Intel Core i7-12700K Review | PCMag

Powered by two new micro architectures, one designed for maximum performance and one for maximum efficiency, Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs have been making some big waves in the desktop processor market. Core counts are growing again, and the Core i7-12700K takes advantage of this and some major architectural improvements to run cycles around its “Rocket Lake” predecessor. However, at its $409 price tag, the biggest Core i7-12700K competitor might actually switch to an affordable Core i5 “K” series sibling rather than any AMD Ryzen 5, 7, or Rocket Lake CPU. It’s a solid 12th-generation pick for Intel’s new platform, and a clear part of Team Blue’s rise for desktop and silicon as 2021 comes to a close. Just gauge whether you really need the extra cores and threads, or at most a few extra game frames, before paying the premium on the Core i5-12600K.

Core i7-12700K: “Basic” specs

Before diving into our Core i7 review, we recommend that you read our Core i9-12900K review first if you’re new to the 12th-generation Alder Lake family. Intel’s 12th generation architecture is a radical departure from its predecessors. This is partly due to a number of changes made to the platform, such as the move to DDR5 RAM, but the most notable difference is the use of two completely different micro architectures within the same processor: performance cores (P-Cores) and efficiency cores (electronic cores). We’ve already covered these new core types in detail in our Core i9 review and won’t go into them again here; Instead, we’ll focus on what makes the Core i7-12700K such a unique product.

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Intel Core i7-12700K Stock Image

Core i7-12700K has dozens of CPU cores. Most of the chip’s performance is derived from eight Hyper-Threaded P-Cores based on Intel’s “Golden Cove” architecture. Golden Cove is a direct successor to the “Cypress Cove” architecture found within 11th generation Rocket Lake processors, and is designed for high performance. Here, these cores are configured with a base clock of 3.6GHz, but can reach speeds of up to 5.0GHz (in isolated cases under Turbo Boost Max 3.0) or 4.9GHz (under normal turbo boost) right out of the box.

The remaining four cores were built using the Intel “Gracemont” architecture, which is a distant descendant of low-power Intel Atom processors. As such, the electronic cores are designed with energy efficiency in mind. It is clocked much lower, with a base frequency of 2.7 GHz and a maximum turbo speed of 3.8 GHz.

Along with the cores, the processor also has 25MB of L3 cache for the cores to share. This model also has an Intel UHD Graphics 770 Integrated Graphics Processor (IGP), which means you won’t need to buy a graphics card alongside this CPU in a system, unless you want to play games that are several years old. Intel rates the chip for a base power of 125 watts, with a maximum turbo power draw of 190 watts.

Intel Core i7-12700K Top Side

(Photo: Chris Stubing)

The nearly identical Intel Core i7-12700KF processor is the same in every detail but lacks an IGP (or rather, the silicon IGP is likely to be permanently malfunctioning). Suggested retail price is $20 lower, and this graphics-free alternative might be worth checking out if you intend to purchase (or already own) a decent graphics card.

Core i7-12700K Test: Intel vs. Intel, Intel, and AMD

One direct effect of Intel’s introduction of high- and low-power cores in the same processor is that the company now has a new way of differentiating its line of processors. With Rocket Lake, all Core i7 and Core i9 processors were basically the same: eight-core, 16-thread CPUs with clock speeds adjusted accordingly. With Alder Lake, the Core i9-12900K has a more distinct advantage over the Core i7-12700K, having four more cores, a higher clock speed, and an additional 5MB cache than L3.

The effect of this is very noticeable in many parameters. We tested the Core i7-12700K on an MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WiFi motherboard, with 32GB of Corsair Dominator memory clocked to 4800MHz, and a 4TB Sabrent Rocket Q4 PCI Express 4.0 SSD that also serves as our gaming drive. This is all packed into a Corsair iCue 7000D Airflow chassis, equipped with a Corsair iCue H150i Elite Capellix 360mm liquid cooler, and a 1000W Corsair RM1000X power supply.

Looking at the Core i9-12900K and Core i7-12700K, the single-threaded tests put the two CPUs close together because this reduces the impact from hardware differences. But most tests that make use of all available CPU cores put the Core i9 significantly ahead of Core i7. The only notable exception is the Adobe Photoshop test results, which showed the Core i7 to perform better. But this result is likely due to software updates released after the Core i9 review but before the Core i7 review.

The Core i9-12900K that leads the blue team is, of course, expected. The performance gains on the latest generation Core i9 and i7 processors are even more noticeable, as they put another nail in Rocket Lake’s coffin. Compared to the 11th generation Core i9-11900K, Intel’s Core i7-12700K is much faster, with the Cinebench test scoring about 69% faster in the multi-core test and 17% faster in the single-core test. The gains over the previous Core i7 CPU (not mentioned here, but visible in our Core i7-11700K review) are more substantial.

The results are a bit more mixed compared to the Core i7-12700K with AMD’s best Ryzen 9 5950X processor, but here too, the Intel 12700K is surprisingly competitive against that 16-core chip. The Ryzen 9 was faster in our multi-core Cinebench R23 test, but the two CPUs traded punches in most of our other productivity tests. There are two exceptions, Handbrake and POV-Ray, but these tests don’t seem to work correctly yet on Alder Lake processors; They likely won’t be negotiating completely new architectures right now. (Either Core i7-12700K performance is slower than 3rd Gen Ryzen 3 or 10th Gen Core i5, this is not supported by other tests.)

gaming standards

For our dedicated graphics tests, we paired the Core i7-12700K with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti card, in Founders Edition watches, and the Core i7 didn’t disappoint. In general, you don’t get much benefit by using a Core i9-12900K over a Core i7-12700K for gaming. Core i7 performed slightly better in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla than Core i9 in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (various tests were done because when i9 launched, Valhalla didn’t work properly), but the two were within a few frames of each other in most tests, Not far enough to solidify any kind of buying decision. The biggest performance gap occurred when running Rainbow Six Siege at 1080p, but both CPUs were running at over 400 frames per second (fps).

However, for a pure gaming build, the Core i5-12600K might be a better choice than the Core i7-12700K. The performance gap between the two is small in most of our gaming tests, and the Core i5 actually comes out on top in one test. AMD’s Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9 processors put in a good showing, but the Alder Lake processors we’ve tested so far all show clear (albeit small) leads in most gaming tests with our discrete test card.

Integrated Graphics Test

During the early part of 2010, Intel integrated graphics technology advanced significantly in a relatively short period of time. After the launch of the 7th generation (“Kaby Lake”) processors, innovation stagnated and desktop and CPU graphics solutions have changed little so far. However, with Alder Lake, Intel is once again developing its own graphics hardware, and it shows.

Compared to the latest generation Intel UHD Graphics 630 in the Core i5-11600K, the Intel UHD Graphics 770 in the Core i7-12700K is about 30% faster in the F1 2021 game. I’ve also already managed to do that He runs Assassin’s Creed Valhalla benchmark, which is a notable improvement over the last generation CPU as well.

Even with these improvements, however, Intel is nowhere near matching AMD and its silicon Radeon IGP in the integrated graphics interface. Without revolutionary improvements in graphics technology or resource doubling, Intel remains a clear second in the AMD Ryzen / Radeon G series chipset when it comes to integrated graphics processors (IGP). However, only a few current chips, notably the Ryzen 7 5700G, actually have integrated graphics. Most Ryzen and Athlon CPUs are CPU-only and require a discrete graphics card. And we all know how much of a buying burden someone can be these It is, these days.

Referee: LGA1700 Steel Soldier

It’s no surprise that Intel’s latest Core i7 processor is faster than the previous 11th generation, but the degree to which the performance has gone up is rather impressive. The boost in the overall core count (thanks to the inclusion of new electronic cores) brought a performance jump closer to warranty, just as we saw with the 10th ‘Comet Lake’ and 8th ‘Coffee Lake’ gens. But Intel’s Core i7-12700K has also made remarkable improvements to single-thread performance on a scale not seen over the past few generations.

Ultimately, whether or not you should buy a Core i7-12700K depends on your budget and system needs. It’s not quite as powerful as the Core i9-12900K for CPU-intensive tasks, and its performance gains aren’t big enough just for gaming to recommend it over the Core i5-12600K. Choosing a Core i5 would probably make more sense for PC gamers, as this would save them quite a bit of money to put in a graphics card…and the way prices have been inflated on those over the past couple of years, they’re going to need a he-she. As we said in our first two Alder Lake CPU reviews, though, lower-end chips like the Core i5 will make more sense once lower-end motherboards become available. The Z690 boards on the market now are premium models, and many of them require DDR5 memory, which is more expensive at the moment. You need to calculate the cost comfort The platform is in the LGA1700 built here at the end of 2021. (See more about the Z690 chipset here.)

If you have extra cash to spare, though, and can use the extra multi-threaded muscle, there’s no harm in opting for an upgrade: The Core i7-12700K does most things very well, aside from keeping its Core i5 sibling in place. place.


  • Excellent multi-threaded single core performance

  • Integrated graphics show an improvement over previous UHD Graphics solutions

  • Unlocked and overclockable


  • A bit pricey for the 12th generation Core i5 and Ryzen alternatives

  • Like other “K” series chips, there is no assembled coolant

bottom line

The 12th-generation Core i7-12700K “Alder Lake” processor easily outperforms its predecessor “Rocket Lake” and outlasts competing AMD CPUs. Its strongest competition is the Core i5 kin.

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