Review Intel Core i7-12700KF

  • 2021-11-05 06:00
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This is our second Alder Lake review after reviewing the flagship Core i9 on launch day, and this time we're testing the more mainstream Core i7-12700KF. For those of you wondering, the 12700KF and 12700K are the same CPU with the minor exception that integrated graphics (Intel UHD 770) is disabled in the KF version. Aside from that omission, they're exactly the same, although the KF chip will also save you some money.

The Core i7-12700K currently retails for $450, while the KF model is slightly cheaper at $430. That means these parts are competing with AMD's Ryzen 7 5800X which has an MSRP of $450 despite the adjusted street price, and right now you can buy one for around $390.

In terms of specs, the 12700K CPU has a total of 12 cores, made up of 8 performance cores with 4 efficient cores for 20 threads. It's a very similar configuration to the Core i9, but with four fewer E cores.

L3 cache capacity has also been downgraded from 30MB to 25MB, down 17%, and then we see a very small drop in turbo clock frequency with the 12700KF boosting up to 4.9GHz for the P cores and 3.8 GHz for Electronic Cores.

These changes mean that the maximum turbo power rating has been reduced from 241 watts to 190 watts, a pretty substantial 21% power savings over the Core i9 12900K. The rest of the specs remain the same, hence the 20 PCIe lanes from the CPU, 16 of which are new PCI Express 5.0 specs. DDR4 and DDR5 memory technologies are supported, although not simultaneously and not by the same motherboard, so you will have to choose in advance the type of memory you want to use.

Memory support in stock includes DDR4-3200 or DDR5-4800, and we recently looked at the performance of DDR5-6000 with the Core i9-12900K and found that for the most part, this new high-speed memory offers a lot. little. performance when paired with an Alder Lake CPU. We came to the conclusion that all 12th generation potential customers should skip DDR5 and just stick with DDR4 for now.

In that case, we wouldn't invest the time to test the 12700KF with DDR5. If you want to see what that memory technology has to offer, check out our 12900K review.

Now, due to Alder Lake's hybrid core design, the 12700KF along with most 12th generation processors better runs Windows 11 and its improved thread scheduler for optimal performance. We therefore tested this and all other CPUs using a fresh install of Windows 11. That also includes Ryzen CPUs, especially after discovering that gaming performance Ryzen is usually a bit faster when using a more modern operating system.

To test the 12th Gen Core series processors, we used the MSI Z690 Tomahawk Wi-Fi DDR4 motherboard. The Ryzen test system uses an Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero motherboard with the latest BIOS update and, of course, all the latest Windows drivers and updates already installed. Finally, the final test system note worth mentioning is that all gaming and application data was collected using an AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT graphics card.

Let's dive into the results…

Starting with Cinebench R23, we find some brutal results for AMD, here the 12700KF is said to deliver nearly 50% more performance than the 5800X and 54% more than its predecessor, the 11700K. . In fact, the new 12th Gen Core i7 processor is 11% faster than the 5900X, a part that costs ~25% more.

The 12700KF is 17% slower than the 12900K, which is a decent margin, and this would be the result of the lack of those E cores, along with a smaller L3 cache and slightly lower operating frequency. But still an amazing result, especially since the 12700KF is a bit cheaper than the 12900KF.

As expected, single core performance is strong, here we are measuring P core performance and this puts the 12700KF at a 23% performance advantage when compared to the 5800X.

Moving on to 7-Zip File Manager compression performance, here the 12700KF is comparable to the 10900K and 11900K, only 3% slower than the 12900K and 5% slower than the 5800X, so the overall results are less impressive.

Then when it comes to decompression work, the 12700KF and 5800X are dead, making both about 17% slower than the 12900K.

The new Core i7 processor proves to be a monster in the Corona benchmark, delivering 30% more performance when compared to the 5800X. In fact, it's only 9% slower than the 5900X and 17% slower than the 12900K. All in all, a very solid result and this leaves AMD in a predicament where they could be forced to cut prices.

The Core i7-12700KF destroyed the Adobe Premiere Pro 2021 benchmark with a score of 984 points and that makes it 10% faster than the 12900K. We're not entirely sure how that could happen, perhaps the higher E core count of the Core i9 part is the cause here, giving them work in favor of the faster P cores , so it's probably a simple scheduling issue because there's no reason for the 12700KF to be faster.

Whatever the case may be, Intel beats AMD in this benchmark as well as the 12700KF is 34% faster than the 5800X.

The Ryzen 7 5800X performed quite a bit better in Photoshop benchmarks, but even so the 12700KF was 7% faster with a score of 1312 points, just 4% slower than the 12900K.

The 12700KF also performs well in After Effects, generating a score of 2108, putting it ahead of the Ryzen 9 5900X and just behind the 12900K, so a great result there and it also means it's 8% faster than the 5800X.

Factorio is a new addition to our benchmark battery and this simulation is not included in the rest of the games as we are not measuring frames per second but updates per second. This automated benchmark calculates the time it takes to run 1000 updates. This is a single threaded test that seems to depend heavily on cache size.

As you can see, the new Core i7 performs exceptionally well against the 5800X and especially its predecessor, the 11700K. We're basically looking at a 9% performance increase over the Ryzen 7 part and then a 21% over the 11700K, so another impressive round of results is for Intel.

Like Cinebench R23, the Chromium Compiler results are brutal for AMD. Here, the 12700KF delivers 44% more performance than the 5800X and even beats the more expensive 5900X as it's only 12% slower than the Core i9-12900K. It's amazing to see a 36% generational leap over the 11700K.

Blender's Open Data benchmark is another bloodbath with the 12700KF beating the 5800X by a margin of 31% with the same performance as the 5900X. We're also looking at once again a 30% improvement over Intel's previous generation counterpart.

Below is the power consumption for the Blender benchmark, and when compared to the 12900K, the new Core i7 model looks a lot more efficient. When compared to the 5900X, the 12900K pushed the total system power usage 50% higher, giving a performance boost of just 11%. The 12700K, on ​​the other hand, pushed the total system usage 24% higher but delivered 31% more performance and therefore more efficient than the 5800X. That's a crazy change based on what we've seen from the Core i9 model.

Now, when it comes to operating temperatures, the Core i7-12700KF was tested inside the Corsair Obsidian 500D with the glass doors closed. For cooling we used the MSI CoreLiquid S360 as it is the only official LGA1700 cooler we have on hand and here we see that the Core i7 processor peaks at 79 degrees after 30 minutes of viewing. consider the Cinebench R23 multi-core test. That's pretty hot, but it's also significantly better than the 96C on which the 12900K runs under the same conditions.

Let's get serious with some gaming benchmarks and we'll start with F1 2021. Here we have some mixed results as the 12700KF is 8% faster than the 5800X giving a 1% lower result, but slow More than 3% for average frame rate. Technically, that would be a win for Intel, although with both CPUs pushing well above 250 fps at minimum, it goes without saying that both are stellar performers.

AMD had the edge in the Rainbow Six Siege test, beating the 12700KF by just 3%, so gaming performance between these two CPUs is almost identical so far.

And the same thing with Borderlands 3, 5800X and 12700KF is close enough to call it a tie. In fact, we've tied GPUs to these high-end CPUs to the point where the 12900K isn't faster either.

The 12700KF went over budget for the average frame rate by a margin of 5%, which is still pretty negligible, and the 1% low performance is identical. So even in the relatively CPU-intensive Watch Dogs Legion, we're looking at comparable performance between these two processors.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is heavily GPU-constrained when running high-end CPUs, so again, the 5800X and 12700KF deliver the same level of performance, which is also comparable to other high-end CPUs like the 12900K.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider was the most CPU demanding game we had to test, especially in the village part of the game we used for testing. Here, the 12700KF is 4% faster than the 5800X when comparing average frame rates, and 2% slower for 1% lows. Either way, the performance is really close between these two competitive sections.

The new Core i7 processor is completely faster in the Hitman 3, though the margins aren't too high with the 12700KF up to 4% faster than the 5800X. Again, we found that despite the big difference in core-heavy applications, the gaming performance was still close to the same.

Well, this is interesting. The new Ages of Empires 4 is up to 27% faster when running on the 12700KF as opposed to the 5800X, seen when looking at results as low as 1%. Meanwhile, the average frame rate has been increased to 19%, which is a big win for Intel and it makes me wonder, is this how these two processors will stack up. each other in the future as games continue to be more and more CPU demanding?

Another pretty GPU-limited game is Horizon Zero Dawn. Using these high-end CPUs, the 5800X took the lead, beating the new 12700KF by a margin of 5%. Not exactly a huge difference, but it's a win for AMD.

The Cyberpunk 2077 is very demanding on the GPU, so even with the dial-quality settings we're using here, the 12700KF is adequate for the majority of high-end CPUs in this test.

When it comes to power consumption during gaming, we found little difference between the CPUs tested. While the 12700KF pushed the total system power usage 31% higher in Blender, here we're looking at an increase of just 5% over the 5800X when gaming. So it seems gamers don't need to care about CPU power consumption right now, assuming they're mostly just gaming and not running core heavy apps, even though we've seen 12700KF also works very well there.

Here is the average of 10 matches and the results are as expected based on what we have just seen. Intel leads AMD, but by a small margin of 1.5% on average frame rates and 3% for the 1% low.

As we said in our 12900K review, there's no discernable difference in gaming performance between most of these high-end CPUs as you're almost always GPU-limited in games these days, even both with the RTX 3090 or 6900 XT at 1080p with a dial down to the quality setting.

Some of the larger gains like those seen in Age of Empires IV will evaporate almost entirely when jumping up to 1440p. When it comes to CPU and gaming, really good is enough.

The Core i7-12700KF really is something and we have to say, the work is impressive, Intel.

Sure, you could argue that the Ryzen 7 5800X is a year old, but that doesn't change the fact that the 12700KF is an impressive CPU that typically beats the 5800X in all-core workloads as seen in Cinebench , Chromium, Blender, and basically any other application that hogs these CPUs.

But it's not just multi-core applications. Alder Lake's strong single-core performance makes it a weapon for applications like Adobe After Effects and Photoshop.

Then when it comes to gaming, the 12700KF is powerful, showing potential in titles like Age of Empires 4. The gains over the 5800X and most other high-end CPUs for that matter, however, are minimal. minimal and not enough to shake gamers. this way or another. Of course, if you've rocked an older AM4 system using something like the Ryzen 5 2600 on a B450 board, which is a very common combination, you won't mind Alder Lake because buying a Zen 3 CPU is the obvious path there.

Furthermore, people running 10th or 11th generation Core processors, or any previous Intel processor for that matter, will not be able to upgrade to Alder Lake on their existing motherboards. So Alder Lake is for new PC builders who are ditching their existing platform for something completely new.

If I'm looking at a complete platform upgrade with around $400 to spend on CPU, which way do I go, 5800X or 12700KF? The first thing was to look at the price of the motherboard, and we knew we were going to skip DDR5 with the 12700KF because it wasn't worth paying ~3x more for that memory. Assuming you're happy with a fairly basic motherboard, you can buy the MSI Pro Z690-A for $230 right now and about $70 more than a comparable X570 motherboard like the Asus TUF Gaming. X570-Plus.

The price of Intel Z690 is still volatile and if we take those numbers, the 5800X with the X570 motherboard costs around $550 while the 12700KF with the equivalent Z690 board is $660. So is the Intel package worth 20% more? For productivity, where it's usually 20% faster, yes, I think the Core i7-12700KF is the way to go.

That said, the Ryzen 9 5900X on the same X570 TUF Gaming motherboard is just $30 more than the 12700KF combo, and it's comparable in terms of productivity performance. So you can go either way, but I think the 12700KF is a bit more balanced with its strong single-core performance, at least on those big P cores.

When it comes to games, the 5800X and 12700KF are evenly matched and there is no real winner. I can find myself having fun gaming on either of these CPUs and their supporting platforms. Therefore, arguing over which is the best gaming CPU is a complete waste of energy and we'll leave that to the good men and women of Reddit.

For everyone else, the pricing of both CPUs and motherboards in your region will come down, and of course, your use case is also important. For example, would you combine productivity with gaming, and if so, would a single CPU provide a performance advantage in your particular application? For coding, rendering, or any other CPU intensive task, the Core i7-12700KF is the obvious choice, and for AMD to turn the tables, they'll need to lower the price and that's what we can see them do if there is enough pressure .