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Intel 12th-gen Alder Lake undercuts AMD on price, claims supremacy in gaming

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
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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.

Intel Core i9-12900K box.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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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Jacob Roach
Lead Reporter, PC Hardware
Jacob Roach is the lead reporter for PC hardware at Digital Trends. In addition to covering the latest PC components, from…
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