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The Intel Alder Lake-S Desktop CPU lineup will include the 12th Gen Core processors. Intel will kick off its lineup with the introductory ‘K’ and ‘KF’ chips which will be followed by more mainstream variants in the following weeks (early 2022 around CES).

The architecture has seen several optimizations and key refinements that have led to an increase from 8 cores and 16 threads to 16 cores and 24 threads. The new 10nm ESF (Intel 7) process retains Intel’s clock leadership, pushing the chips up to 5.2 GHz.

Intel’s Alder Lake will be built using the company’s new E and P cores, you can read the architectural deep dive over here, and represent a significant evolution in the company’s power efficiency targets. It will be built on the Intel 7 process and scale from 9 watts to 125 watts. DDR5 and PCIe gen5 will be supported (first to market) and feature new technologies like the Intel Thread Director.

Alder Lake will be fully scalable from Desktop (LGA1700) to ultra-mobile. Interestingly, however, while the platform has 8 P-cores and 8 E-cores, only the P-cores will support hyperthreading making for a total of 24 threads available. The integrated GPU will have 96 EUs of Xe architecture (good but nothing to write home about) but the thing that impressed us the most was the fact that Intel is claiming a 19% IPC uplift over Rocketlake – which should handily beat AMD parts if true.

Alder Lake will feature up to 30 MB of noninclusive LL Cache and support DDR5-4800, LP5-5200 along with DDR4-3200, and LP4x-4266. It will also support two times the PCIe bandwidth thanks to its support of PCIe 5 and will be able to provide up to 16 lanes of PCIe Gen5 with up to 64 GB/s. The new design is fully modular and built like lego and should be completely scalable and flexible. The compute fabric interconnect has a bandwidth of 1000 GB/s while the IO fabric has a BW of 64 GB/s. The memory subsystem supports up to 204 GB/s but more importantly can scale memory frequency (and power) according to the need of the SoC

Intel Core i9-12900K 16 Core / 24 Thread Desktop CPU

The Intel Core i9-12900K will be the flagship chip in the 12th Gen Alder Lake Desktop CPU lineup. It will feature 8 Golden Cove cores and 8 Gracemont cores for a total of 16 cores (8+8) and 24 threads (16+8). The P-cores (Golden Cove) will operate at a maximum boost frequency of up to 5.3 GHz with 1-2 active cores and 5.0 GHz with all-cores active while the E-cores (Gracemont) will operate at 3.90 GHz across 1-4 cores and up to 3.7 GHz when all cores are loaded. The CPU will feature 30 MB of L3 cache and TDP values are maintained at 125W (PL1) and 241(PL2).

The CPU is said to feature a 1st stage power limit of 125W which is standard for a flagship Intel SKU and the 2nd stage power limit or PL2 is rated at 241W. This means that when hitting its maximum advertised clock speeds, the CPU could end up pulling even higher wattage from the PSU. Overall performance creation is also seeing a giant leap in performance across the board. Interestingly, however, if you want the same performance as an Intel Core i9 11900k, then you can drop the power consumption by 1/4 to 65W and get the same performance! This is an incredible leap in performance efficiency thanks to the e-cores.

The Intel Core i9-12900K will have an MSRP of $589 US which puts it $40 expensive than the Ryzen 9 5900X and $210 US cheaper than the Ryzen 9 5950X. The KF variant will be priced even lower at a $564 US MSRP.

Intel Core i7-12700K 12 Core / 20 Thread Desktop CPU

Moving over to the Core i7, Intel will offer 8 Golden Cove cores but cut down the Gracemont cores to 4. This will result in a total of 12 cores (8+4) and 20 threads (16+4). The P-cores (Golden Cove) will operate at a maximum boost frequency of up to 5.0 GHz with 1-2 active cores and 4.7 GHz with all-cores active while the E-cores (Gracemont) will operate at 3.8 GHz across 1-4 cores & up to 3.6 GHz when all cores are loaded. The CPU will feature 25 MB of L3 cache and TDP values are maintained at 125W (PL1) and 228W (PL2).

As for pricing, the Core i7 will also be cheaper than the Core i9 variant at $409 US & $394 US (for the KF) variant. This puts it in the same price category as the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X which offers 8 cores and 16 threads at $449 US.

Intel Core i5-12600K 10 Core / 16 Thread Desktop CPU

Lastly, we have the Intel Core i5-12600K which will be the entry-level unlocked chip within the line. The CPU will carry 6 Golden Cove and 4 Gracemont cores for a total of 10 cores (6+4) & 16 threads (12+4). The P-cores (Golden Cove) will operate at a maximum boost frequency of up to 4.9 GHz with 1-2 active cores and 4.5 GHz with all-cores active while the E-cores (Gracemont) will operate at 3.6 GHz across 1-4 cores & up to 3.4 GHz when all cores are loaded. The CPU will feature 20 MB of L3 cache and TDP values are maintained at 125W (PL1) and 228W (PL2).

Now the main proving ground for this chip against the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X will be its performance to price value. The Ryzen 5 5600X with a $299 US MSRP is slightly higher in terms of pricing when we compare it to its predecessor. The Core i5-12600K on the other hand will be replacing the Core i5-11600K and will retain at $289 US standard and $264 US for the KF variant. This alone is cheaper than the Ryzen 5 5600X.

Based on performance and availability, the Core i5-12600K could indeed become a hot selling chip in the mainstream gaming market. With that said, we also have to take into account the availability of the Core i5-12600K. Technically, mainstream SKUs aren’t affected a lot by supply issues as is the case with the Ryzen 5 5600X but a small delay in stock could result in Intel missing an opportunity to create a dent in AMD’s Ryzen 5 segment. Consumers have already seen what AMD delivered as a successor to its Ryzen 5 3600X so now it’s time to see if Alder Lake can really shake things up in the mainstream gaming segment.

Intel 12th Gen Alder Lake Desktop CPU Specs “Preliminary”

CPU Name P-Core Count E-Core Count Total Core / Thread P-Core Base / Boost (Max) P-Core Boost (All-Core) E-Core Base / Boost E-Core Boost (All-Core) L3 Cache TDP (PL1) TDP (PL2) Expected (MSRP) Price
Core i9-12900K 8 8 16 / 24 3.2 / 5.2 GHz 5.0 GHz 2.4 / 3.9 GHz 3.7 GHz 30 MB 125W 241W $599 US
Core i9-12900 8 8 16 / 24 2.4 / 5.1 GHz TBA 1.8 / TBA GHz TBA 30 MB 65W ~200W TBA
Core i9-12900T 8 8 16 / 24 TBA / 4.9 GHz TBA TBA TBA 30 MB 35W TBA TBA
Core i7-12700K 8 4 12 / 20 3.6 / 5.0 GHz 4.7 GHz 2.7 / 3.8 GHz 3.6 GHz 25 MB 125W 190W $419 US
Core i7-12700 8 4 12 / 20 2.1 / 4.9 GHz TBA 1.6 / TBA GHz TBA 25 MB 65W ~190W TBA
Core i7-12700T 8 4 12 / 20 TBA / 4.7 GHz TBA TBA TBA 25 MB 35W TBA TBA
Core i5-12600K 6 4 10 / 16 3.7 / 4.9 GHz 4.5 GHz 2.8 / 3.6 GHz 3.4 GHz 20 MB 125W 150W $299 US
Core i5-12600 6 0 6 / 12 3.3 / 4.8 GHz 4.4 GHz N/A N/A 18 MB 65W ~200W TBA
Core i5-12600T 6 0 6 / 12 TBA / 4.6 GHz TBA N/A N/A 18 MB 35W TBA TBA
Core i5-12500T 6 0 6 / 12 TBA / 4.4 GHz TBA N/A N/A 18 MB 35W TBA TBA
Core i5-12400 6 0 6 / 12 2.5 / 4.4 GHz 4.0 GHz N/A N/A 18 MB 65W ~150W TBA
Core i5-12400T 6 0 6 / 12 TBA / 4.2 GHz TBA N/A N/A 18 MB 35W TBA TBA
Core i3-12200T 4 0 4 / 8 TBA / 4.2 GHz TBA N/A N/A 12 MB 35W TBA TBA
Core i3-12100T 4 0 4 / 8 TBA / 4.1 GHz TBA N/A N/A 12 MB 35W TBA TBA