The Linus Tech Tips channel accidentally published its review of the Intel 12th generation Alder Lake processors. Although the review was swiftly taken down, the damage was done and screengrabs are out in the wild, giving us a look at what they discovered before the embargo has officially lifted.
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From the results, it looks like Intel has made some major advances with this generation, retaking the gaming crown, and significantly improving productivity performance in the mid-range. The Core i9-12900K is now the most capable gaming processor in the world, beating out the AMD Ryzen 5950X and 5900X by small, but notable margins across the board, typically between 5 and 10%, though in some cases it can be a little higher. That's about the same for the 12600K and Ryzen 5600X too, though sometimes it can stretch to 20%. That's not nothing, although considering the Alder Lake CPUs are facing off against hardware that's over a year old at this point, that's not that impressive. Especially since AMD's own Zen 3D Vcache CPUs are waiting in the wings for an early 2022 release, followed by a bigger Zen 4 launch later in the year.
On the productivity front, however, Intel has made much greater strides. Adding a heap of additional cores to its top 12900K makes it much more competitive with AMD's Ryzen 5900X and 5950X chips than Intel's previous generation hardware, but it's still not quite able to take the top spot in many benchmarks and software settings.
The 12600K, however, is vastly more powerful than the 5600X, and it makes a real case for being the best multi-purpose CPU of its generation. In some cases, it starts to nip at the heels of the much higher core count AMD CPUs.
All of this comes at a real cost of power efficiency, though. While in gaming the 12th generation Intel CPUs do stay relatively efficient, even undercutting the AMD counterparts on raw power consumption at times, in productivity they demand a lot of juice, often more than double that of their AMD counterparts. That could be a real problem for smaller form factor systems, and those with less than stellar cooling.
Still, Alder Lake appears to be a big step in the right direction, and with competition at the top end of the performance spectrum again, it's an exciting time to be into hardware. If you can find it, or afford it.
Image: Linus Media Group