what are 12th generation processors worth in video games?

Benefiting from a new architecture called hybrid, grouping together two different types of cores, the new Alder Lake processors from Intel are finally arriving on the market. However, it remains to be seen what these twelfth-generation Cores really have in their belly, and if they finally manage to compete with AMD’s Ryzen in video games.

The three Core Gen12 processors tested – Credit: Igor’s Lab

The Alder Lake processors were formalized a few days ago by Intel, and all the technical details concerning them are already known. The manufacturer even took care to publish on this occasion the results of a number of performance tests, of course glorifying its new desktop processors, presented as the fastest on the consumer market. So we wanted to check for ourselves even if these announcements were real, if these Core 12e generation benefiting from a new hybrid architecture did put Intel back on track against AMD and its Ryzen, and if we could trust (or not) the rumors concerning the high energy consumption of these CPUs.

For once, we joined forces with our colleague Igor’s Lab to carry out tests and measurements on these new Alder Lake processors from Intel. Three models out of the six announced by the manufacturer are therefore passed on the test bench, namely the Core i5-12600K, Core i7-12700K et Core i9-12900KF. The missing models being only the versions with / without iGP of these three models (K for models equipped with an iGP, KF for the versions which do not have it), it is sufficient to know the performance of the whole. of the range currently available in the manufacturer’s catalog. They faced the previous generation Cores (Core i9-11900K, Core i7-11700K, Core i5-11600K) as well as the fastest competing Ryzen (Ryzen 9 5950X, Ryzen 9 5900X, Ryzen 7 5800X, Ryzen 5 5600X). The Core i5-12600K, Core i7-12700K and Core i9-12900KF have also been tested with PL1 settings of 241W, 241W and 150W, in order to comply with Intel recommendations (these are also the default BIOS settings for motherboards). The Core i9-12900KF was also tested with a PL1 of only 125W, the objective being to be able to compare it to TDP identical with the Core i7-12700K and Core i9-12900KF.

The test protocol

Alder Lake processors inaugurate a new LGA 1700 socket which replaces the LGA 1200 socket used until now by Intel. It is therefore impossible to use the same motherboard to test the two generations of Core processors, especially since this Gen12 is also the first to be able to use DDR5 memory (while remaining compatible with DDR4). The choice of the platform therefore fell on an MSI MEG Z690 Unify motherboard accompanied by 2 x 16 GB of Corsair Dominator DDR5-5200 memory. Side Intel Gen11 processors, it is an MSI MEG Z590 Unify motherboard which lent itself to the game, accompanied by 2x 16 GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR4-4000 memory, clocked at 3733 MHz for the occasion. Finally, the dedicated AMD platform consists of an MSI MEG X570 Godlike motherboard and 2 x 16 GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR4-4000 memory clocked at 3800 MHz to maintain a 1: 1 ratio.

Corsair dominator ram ddr5 ddr5-5200
Corsair Dominator DDR5-5200 – Credit: Igor’s Lab

A MSI Radeon RX 6900XT Gaming X OC graphics card, a Be Quiet diet! 1200-watt Dark Power Pro 12 and two 2TB SSDs (an MSI Spatium M480 and a Corsair MP660 Pro XT) complete the package. The cooling is finally entrusted to a liquid cooling system based on a customized Aqua Computer Cuplex Kryos Next water block, and the whole takes place in a semi-open Raijintek Paean case. The tests were made under Windows 11 Pro, with the latest patches and updates available as well as the most recent graphics drivers.

intel alder lake performances.01
Credit: Igor’s Lab

A total of 10 games make up our test panel so that it is as representative as possible. Two of them use the Vulkan API (Ghost Recon Breakpoint and Wolfenstein: Youngblood), the others are based on DirectX 12 (Anno 1800, Borderlands 3, Control, Far Cry 6, Horizon Zero Dawn, Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Watch Dogs Legion). The objective being to measure processor performance and no graphics card, all titles have been tested in 720p, 1080p (Full HD) and 1440p (QHD) in order to stress the CPU as much as possible. In all cases, the graphics parameters of the different games have been set to maximum, however without DXR activated.

What performance in game in 720p?

intel alder lake performances 720p
intel alder lake performances 720p

If the previous Core Gen11s were generally lagging behind in games against the Ryzen 5000 Series and their Zen 3 architecture, it is clear that Intel has managed to totally reverse things with its new Alder Lake processors and their hybrid architecture! The small Core i5-12600K is thus faster than a Core i9-11900K, while the Core i7-12700K and a fortiori the Core i9-12900KF are ahead of all Ryzen. The difference between the Core i9-12900KF and the Ryzen 9 5950X averages around 7%, but we also notice that the PL1 setting has almost no impact on the performance of the Core i9-12900KF. We will see a little later what this means …

intel alder lake performances 720p

The other surprise concerning these Core Alder Lake is to look for the side of “Low IPS”, ie the minimum number of frames per second reached in game. The Core i5-12600K does here as well as the best Ryzen 5000 Series, and the Core i7-12700K and i9-12900KF improve minimum FPS in-game by 5% and almost 11% respectively! In other words, in the most “CPU limited” game sequences, these new Alder Lake processors are significantly faster than anything on the market today.

intel alder lake consumption 720p
intel alder lake consumption 720p

If one listens to recent rumors about them, one might fear that these excellent performances come at the expense of consumption. However, our tests tend to show that it remains reasonable, and even lower than that of the Ryzen 9. Better still: if we look at the ratio of watts consumed / images displayed per second, the Core Alder Lake are really in the top of the basket. In addition to consume little, they benefit from a excellent energy efficiency.

Let’s quickly come back to the Core i9-12900KF. Change the setting of its maximum authorized long-term consumption (PL1) to 125W (its PBP – Processor Base Power) or 241W (MTP sound – Maximum Turbo Power) does not change much in the end, since the average consumption varies by less than 2 watts, for almost identical performance. We can therefore deduce that in play, the consumption limit is only purely theoretical and that in practice, it is never reached.

What performance in game in Full HD (1080p)?

intel alder lake performances 1080p
intel alder lake performances 1080p

Increasing the definition logically decreases performance, but the RX 6900 XT used for the tests is powerful enough not to represent the limiting element in Full HD. In other words, in this definition it is once again the processor which will limit performance. And just like in 720p, Alder Lake is the fastest at 1080p, the Core i7-12700K and Core i9-12900KF outperforming all Ryzen. More precisely, these two new processors are respectively approximately 1% and 3% more powerful than the fastest CPU of AMD: the difference thus attenuates compared to the 720p, but remains always visible. The Core i5-12600K meanwhile is on par with the best Ryzen processors, and is ahead of the Core i9-11900K, yet the spearhead of Intel’s previous range.

intel alder lake performances 1080p

Once again, the main strength of these new Alder Lake processors lies in the framerate minimum: as in 720p, the Core i7-12700K and Core i9-12900KF are significantly faster than their competitors, with a framerate 6% and 9% higher minimum respectively compared to the Ryzen 9 5950X. But this time around, even the “small” Core i5-12600K outperforms AMD’s processor, with a margin of around 2%. Needless to say, the previous generation of Intel processors is also outdated, with the Core i9-11900K coming behind the Core i5-12600K…

intel alder lake consommation 1080p
intel alder lake consommation 1080p

In 1080p as in 720p, the consumption of these Core Alder Lake remains reasonable, lower in all cases than that of the Ryzen 9 5900X and 5950X. With superior performance as we have just seen, we logically arrive at a “watts per IPS” ratio that is generally to the advantage of these new Intel processors. Only the Ryzen 5 5600X manages to position itself at their height, but it fails to keep up with the pace in terms of performance. Once again, Alder Lake therefore impresses for its excellent energy efficiency.

What performance in game in QHD (1440p)?

intel alder lake performances 1440p
intel alder lake performances 1440p

Switching to 1440p (QHD) unsurprisingly tends to smooth the differences between processors, at least as long as one considers the mid-range or high-end models. However, we can still see that the new Alder Lake CPUs from Intel are still holding out against their competitors, even if the lead is gradually diminishing. The Core i5-12600K is thus overall as fast as the Ryzen 9 5900X and 5950X, while the Core i7-12700K and Core i9-12900KF are only slightly faster than AMD’s models, with a lead of 1% to 2 %.

intel alder lake performances 1440p

Again, the difference is more important when looking at the framerate minimum: thus, all the twelfth generation Cores are faster than their Ryzen 5000 Series, with performance 2% to 6% higher depending on the model. And once again, the lead over the previous generation Cores is significant. These Alder Lake CPUs are therefore particularly efficient in video games, particularly offering a increase in framerate minimum, in addition to increasing average performance.

intel alder lake consumption 1440p
intel alder lake consumption 1440p

Let’s finish with the consumption of these processors in 1440p. As in the lower definitions, the Alder Lakes are doing very well, with average fuel consumption significantly lower than the Ryzen, with the exception of the Ryzen 5 5600X. The previous generation Cores clearly do not play in the same category, with consumption much higher than the new ones, confirming in passing that Intel has done everything it could with its fine engraving in 14 nm but that it was high time to switch to the Intel 7. The observation is of course identical on the side of energy efficiency: these new Core Alder Lake emerge victorious, and only the Ryzen 5 5600X is able to rise to their height in this test.

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