The $399 Intel Core i7 11700K processor is part of Intel’s Rocket Lake product line and sits between two of AMD’s most popular Ryzen 5000 processors. The 11700K’s pricing should make it an appealing chip if you want the most performance from a mainstream Intel platform without paying the flagship price, but it faces stiff competition from AMD chips, which have dominated our list of Best CPUs (at least when they’re available for purchase).
Cypress Cove, Intel’s first new desktop PC chip architecture in six years, gives the Rocket Lake chips a 19% increase in IPC in most workloads. However, the backported Cypress Cove (designed for 10nm) comes with a significant tradeoff: Rocket Lake is still etched on the 14nm process and has a maximum of eight cores and sixteen threads. This is a step down from the previous-generation 10-core Comet Lake i9 models, and it pales in comparison to AMD’s monstrous 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X flagship.
The 19% IPC boost from Rocket Lake more than offsets the performance hit from the reduced core count, but it put Intel in a bind as it divided its product stack into Core i9 and Core i7 families — both series top out at eight cores.
The $399 Intel Core i7 11700K is a lower-end Core i9-11900K that has the same eight cores and sixteen threads as the $539 flagship. You can also save money by going with the graphics-less Core i7-11700KF (which is identical in every other way) and getting the chip for $374. This creates a $75 price difference between the 11700K and the Ryzen 7 5800X, which also lacks an integrated graphics engine.
Intel reduced the 11700K’s peak boost frequency by 300 MHz compared to the Core i9-11900K, reduced memory frequencies in low-latency mode, and dropped support for the new Adaptive Boost Technology to account for the vagaries of binning and to hamstring the 11700K’s ability to create artificial segmentation (ABT). Although the ABT technology is essentially an auto-overclocking feature that does not void your warranty, the 11700K is a fully overclockable chip. That means that the loss of that feature, as well as the additional 300 MHz of peak boost speed, may not deter CPU overclockers looking to save $140 over the 11900K.
Intel Core i7 11700K Specifications
The $539 eight-core, 16-thread Intel Core i9-11900K (a downgrade from last year’s 10-core, 20-thread Intel Core i9-10900K) matches the Core i7-11700K nearly spec for spec, save for differences in maximum boost capabilities and maximum memory clock speeds. The maximum boost clock of the Core i7-11700K is 5.0GHz in very specific usage scenarios, whereas the Core i9-11900K is rated to peak at 5.3GHz (for a more detailed breakdown of how Intel is classifying boost speeds these days, see that review). In terms of memory speed, Intel claims that the Core i7 part is limited to DDR4-2933, while the i9 part supports up to DDR4-3200.
Overall, with only those two minor differences between chips priced $140 apart, there’s almost no scenario in which the Intel Core i7 11700K isn’t the superior choice if you’re looking for an eight-core, 11th Generation Intel processor.
Moving on to our AMD comparison, the Intel Core i7 11700K versus the Editors’ Choice award-winning Ryzen 7 5800X is an uphill battle on all fronts. Except for price and single-core boost limits (which don’t always translate to single-core wins, as we’ll see below), the AMD processor outperforms the Core i7-11700K in almost every way, including a 105-watt TDP (versus the Core i7’s 125-watt rating), a larger 32MB versus 16MB L3 cache, and compatibility with AMD’s venerable Socket AM4 platform (although motherboard support gets spottier for 5000 Series CPUs compared to the older, cheaper 3000 Series).
Intel Core i7 11700K Essential Information
|Product Collection||11th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Processors|
|Code Name||Products formerly Rocket Lake|
|Recommended Customer Price||$439.00 – $449.00|
Intel Core i7 11700K Specs
|Max Turbo Frequency||5.00 GHz|
|Intel® Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 Frequency||5.00 GHz|
|Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 Frequency||4.90 GHz|
|Processor Base Frequency||3.60 GHz|
|Cache||16 MB Intel® Smart Cache|
|Bus Speed||8 GT/s|
|Configurable TDP-down Base Frequency||3.10 GHz|
|Configurable TDP-down||95 W|
Intel Core i7 11700K Performance & Tests
In recent years, Intel’s midrange options have struggled to compete with AMD’s in productivity tasks. That’s because Intel dropped thread-doubling Hyper-Threading Technology below the Core i9 level with the 9th Generation Core line. It was restored with the 10th Generation, and it is back with the 11th Generation Rocket Lake.
The Intel Core i7 11700K, like the rest of the 11th Gen chips, struggles against AMD’s Ryzen 5000 Series and its 7nm chiplet design as a chip that backports Intel’s 10-nanometer “Ice Lake” architecture into 14nm+++ lithography.
Except for our legacy iTunes AAC conversion test and (by one second) our Blender 3D model render, the Ryzen 7 5800X outperforms the Core i7-11700K in every single benchmark we run. Though we expected the Intel chip to lag behind the AMD, the other single-core losses are particularly galling given Intel’s usual dominance in that area.
In terms of performance versus the Core i9-11900K, the chip is a clear value winner. Sure, the Core i9 is frequently faster than the i7, but not by $140—not even close. In most cases, this is the only eight-core Intel 11th Generation chip worth considering, though this is more of a plug for the Core i7 than a condemnation of the Core i9.
Here’s what we saw in our gaming tests with our GeForce RTX 2080 Ti card in charge. This high-end consumer GPU is the primary determinant of performance at 4K with all of the CPUs listed below. However, at 1080p resolution, the card backs off a little more, allowing the CPU differences to shine through.
Intel Core i7 11700K Conclusion
The Ryzen 7 5800X and Ryzen 5 5600X are both significantly better values for their respective use-cases. Unfortunately for the 11700K, the Ryzen 7 5800X has been widely available for a long time, and it is frequently available for less than the suggested price. The 5600X remains in short supply, but other downstream Intel chips, such as the 11600K and 11400F, are better options for gaming rigs than the Intel Core i7 11700K.
That effectively eliminates the Intel Core i7 11700K as anything more than a last-ditch option to be purchased only if the Ryzen 5 5800X is out of stock and you require the productivity performance of an eight-core chip right away.
Intel Core i7 11700K