Intel Core 12th Gen Alder Lake Preview 162

Intel Core 12th Gen Alder Lake Preview

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The 12th Generation Core Lineup

Intel is launching its 12th Gen Core desktop processors in two stages. Today's launch only includes the Unlocked "K" and "KF" SKUs along with the top Z690 motherboard chipset, so gamers and PC enthusiasts have something to pick up for this holiday. The company will augment the larger half of this lineup, the numerous non-K variants, along with more affordable motherboards based on mid-tier chipsets some time in Q1-2022.


Leading the pack are the Core i9-12900K and i9-12900KF, followed by the Core i7-12700K and i7-12700KF, and the Core i5-12600K and i5-12600KF in the middle tier. The introduction of the E-core clusters gives Intel a new dimension for segmenting its lineup, particularly between the Core i9 and Core i7 SKUs. The core-counts are represented as P+E (performance + efficiency cores). The performance cores support HyperThreading, while the efficiency cores lack it.

The Core i9-12900K and i9-12900KF are 8+8 core SKUs, fully unlocking all CPU cores physically present on the silicon. The Core i7-12700K and i7-12700KF are 8+4 core SKUs, in which one of the two E-core clusters is disabled. The Core i5-12600K and i5-12600KF are 6+4 core processors, in which two P-cores and one E-core cluster is disabled. In addition to cores, Intel uses the shared L3 cache size for segmentation, too. The Core i9 parts feature the full 30 MB of L3 cache physically present. The Core i7 ones feature 25 MB. The Core i5 parts feature 20 MB. The Core i9 and Core i7 series chips support Turbo Boost Max 3.0, while the Core i5 SKUs lack it.

Intel introduced Thermal Velocity Boost a few generations ago. It's not included on any Alder Lake SKU—we confirmed that directly with Intel. What's also been removed is support for AVX512.

Prices of these processors remains roughly as steep as the 11th Gen "Rocket Lake." Intel announces MSRPs per chip in 1,000-unit tray quantities. The i9-12900K is priced at USD $589, while the i9-12900KF goes for $564. The Core i7-12700K is priced at $409, with the i7-12700KF going for $384. The Core i5-12600K goes for $289, and the i5-12600KF for $264.

You'll notice that the K and KF SKUs are consistently priced $25 apart. This is the value Intel attaches to the UHD 770 integrated graphics (iGPU), which the KF SKUs lack. The KF SKUs might appeal to gamers with discrete graphics cards, who may not bother with the iGPU. The money saved could be spent toward getting an aftermarket cooling solution, as none of the six SKUs being launched today feature a stock cooler inside the box. This is particularly disappointing because these processors herald a new CPU socket, the LGA1700, and its cooler mounting design as well as IHS coverage requirements differ from older LGA1200 or LGA115x sockets. Scouting for a compatible cooler or upgrades to your existing ones will be as difficult than it was for AMD users in 2017. Some motherboard vendors have decided to include mounting holes for both the current LGA115x/LGA1200 coolers and new LGA1700, so your old coolers might have a little bit more life left in them.
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