totally appropriate with Intel’s twelfth gen CPUs. The Z690 PCIe 4.0 assist permits for a number of quick NVME SSDs to be put in. There are in fact many extra particulars you’ll be able to dig into when it comes to options and assist, however these are those we determined to cowl as a gaming targeted web site.
12900K specs at a look
Apart from what we’ve already mentioned, Intel additionally elevated L2 and L3 cache all through the lineup to enhance efficiency. The i9-12900K options almost double the cache than the earlier technology. The brand new LGA 1700 socket is one other factor to notice, as a brand new Z690 motherboard is required for that motive amongst many others. The final main merchandise of word is the ability consumption. The 12900K formally tops out at 241W, which is barely down from the earlier technology i9. Energy consumption continues to be excessive general although.
|Course of node||10nm (Intel 7)|
|# of cores||8 (P) + 8 (E)|
|# of threads||24|
|Base frequency||3.2 GHz(P)/2.4GHz(E)|
|Max Turbo frequency||5.2|
|Reminiscence assist (advisable)||DDR4-3200/DDR5-4800|
|PCIe specification||5.0 and 4.0|
|# of PCIe lanes||20|
|PCIe configuration||As much as 1×16+1×4, 2×8+4|
Take a look at system specs
Our take a look at system consists of a excessive airflow case, with all followers and the liquid cooler operating on the iCUE “Balanced” profiles to supply reasonable efficiency benchmarks for common customers. For our testing, we used Home windows 11 per Intel’s steerage to coincide with the Thread Director know-how that improves utilization of the Hybrid core design. We examined the brand new OS and located it to be comparatively steady and related in efficiency to Home windows 10, so we elected to make use of it for this overview. On the time of writing, the system additionally makes use of the newest BIOS construct accessible from ASUS, Nvidia drivers, construct of Home windows 11, recreation/software builds, and up to date firmware for associated elements.
For fundamental energy and frequency settings, we allowed the ASUS ROG motherboard to ship as much as 241W to the CPU if requested, enabled the ASUS AI auto-OC software, enabled XMP 3.0 on the Corsair Vengeance DDR5 reminiscence, enabled Resizable BAR, set the Home windows energy plan to Efficiency, and chosen “Desire Max Efficiency” for the ASUS TUF RTX 3060 Ti OC within the Nvidia Management Panel. All different settings had been set to default or computerized.
|Case||Corsair iCUE 5000X|
|CPU||Intel Core i9-12900K|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Z690 Strix-E Wifi|
|Reminiscence||Corsair Vengeance DDR5 4800 64 GB|
|Graphics card||ASUS TUF RTX 3060 Ti OC 8GB|
|PSU||be quiet! Pure Energy 11 FM 750W|
|Storage||WD Blue SATA SSD (OS), WD Black SN750 PCIe 3.0 SSD, Samsung 870 QVO SATA SSD|
|CPU cooler||Corsair H100i Elite LCD 240mm CLC (with Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut thermal paste)|
Software program also can simply skew efficiency information, so we’ve organized a fundamental profile of what our take a look at system appears like. It’s a each day use system, however we had been cautious to shut all pointless applications earlier than gathering information. We deliberately left a couple of widespread gaming functions and background processes operating although to simulate actual use circumstances. These embody the important Home windows 11 functions, a single tab occasion of Google Chrome, Corsair iCUE, Adobe Inventive Cloud, ASUS Armoury Crate Lite, the mandatory related recreation launcher, and Discord.
We even have some extra notes in regards to the efficiency metrics we gathered. We acknowledge that the RTX 3060 Ti GPU is the clear bottleneck on this system, however because of the ongoing graphics card shortages, we had been unable to accumulate something extra excessive finish. We’ve used DLSS in a few of our benchmarks to compensate for this limitation, which allowed us to push the 12900K tougher in a number of titles. Peripheral polling charges also can have an effect on efficiency. For almost all of our checks, we used commonplace 1,000Hz polling charges and reserved hyper-polling for a selected part of the overview which is famous underneath “gaming and multi-tasking.” Moreover, we supposed to make use of a CLC with a 360mm radiator for cooling, however once more bumped into availability points. The 240mm radiator proved satisfactory for gaming on this method although.
Information is collected with in-game benchmarks, HWMonitor Professional, and RivaTuner by way of MSI Afterburner. All take a look at information is gathered after 10 minute “warmth soak” intervals to replicate reasonable lengthy gaming periods.