Intel 12th-Gen Alder Lake Release Date, Specifications, Price, and Benchmarks

Intel's 12th-gen Alder Lake processors are coming! Here is our always up-to-date news article where we show you the release date, specifications, and price.

In 2019, Comet Lake (10th gen) was the first clear sign that Intel is planning to bring some competition towards AMD. High-end CPUs with high frequency and core count, solid thermals, and competitive pricing.

It’s something that most of us didn’t expect. The very next year we got Rocket Lake (11th gen) which was a direct upgrade for the tenth gen, but it didn’t bring anything interesting to the table.

However, most tech enthusiasts, reviewers, and websites including CPU Ninja believe that Tiger Lake was only a stepping stone for Intel’s 12th-Gen Alder Lake.

This will be the first generation of desktop processors that is going to give up on the old 14nm++ process and use Intel’s 10nm Super Fin process. This alone should provide huge efficiency and performance gains for Intel’s CPUs.

Additionally, this is the first time Intel will be going with a hybrid big.LITTLE computing architecture. The name of this design refers to the cores inside of the chip. A part of those cores will be bigger and provide better performance while the smaller ones will be slower, but more energy efficient.

With these things in mind, we can assume that there will certainly be a fiery battle between the red team and the blue team.

Let’s get a closer look at the information we currently have about Alder Lake.

Updates +

  • October 18, 2021: Added information and images regarding Alder Lake’s IHS.
  • October 12, 2021: Added benchmark leaks for the i7-1270P and i5-12400.
  • October 01, 2021: Added new release dates regarding the i9-12900K, i7-12700K and i5-12600K.
  • September 28, 2021: Added alleged Cinebench benchmarks for the i9-12900K.
  • September 20, 2021: Added specifications for i5-12100T, i5-12400, i5-12400T, i5-12600.
  • September 13, 2021: Added new benchmark leaks for the 12900KF, 12700KF, and 12600KF. Also added a table for specifications.
  • September 6, 2021: Added new rumors regarding the release date for Alder Lake.
  • August 29, 2021: Added Geekbench leaks of the i7-12700 and a comparison chart against the i7-11700 and R7 5800X.
  • August 24, 2021: Added new benchmark leaks of the i9-12900K and compared it to the i9-11900K.
  • August 13, 2021: Added new information regarding the release date of Intel’s 12th generation CPUs.

Table of ContentsShow

Release Date

Usually, the official release date for future CPUs comes only a few months before the CPUs show up on shelves. But, this time around, we have confirmation that Intel expects this new line of CPUs to become available in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Of course, anything could happen in the next several months and Alder Lake could be delayed, but it seems that everything is on track for Intel, so there is no evidence proving the different.

But, it’s always best to expect the unexpected and be ready for a release even in early 2022. Either way, it’s going to be on time as leaks and other sources claim that AMD is planning their Zen 4 on 5nm process to be launched near the end of 2021.

Based on the information Igor’s Lab managed to get on the launch of Alder Lake, it looks like Intel is planning to release the enthusiast SKUs first. This is a bit weird considering that Intel usually releases most SKUs all at once.

This time around, we’ll only be getting the K and KF variants. We will also get the high-end motherboards Z690 first instead of the cheaper chipsets such as B660, H610, etc. Those will probably come later in 2022.

Considering Intel’s ON event during October 27-28, 2021, it makes sense that we’ll see 12th gen CPUs hitting the shelves only a couple of weeks after the event. Rumors claim that November 19th is going to be the official release date for Alder Lake.

And, it seems like the rumor about Intel releasing the K and KF high-end SKUs first is still true. We’ll get the lower-binned SKUs after that date.

After poking around, VideoCardz’s has managed to dig up some “concrete” information regarding the release date of the next Alder Lake SKUs.

This is all based on MSI’s announcement that they will be providing free mounting kits for all who have bought their latest motherboards. These mounting kits will add support for Alder Lake CPUs.

Specifications

The expectations for the 12th generation of Intel processors are quite high currently and for a good reason.

Like we already mentioned previously, the 10nm Super Fin process should be a considerable improvement over previous generations as Intel have been having trouble tackling their issues with thermals and power usage. Benchmarks have shown that the i9-11900K peaks at around 300W. This shouldn’t be acceptable, considering the minuscule gains over the 10900K.

The 10nm architecture should allow Intel to cram more cores on a chip at high frequencies while keeping the temperatures low.

Still, none of this is a fact, these are only logical guesses. So, let’s have a look at some hints, leaks, or maybe even official information about the specification of this generation.

Desktop Alder Lake

With the information we currently have, we do know for certain that we will be seeing both mobile and desktop SKUs of Alder Lake. There might even be SKUs for low-power devices. But, the desktop SKUs are definitely going to be the most interesting part of this new generation.

Thanks to this Geekbench score done back in December 2020, the assumptions about Alder Lake using big.LITTLE are confirmed. How? We’ll if you have a look at the core count of this particular processor, you’ll notice that the threads are not double the core count as we’ve usually seen with Intel’s Hyper-threading (or AMD’s SMT).

Instead, the CPU has only 8 threads over the core count (16 cores, 24 threads). This is because the slower and smaller cores on the chip are Atom-based which do not support Hyper-threading, while the big Golden Cove cores do.

This combination of cores and threads may get a bit confusing this time around, but we’ll get the hang of it.

Additionally, this same CPU showed up on SiSoftware benchmark with a 4.0 GHz boost which seems a bit low, but consider that IPC could improve by +20% with the new 10nm SuperFin process. Also, this is a test sample, so Intel will probably boost the core clock even further for launch.

Intel 12th Gen Alder Lake CPU Next Gen CPU

Intel is taking a huge leap of faith with this big.LITTLE hybrid architecture, but if they want to be on top of the game, risks must be taken.

There have been some leaks of possible SKUs, but take this information with a huge grain of salt.

  • High-end SKU with 8 Golden Cove (big/performance) cores + 8 little cores, 16 cores/24 threads
  • Another high-end with 8 big and 6 little, 14 cores/22 threads
  • High to mid 8 + 4, 12 cores/20 threads

The one with the highest thread count is probably the successor to the i9-11900K while the 14 core SKU is a successor to the i7-11700K.

However, we are not certain whether the 12 core/20 thread SKU is going to be an i5 or an i7. Seeing Intel double the core count of the i5 lineup is a bit optimistic, but it looks like anything might be possible with Alder Lake.

CPU Performance Cores Efficiency Cores C/T P-Core Clock Speeds E-core Clock Speeds Cache TDP MSRP
Intel i9-12900K8816/243.2 GHz/5.3 GHz?/3.9 GHz30MB125W$599
Intel i7-12700K 8412/203.6 GHz/5.0 GHz?/3.8 GHz 25MB125W$429
Intel i5-12600K 6410/163.7 GHz/4.9 GHz?/3.6 GHz 20MB125W$279
Intel i5-12600 606/123.7/4.8 GHz?18MB65W$249
Intel i5-12400606/12?/18MB65W$200
Intel i5-12400T606/12?/4.2 GHz/18MB35W?
Intel i3-12100T 404/84.1/12MB35W?

Mobile Alder Lake

Unlike the desktop SKUs, mobile Alder Lake should have more of the LITTLE cores than big cores and it makes sense. LITTLE cores are indeed slower, but they should also be much more power-efficient which is crucial for laptops or other mobile devices.

Here are a few potential SKUs:

  • The top of the line mobile SKUs may come with just 6 big cores and 8 LITTLE cores which would be a 14 core/20 thread CPU.
  • Under the number one SKU could be a 10/14 CPU with 6 big and 4 LITTLE.

The latest leaks found by Coelacanth’s Dream provide information regarding the core/thread count of certain mobile SKUs and their TDP.

These are the possible combinations:

  • 2 performance cores with 8 efficiency cores at 9 W TDP (10 core/12 thread)
  • 2 performance cores with 8 efficiency cores at 15 W TDP (10 core/12thread)
  • 4 performance cores with 8 efficiency cores at 28 W TDP (12 core/16 thread)
  • 6 performance cores with 8 efficiency cores at 45 W TDP (14 core/18 thread)

The 9 W SKU is on the Alder Lake-M architecture while those listed with higher TDP are on Alder Lake-P. M-class SKUs will probably go into devices that require the best battery efficiency.

P-class SKUs on the other hand will boost up much higher. Keep in mind that both Alder Lake-M and Alder Lake-P will support PL4 (power level 4). It’s worth noting that they’ll reach PL4 only for a very short amount of time for a Turbo Boost and then they’ll drop-down back to PL2.

Intel Tiger Lake vs Alder Lake PL1 Pl2 and PL4

Benchmarks

Various sources have been leaking a laptop SKU that’s might be competitive against Ryzen’s mobile chips.

The leak comes from a Geekbench score with information for the SKU’s name, laptop model, core count, core clocks, and more.

Running on Windows 11, in a Samsung Galaxy Book (maybe), this i7-1270P scored 851 in single-core and 3624 in multi-core tests. To put that into perspective, last generation’s i7-1165G7 scores 1320 in single-core and 4237 multi-score.

So, what’s the deal? Why is the 11th generation i7 considerably faster in both tests? Especially when you consider that this is a 12-core/16 thread chip.

Well, there are a couple of reasons. First, it might be because certain features/technologies have probably been disabled for these tests as the maximum frequency read on Geekbench was just 9 MHz while the base frequency read was at 2.50 GHz.

Definitely weird. It might be that boosting features were completely disabled for this feature or that Geekbench can’t properly read the new processors and that affects the final results.

In addition, we know this generation of Intel processors is split into P-cores and E-cores. So, i7-1270P is probably split into 4 performance cores and 8 efficiency ones, making the i7- 1165G7 faster because of its 8 big (performance) cores, but much more power-hungry.

iGPU

The new big.LITTLE technology is not the only addition to Intel’s CPUs. We will also be seeing brand new integrated GPUs which is always nice to see. This is another edition of the Intel Xe GPUs, codenamed GT1 (for desktop) or GT2 (for mobile) – Gen12.

All of the desktop CPUs will be coming with a 36 EU GPU (running at 1.5GHz) which isn’t a whole lot more than the UHD 750 with 32 EUs. But considering that desktop users rely on dedicated GPUs, GT1 is probably more than enough.

Intel Xe GPU
Visual representation of Intel’s Xe GPU

Mobile SKUs will be equipped with a much stronger GPU with 96 EUs running around 1.1-1.2 GHz, but that could change with the official release of mobile Alder Lake.

Even though this isn’t anything new since the iGPU in Tiger Lake is with 96 EUs, it is always nice to see an improvement in this part of any CPU.

New Socket, DDR5, and PCIe 5.0

It probably won’t be too surprising to find out that Intel will be bringing a new socket for this generation of CPUs. It seems like they do with every new generation of CPUs, but this time around, it is absolutely needed as the Alder Lake CPUs should be considerably lengthier than Comet Lake-S.

So, Intel will be switching over from LGA 1200 which was introduced at the end of 2020, and jumping to the brand new socket. That also means brand new 600-series motherboards. We hope that Intel will stick to these motherboards at least for two generations since AMD has had a much different approach.

LGA1200 to LGA 1700
Intel switching from LGA 1200 to LGA 1700

AMD’s has used the same AM4 platform since the release of the first Ryzen processors back in 2017. In fact, they even used AM4 for Excavator from 2016.

The first 300-series motherboards supported Excavator, Zen, Zen+, and some models even Zen 2 (with the right BIOS). That is four generations of CPUs.

Certain 400-series AM4 boards (again, with the right BIOS) can support everything from Excavator to Zen 3. Again, this applies only if you have the right model, but that is still miles better than Intel’s decisions to end their MB lineup only after one or two generations of CPUs.

AM4 Motherboards CPU Support
AM4 chipset CPU support

However, switching over to this new socket is not all bad news. In fact, it is quite good since Alder Lake should support DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0. Both of these new additions are a huge leap forward in the PC industry.

DDR5

DDR5 opens up a lot of room for future improvements. This generation of RAM should be much faster than DDR4 and more speed is always welcome. However, since this technology is still quite new, it is probably going to take some time before we can see extremely high frequency like we see today with DDR4.

Micron DDR5 RAM

There are rumors that budget-oriented LGA 1700 motherboards may support DDR4, allowing Intel’s customers to use 12th generation CPUs while saving money on RAM since DDR5 is definitely going to be more expensive.

PCIE 5.0

PCIe 5.0 on the other hand is not as exciting. Of course, it will double the speed of PCIe 4.0 which got introduced in 2019 (from 16 GT/s to 32 GT/s), but there still isn’t any hardware that can utilize these new speeds except maybe a few SSDs.

For those that care mostly about gaming, PCIe 5.0 won’t change a whole lot for you. GPUs today such as the RTX 3090 still don’t push PCIe 3.0 to its limits, let alone PCIe 4.0.

Although, if you are a content creator, these new speeds will certainly be useful for storage.

New IHS

Intel’s IHS hasn’t changed a lot throughout the years and it probably won’t change too much this time either.

However, some new images have washed up as suggestions/tests for a modified IHS. This is just a temporary solution. Alder Lake’s IHS is prone to a lot of changes in the next couple of weeks.

Price

At the time of writing, Alder Lake is still pretty far away from its official release. It could be another six months until we see the power of these new Intel CPUs.

However, we can make a few guesses based on the MSRP of 10th and 11th generation CPUs.

Comet Lake:

  • 10900K – $488
  • 10700K – $374
  • 10600K – $262

Rocket Lake:

  • 11900K – $539
  • 11700K – $399
  • 11600K – $262
  • No 11th gen desktop i3 SKUs at the moment.

With these prices in mind, we can probably estimate what the future CPUs will actually cost. Why the i7 Rocket Lake CPUs are more expensive than the very similar Comet Lake i7s, we aren’t exactly sure and Alder Lake will probably be closer to the 11th gen SKUs in pricing.

Intel 11th Gen Processors

This 12th generation may be a lot more expensive because of that switch to the 10nm SuperFin process. Unfortunately, the latest leaks do show that Alder Lake is going to be more expensive.

  • 12900K – $599
  • 12700K – $429
  • 12600K – $279

It is unfortunate to see the xx700K’s MSRP rise that high.

Still, this is cheaper than AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series. If this $600 12900K can compete against AMD’s $800 5950X, that’s a clear win for Intel.

Benchmarks

It is still a little bit early for benchmarks, but, there have been a few leaks here and there.

Intel Core i9-12900/K/KF

The only solid benchmark we currently have is from Puget Systems showing some of i9-12900K’s performance. This bench was discovered by BenchLeaks.

Intel Core i9 12900K score on Puget Systems
i9-12900K score on PugetBench for After Effects 0.93.2

Naturally, the final (overall) score for this After Effects benchmark is influenced by the entire system and not just the CPU. The 12th Gen system is running a 2x32GB RAM setup @4800MHz. It is entirely possible that there’s DDR5 memory on this motherboard which would heavily influence the score.

However, this benchmark benefits a lot more from RAM capacity compared to speed, so the 12900K won’t get a huge advantage there. There is also an RTX 3090 in this system.

We’ve done a bit of searching on Puget Systems’ database to find a 11900K system that has the most similar specifications, and we did.

Intel 11900K PugetBench Score
i9-11900K score on PugetBench for After Effects 0.93.2

As seen in the images above, the GPU scores are pretty similar, the same goes for the RAM Preview scores. Either way, we’ll ignore those and focus on the Render Score.

The 12th Generation CPU hit a score of 137.2 while the 11th Gen CPU got 123.6. Going by these results the i9-12900K is 11% faster than the i9-11900K.

A ten percent performance improvement isn’t exactly impressive considering the jump to DDR5, 10nm SuperFin process, and Intel’s promises of 20% IPC improvements.

Still, we need to keep in mind that this is just one score. To get an accurate answer, we’ll need to get an average of multiple tests.

Additionally, we don’t know at what speed this processor is running. It might not be running at full speed. Future operating system and application optimizations could provide significant improvements.

We also got several leaked benchmarks of the 12900K, 12700K, and 12600K. Let’s focus on the 12900K.

12th Gen benchmark leak 12900K 12700K 12600K

The images of the benchmarks are pretty low quality, but the performance is apparent. The 12900KF doubles the performance over the 11900K in x264, x265, and HWBOT x265 benchmarks. That’s definitely impressive.

This $600 CPU is also a bit faster than the 5950X in the x264 HD benchmark, identical in the x265 HD bench, and slower in the HWBOT x265 bench. Not bad.

New Cinebench leaks by HXL (9550pro – Twitter handle) have the i9-12900K perform considerably better than AMD’s 5950X in single-core tests.

Cinebench R20

The image above shows a single-core score of 81X. A rumor suggesting that Intel’s flagship can score a bit over 800 points in R20 makes the i9-12900K 20% to 25% faster than the Ryzen 5950X (~650 R20 single-core).

Cinebench R23

We got another image this time with an R23 benchmark. A single-core score of 205X confirms the projections of 20% to 25% better performance than the 5950X.

This doesn’t have to be the 12900K’s full potential though. A better motherboard, better cooling, and overclocking could mean an even higher single-core score on Cinebench.

Intel Core i7-12700/K/KF

Another benchmark was found on Geekbench for Intel’s i7-12700. Note, this is the non-K SKU which means no overclocks and lower boost clocks.

Before we get into comparisons and scores, we must mention that Geekbench managed to read only 8 (performance) cores and 16 threads on this SKU.

That is weird considering that leaks proposed the i7-12700K to be with 8 performance and 4 (or 6) efficiency cores. That is at least 14 cores.

So, either the leaks and general assumptions on Alder Lake are wrong and Intel has a completely different plan for these SKUs or it may be that Geekbench isn’t familiar with this new architecture so it fails to read those efficiency cores.

Now, let’s have a look at the scores.

12700 Geekbench score
Single-core and a multi-core score of the i7-12700 on Geekbench 5

The 12700 managed to score 1595 in the single-core benchmark and 10170 in the multi-core benchmark with a maximum boost clock of 4789 MHz. A similar system with a i7-11700 has scored 9309 making the successor almost 10% faster in multi-core tasks.

The increase in single-core performance is in the margin of error. Only a 2% difference.

11700 12700 5800X comparison chart
Comparison chart of Intel i7-12700, i7-11700, and Ryzen 5800X

Comparing the new Intel CPU to R7 5800X we can see that it is behind by 10% in both single-core and multi-core performance. However, it is vital to understand that this Intel CPU isn’t overclockable and clocks at a lower frequency to maintain a lower TDP.

So, comparing a lower TDP SKU to AMD’s 105W TDP 5800X that shoots up to almost 150W isn’t exactly fair, but it does give us an insight of Alder Lake’s potential.

PC Mark benchmark of 12900KF 12700K and 12600K

The difference here between the i7-12700KF and the i7-11700K isn’t as apparent. The newer generation is faster in PC Mark’s essentials and productivity benchmark, but it is also considerably slower with digital content.

Intel Core i5-12600/K/KF

The same leaks include the i5-12600KF too. The results are definitely interesting as this i5 is faster in all Blender benchmarks than the 5600X. The performance is closer to the i7-11700K.

Blender benchmark for the 12900KF 12700KF and 12600KF

We haven’t seen a new generation i5 be as fast as a previous generation i7 in productivity before.

Intel Core i7-1270P

Various sources have been leaking a laptop SKU that’s might be competitive against Ryzen’s mobile chips.

The leak comes from a Geekbench score with information for the SKU’s name, laptop model, core count, core clocks, and more.

Running on Windows 11, in a Samsung Galaxy Book (maybe), this i7-1270P scored 851 in single-core and 3624 in multi-core tests. To put that into perspective, last generation’s i7-1165G7 scores 1320 in single-core and 4237 multi-score.

Geekbench i7 1270P

So, what’s the deal? Why is the 11th generation i7 considerably faster in both tests? Especially when you consider that this is a 12-core/16 thread chip.

Well, there are a couple of reasons. First, it might be because certain features/technologies have probably been disabled for these tests as the maximum frequency read on Geekbench was just 9 MHz while the base frequency read was at 2.50 GHz.

Definitely weird. It might be that boosting features were completely disabled for this feature or that Geekbench can’t properly read the new processors and that affects the final results.

In addition, we know this generation of Intel processors is split into P-cores and E-cores. So, i7-1270P is probably split into 4 performance cores and 8 efficiency ones, making the i7- 1165G7 faster because of its 8 big (performance) cores, but much more power-hungry.

Intel Core i5-12400

A promising leak for Alder Lake from Chinese website Bilibili, showcasing the Intel i5-12400 in Cinebench, CPU-Z, and AIDA64. The SKU’s name has been blurred, but a 400 at the end of the name can be made out from the images, so we can assume that it is the i5-12400.

Based on the information from CPU-Z, we can see that this SKU is boosting all cores to 4.0 GHz while single-core goes up to 4.4 GHz. With these speeds, it managed to score 659 in single-core and 4784 in multi-core Cinebench R20 tests.

The Ryzen 5 5600X scores only about 600 in single-core and around 4550-4600 in multicore. That makes the i5-12400 around 10% faster in single-core and about 5% (or lower) faster in multi-core. If the pricing for the i5-12400 stays the same as previous generations, between $180 and $200 then this is a dramatic win for Alder Lake.

Unfortunately, this new Super Fin 10nm process and hybrid technology might’ve been very expensive for Intel, so a price bump in all ranges is not unexpected.

More information on all 12th Gen SKUs will be available when new leaks show up or when official benchmarks are available.

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Branko Gapo
Branko Gapo

Keeping up with the incredibly fast evolution of computer technology is almost impossible. That's why Branko will be using his knowledge on this matter to share news and information on all the latest essential technological innovations and advancements related to CPUs.