After months of teasers and speculation, Intel have finally delivered us their 12th generation Alder Lake processors. It’s marks a big change in approach for Team Blue, as Alder Lake is not only their first desktop 10nm chip built on Intel 7, but also one featuring their new hybrid design. Their shining star today is the Intel Core i9-12900K, which they straight up claim is the world’s best gaming processor.
There’s a lot to take in with Alder Lake’s introduction, but let’s first start of with the hybrid architecture. First detailed about during the 2021 Intel Architecture Day, their 12th gen processors will feature two different types of CPU cores: the Performance-cores (P-cores) and the Efficient-cores (E-cores). Similar to how ARM’s big.LITTLE works, Alder Lake chips will have a blend of P-cores and E-cores for better single threaded and multi-threaded performance.
Intel themselves define the P-core as the CPU core best able to handle single and lightly threaded performance. It’s also the CPU core that you will want taking care of heavier workloads like gaming and productivity. Meanwhile, E-cores are best optimised to handle scaling highly threaded workloads, allowing for minimal interruptions from background task management.
Furthermore, Alder Lake will see the introduction of PCIe 5.0 x 16 offering speeds of up to 32 GT/s, together with support for up to DDR5 4800 MT/s memory too. Another new feature baked into Alder Lake is the Intel Thread Director, a new scheduler that handles the assigning of specific tasks to the best P-core or E-core available depending on the workload. Intel have also worked with Microsoft to optimise it for Windows 11. There’s integrated Intel WiFi 6E support too, along with enhanced Intel UHD Xe onboard graphics.
The improvements Intel has made can be best seen in the Core i9-12900K. Not only the world’s best gaming processor, it’s also a giant leap for creation—according to Intel anyway. In their own internal benchmarks, we can see that the Core i9-12900K has a not insignificant increase in performance over last generation’s Core i9-11900K. Intel have also provided internal benchmarks comparing it to the AMD Ryzen 5950X, which shows even more improvements. However, you should take that with a pinch of salt, considering that they tested it using Windows 11, coincidentally just as AMD had performance issues with it.
The Intel Core i9-12900K will come with a total of 16 cores, split between 8 P-cores and 8 E-cores, with a total of 24 threads. It has a max turbo frequency of up to 5.2GHz, with a single P-core turbo up to 5.1GHz and a single E-core turbo up to 3.9GHz. The P-cores and E-cores will run on a base frequency of 3.2GHz and 2.4GHz respectively. You’ll also note that Intel will be doing away with TDP ratings for this and other Alder Lake CPUs, as they’ll instead be using Processor Base Power for power draw at stock speeds, and Maximum Turbo Power for power draw at higher speeds.
Other than that though, Intel have also launched the Intel Core i7-12700K and Intel Core i5-12600K. The Core i7 processor tones it down a little, with a 12-core, 20-thread split between 8 P-cores and 4 E-cores. As for the Intel Core I5-12600K, it gets a 6 P-core and 4 E-core configuration for a total of 10 cores and 16 threads. Intel will also be releasing versions of all three CPUs without the integrated graphics onboard; you can spot those by looking out for the -KF suffix.
Pricing and availability
Unfortunately, we don’t have the pricing and availability information for Malaysia just yet, but we do know that it’ll be made available in other regions on the 4th of November. As for pricing, the cheapest so far is the Core i5-12699KF, while the most expensive Alder Lake silicon is the Core i9-12900K. However, it should be noted that you’ll probably have to fork out a bit more to get the new motherboards required for 12th gen Intel chips.
- Core i9-12900K — USD589 (~RM2,447.47)
- Core i9-12900KF — USD564 (~RM2,343.59)
- Core i7-12700K — USD409 (~RM1,699.52)
- Core i7-12700KF — USD384 (~RM1,595.64)
- Core i5-12600K —USD289 (~RM1,200.88)
- Core i5-12600KF — USD264 (~RM1,097.00)
Overall, the launch prices for Alder Lake don’t seem too egregious, but with the current chip shortage still going around, it remains to be seen if that’s actually what they’ll be going for in the real world. Nevertheless, Intel’s 12th generation of processors are, on paper at least, quite impressive. There’s a reason to be excited again for Intel fans and PC fans in general, especially after years of lackluster CPUs from Team Blue.