Intel Core i7-12700KF Overview | Catrachadas

Here comes our second Alder Lake review after looking at the flagship Core i9 on launch date, and this time we're testing the mainstream Core i7-12700KF. For those of you wondering, the 12700KF and 12700K are the same CPU with a small exception for the integrated graphics (Intel UHD 770) which is disabled in the KF version. Other than this omission, they are exactly the same, although the KF chip will save you some money too.

The Core i7-12700K is currently priced at $ 450, while the KF model is slightly cheaper at $ 430. That means these parts compete with AMD's Ryzen 7 5800X, which has an MSRP of $ 450, although the street price has been adjusted and you can currently buy one for around $ 390.

In terms of specs, the 12700K CPU packs a total of 12 cores, consisting of 8 performance cores with 4 efficient cores for 20 threads. This is a very similar configuration to the Core i9, but with four fewer E cores.

The L3 cache capacity has also been downgraded from 30MB to 25MB which is a 17% decrease, and then we see a very small reduction in turbo clock speeds, with the 12700KF down to 4.9GHz for the P-cores and 3.8 GHz for the E cores.

Intel Core i9 12900K Intel Core i7 12700K Intel Core i5 12600K Intel Core i9 11900K Intel Core i7 11700K
MSRP $ $ 650 $ 450 $ 320 $ 540 $ 400
Release date November 2021 March 2021
Cores / threads 16/24 12/20 10/16 8/16
Base frequency 2.4 / 3.4 GHz 2.7 / 3.6 GHz 2.8 / 3.7 GHz 3.5 GHz 3.6 GHz
Maximum turbo 3.9 / 5.2 GHz 3.8 / 5.0 GHz 3.6 / 4.9 GHz 5.3 GHz 5.0 GHz
L3 cache 30 MB 25 MB 20 MB 20 MB 16 MB
Storage DDR5-4800 / DDR4-3200 DDR4-3200
power outlet LGA 1700 LGA 1200

These changes mean that the maximum turbo output has been reduced from 241 watts to 190 watts, which is a considerable energy saving of 21% compared to the Core i9 12900K. The rest of the specifications remain the same, i.e. 20 PCIe lanes from the CPU, 16 of which correspond to the new PCI Express 5.0 specification. DDR4 and DDR5 memory technologies are supported, but not at the same time and not from the same motherboard, so you need to choose in advance which type of memory you want to use.

Standard memory support includes DDR4-3200 or DDR5-4800, and recently we looked at DDR5-6000 performance with the Core i9-12900K and found that for the most part, this new high-speed memory offers very little extra performance when paired with an Alder Lake CPU. This leads us to the conclusion that all potential 12th generation customers should ignore DDR5 and just go for DDR4 for the time being.

For this reason, we will not invest any time in testing the 12700KF with DDR5. If you want to see what this storage technology can do, check out our 12900K review.

Alder Lake's hybrid core design allows the 12700KF to work with most 12th generation processors to run Windows 11 and its improved thread scheduler better for optimal performance. So we tested this and all the other CPUs with a clean installation of Windows 11. This also includes Ryzen CPUs, especially after it was discovered that Ryzen gaming performance is usually a bit faster with the more modern operating system.

We used the MSI Z690 Tomahawk Wi-Fi DDR4 motherboard to test 12th generation processors. The Ryzen test system uses the Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero motherboard with the latest BIOS update, and of course all current Windows updates and drivers were installed. The last test system worth mentioning is that all application and game data was collected with the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT graphics card.

Let's get to the results …

Application benchmarks

Starting with Cinebench R23 we find some brutal results for AMD, here the 12700KF delivers almost 50% more power than the 5800X and 54% more than its predecessor, the 11700K. In fact, the new 12th Gen Core i7 processor was 11% faster than the 5900X, a part that costs about 25% more.

The 12700KF was 17% slower than the 12900K, which is a decent margin, and this will be due to those missing e-cores along with the smaller L3 cache and slightly lower operating frequencies. But still an incredible result, especially since the 12700KF is just over 30% cheaper than the 12900KF.

As expected, the single-core performance is very powerful; here we measure the P-core performance and that gives the 12700KF a performance advantage of 23% over the 5800X.

In terms of compression performance of the 7-Zip File Manager, the 12700KF is on par with the 10900K and 11900K, making it only 3% slower than the 12900K and 5% slower than the 5800X, so an overall less impressive result.

In fact, when it comes to decompression sickness, the 12700KF and 5800X are dead, which makes them both about 17% slower than the 12900K.

The new Core i7 processor proves to be a beast in the Corona benchmark and delivers a 30% higher performance compared to the 5800X. In fact, it was only 9% slower than the 5900X and 17% slower than the 12900K. An overall very solid result that puts AMD in a difficult position where they may be forced to cut prices.

The Core i7-12700KF destroyed the Adobe Premiere Pro 2021 benchmark with a score of 984 points, making it 10% faster than even the 12900K. We're not entirely sure how that's possible, maybe the higher E-Core count of the Core i9 part is to blame here, which is feeding them in favor of the faster P-Cores, so this could be an easy planning problem as it isn't gives reason for the 12700KF to be faster.

Anyway, Intel beats AMD in this benchmark as the 12700KF was 34% faster than the 5800X.

The Ryzen 7 5800X scores significantly better in the Photoshop benchmark, but the 12700KF was still 7% faster with a score of 1312 pts and thus only 4% slower than the 12900K.

The 12700KF also did well in After Effects, with a score of 2108, placing it ahead of the Ryzen 9 5900X and just behind the 12900K, so a great result there and it also meant it was 8% faster than the 5800X .

Factorio is a new addition to our benchmark battery and this simulation game was not included in the rest of the games as we don't measure frames per second, but updates per second. This automated benchmark calculates the time it takes to run 1000 updates. This is a single-threaded test and it appears to be heavily dependent on cache capacity.

As you can see, the new Core i7 does exceptionally well when compared to the 5800X and especially its predecessor, the 11700K. Basically we're looking at a performance increase of 9% over the Ryzen 7 part and then 21% over the 11700K, so another impressive round of results for Intel.

Like Cinebench R23, the Chromium Code Compile results for AMD are just brutal. Here the 12700KF delivered 44% more power than the 5800X and could even displace the more expensive 5900X, as it was only 12% slower than the Core i9-12900K. It's also incredible to see a 36% generation jump over the 11700K.

The Blender Open Data Benchmark is another bloodbath where the 12700KF beats the 5800X by 31% with a 5900X-like performance. We're also again looking at an improvement of over 30% over Intel's previous generation counterpart.

Here's a look at power consumption for the Blender benchmark and when compared to the 12900K, the new Core i7 model looks a lot more efficient. Compared to the 5900X, the 12900K has increased the overall system power consumption by 50%, with only 11% more performance. The 12700K, on ​​the other hand, increased overall system utilization by 24%, but delivered 31% more power and was therefore more efficient than the 5800X. That's a crazy turnaround considering what we've seen on the Core i9 model.

As for the operating temperatures, the Core i7-12700KF was tested in the Corsair Obsidian 500D with the glass doors closed. For cooling, we chose the MSI CoreLiquid S360 as it is the only official LGA1700 cooler we have on hand, and here we see that the Core i7 processor after 30 minutes of looking at the Cinebench R23-Multi -Core tests climbed to 79 degrees. That's pretty hot, but it's also significantly better than the 96C, which the 12900K ran in the same conditions.

Gaming benchmarks

Let's get serious with some gaming benchmarks, and we're starting with F1 2021. Here we have some mixed results as the 12700KF was 8% faster than the 5800X for the 1% low result, but 3% slower for the average frame Valuation. Technically, that would be a win for Intel, although both CPUs work with at least well over 250 fps, both are of course excellent performers.

AMD came out on top in the Rainbow Six Siege tests, beating the 12700KF by just 3%, so gaming performance seems to be almost identical between these two CPUs so far.

And Borderlands 3 is more similar, the 5800X and 12700KF being close enough to call it a tie. In fact, with these high-end CPUs we're so tied to the GPU that the 12900K wasn't faster either.

At the average frame rate, the 12700KF planned ahead with a 5% margin, which is still rather insignificant, and the 1% low performance was the same. So even in the relatively CPU-intensive Watch Dogs Legion, we're looking for comparable performance between these two processors.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is heavily GPU-limited when it comes to running high-end CPUs, so that the 5800X and 12700KF again delivered the same level of performance that was comparable to other high-end CPUs such as the 12900K.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is about the most CPU intensive game we need to test with, especially in the village section of the game that we use for testing. Here the 12700KF was 4% faster than the 5800X when comparing the average frame rate and 2% slower for the 1% low value. Either way, the performance between these two competing parts was really close.

The new Core i7 processor was downright faster in Hitman 3, although margins aren't extreme with the 12700KF, up to 4% faster than the 5800X. We found again that the gaming performance is as good as possible despite the often massive differences in core-heavy applications.

Well that's interesting. The new Ages of Empires 4 was up to 27% faster when run on the 12700KF versus the 5800X when looking at the 1% lower result. Meanwhile, the average frame rate has increased by 19% which is a big win for Intel and I wonder what these two processors will be like in the future as games keep increasing CPU demands?

Another pretty heavily GPU-limited game is Horizon Zero Dawn. When using these high-end CPUs, the 5800X took the lead, beating the new 12700KF by 5%. Not exactly a devastating difference, but this one was a win for AMD.

Cyberpunk 2077 is extremely GPU demanding, so that even with the reduced quality settings used here, the 12700KF agrees with the majority of the high-end CPUs presented in this test.

In terms of power consumption when gaming, we hardly see any differences between the tested CPUs. While the 12700KF increased the overall system power consumption in Blender by 31%, here we only see a 5% increase over the 5800X when playing games. So it seems that for now, gamers won't have to worry about CPU power consumption, provided they're mainly playing and not running core-heavy applications, although, as we've seen, the 12700KF does very well there too.

10 games average

Here's a look at the average data from 10 games and it's as expected based on what we've just seen. Intel is ahead of AMD, but only slightly ahead of 1.5% at the average frame rate and 3% at the 1% low.

As we said in our 12900K review, there isn't a tangible difference in gaming performance between most of these high-end CPUs as they are almost always GPU limited in games today, even with an RTX 3090 or 6900 XT at 1080p with downgrade quality settings.

Some of the larger margins, as seen in Age of Empires IV, will almost completely disappear when you jump to 1440p. When it comes to CPUs and gaming, good enough is really enough.

What we learned

The Core i7-12700KF is really something and we have to say a very impressive job, Intel.

Sure, it can be argued that the Ryzen 7 5800X is now a year old, but that doesn't change the fact that the 12700KF is an impressive CPU that often destroys the 5800X in all-core workloads, such as in Cinebench, Chromium, Blender can be seen and basically every other application that strongly opposes these CPUs.

But it's not just multi-core applications. Alder Lake's mighty, single-core performance makes it a weapon for applications like Adobe After Effects and Photoshop.

When it comes to gaming, the 12700KF is strong and showing potential in titles like Age of Empires 4. However, the gains over the 5800X and most other high-end CPUs are minimal and not enough to sway gamers in any way either way . Obviously, if you're already rocking an older AM4 system with something like the Ryzen 5 2600 on a B450 board, which was a very popular combo, then you obviously won't care about Alder Lake as buying a Zen 3 CPU is the thing obvious way to get there.

Additionally, those using a 10th or 11th generation Core processor or an earlier Intel processor may not be able to upgrade on their existing motherboard on Alder Lake. So Alder Lake is for new PC builders who are giving up their existing platform for something completely new.

If I'm looking at a full platform upgrade at around $ 400 for the CPU, which route would I go, 5800X or 12700KF? First, look at motherboard prices and we already know that we will be ignoring DDR5 with the 12700KF as it is not worth paying ~ 3x more for this memory. Assuming you're happy with a fairly simple motherboard, the MSI Pro Z690-A is currently available for $ 230, which is about $ 70 more than the equivalent X570 board such as the Asus TUF Gaming X570-Plus.

Intel Z690 prices have yet to level off, and if we factor in those numbers, the 5800X comes in at around $ 550 with an X570 motherboard, while the 12700KF with a comparable Z690 board is closer to $ 660. So is the Intel package worth 20% more? As for productivity, where it was often over 20% faster, I think the Core i7-12700KF is the way to go.

That said, the Ryzen 9 5900X on the same X570 TUF gaming motherboard costs just $ 30 more than the 12700KF combo and was comparable in terms of productivity performance. So you could go either way, but I think the 12700KF is a bit more balanced with its strong single-core performance, at least on those big P-cores.

When it comes to gaming, the 5800X and 12700KF are equals and there is no real winner. I could imagine myself happily playing on one of these CPUs and their supporting platforms. Hence, arguing which gaming CPU is the best is a complete waste of energy, and we leave that to the good guys at Reddit to find out.

For everyone else, it depends on the prices in your region, both for the CPUs and the motherboards, and then of course your use case is also very important. For example, do you mix productivity with gaming and if so, does a CPU offer a performance advantage in your particular application? For code compilation, rendering, or any other CPU-intensive task, the Core i7-12700KF is the obvious option and for AMD to change that, prices need to be cut and we can see that when there is enough pressure .

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