Intel Core i7-12700K Review - Almost as Fast as the i9-12900K 44

Intel Core i7-12700K Review - Almost as Fast as the i9-12900K

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Introduction

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The Core i7-12700K "Alder Lake" is a performance desktop processor Intel priced around the $400-mark. It succeeds a long line of top mainstream desktop processors by the company that dominated the segment for over a decade. It's only with the past three generations that Intel introduced the Core i9 extension to the desktop segment to sell top-tier processors around the $500-mark. The i7-12700K is technically a 12-core/20-thread processor, but there's a lot more to that core count. "Alder Lake" debuts the hybrid core topology to the desktop segment, combining a number of bigger "performance" cores, or P-cores, with smaller "efficiency" cores, or E-cores.



The Core i7-12700K features eight P-cores and four E-cores. HyperThreading is enabled on the P-cores, which works out to the 12-core/20-thread count. Built on the Intel 7 (10 nm Enhanced SuperFin) silicon fabrication node, which offers comparable transistor-density and power characteristics to 7 nm-class nodes by TSMC, the "Alder Lake-S" silicon features up to 8 "Golden Cove" P-cores and up to 8 "Gracemont" E-cores, of which all 8 P-cores and 4 out of 8 E-cores are enabled on the i7-12700K.

Intel claims the "Golden Cove" performance cores offer a massive 28% IPC gain over the "Skylake" cores powering Intel processors for a bulk of the last decade, and 19% over the "Cypress Cove" cores powering the 11th Gen "Rocket Lake" processors. The "Gracemont" efficiency cores take up a quarter of the die area and a fraction of the power of the P-cores, but at the right clock speed are able to match the "Skylake" core in IPC. Intel has also adjusted the instruction sets available to the two core types for a high degree of ISA coherency between the two core types. The Intel Thread Director technology is a hardware middleware that interfaces with the operating system at a very low level and ensures the right workload distribution to the two core types.

The Core i7-12700K is clocked at 3.60 GHz base and 5.00 GHz max boost for the P-cores, and 2.70 GHz base with 3.80 GHz boost for the E-cores. The processor features a total of 14 MB of L2 cache. That's 1.25 MB per P-core, and 2 MB for the E-core cluster. 25 MB of L3 cache is shared between both the core types. As an unlocked K-SKU, you get the ability to easily overclock both core types, as well as the integrated graphics. The Intel UHD 770 iGPU is based on the same Xe LP graphics architecture as the UHD 750 found in 11th Gen "Rocket Lake" processors, down to the same execution unit count of 32. All that has chanced is an increase in the iGPU frequency to 1.55 GHz from 1.30 GHz.

With "Alder Lake," Intel is dispensing with TDP as a measure of power or thermals. The processor now comes with two monikers you should be aware of, the Processor Base Power value, which is set at 125 W, and Maximum Turbo Power value, which is 190 W for the i7-12700K. Several power levels span the two, but what's relevant is that you can get the processor to run at its maximum turbo power value indefinitely.

The Core i7-12700K has its sights set on the likes of the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X and Ryzen 7 5800X and priced competitively to the two. The processor supports both the newer DDR5 memory and current DDR4 memory, and Intel ensured its motherboard partners launch plenty of options for those wanting to keep their older memory sticks. The processor also features new cutting-edge PCI-Express Gen 5, though only for the main x16 graphics slot. The processor-attached M.2 NVMe slot is still Gen 4. We find out whether Intel has managed to score a win around the $400-mark, which would spell trouble for one of AMD's best-selling segments among enthusiasts.

Intel Core i9-12700K 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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