Intel Core i5-12600K Review - Winning Price/Performance 319

Intel Core i5-12600K Review - Winning Price/Performance

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Introduction

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The Core i5-12600K "Alder Lake" is Intel's all-important performance-segment processor around the $290-mark, taking the fight to the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X and perhaps even Ryzen 7 5800X. Before Ryzen shook things up in the processor industry, Core i5 in the desktop segment consisted of 4-core/4-thread processors for the longest time, but has since seen its core-counts go up every two years in response to AMD's consistent generational performance gains. The 8th and 9th Gen Core i5 chips were 6-core/6-thread, while the 10th and 11th Gen ones were 6-core/12-thread, matching their Ryzen 5 counterparts. "Alder Lake" introduces the Hybrid core architecture to the desktop segment, where we see combinations of larger performance "P" cores alongside efficient "E" cores, with the Intel Thread Director middleware working at a low level with the operating system to ensure the right kind of workload for the two core types.



The Core i5-12600K we're reviewing today is technically a 10-core/16-thread processor featuring six performance cores that have HyperThreading enabled, and four efficiency cores that lack it—hence the asymmetric thread count. Intel claims that its "Golden Cove" performance cores offer a massive 28% IPC gain over the "Skylake" cores that powered five generations of Core processors; and an impressive 19% gain over the "Cypress Cove" cores powering the previous-gen "Rocket Lake." On paper, the "Gracemont" E-cores are quite something else, matching the "Skylake" cores in IPC at the right frequency for a fraction of the power. These also only take up a quarter of the die area of the larger P-cores.

The two core types operate at different clock-speed bands. The P-cores tick at 3.70 GHz base and 4.90 GHz boost, while the E-cores do 2.80 GHz base with 3.60 GHz boost. Each of the six P-cores has 1.25 MB of dedicated L2 cache, while the four E-cores share 2 MB of L2 cache. All ten cores share 20 MB of L3 cache. Intel has done away with the vague terminology of TDP with this generation and defined two power values relevant to the consumer. For the i5-12600K, 125 W is set as the processor Base Power Value, while the Maximum Turbo Power value is set at 150 W. The processor can be made to operate at Maximum Turbo Power indefinitely or swing between the two values across various power levels.

The 12th Gen Core "Alder Lake" processors introduce new-generation I/O, including PCI-Express Gen 5, although only for the x16 PEG slot. The CPU-attached M.2 NVMe slot is still Gen 4. The processors are also first to market with DDR5 memory support, but retain backwards compatibility with DDR4. Intel ensured that motherboard manufacturers have plenty of products with DDR4 slots, should you want to stick to your current memory. The chipset bus sees a doubling in bandwidth over the previous generation, and there is chipset-attached PCIe Gen 4 connectivity.

Intel Core i9-12600K Market Segment Analysis
 PriceCores /
Threads
Base
Clock
Max.
Boost
L3
Cache
TDPArchitectureProcessSocket
Core i5-9400F$1706 / 62.9 GHz4.1 GHz9 MB65 WCoffee Lake14 nmLGA 1151
Core i5-10400F$1806 / 122.9 GHz4.3 GHz12 MB65 WComet Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Core i5-11400F$2156 / 122.6 GHz4.4 GHz12 MB65 WRocket Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Core i5-10500$2256 / 123.1 GHz4.5 GHz12 MB65 WComet Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Ryzen 5 3600$2306 / 123.6 GHz4.2 GHz32 MB65 WZen 27 nmAM4
Core i5-9600K$2106 / 63.7 GHz4.6 GHz9 MB95 WCoffee Lake14 nmLGA 1151
Core i5-10600K$2606 / 124.1 GHz4.8 GHz12 MB125 WComet Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Core i5-11600K$2606 / 123.9 GHz4.9 GHz12 MB125 WRocket Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Ryzen 5 3600X$2906 / 123.8 GHz4.4 GHz32 MB95 WZen 27 nmAM4
Ryzen 5 5600G$2506 / 123.9 GHz4.4 GHz16 MB65 WZen 3 + Vega7 nmAM4
Ryzen 5 5600X$3106 / 123.7 GHz4.6 GHz32 MB65 WZen 37 nmAM4
Core i5-12600K$3006+4 / 163.7 / 2.8 GHz4.9 / 3.6 GHz 20 MB125 WAlder Lake10 nmLGA 1700
Core i7-9700K$3108 / 83.6 GHz4.9 GHz12 MB95 WCoffee Lake14 nmLGA 1151
Core i7-10700K$3308 / 163.8 GHz5.1 GHz16 MB125 WComet Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Core i7-11700K$3508 / 163.6 GHz5.0 GHz16 MB125 WRocket Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Ryzen 7 3700X$3208 / 163.6 GHz4.4 GHz32 MB65 WZen 27 nmAM4
Ryzen 7 5700G$3508 / 163.8 GHz4.6 GHz16 MB65 WZen 3 + Vega7 nmAM4
Ryzen 7 3800XT$4008 / 163.9 GHz4.7 GHz32 MB105 WZen 27 nmAM4
Core i7-12700K$4208+4 / 203.6 / 2.7 GHz5.0 / 3.8 GHz 25 MB125 WAlder Lake10 nmLGA 1700
Ryzen 7 5800X$4008 / 163.8 GHz4.7 GHz32 MB105 WZen 37 nmAM4
Core i9-10900$44010 / 202.8 GHz5.2 GHz20 MB65 WComet Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Ryzen 9 3900X$43012 / 243.8 GHz4.6 GHz64 MB105 WZen 27 nmAM4
Ryzen 9 5900X$52512 / 243.7 GHz4.8 GHz64 MB105 WZen 37 nmAM4
Core i9-9900K$4708 / 163.6 GHz5.0 GHz16 MB95 WCoffee Lake14 nmLGA 1151
Core i9-10900K$47010 / 203.7 GHz5.3 GHz20 MB125 WComet Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Core i9-11900K$5508 / 163.5 GHz5.3 GHz16 MB125 WRocket Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Ryzen 9 3950X$76516 / 323.5 GHz4.7 GHz64 MB105 WZen 27 nmAM4
Ryzen 9 5950X$75016 / 323.4 GHz4.9 GHz64 MB105 WZen 37 nmAM4
Core i9-12900K$6008+8 / 243.2 / 2.4 GHz5.2 / 3.9 GHz 30 MB125 WAlder Lake10 nmLGA 1700
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