Intel has officially announced details on its much-anticipated 12th-gen Alder Lake processors, including pricing and performance details for three new chips.
The good news: While Intel’s 11th-gen processors weren’t particularly innovative or exciting or…differently-shaped, the 12th-gen processors are very different. They’re built with the Intel 7 process and are the first processors to utilise Intel’s new-ish hybrid architecture — and yes, the different architecture means you’ll need a new Z690 motherboard to upgrade.
Intel’s latest hybrid architecture mixes different cores on the same chip: Big, high-powered performance cores (P-cores) and small, low-powered efficient cores (E-cores). This type of hybrid architecture isn’t totally new — we saw its predecessor in Intel’s Lakefield processors — but it’s coupled with a hardware-based optimisation tool called Intel Thread Director, which streamlines performance by directing tasks to the correct cores: P-cores handle the powerful, single-threaded tasks, while E-cores take care of background processes and multi-tasking. Intel Thread Director was built alongside, and is officially supported by, Windows 11, so you’ll need to upgrade basically everything if you want to maximise efficiency and performance.
And, of course, the new processors and corresponding motherboards are the first products to support DDR5 (up to 4800) memory, so that’s another thing to upgrade.
“The World’s Best Gaming Processor”
Intel is making some seriously bold claims about Alder Lake, calling its Core i9-12900K CPU “the world’s best gaming processor.” These chips will need to be as impressive as promised if Intel wants to bounce back from its underwhelming 11th-gen CPUs.
Intel dropped its 11th-gen i9s to 8 cores and 16 threads, down from the 10-core, 20-thread 10th-gen i9s, claiming the sacrifice was necessary to “maximise real-world performance.” But the 12th-gen i9s are back up to 16 cores and 24 threads with the new hybrid architecture. Of course, this is a mix of P- and E-cores: The 12th-gen i9 processors have an even balance of 8 P-cores and 8 E-cores, which translates to a 19% performance increase (according to Intel).
Let’s Talk Prices
The new processors are pricier than the previous generation, which isn’t too surprising but is still a little disappointing: The $US589 (A$784) i9-12900K is a $US50 (A$67) jump from the $US539 (A$717) 11th-gen i9-11900K. At the moment, Intel has only announced pricing for a handful of its desktop processors. Processors with a K in the name are unlocked, while processors with an F in the name do not include Intel’s UHD 770 onboard graphics. Here are all the details:
12th-gen Core i9
i9-12900K: up to 3.2GHz P-core / 2.4 E-core / 5.2GHz boost ($US589 (A$784))
i9-12900KF: up to 3.2GHz P-core / 2.4GHz E-core / 5.2GHz boost ($US564 (A$750))
12th-gen Core i7
The mid-range 12th-gen i7 processors have 12 cores (8 P-cores and 4 E-cores) and 20 threads.
i7-12700K : up to 3.6GHz P-core / 2.7GHz E-core / 5.0GHz boost ($US409 (A$544))
i7-12700KF: up to 3.6GHz P-core / 2.7GHz E-core / 5.0GHz boost ($US384 (A$511))
12th-gen Core i5
The 12th-gen i5 processors have 10 cores (6 P-cores and 4 E-cores) and 16 threads.
i5-12600K: up to 3.7GHz P-core / 2.8GHz E-core / 4.9GHz boost ($US289 (A$385))
i5-12600KF: up to 3.7GHz P-core / 2.8GHz E-core / 4.9GHz boost ($US264 (A$351))
All three chips are available to preorder now and start shipping Nov. 4.
Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.