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Technology Intel’s desktop CPU lineup gets a comprehensive overhaul with new 12th-gen chips


Technology

Technology Intel’s desktop CPU lineup gets a comprehensive overhaul with new 12th-gen chips

jump into Alder Lake — Alder Lake Core i5, Core i3, Pentium, and Celeron CPUs round out the lineup. Andrew Cunningham – Jan 4, 2022 6:10 pm UTC Enlarge / Intel is giving its desktop processors their first top-to-bottom overhaul in years.Intel Intel released its first 12th-generation Core desktop processors a little over two months…

Technology Intel’s desktop CPU lineup gets a comprehensive overhaul with new 12th-gen chips

Technology

jump into Alder Lake —

Alder Lake Core i5, Core i3, Pentium, and Celeron CPUs round out the lineup.


Technology Intel is giving its desktop processors their first top-to-bottom overhaul in years.

Enlarge / Intel is giving its desktop processors their first top-to-bottom overhaul in years.

Intel

Intel released its first 12th-generation Core desktop processors a little over two months ago, and we were pretty impressed with the results; the chips still consume a lot of power, but they generally come with the performance to back it up. Today, Intel is announcing the rest of the lineup, including non-overclockable versions of its Core i9, i7, and i5 processors; new Core i3, Pentium, and Celeron chips that bring the Alder Lake architecture to lower-end PCs; and low-power versions of the processors suitable for mini PCs and other systems where space and cooling capacity are at a premium.

Technology New processors, from Core i9 to Celeron

Intel is announcing a total of 22 new CPUs today, and they replace most of the company’s currently available 11th- and 10th-generation desktop CPUs. Like the overclockable K- and KF-series processors that are already available, these chips will require a new motherboard with an LGA 1700 socket and can support either DDR4 or DDR5, depending on the motherboard you buy (more on those in a bit).

All of these processors are built on the “Intel 7” process, formerly known as “10nm Enhanced Super Fin.” Intel justifies the name change by saying that the Intel 7 transistor density is similar to 7 nm-branded manufacturing processes from competitors like TSMC and Samsung. The 12th-generation Core lineup is the first time in about six and a half years that Intel has moved beyond some version of its 14 nm process for desktop processors.

Some of the new processors use Intel’s hybrid processor architecture, which combines performance and efficiency cores (P- and E-cores) to improve power-efficiency when the computer isn’t very busy and provide better multi-core performance when you need all the processor speed you can get. Load balancing in these hybrid chips is handled by Intel’s “Thread Director” technology, which needs to be supported by your operating system for optimal performance. Right now, Windows 11 has it, Linux support is in the works, and Windows 10 doesn’t have it and won’t be getting it (you can use Alder Lake chips with Windows 10, but performance can be a mixed bag).

But at the Core i5 level and below, most of these chips only include P-cores. This will be just fine for gaming or any other task where a few fast cores will get the job done—Tom’s Hardware has run an early review of a Core i5-12400 paired with DDR4 RAM, and in gaming benchmarks, it holds its own with much more expensive Ryzen 5000-series and 11th-generation Core chips. But you might miss the E-cores for CPU-based video encoding or any kind of rendering work that can effectively use all your processor’s cores at once.

  • These processors represent the 12th-gen desktop chips that will be most common for desktop computers.


    Intel

  • As usual, T-series processors drop the clock speeds by quite a bit so they can also drop the power requirements.

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    Intel

The images above have all the specs and prices, but here’s a broad overview of everything that has been announced:

  • Core i9 chips include eight P-cores and eight E-cores (and note that only the P-cores include Hyperthreading, which is why you have 24 threads instead of the 32 you might expect).
  • Core i7 chips have eight P-cores but only four E-cores.
  • Unlike their K-series counterparts, the non-K Core i5 chips include six P-cores and no E-cores. At its list price of $167, the Core i5-12400F should be especially interesting to gamers on a budget.
  • Core i3 chips have four P-cores and no E-cores.
  • Both the Pentium and Celeron chips only have two P-cores, but the Pentiums include Hyperthreading and the Celerons don’t.
  • F-series chips don’t include GPUs.
  • T-series chips have the same core counts as the non-T versions but with lower “base power” and much lower base clock speeds—the speeds the processors fall back to for heavy, sustained workloads that generate a lot of heat.
  • All the processors include 20 PCI Express lanes and officially support the same DDR4 and DDR5 memory speeds, from Core i9 all the way down to the Celeron.

Despite their lack of E-cores, the new Core i3, Pentium, and Celeron chips are noteworthy because Intel hasn’t meaningfully refreshed these lower-end processors in two years. The low-end chips released alongside Intel’s 11th-generation desktop CPUs were small speed bumps that still used 10th-generation branding and the Comet Lake architecture. Given that 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th-generation chips were all iterations on 2015’s Skylake architecture and that core counts have been the same since 2017’s 8th-generation Coffee Lake chips, these ought to be the best-performing budget processors we’ve seen in a while. (It also helps Intel that AMD has essentially ceded the $200-and-under processor space with its Ryzen 5000-series chips.)

You’ll notice that Intel has included a “base power” figure with all of these processors in the place of a Thermal Design Power (TDP) measurement. TDP has been less than accurate as a power-consumption figure for a long time now, and the much-higher Maximum Turbo Power figure is more in line with what you’d see if you had the entire processor working on something at once. This is where you’ll see the biggest difference between the T-series low-power processors and the standard versions; the Core i9-12900 lists a Maximum Turbo Power value of 202 W, while the i9-12900T maxes out at just 106 W.

That Maximum Turbo Power figure can also be customized by your computer or motherboard manufacturer, and many motherboard makers even include several power presets you can tweak to squeeze more speed out of your CPU. Though non-K-series processors technically can’t be overclocked, raising (or lowering) the maximum power limits will affect how long they can stay at their max turbo clock speeds. Just know that more power generates more heat, and you’ll want better CPU coolers than the ones Intel ships in the processor box.

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