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Gigabyte Fixes Major Gaming Problem On Intel Alder Lake

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Although Intel Alder Lake processors have been collecting stellar reviews, some games have had issues running on the new CPUs. The design of Intel’s 12th-Generation processors causes a number of games to be impossible to play.

Gigabyte joins the list of the best motherboard vendors, such as MSI, in providing a fix to these issues that will let users play some, if not all, of the affected titles through the use of its new DRM Fix Tool. Meanwhile, Intel continues working on its own solution alongside game developers.

Intel Corporation

Intel Alder Lake CPUs are generally powerful gaming beasts, in some cases outperforming their competitors by as much as 60%. Unfortunately, there is a fairly long list of games that simply don’t work on the new processors. The reason lies in the hybrid architecture of Intel’s 12th-Gen chips.

The issue is caused by DRM (Digital Rights Management) in these games. As Intel Alder Lake CPUs feature a mix of two types of cores: the Golden Cove P-cores (Performance) and the Gracemont E-cores (Efficiency). DRM identifies these two kinds of cores as two separate systems. This prevents the games from running, even though both the P-cores and the E-cores are all part of the same processor.

Depending on the game, this incompatibility with the latest hybrid CPU technology can either completely prevent it from running, cause crashes and bugs, or simply lower gaming performance. The fix, already utilized by MSI motherboards, is to temporarily disable Alder Lake’s efficiency cores. This is what Gigabyte is offering with its new DRM Fix Tool.

Gigabyte’s new software, targeted at the owners of the vendor’s new Z690 motherboards, switches off Alder Lake’s E-cores. This means that, while gaming, efficiency cores are disabled, and this allows these pre-Alder Lake games to run normally, as they once again recognize the processor as just one system.

Gigabyte motherboards that can use the new DRM Fix tool.

Gigabyte issued a press release to announce the launch of the new tool. The manufacturer promises that its new Windows-based software is easy to control and doesn’t require any complicated installation. Most users won’t have to tinker with their BIOS in order to run Gigabyte’s DRM Fix, but some motherboards may require it.

In the press release, Gigabyte invites customers to download the latest version of BIOS, which is required to run the new tool. A download link for DRM Fix Tool has also been provided, alongside a list of motherboards and the required BIOS version for each model.

Earlier this month, Intel acknowledged this gaming issue and posted a fix to enable Legacy Game Compatibility Mode. However, the solution requires entering the BIOS and covers a few steps, so it’s less than ideal — but it’s better than nothing, at least while more vendors, game devs, and Intel itself work on a permanent solution.

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Intel Alder Lake-P For Laptops Could Beat AMD By Over 35%

The new Intel Alder Lake-P Core 7-12700H laptop processor has just been tested in a new benchmark, and the results are just as promising as those of the desktop version of Alder Lake CPUs.

The leaked test, found in the Geekbench 5 database, shows a huge performance jump in multithreading operations. The results of this benchmark propel Intel’s 12th generation of processors even higher above the competition.

Intel’s latest mobility CPU was tested in terms of single-threaded and multithreaded performance. The processor scored 1,340 points in single-core operations and 11,138 points in multi-core. Measuring the CPU against its predecessors, as well as current-gen AMD processors, reveals a huge lead for the new Alder Lake chip.

Comparing Core i7-12700H to its predecessor, the Core 7-11700H, shows that the new CPU is up to 45% faster in multi-core operations. The same is true when it comes to the 10th generation of Intel processors — the Core i7-10750H scored a mere 5,422 points compared to Alder Lake’s 11,138.

Intel stands victorious against AMD in this test, too. Although the new CPU was outperformed by AMD’s Ryzen 5900HX in single-core tests, it blew Team Red out of the water in multithreaded operations. The Ryzen 5900HX, which is the best mobility AMD processor out right now, scored 8,217 points in multi-core benchmarks.

Intel Core i7-12700H is a mobility processor that is still, as of yet, unreleased. It was found inside a Gigabyte Aero 5 XE laptop. We’ve already seen benchmarks of the high-end Core i9-12900HK recently, and it seems that this processor will feature the same core lineup, with 14 cores and 20 threads. This most likely means six Golden Cove (performance) cores and eight Gracemont (efficiency) cores.

According to the Geekbench test, the CPU has a base frequency of 2.7GHz and up to 4.6GHz in turbo mode. This is combined with a 24MB L3 cache and a reasonable TDP of around 35 to 45 watts. The system it was tested on ran a 64-bit version of Windows 11 Pro and had 16GB of DDR4 memory with a frequency of 1330MHz.

Intel Alder Lake pin layout.

It’s worth noting that the clock speeds are different than those shown in a previous benchmark of the same model that was found inside an upcoming HP Omen laptop and combined with an RTX 3080 Ti graphics card. The new, still only rumored HP Omen actually featured lower clock speeds than the Gigabyte Aero 5 XE laptop, running a base clock of 2.45GHz that can be boosted up to 4.2GHz.

The reason for the discrepancy in core speeds could be related to the TDP of the two processors. Although both laptops are equipped with a Core i7-12700H processor, it’s possible that the Gigabyte Aero 5 XE version runs at the higher TDP of 45W, thus allowing for better performance. Gigabyte’s Aero laptop will likely feature increased cooling capabilities, which should enable it to sustain the increased TDP.

Intel Alder Lake processors have been performing well across the board, sometimes dominating the previous generation of Intel and AMD by more than 60%. AMD is currently at a disadvantage as the manufacturer has not yet released the next generation of comparable processors. We can expect to see AMD catch up in 2023 with the new mobility Raphael-H line of CPUs.

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Upgrading to Intel 12th-Gen Alder Lake: Everything You Need

Intel just released its 12th-generation Alder Lake CPUs, but you’ll need more than a processor if you want to upgrade. The new generation also brings a new motherboard chipset and ushers in DDR5 on desktop. To get you up to speed, we rounded up everything you need to upgrade to Intel’s 12th-gen Alder Lake platform.

Because there are so many new components this generation, you may have a hard time tracking down everything you need. Motherboard makers only have a select number of models available, for example, and there are precious few budget DDR5 kits. Within the weeks following launch, however, we expect to see a greater variety of options.

A 12th-gen Alder Lake processor

In chorus: “Duh.” You need a 12th-gen Alder Lake processor to upgrade, but you shouldn’t just pick up a processor with 12th-gen on the box. At the time of publication, Intel only has six Alder Lake processors available — three models with two variations each. And knowing the differences between them is important.

Cores Base frequency Max boost frequency Intel Smart Cache (L3) Integrated graphics Base power Max turbo power Suggested price
Core i9-12900K 16 (8P + 8E) 3.2GHz (P-core), 2.4GHz (E-core) Up to 5.2GHz 30MB Intel UHD 770 125W 241W $589
Core i9-12900KF 16 (8P + 8E) 3.2GHz (P-core), 2.4GHz (E-core) Up to 5.2GHz 30MB N/A 125W 241W $564
Core i7-12700K 12 (8P + 4E) 3.6GHz (P-core), 2.7GHz (E-core Up to 5.0GHz 25MB Intel UHD 770 125W 190W $409
Core i7-12700KF 12 (8P + 4E) 3.6GHz (P-core), 2.7GHz (E-core) Up to 5.0GHz 25MB N/A 125W 190W $384
Core i5-12600K 10 (6P + 4E) 3.7GHz (P-core), 2.8GHz (E-core) Up to 4.9GHz 20MB Intel UHD 770 125W 150W $289
Core i5-12600KF 10 (6P + 4E) 3.7GHz (P-core), 2.8GHz (E-core) Up to 4.9GHz 20MB N/A 125W 150W $264

For performance, you have three options: The Core i9-12900K, Core i7-12700K, or Core i5-12600K. They scale down in performance and price, with the top chip sporting 16 cores for around $600 and the bottom 10 cores for around $300. All three chips are unlocked for overclocking, so you can push them beyond the rated clock speed.

The KF-series processors are identical to their K-series counterparts. They come with the same number of cores, same boost clock, and same power limit. The only difference is that KF-series processors don’t include integrated graphics. All of these processors pair best with a discrete graphics card, so you can save a little bit of money by going with the KF-series model.

If you’re focused on gaming, we recommend the Core i5-12600K most. It’s the best gaming processor you can buy right now, sporting a massive core count and solid clock speeds for a reasonable price. The Core i9-12900K is overkill for gaming, but its extra cores are excellent for content creation, as you can read in our Core i9-12900K review.

The Core i7-12700K sits in a strange middle ground. The two extra performance cores will bring performance more in-line with the Core i9-12900K, but with only four efficient cores, it’s not as useful for multitasking. If you need just a little extra power, the Core i7-12700K is a good option, but otherwise, it’s best to stick with the Core i5 or Core i9 models.

A Z690 motherboard

A lineup of Z690 motherboards.

Alder Lake marks the launch of the new LGA1700 socket, which means you’ll need a new motherboard. Currently, the only chipset available with an LGA1700 socket is Z690, but we expect Intel to introduce budget-oriented chipsets in the future. Z690 comes with all of the bells and whistles, including support for overclocking.

Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock, Biostar, and Colorful have Z690 options available. The MSI Z690 Carbon Wi-Fi is tricked out with some RGB flair and comes with Wi-Fi 6E onboard, while the Asus ROG Strix Z690-A Gaming Wi-Fi offers a mini ITX form factor for smaller builds. Because Alder Lake is new, most motherboard manufacturers have only released their flagship boards. Over time, cheaper options will become available.

It’s important to pay close attention to the motherboard you’re picking up. Alder Lake supports DDR4 and DDR5 memory, but they’re not interchangeable. In most cases, motherboard makers have separate DDR4 models available, though we recommend checking the spec sheet to make sure your memory is compatible regardless.

DDR5 or DDR4 memory (and a compatible motherboard)

Intel Alder Lake box with DDR5 memory.

As mentioned, 12th-gen Alder Lake supports DDR4 and DDR5 memory. However, the two standards aren’t interchangeable. Although DDR4 and DDR5 feature the same number of pins, they have different layouts. A DDR4 module won’t fit in a DDR5 slot or vice versa.

DDR5 is the latest and greatest, and based on our testing, it offers a small improvement over DDR4 across applications. The differences are minor, though. DDR4 is still powerful enough for most applications, so you don’t need to upgrade to DDR5 right away. Rumors suggest Intel will continue supporting DDR4 on its 13th-gen Raptor Lake processors, too.

It’s important to keep DDR4 in mind for Alder Lake because DDR5 is really expensive right now. A 32GB kit of Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR5-5200 RAM is around $330, for example, while the same DDR4-3200 kit is only $240. The DDR5 kit is faster, sure, but it’s nearly $100 more expensive, too.

A supported CPU cooler

CPU block on the Origin Neuron.

LGA1700 is larger than LGA1200, so you’ll need a new cooler to upgrade to the 12th-gen Alder Lake. The cooler you already have may work with Alder Lake, though. Several companies, including Cooler Master, Noctua, and EK, offer upgrade kits so you can mount your existing cooler to the new socket.

Although we can’t list every cooler available, most major brands have upgrade kits available for free or for a small fee. As time goes on, more of these coolers will likely come with the mounting hardware in the box, so we recommend looking at the compatibility list if you’re picking up a new cooler.

Here are all of the brands offering LGA1700 upgrades right now:

A decent power supply

Someone screwing in a power supply.

Like previous generations, Alder Lake uses a lot of power. Z690 motherboard comes with two 8-pin CPU connectors, so you’ll need one of the best power supplies if you want to use the new chips. The top Core i9-12900K can draw as much as 241W of power, and it can go up to 300W if you delve into overclocking.

Although you don’t necessarily need a high wattage power supply, you’ll need one with at least two 8-pin CPU connectors. If you plan on using one of these chips with a powerful graphics card, you’ll need enough wattage to support both your GPU, CPU, and all of the other components in your machine. We recommend using a power supply calculator and choosing a power supply 200W or so higher.

A little bit of patience

Intel Core i9-12900K box.

12th-gen Alder Lake processors use a hybrid architecture. Instead of one core type, the processors feature two — performant (P) cores and efficient (E) cores. It’s a great solution for multitasking, but the unique architecture has caused some problems with select video games.

At launch, Intel has confirmed that 51 games have problems with Alder Lake processors. The issue comes down to DRM, or Digital Rights Management, services, which don’t play nicely with the hybrid architecture. The list includes titles like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. 

It’s not clear who dropped the ball here — Intel, game publishers, or DRM platform Denuvo — but regardless, there’s a good chunk of games that don’t work with Alder Lake right now. Fixes should be coming soon, but we recommend keeping Intel’s list of unsupported games handy for any updates.

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New HP Omen Laptop Comes With Alder Lake and RTX 3080 Ti

Based on a recent Geekbench test, it seems that HP may be releasing a laptop fully decked out with the latest components. The notebook comes with not just the newest Intel Alder Lake-P processor, but also an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti graphics card.

If the rumors prove to be true, the laptop will be released with two pieces of hardware that are not yet obtainable on the consumer market, as both the GPU and the CPU are unavailable in their laptop forms as of yet.

NVIDIA

The CPU used in this benchmark is the Intel Core i7-12700H, which is an Alder Lake laptop CPU. As reported by Wccftech last month, this CPU should have 14 cores, six of which are Golden Cove and eight of which are Gracemont. It runs on a 2.45GHz base clock and can be boosted up to 4.2GHz. This is combined with a 24 MB L3 cache and a fairly conservative TDP of 35 to 45 watts.

The graphics card is the still unreleased mobility version of the RTX 3080 Ti, and it may come in a standard and a Max-Q model. It may be based on a new Ampere GA103 chip and should feature 58 compute units, adding up to a total of 7424 CUDA cores. The GPU has a base clock speed of 1395MHz and 16GB of GDDR6 memory. The RTX 3080 Ti should also have a bandwidth of around 12Gbps with a 256-bit bus, as well as a TDP between 150W and 200W.

Although the desktop version of RTX 3080 Ti is markedly better than the RTX 3080, comparing the desktop RTX 3080 to the mobility RTX 3080 Ti reveals that the former will still reign supreme. The desktop RTX 3080 scored 132,909 in a Vulkan test, compared to the RTX 3080 Ti for laptops with just 90,114.

Interestingly, the RTX 3080 Ti also scored less than the laptop version of the RTX 3080, although the difference is negligible. The card outperformed the Max-Q version of the RTX 3070 for laptops and the previous-gen RTX 2080 for desktops.

Intel Alder Lake pin layout.

The mobility version of Intel Core i7-12700H was also compared to some other current CPUs in this Geekbench test. It scored 1,328 in single-core operations and 10,517 in multi-core. Unsurprisingly, it was vastly outperformed by the Intel Core i9-12900HK (1,851) and the Apple M1 Max chip (1,785).

It was also beaten by the previous generation of processors for laptops, including the Core i9-11980HK and the Ryzen 5980HX. However, all of these chips are more on the premium end of the scale than the Core i7-12700H. The new chip performed more favorably in multi-core operations, beating the Core i9-11980HK and the Ryzen 5980HX.

It’s important to remember that this hardware is still unreleased and the benchmarks may change. Drivers often play a part in the performance of components prior to their official release.

The exact release date for both the laptop and the GPU remains unknown, but it’s likely that we will learn more during CES 2022 in January.

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AMD Zen 4D Could Use Hybrid Design to Rival Intel Alder Lake

YouTuber and leaker Moore’s Law is Dead revealed new information regarding AMD’s future architecture plans. According to leaks, AMD is working on a “dense” version of Zen 4 called Zen 4D. Zen 4D is basically a fork of Zen 4 that strips out features and reduces clock speeds.

It will also feature a newly designed cache system. All of this is to slightly reduce single-core performance in exchange for greatly increased multi-core performance. This would also allow AMD to increase the chip density, hence the “D” in the name.

If the leaks are true, it seems the company may be creating its own hybrid architecture to compete with the success of Intel’s 12th-gen Alder Lake chips. This follows in the footsteps of both Intel and Apple, who have utilized similar architectures in their respective CPU designs.

These Zen 4D processors would have about half the L3 cache of regular Zen 4 and feature 16 cores per chiplet. Moore’s Law is Dead stated that Zen 4D is expected to have simultaneous multithreading (SMT), but they couldn’t be 100% certain. He was also uncertain if Zen 4D would support AVX-512 but did confirm that Bergamo, AMD’s 128-core server-grade EPYC CPU slated for second quarter 2023, would feature the new architecture.

The new architecture for Zen 5 was also leaked, and this is by far the most interesting news. The leaks suggest that Zen 5 will be AMD’s first hybrid processor architecture. It would use eight Zen 5 “big” cores and up to 16 Zen 4D “little” cores. Zen 5 is also rumored to be codenamed Granite Ridge and based on the Ryzen 8000 series processors built on TSMC’s ridiculously tiny 3nm process.

As we’ve seen with Intel’s Alder Lake chips and Apple’s M1 Pro/Max CPUs, the hybrid approach can offer huge performance increases. It makes sense that AMD would architecture their chips in a similar manner, as Zen 5 could offer a 20-25% IPC increase over Zen 4. The problem is that Zen 5 is still a few years out, and Alder Lake currently outperforms AMD’s best consumer chips.

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Dell XPS Desktop Now Includes Intel Alder Lake, Larger Case

Dell takes a big leap into the future with today’s release — the brand new Dell XPS 8950. The refreshed lineup of pre-built PCs features all the technology PC enthusiasts have been waiting for, including the latest Intel Alder Lake processors, PCI Express 5.0, Z690 motherboards, and DDR5 memory.

The new desktops are a continuation of the successful Dell XPS line, featuring not just new components, but also some improved design choices. They have been built for gamers and creators alike with an impressive set of specifications to take on even the most resource-heavy tasks.

Visually, Dell hasn’t strayed far from the desktops we have all grown used to. The chassis sports a fairly minimalist design devoid of the RGB lighting cultivated by other brands, such as in Razer’s latest line of desktops. Customers can choose between the matte-black Dell XPS Night Sky or the elegant Platinum Silver.

Perhaps more importantly, the chassis has been optimized for both airflow and future upgrades. 42% larger than the previous Dell XPS desktops (27L vs 19L), it allows for not just better cooling but also future-proofing. Dell claims that this chassis is big enough to house even the next generation of graphics cards.

It’s what’s inside that counts. A quick glance at the specification sheet for the new Dell XPS definitely confirms that. These desktops are filled to the brim with the latest and greatest, including fresh releases. Dell has prepared several different configurations, allowing users to choose between components and customize their PCs.

Arguably the most exciting is the processor. All of the new 8950 PCs are built including Intel’s 12th Generation of CPUs, Alder Lake. Customers can choose between the Core i5-12600K with 10 cores, the Core i7-12700K with 12 cores, and the Core i9-12900K with 16 cores and a boost clock of up to 5.2GHz.

Dell XPS in white and in black.

The lineup of graphics cards offered is surprisingly broad, starting with the still decent (but budget) Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super and going all the way up to the high-end GeForce RTX 3090. Although there are nine Nvidia graphics cards to choose from, Dell has also prepared two AMD Radeon GPUs to add to the lineup, including the RX 6700 XT and the RX 6900 XT.

All of the desktops feature freshly released DDR5 RAM, ranging from 8GB with a frequency of 4400MHz and going all the way up to 128GB and 3600MHz. Storage options always include an NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD and an HDD, including capacities of up to 2GB each. Dell also allows users to choose between a dedicated CPU cooler and a liquid cooling system.

Every system includes an option for either Windows 11 Home or Windows 11 Pro, both 64-bit. There’s plenty of room to grow and accommodate future upgrades, including four storage bays and three PCIe expansion slots. More importantly, the computers can include an up to 750W power supply — a necessity in the most advanced build.

The pricing for the new Dell XPS starts at just $919, although the price will grow in proportion to the purchased upgrades. Considering that the availability of the new components included may be limited at launch, this might be a good way to jump ahead of the curve and try out Intel Alder Lake soon after the release.

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Intel Alder Lake Sports XMP 3.0, High Overclocking Headroom

Intel just announced its 12th-gen Alder Lake platform at the Intel Innovation event. In addition to six new processors, Intel detailed some key overclocking news for the upcoming range. Marrying software and hardware, Alder Lake looks primed for extreme overclocking unlike any previous Intel generation.

Starting with the hardware improvements, Alder Lake chips feature a thicker integrated heat spreader (IHS). Intel was able to add a little more heft to the IHS by reducing the die thickness by 25% and reducing the solder thermal interface material (STIM) by 15%. We don’t know what kind of difference that will make yet, but a thicker IHS should mean higher cooling potential.

More exciting are the software improvements. Intel is launching Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) 7.5 with the release of Alder Lake, which supports DDR5 and Alder Lake’s hybrid architecture. You’ll be able to overclock the P-cores and E-cores independently with ratio and voltage controls, and you can quickly check your overclock with the XTU benchmark, which includes hwbot.org integration.

If you don’t want to mess with your settings independently, you can use Intel Speed Optimizer. At launch, this feature is only available for the Core i9-12900K and i9-12900KF, but it will arrive for other Alder Lake chips soon. With a single button, the feature will boost P-core frequency by 100MHz and E-core frequency by 300MHz.

In a demo, Intel showed this chip reaching 5.2GHz on all cores with a modest overclock. We can’t make any claims on performance until the processors are here, but Intel suggests that most chips will have even higher headroom for overclocking.

Along with the launch of XTU 7.5, Intel released Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) 3.0. If you’re unfamiliar, XMP is what allows your memory to run at higher speeds without manual tuning. It’s an overclocking profile stored on the memory itself, and the third version includes some big upgrades.

First, XMP 3.0 supports five memory profiles instead of two, and for the first time ever, you can define and store your own profiles. Up to three profiles will come from the vendor, and you can configure the other two. In addition, you’ll be able to configure your profiles through software on your desktop. Intel pointed out Corsair’s iCue as an example, which allows you to tune and store XMP profiles without digging in the BIOS.

XMP 3.0 is only available on DDR5 modules. However, Intel has news for DDR4 memory, too. Both DDR4 and DDR5 support Intel’s new Dynamic Memory Boost technology on Alder Lake. It’s a bit like the turbo on a processor. Instead of running the memory at a higher speed all of the time, the overclock will adapt to the workload to boost speed as necessary.

We don’t know how good Alder Lake chips will be for overclocking, but Intel is setting up the generation for success. Although overclocking the chips is exciting, XMP 3.0 is a larger development. For the first time, users will be able to define and store their own memory profiles, opening the door to manual memory overclocking to the masses.

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Intel Alder Lake Priced to Undercut AMD, Arrives November 4

Intel officially lifted the curtain on its 12th-gen Alder Lake chips at the Intel Innovation event on October 27. There are six processors arriving November 4 to kick off the new generation, three models with two variations each, as well as the new Z690 chipset, which boasts PCIe 4.0 support and DDR4/DDR5 support.

Before getting any deeper, let’s take a look at the new range:

Cores Base frequency Max boost frequency Intel Smart Cache (L3) Integrated graphics Base power Max turbo power Suggested price
Core i9-12900K 16 (8P + 8E) 3.2GHz (P-core), 2.4GHz (E-core) Up to 5.2GHz 30MB Intel UHD 770 125W 241W $589
Core i9-12900KF 16 (8P + 8E) 3.2GHz (P-core), 2.4GHz (E-core) Up to 5.2GHz 30MB N/A 125W 241W $564
Core i7-12700K 12 (8P + 4E) 3.6GHz (P-core), 2.7GHz (E-core Up to 5.0GHz 25MB Intel UHD 770 125W 190W $409
Core i7-12700KF 12 (8P + 4E) 3.6GHz (P-core), 2.7GHz (E-core Up to 5.0GHz 25MB N/A 125W 190W $384
Core i5-12600K 10 (6P + 4E) 3.7GHz (P-core), 2.8GHz (E-core) N/A 20MB Intel UHD 770 125W 150W $289
Core i5-12600KF 10 (6P + 4E) 3.7GHz (P-core), 2.8GHz (E-core) N/A 20MB N/A 125W 150W $264

All six processors are unlocked for overclocking. The more expensive of each model features integrated Intel UHD 770 graphics, too, though you can save some money by purchasing the KF-series model. These chips are identical to their K-series counterparts, but they don’t have integrated graphics.

We already knew most of the specs thanks to a slew of leaks and rumors. The interesting new information is price. Contrary to rumors pointing to prices nearing $1,000, the 12th-gen Alder Lake range is surprisingly modest. The i9 and i5 models have a slight bump over their last-gen counterparts, while the i7’s pricing is identical.

More interesting is how these prices compare to AMD. With the launch of Ryzen 5000 processors, AMD increased the prices of its top chips. In benchmarks, Intel is pitting the i9-12900K against AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X — a chip that still sells near its suggested price of $799. If Intel’s performance claims are true, its flagship chip is coming in at over $200 less than AMD’s best.

And Intel is making some big performance claims, including up to a 30% increase in gaming over AMD. For gen-on-gen improvements, Intel says the i9-12900K outperforms last-gen’s i9-11900K by 28% in Hitman 3. It’s worth pointing out that Intel tested with DDR5 memory and on Windows 11. AMD chips had some issues with Windows 11, and DDR5 should offer a boost in gaming performance on the back of its increased bandwidth, so the real-world gap is probably tighter here.

We only have gaming comparisons to AMD right now, at least until we get our hands on the chips to test them. Still, Intel shows some big gen-on-gen improvements for the i9-12900K, particularly in efficiency. The new chip can achieve identical multi-threaded performance as the i9-11900K at only a fraction of the power (250W on 11th-gen compared to 65W on 12th-gen). Another way to look at it is a 50% boost in performance at the same power draw.

This is the advantage of Alder Lake’s hybrid architecture, according to Intel. The new chips are more efficient, which means they have more headroom for performance. To illustrate this, Intel used an example of gaming and streaming at the same time. When running Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord while streaming and recording with OBS, Intel says the Core i9-12900K offered an 84% boost in frame rate over the i9-11900K.

The gains line up with a long list of leaked benchmarks, which put Intel’s chip ahead of the pack. Still, it’s important to wait for third-party testing before making performance assumptions. Intel didn’t show off many comparisons to AMD, and DDR5 and Windows 11 are likely playing a role in the results thanks to Alder Lake’s Thread Director feature.

Pre-orders for the chips are live now ahead of the November 4 launch date. Z690 motherboards are launching on the same day. You’ll be able to find unique Z690 boards from major brands, including Asus, MSI, ASRock, Gigabyte, EVGA, and Colorful.

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Why the M1 Is Intel’s True Rival For Alder Lake and Beyond

There have been two major CPU announcements in the past couple of weeks — Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max and today, the Intel 12th-gen Alder Lake platform. Although two different CPU generations with different purposes, Apple and Intel are in hot competition with each other, even if that competition isn’t direct.

These two platforms are more alike than they may seem, which could shift the balance of power in the CPU market. For decades, it has been a matchup between Intel and AMD. Apple is a new competitor in the ring, which is something that Intel recognized with the launch of Alder Lake.

AMD is resting on its laurels, which might pay off in the short term. Going forward, though, hybrid CPU architectures are what will dominate desktop and mobile platforms. Here’s why.

M1 Max and Alder Lake: More alike than different

Intel’s 12th-gen Alder Lake chips and Apple’s M1 range both use hybrid architectures. Sure, Intel uses an x86 instruction set while Apple uses the ARM instruction set, but both ranges of processors drive toward a similar goal: Increase performance and efficiency by putting the right workload on the right core.

If you’re unfamiliar, a hybrid CPU combines performant (P) cores and efficient (E) cores onto a single processor. This design — known as big.LITTLE — was pioneered by chip designer ARM, and you can find it in nearly all mobile devices available today. Apple brought that design to laptops and desktops, and now Intel is following suit.

Intel actually tried this concept a couple of years back with Lakefield, but the range never got off the ground. Intel only made two Lakefield chips, and they only showed up in a few laptops like the Galaxy Book S. Alder Lake is different. It uses a hybrid architecture, but it keeps the same improved P-cores you’d find in a typical CPU generation.

Although it’s tempting to throw more fast cores at a processor to improve performance, that’s not the best way to go about things. Small workloads, background tasks, and simple calculations don’t need such powerful cores. The result is that P-cores end up sharing bandwidth with low priority tasks instead of focusing resources on the most important tasks at hand.

That’s what makes hybrid architectures different. The P-cores can focus on the big, important tasks while the E-cores handle all of the minute background tasks. The results speak for themselves. Phones now use the latest chip-making technology, not computers, and Apple’s M1 chip — which is basically a tricked-out mobile chip — manages to outperform its Intel predecessors while staying cooler and consuming less power.

Intel sees the writing on the walls. The company hasn’t been shy about pointing out Apple as its true competitor in the future, not AMD. Meanwhile, AMD continues to stick with architectures that focus on fast cores and a lot of them instead of focusing on a hybrid approach.

The true competitor

MacBook Pro laptops.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has made one thing clear since returning to Intel: Apple is the competition, not AMD. In an interview from October, Gelsinger made that crystal: “We ultimately see the real competition [is] to enable the ecosystem to compete with Apple.”

Apple has used its own silicon in mobile devices dating back to the original iPhone. But it wasn’t until the M1 chip replaced Intel’s options in MacBooks, the iMac, and the iMac Mini that Intel started to change its stance. In a recent interview, Gelsinger said that was ultimately a good move. “They moved the core of their product line to their own M1 and, you know, its derivative family because they thought they could do a better chip. And they’ve done a good job with that.”

Gelsinger says the ultimate goal is to “win them back,” which requires making a chip that outperforms the M1 — or whatever future generation Apple is on — with higher efficiency and similar power draw. Apple has little incentive to switch back to Intel. For that, Intel has to make chips that are too good to ignore.

Alder Lake looks like a paradigm shift for Intel, and if leaked benchmarks are accurate, the mobile chips could outperform Apple’s M1 Max. It’s important to recognize that Alder Lake is part of a larger strategy for Intel, though. The company has shared its road map through 2025, and it’s filled with hybrid.

AMD hasn’t been as clear about its roadmap, likely because it doesn’t need to be. With desktop and server leadership, AMD is sitting cozy at the moment. For now, we know that AMD’s next-generation Ryzen 6000 chips won’t use a hybrid architecture. AMD has suggested that hybrid still needs work, and has pointed the finger at hybrid architectures as a marketing ploy to “have a bigger number.”

It’s true that hybrid needs work, mainly to optimize the operating system’s scheduler to handle each core type appropriately. Apple has clearly done some work on that front, and Intel worked with Microsoft to optimize Windows 11 for Alder Lake’s Thread Director feature. We’ll just have to wait until Alder Lake is here to see if that work will pay off.

Regardless, it’s clear Intel is looking forward. Guided by marketing or a chance at market leadership, it doesn’t matter: Intel is driving after Apple, and AMD is still driving after Intel. I don’t know who’s gambit will pay off. But I do know that Apple is leaving Intel and AMD in the dust, and Intel is the only one talking about it right now.

Hybrid is the wave of the future

Render of Intel Alder Lake chip.

With the launch of Alder Lake, Intel has shown that hybrid is here to stay. Apple is continuing to develop its own hybrid chips, and Intel will continue doing the same for the next few years. Early murmurs suggest AMD could use a hybrid architecture on its Zen 5 CPUs — the generation after Ryzen 6000 — but that’s a couple of years off, at least.

Intel has made some big claims about Alder Lake — identical multi-threaded performance as 11th-gen chips at less than a fourth of the power, up to a 47% improvement when multi-tasking, and up to double the content creation performance as the previous generation. Some of that is on the back of Intel’s new manufacturing process. However, a lot of it comes from Alder Lake’s high core counts and hybrid architecture.

As long as AMD and Intel are making chips, they’ll be compared to each other. With Intel’s switch to a hybrid architecture, though, it’s clear that the company sees a new challenger approaching — one it used to call a partner. If Intel’s performance claims are true, Alder Lake will take the fight to Apple. And if that battle pays off, AMD will likely follow suit.

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Computing

Intel Alder Lake Outperforms Previous Generation By Over 50%

Today, new CPU-Z benchmarks emerged, showcasing the performance of the Intel Core i5-11600K. Designed as an affordable mid-tier processor, this CPU outperformed the previous generation by miles — and this applies to both Intel and AMD models.

With the expected launch of Intel’s 12th-gen Alder Lake processors in just a bit over a week, new benchmarks emerge every single day. We’ve already seen the performance of Intel’s high-end Alder Lake processor, the Core i9-12900K, and it was impressive. However, Intel’s mid-range CPUs were largely left alone up until now.

The 12th Generation of Intel processors, Alder Lake, is set to release in the fall. (Image credit: Intel)

Three benchmarks have been submitted to CPU-Z. While early tests are not always accurate, these benchmarks are all quite consistent, suggesting that the results may be close to the real performance of Core i5-11600K. One way or another, it’s important to take these with a grain of salt until the processors are tested after their release.

The Intel Core i5-11600K processor is rumored to have a base clock of 2.8GHz that can be boosted up to 3.7GHz, as well as a single-core boost of up to 4.9GHz. It features six performance cores with hyperthreading and four efficiency cores, adding up to 16 threads. The systems used in the benchmarks included two different Asus Z690 motherboards: the Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Apex and the Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero. The DDR5 RAM came from OLOy, Corsair, and TeamGroup, but all three had a frequency of 4800MHz.

In the CPU-Z benchmarks, this Alder Lake processor scored between 760 and 773 in single-core tests and 7,156-7,220 in multi-core. In order to add some context to these numbers, the CPU was pitted against the Core i5-11600K, a comparable processor from the previous Rocket Lake generation.

The result is very favorable for Alder Lake, as its predecessor scored a mere 633 points in single-core and 4731 points in multi-core benchmarks. This means that if the benchmarks are accurate, the new Intel Core i5-12600K is up to 20% faster in single-core tasks and a whopping 52% faster in multi-threaded tasks.

Intel Core 12th-gen processor boxes.
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Outclassing its predecessor is one thing, but Intel Alder Lake also stands victorious against AMD processors of the same price range. Compared to the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X, which has eight cores and 16 threads, Core i5-12600K was around 19% faster in single-core and 9% faster in multi-core tests.

The benchmark results speak very well of the upcoming Intel Core i5-12600K. Of course, it may still be outperformed by more expensive CPUs of the previous generation, but Intel’s pricing is likely to be somewhat competitive for this processor. The comparable Rocket Lake CPU had an MSRP of $262. If this processor remains similarly priced, it may offer great performance for this bracket.

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