The arrival of Alder Lake signaled the start of Intel’s brutal price war against AMD’s Ryzen 5000 chips, and the Core i7-12700K is the perfect example of Intel’s new bare-knuckle pricing strategy. At $409, the Intel Core i7 12700K easily outperforms the $390 Ryzen 7 5800X and even unseats the pricey $550 Ryzen 9 5900X, all while delivering essentially the same gaming performance as Intel’s own $589 flagship Core i9-12900K — but for $180 less. Alder Lake also offers the greatest gains in overclocking performance seen in recent chip generations. As a result, we’ve added the Intel Core i7 12700K to our list of the best gaming CPUs. It’s also extremely competitive in applications, ensuring the top spot in our CPU Benchmark hierarchy.
The Intel Core i7 12700K follows Intel’s other unexpected wins against much more expensive chips, such as the $589 Core i9-12900K vs $799 Ryzen 9 5950X and the $289 Core i5-12600K vs $390 Ryzen 7 5800X, demonstrating that Alder Lake truly punches above its pricing weight class.
Intel Core i7 12700K Specifications
If you’re new to the 12th Generation Alder Lake family, we recommend that you first read our Core i9-12900K review before diving into this Core i7 review. The 12th Generation Core architecture from Intel is a significant departure from its predecessors. This is due in part to a number of platform changes, such as the switch to DDR5 RAM, but the most notable difference is the use of two distinct microarchitectures within the same processor: Performance Cores (P-Cores) and Efficiency Cores (EC) (E-Cores). We went over these new core types in detail in the Core i9 review, so we won’t go over them again here; instead, we’ll focus on what makes the Core i7-12700K stand out.
The Intel Core i7 12700K has a total of twelve CPU cores. The majority of the chip’s performance comes from eight Hyper-Threaded P-Cores based on Intel’s “Golden Cove” architecture. Golden Cove is the high-performance direct successor to the “Cypress Cove” architecture found inside 11th Generation Rocket Lake processors. These cores have a base clock of 3.6GHz, but they can reach speeds of up to 5.0GHz (in isolated cases under Turbo Boost Max 3.0) or 4.9GHz (under regular turbo boost) right out of the box.
The remaining four cores were built using Intel’s “Gracemont” architecture, a distant relative of Intel’s low-power Atom processors. As a result, the E-Cores were created with energy conservation in mind. They are significantly slower, with a base frequency of 2.7GHz and a maximum turbo frequency of 3.8GHz.
In addition to the cores, the processor includes 25MB of L3 cache for the cores to share. This model also includes Intel’s UHD Graphics 770 integrated graphics processor (IGP), which eliminates the need for a graphics card in a system unless you want to play games that aren’t several years old. The chip is rated by Intel to have a base power draw of 125 watts and a maximum turbo power draw of 190 watts.
The nearly identical Intel Core i7-12700KF(Opens in a new window) processor is identical in every way except for the lack of an IGP (or rather, likely has the IGP silicon permanently disabled). Its suggested retail price is $20 lower, and if you intend to buy (or already own) a suitable graphics card, this no-graphics variant may be worth considering.
Intel Core i7 12700K Essential information
|Product Collection||12th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Processors|
|Code Name||Products formerly Alder Lake|
|Recommended Customer Price||$450.00 – $460.00|
Intel Core i7 12700K Specs
|# of Performance-cores||8|
|# of Efficient-cores||4|
|Max Turbo Frequency||5.00 GHz|
|Intel® Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 Frequency||5.00 GHz|
|Performance-core Max Turbo Frequency||4.90 GHz|
|Efficient-core Max Turbo Frequency||3.80 GHz|
|Performance-core Base Frequency||3.60 GHz|
|Efficient-core Base Frequency||2.70 GHz|
|Cache||25 MB Intel® Smart Cache|
|Total L2 Cache||12 MB|
|Processor Base Power||125 W|
|Maximum Turbo Power||190 W|
Intel Core i7 12700K Performance & Tests
So we begin with 7-Zip 32MB dictionary compression, where the Intel Core i7 12700K has a healthy 20.35% advantage over the i7-11700K.
On the decompression benchmark, the performance gap widens. In this case, the Alder Lake achieves 119.401 GIPS (billion instructions per second), while the 11700K achieves 87.679 GIPS.
The 12th Gen CPU completed our Blender all-core bmw27 benchmark in 1 minute and 48 seconds, while the Core i7-11700K took 65 seconds longer. Similarly, in Classroom, the newer processor wins by a whopping 57.60%.
Not only does Alder Lake outperform in terms of performance, but it also outperforms in terms of power efficiency. While the 11th Gen CPU consumed approximately 218W during the render cycle, the Intel Core i7 12700K consumed approximately 17% less power at 186W.
In the Cinebench R23 single-core test, the Intel Core i7 12700K scored 1873, while the i7-11700K only scored 1544. Because Cinebench has a linear relationship with a processor’s core-count (like Blender), multi-core results on Alder Lake are even more impressive.
More specifically, we’re seeing a 67% improvement on the 12th Gen CPU. Although Cinebench R23 isn’t a good indicator of a system’s long-term performance, we ran a 30-minute stress test to see how these processors handled power, temperature, and thermal throttling.
While neither CPU was taxed enough to cause thermal throttling, Alder Lake was once again the more power-efficient of the two—despite the fact that the maximum temperature in both CPU packages was around 93°C.
Intel Core i7 12700K Conclusion
To conclude this Intel Core i7 12700K review, it goes without saying that Team Blue is finally… finally back. I might add, quite handsomely! After spending the previous two generations of products in the doghouse, Alder Lake is a completely new chapter in the company’s history.
Intel has created a slew of innovations for this, including the hybrid core architecture, a new 10nm process, and all of the platform upgrades I mentioned earlier, such as DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 support. In both single and multi-threaded workloads, the i7-12700K outperforms the Core i7-11700K from last year.
Multi-core performance is especially impressive, and those four E-cores pull a lot of weight. Despite finally leaving the 14nm node behind, Intel continues to struggle with power efficiency.
Intel Core i7 12700K