January 27, 2022

Intel Twelfth-Gen Alder Lake: Information, Rumors, Launch Date

After speaking up Alder Lake for greater than a yr, Intel has launched the entire CPUs in its Twelfth-gen vary. This new technology brings the identical slew of efficiency enhancements you’d count on out of a typical CPU technology but in addition marks the primary time Intel has used its 10nm manufacturing course of on desktop and the primary slot-in CPUs with a hybrid structure.

There’s rather a lot to speak about with Alder Lake, particularly after Intel revealed the remainder of the vary at CES 2022. We rounded up every little thing that you must learn about Twelfth-gen Alder Lake processors, together with how a lot they price, what sort of efficiency you possibly can count on, and the way they work with new Z690 motherboards.

Pricing and availability

Intel Core i9-12900K box on a desk.

The primary batch of Alder Lake chips arrived on November 4. The corporate introduced them throughout the Intel Innovation occasion on October 27, revealing six new CPUs to kick off the vary. They’re cut up into three teams of two, with a Ok-series and KF-series mannequin obtainable for every SKU:

  • Core i9-12900K — $589
  • Core i9-12900KF — $ 564
  • Core i7-12700K — $409
  • Core i7-12700KF — $384
  • Core i5-12600K — $289
  • Core i5-12600KF — $264

Intel introduced an additional 22 Alder Lake processors at CES 2022, however the firm hasn’t revealed pricing particulars but. These chips assist the remainder of the vary, providing locked variations of the above fashions, in addition to cheap Core i5 and Core i3 choices.

The costs we learn about are a lot decrease than we anticipated. Earlier leaks pointed to costs nearing $1,000 for the flagship chip. No less than within the U.S., Intel didn’t increase costs a lot over Eleventh-gen chips. The i9 and i5 fashions have seen a slight bump, whereas the i7’s pricing is identical because the earlier technology.

The leaked field was actual, too. The field designs are largely unchanged from the earlier technology, nevertheless, the flagship Core i9-12900K comes slotted inside a golden wafer duplicate within the field, confirming an earlier leak.

Exterior of the golden wafer with the Core i9-12900K, the six chips listed above don’t include something however the CPU. The opposite 22 CPUs introduced throughout CES include one among Intel’s redesigned Laminar CPU coolers.


Intel now has Twelfth-gen desktop processors from 16 cores all the way down to solely two, providing choices throughout the value and efficiency spectrum. Though Alder Lake is thought for having a hybrid structure, solely about half of the chips include a mixture of performant (P) cores and environment friendly (E) cores. Right here’s a have a look at the desktop vary:

Cores Base frequency Max enhance frequency Intel Sensible Cache (L3) Built-in graphics Base energy Max turbo energy
Core i9-12900K 16 (8P + 8E) 3.2GHz 5.2GHz 30MB Intel UHD 770 125W 241W
Core i9-12900KF 16 (8P + 8E) 3.2GHz 5.2GHz 30MB N/A 125W 241W
Core i9-12900 16 (8P + 8E) 2.4GHz 5.1GHz 30MB UHD 770 65W 202W
Core i9-12900F 16 (8P + 8E) 2.4GHz 5.1GHz 30MB N/A 65W 202W
Core i7-12700K 12 (8P + 4E) 3.6GHz 5.0GHz 25MB Intel UHD 770 125W 190W
Core i7-12700KF 12 (8P + 4E) 3.6GHz 5.0GHz 25MB N/A 125W 190W
Core i7-12700 12 (8P + 4E) 2.1GHz 4.9GHz 25MB UHD 770 65W 180W
Core i7-12700F 12 (8P + 4E) 2.1GHz 4.9GHz 25MB N/A 65W 180W
Core i5-12600K 10 (6P + 4E) 3.7GHz 4.9GHz 20MB Intel UHD 770 125W 150W
Core i5-12600KF 10 (6P + 4E) 3.7GHz 4.9GHz 20MB N/A 125W 150W
Core i5-12600 6 3.3GHz 4.8GHz 18MB UHD 770 65W 117W
Core i5-12500 6 3.0GHz 4.6GHz 18MB UHD 770 65W 117W
Core i5-12400 6 2.5GHz 4.4GHz 18MB UHD 730 65W 117W
Core i5-12400F 6 2.5GHz 4.4GHz 18MB N/A 65W 117W
Core i3-12300 4 3.5GHz 4.4GHz 12MB UHD 730 60W 89W
Core i3-12100 4 3.3GHz 4.3GHz 12MB UHD 730 60W 89W
Core i3-12100F 4 3.3GHz 4.3GHz 12MB N/A 58W 89W
Pentium Gold G7400 2 3.7GHz N/A 6MB UHD 710 46W N/A
Celeron G6900 2 3.4GHz N/A 4MB UHD 710 46W N/A
Core i9-12900T 16 (8P + 8E) 1.4GHz 4.9GHz 30MB UHD 770 35W 106W
Core i7-12700T 12 (8P + 4E) 1.4GHz 4.7GHz 25MB UHD 770 35W 99W
Core i5-12600T 6 2.1GHz 4.6GHz 18MB UHD 770 35W 74W
Core i5-12500T 6 2.0GHz 4.4GHz 18MB UHD 770 35W 74W
Core i5-12400T 6 1.8GHz 4.2GHz 18MB UHD 730 35W 74W
Core i3-12300T 4 2.3GHz 4.2GHz 12MB UHD 730 35W 69W
Core i3-12100T 4 2.2GHz 4.1GHz 12MB UHD 730 35W 69W
Pentium Gold G7400T 2 3.1GHz N/A 6MB UHD 710 35W N/A
Celeron G6900T 2 2.8GHz N/A 4MB UHD 710 35W N/A

The steadiness of P-cores and E-cores is completely different for every mannequin. Solely the P-cores assist hyperthreading, so the i9 mannequin comes with 16 cores and 24 threads, the i7 mannequin comes with 12 cores and 20 threads, and so forth. Chips with out the hybrid structure come solely with P-cores, which assist hyperthreading.

Frequency-wise, it’s onerous to lock Alder Lake down. The P-cores and E-cores run at completely different frequencies, so there isn’t a single quantity to reference. With Intel’s up to date Excessive Overclocking Utility (XTU), you possibly can tweak the P-cores and E-cores independently to dial in an overclock.


Intel Core i9-12900K in a motherboard.

With Alder Lake lastly right here, we are able to validate a few of Intel’s efficiency claims. In our testing of the Core i9-12900K, we discovered large positive factors over the earlier technology and a major lead over the competing Ryzen 9 5950X.

Gaming is an enormous focus of Alder Lake. Intel says the technology brings as much as a 28% enchancment in video games like Hitman 3 over the earlier technology. A few of that’s on the again of Home windows 11, which is optimized for Alder Lake’s Thread Director function, and DDR5 reminiscence, which advantages video games with its elevated bandwidth.

Our personal benchmarks again up the enhancements in video games. Within the artificial 3D Mark Time Spy, the Core i9-12900K was about 8% sooner than the Ryzen 9 5950X and Core i9-10900K. In an actual sport, Forza Horizon 4, the Twelfth-gen chip managed a large 16% lead over the opposite two processors. This can be a a lot wider hole than an early leaked benchmark of the identical sport urged.

Intel Core i9-12900K AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Intel Core i9-10900K
3D Mark Time Spy  19,396 17,922 18,341
Crimson Lifeless Redemption 2 137 fps 135 fps 129 fps
Murderer’s Creed Valhalla 118 fps 121 fps 122 fps
Forza Horizon 4 234 fps 201 fps 200 fps
Civilization VI (flip time, decrease is healthier) 7.3 seconds 7.5 seconds 6.5 seconds

Nonetheless, not all video games noticed a profit. Crimson Lifeless Redemption 2 is one instance, because the Core i9-12900K simply barely managed to outclass the Ryzen 9 5950X. Equally, the chip produced a barely decrease body price than even the Core i9-10900K in Murderer’s Creed Valhalla, which Ubisoft confirmed has an issue with this processor.

Though gaming is necessary, Alder Lake can be targeted on multitasking and content material creation. In a standard state of affairs the place you’re taking part in a sport whereas streaming and recording, Intel says the Core i9-12900K can ship an 84% enchancment in body price over the earlier technology. Intel says the brand new chips are additionally as much as 36% sooner in photo-editing purposes like Adobe Lightroom, 32% sooner in Premiere Professional, and 37% sooner in Autodesk Revit.

These numbers are correct primarily based on our testing. In Photoshop, the Core i9-12900K was about 30% sooner than the Ryzen 9 5950X, and in Premiere Professional, it was about 7% sooner. The chip additionally produced a formidable 47-second render in Handbrake, marking a large 35% enchancment over the Core i9-10900K.

Basically computing, the Alder Lake nonetheless reveals its energy. Take Geekbench 5, for instance, the place the Core i9 mannequin managed a 28% lead over the Ryzen 9 5950X. This can be a a lot bigger hole than in early leaked benchmarks, the place the chip solely managed a 3.8% lead. The additional leap is on the again of elevated DDR5 reminiscence speeds. Taking place to DDR4, the Core i9-12900K is definitely slower.

Intel Core i9-12900K AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Intel Core i9-10900K
Cinebench R23 single-core 1,989 1,531 1,291
Cinebench R23 multi-core 27,344 27,328 13,614
Geekbench 5 single-core 2,036 1,726 1,362
Geekbench 5 multi-core 18,259 14,239 10,715
PC Mark 10 9,092 8,254 7,593
Handbrake (seconds, decrease is healthier) 47 58 72
Pugetbench for Premiere Professional 1,066 992 855
Pugetbench for Photoshop 1,315 1,009 1,023
7-Zip  126,215 139,074 86,172

Leaked Cinebench outcomes confirmed the Core i9-12900K performing about 21% above Ryzen 9 5950X. In our testing, the 2 chips produced virtually an identical scores within the multi-core take a look at, however Intel’s chip managed practically a 30% lead within the single-core take a look at.

We’ve solely examined the Core i9-12900K, however there are some leaked benchmarks we are able to reference for the CPUs Intel introduced at CES 2022.

The latest leaked benchmarks we have now come from CPU-Z, the place the Core i7-12700K bested AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X by a large 45%. That is the clearest showcase of Alder Lake’s energy but, lining up with what Intel has been promising for over a yr.

One other leaker additionally posted CPU-Z benchmarks for the Core i5-12400. This processor solely comes with Golden Cove P-cores, nevertheless it nonetheless managed a 40% lead over the Ryzen 7 2700X within the single-core take a look at. In Cinebench R20, the Core i5-12400 beat out each Ryzen 5000 chip within the single-core take a look at whereas managing an honest lead over the Ryzen 5 5600X — which has the identical variety of cores — within the multi-core take a look at.

Incompatible video games

Eivor blowing her raid horn in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla

Following the launch of Twelfth-gen Alder Lake processors, Intel confirmed an inventory of 51 video games that have been incompatible with the brand new chips. A few of the video games had issues on Home windows 11, others simply on Home windows 10, and a few throughout each working programs. The problem got here all the way down to Digital Proper Administration (DRM) companies and the way they deal with Alder Lake’s hybrid structure.

Sure DRM platforms acknowledge the completely different cores as completely different PCs, blocking choose video games from launching. Though the record was giant at launch, Intel introduced {that a} patch launched by means of Home windows Replace solved the issue for almost all of video games. Now, solely two titles have points — Murderer’s Creed Valhalla and Fernbus Simulator. 

There’s a means round this drawback referred to as the scroll lock workaround. To make use of it, enter your motherboard’s BIOS and activate Legacy Sport Compatibility Mode. Save the adjustments and reboot your PC. After coming into, press the Scroll Lock key in your keyboard and launch the sport you wish to play. After you attain the title display screen, toggle the Scroll Lock key off.

We suggest bookmarking Intel’s record of unsupported titles. The corporate will replace the record as patches are launched. We hope that Intel has fixes obtainable for the ultimate three video games earlier than the top of the yr. Within the meantime, Gigabyte and MSI have launched fixes that may assist you to bypass these gameplay points together with your motherboard.

Structure design

Pins on Intel Core i9-12900K.

Alder Lake makes use of a hybrid structure that brings collectively two sorts of processing cores. The primary is a performant core that mirrors what you’d sometimes discover in a brand new processor technology, and the second is an environment friendly core that’s used to deal with background duties and beef up purposes that like lots of cores.

Intel is designing each cores on Intel 7, which is the brand new title for the Enhanced 10nm SuperFin course of node. Golden Cove cores are the massive ones, they usually deal with the majority of labor you’d do on a pc. Gracemont cores are the little ones, they usually’re helpful for dealing with background duties or conserving battery life when a performant core isn’t wanted.

Golden Cove cores are targeted on high-frequency, single-threaded efficiency. Using Intel’s new Matrix engine, the corporate says that the cores ought to have greater frequencies throughout purposes. The Matrix engine is a coprocessor that handles matrix multiplication, which may velocity up A.I. workloads, specifically.

Intel Alder Lake performance core design.

Gracemont cores deal with the opposite aspect of the efficiency spectrum. Intel says they’re all about multi-threaded efficiency, juggling a number of light-weight duties throughout a number of cores. Intel says they will carry out about 40% above previous Skylake cores on the similar wattage.

Bringing the 2 core designs collectively is a collection of high-bandwidth interconnects. The Compute Cloth ties the 2 cores along with as much as 1,000GBps of bandwidth, the I/O Cloth delivers as much as 64GBps of bandwidth between inputs and the reminiscence subsystem, and the Reminiscence Cloth affords as much as 204GBps of bandwidth between the reminiscence and the remainder of the processor.

Different adjustments to Alder Lake embody assist for PCIe Gen 5 and PCIe Gen 4, in addition to DDR5 and DDR4 reminiscence. Although Alder Lake helps each generations of DDR system reminiscence, it’s as much as the board producer to determine which commonplace to assist. Customers can’t combine DDR4 and DDR5 modules on the identical board. Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6E Gig+ are additionally supported on Alder Lake.

Rumors recommend Intel will proceed supporting DDR4 for its Thirteenth-gen Raptor Lake processors.

DDR5 modules assist XMP 3.0. This new model of XMP comes with a bunch of upgrades, together with as much as two user-defined profiles, 5 onboard profiles total, and assist for tweaking within the working system.


Intel Alder Lake pin layout.

Alder Lake chips function a thicker built-in warmth spreader (IHS), which ought to give them extra overclocking potential. Intel trimmed the die thickness and thermal interface materials down to extend the IHS dimension, including extra bulk steel to the highest of the chip for better cooling potential.

Alder Lake marks the launch of Excessive Tuning Utility (XTU) 7.5, which lets you tweak the ratio and voltage settings of Alder Lake’s P-cores and E-cores. You possibly can overclock every of the cores independently. For those who can’t be bothered, you need to use Intel Pace Optimizer on the Core i9-12900K and Core i9-12900KF so as to add a reasonable overclock with a single button.

In our testing, XTU boosted the chip to five.0GHz all-core with out rising warmth or energy draw. With some guide tweaking, we managed a 5.4GHz overclock with out a lot of a trouble, although it got here carried a 300W energy draw with it.

New socket and motherboards

Biostar Z170GT7
Invoice Roberson/Digital Tendencies

Intel is transferring to the Z690 platform with Alder Lake, which options the brand new LGA1700 socket. Many motherboard producers, together with Gigabyte, MSI, Asus, Colourful, and ASRock, have boards obtainable with the brand new chipset and socket. Alder Lake helps DDR4 and DDR5, however as talked about above, you gained’t be capable to use each on the identical motherboard.

Z690 is Intel’s flagship chipset, however the firm additionally has budget-focused choices — H670, B660, and H610. These chipsets don’t assist CPU overclocking they usually include fewer PCIe lanes. They nonetheless assist Alder Lake’s different tentpole options, although, together with DDR5 on the motherboard with the right RAM slots.

DDR5 options the identical variety of pins as DDR4, nevertheless it has a special format. Motherboard makers can select which commonplace they wish to assist, and you may’t swap between them.

A brand new socket means a brand new format for CPU coolers. Many CPU cooler makers, together with Noctua, are providing free brackets that work with the LGA1700 socket. For those who’re questioning what you want, make certain to learn our information on every little thing that you must improve to Intel Twelfth-gen Alder Lake.

Thread Director and Home windows 11

Alder Lake can leverage Home windows 11 in a means a processor by no means has earlier than. Thread Director is a brand new hardware-level function on Alder Lake processors that helps the working system — Home windows 11, specifically — know the way to assign duties to completely different cores.

As talked about, Alder Lake is a hybrid structure that makes use of performant and environment friendly cores. Usually, an OS chooses which duties go the place by means of a mix of calculations (similar to if the duty is within the foreground or background) and guessing. The result’s inefficient thread scheduling, which is an enormous deal for a hybrid CPU.

Intel Thread Director scheduling examples.

Enter Thread Director. With this function, Intel is ready to supply Home windows 11 full visibility into what sort of workload the duty is dealing with. That removes the guesswork from the equation, serving to the working system higher assign duties to acceptable cores.

Thread Director hits on two fronts. Though Alder Lake doesn’t have the primary hybrid CPU structure, most earlier variations have targeted on battery life and effectivity. Thread Director permits the processor to achieve a peak efficiency state when duties name for it whereas conserving battery life when the machine doesn’t have a big workload.

“We didn’t wish to sacrifice,” Intel consumer architect Rajshree Chabukswar advised Digital Tendencies. “It’s actually about preserving [performance and battery life] in thoughts.”

Proper now, Home windows 11 sees the most important enchancment, however Intel tells us that Home windows 10 has some enhancements, too. Down the road, Intel says it hopes to work with extra companions to deliver Thread Director assist to different working programs. Based mostly on leaked benchmarks, Alder Lake may supply as much as an 8.2% enchancment in single-threaded workloads on Home windows 11.

Our testing backs that up, with PC Mark 10 displaying a 15% enchancment with the Core i9-12900K on Home windows 11. A variety of purposes don’t see a lot of a profit, nevertheless. In our suite of benchmarks, solely PC Mark 10 confirmed a major enchancment on Home windows 11.

Alder Lake cell processors

Someone drawing on the Samsung Galaxy Book.

Alder Lake is a platform for Intel. The corporate is utilizing the identical title and structure throughout its desktop and cell releases, breaking from the launch cadence it has established. Intel has H-series (45W), P-series (28W), and U-series (18W and 9W) cell chips obtainable, however we solely have specs for the H-series proper now. Right here’s how the vary appears to be like:

Cores Max enhance frequency Intel Sensible Cache (L3) Base energy
Core i9-12900HK 14 (6P + 8E) 5.0GHz 24MB 45W
Core i9-12900H 14 (6P + 8E) 5.0GHz 24MB 45W
Core i7-12800H 14 (6P + 8E) 4.8GHz 24MB 45W
Core i7-12700H 14 (6P + 8E) 4.7GHz 24MB 45W
Core i7-12650H 10 (6P + 4E) 4.7GHz 24MB 45W
Core i5-12600H 12 (4P + 8E) 4.5GHz 18MB 45W
Core i5-12500H 12 (4P + 8E) 4.5GHz 18MB 45W
Core i5-12450H 8 (4P + 4E) 4.4GHz 12MB 45W

We haven’t examined cell Alder Lake CPUs but, however there are leaked benchmarks to reference. Within the take a look at, the flagship Core i9-12900HK boasted a 44.8% enchancment in multi-core efficiency over the earlier technology, and it was capable of squeeze out a small 3% over Apple’s M1 Max.

We not too long ago noticed a Geekbench end result for the unreleased HP Omen 17 laptop computer, which sports activities an Intel Core i7-12700H in line with the benchmark. The take a look at doesn’t say a lot concerning the processor, sadly, specializing in the RTX 3080 Ti contained in the laptop computer as an alternative.

One other Geekbench end result, testing the Core i7-12700H contained in the Gigabyte Aero 5 XE, confirmed extra of the processor. In keeping with this end result, the Core i7-12700H may supply as a lot as a forty five% enchancment in multi-core efficiency over the earlier technology, in addition to a sizeable lead over AMD’s Ryzen 9 5900HX.

These chips may beat the Apple competitors, too. A leaked Cinebench end result confirmed the Core i7-12700H outperforming Apple’s current M1 Max chip by a large 49%. That’s an enormous margin, however as is the case with all pre-release benchmarks, so it’s best to deal with this end result with skepticism.

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