Earlier this week, prices and specs of every single non-K Alder Lake desktop processor leaked out and presented a very interesting picture. Intel was finally coming at AMD‘s throat, ready to take back what’s left of the crown. Alder Lake already beat AMD when it comes to raw performance but it only had high-end SKUs that were largely targeted at enthusiasts. The market was in need of budget and mainstream Alder Lake CPUs, and Intel knowing damn well they can stir up the market, are on the brink of unveiling them at CES 2022.
Today, the very first roundup of benchmarks surrounding the unlocked Alder Lake processors have surfaced thanks to Enthusiastic Citizen, via Chiphell. We have both synthetic and gaming benchmarks, along with some thermal numbers as well—temperatures and power consumption—to compare with AMD’s offerings. That’s right, the leaker was so considerate that they already tested AMD’s offerings for us against the unlocked Alder Lake Core i3 and i5 SKUs from Intel.
The test bench for this performance review comprised of the same components between the AMD and Intel testing, with only the motherboard and CPU being swapped out. Enthusiastic Citizen used 16 GB (8×2) of Apacer NOX DDR4-4266 memory paired with a AMD Radeon RX 6800. For Intel, the ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming 4 was used, whereas the ASRock X570 Taichi was used to benchmark the AMD processors. The cooling remained the same across both, as well.
i3 and i5 Specs Recap
If you want to check out the detailed specs for the i5 and i3 SKUs in question then you can check out our earlier coverage breaking down each variant. As a quick recap, though, the i5-12400 is a 6 core, 12 thread processor that features only Golden Cove Performance Cores and not the Gracemont Efficiency Cores. It has a base clock speed of 3.0 Ghz with frequencies boosting up to 4.6 Ghz. The TDP is rated at 65W which is exactly the same as the Ryzen 5 5600X, it’s direct competitor. However, there’s a major price difference as the 5600X is $299 whereas the 12400 will purportedly retail for only $210 ($180 for the “F” variant).
As for the i3 SKU, both the i3-12100 and the i3-12300 were tested in these benchmarks against some Ryzen 3 SKUs. Both SKUs will have 4 cores and 8 threads with a 58W TDP, just like the i5 SKUs these only have the Performance Cores. The i3-12100 has a base clock of 3.3Ghz with a boost clock of 4.3Ghz. On the other hand, the i3-12300 has a base clock of 3.4Ghz and a boost clock of 4.4Ghz. The i3-12300 will retail for $150 while the F variant will go for ~$120. Moreover, the i3-12100 will be priced at $140 for the standard version and $110 for the F variant.
Coming to the benchmarks, first let’s take a look at the synthetic performance. Right off the bat, Intel is essentially walking away with a clean-sweep as it either matches or slightly beats its Ryzen competitor in every single benchmark, including Time Spy and Cinebench. As you can see in the photos attached below, the i5-12400 is about ~5% faster than the Ryzen 5 5600X with PBO enabled. That’s a huge win considering the almost 50% price discrepancy between the two processors.
As for the i3 SKU, it’s even worse for AMD. The i3 12100 and 12300 are put up directly against the Ryzen 5 5350G as it the same 4 core, 8 thread topology as the Intel SKUs. The Core i3 SKUs absolutely decimate their Zen 3 counterparts with an average 20% lead in performance in all benchmarks and a top gain of 26%. There is not a single benchmark in which the difference is close. In fact, the 12100 and 12300 are pretty much neck-in-neck with each other in outclassing the 5350G.
Let’s talk about gaming now, and the story is a bit different here. In this category, AMD and Intel go back-and-forth with both netting 3 wins each. In CS:GO, the Ryzen 5 5600X barely edges out the 12600K but beats the i5-12400 by a healthy margin. However, the i3-12100 and 12300 beat the Ryzen 5 5350G in the same test by about ~20%. The story continues with the i3 SKUs beating their competition in all other games, but the i5 and Ryzen 5 trading blows.
This is great news for budget gamers looking to invest in an entry-level CPU that doesn’t shame them for going for the cheapest option. The Alder Lake i3 SKUs offer exceptional bang-for-the-buck and lowers the barrier to entry of budget gaming. At one point, the i3s were able to beat their Ryzen counterparts by upto 50% and that’s nothing to scoff at. And, once again, it’s important to keep in mind that the Ryzen SKU is actually the more expensive one.
If you’re an AMD advocate and were anticipating the efficiency benchmarks knowing that AMD has been the industry-leader in this regard for a long time now, well, you’d be disappointed. Alder Lake is built using Intel’s 10 ESF process node which actually offers superior efficiency in both the high and low-end segments, stealing the crown from AMD, even though their chips are built on a, technically, more advanced 7nm process.
The Core i5-12400 consumes a maximum of 73W at full load in AIDA64 whereas the Ryzen 5 5600X tops out at 119W, that’s a ~61% lead in efficiency. However, the i3 SKUs do lose out to the Ryzen 5 5350G as they consume 61-64W at max load compared to the Ryzen’s 52.6W. That difference in efficiency is a much smaller one, and you have to remember that the i3 performs significantly better, at the end of the day. Plus, as you’ll see, it’s also a cooler chip.
The last benchmark to go over is are the temperatures. Plain and simple, AMD loses on all fronts here which is surprising considering how hot the flagship i9-12900K runs compared to its rivals. The i3 SKUs run at 61-62°C versus the Ryzen 5 5350G‘s 68°C. On the other hand, the i5-12400 is about 18°C cooler than the Ryzen 5 5600X with PBO enabled. At its hottest, the i5 ran at 60°C whereas the 5600X reached upto 86°C in AIDA64.
On top of this, a different leak from the Vietnamese Voz forums has told us that the i5-12400 with its new stock cooler tested at 70-80°C at maximum load. The new boxed cooler that will come stock with all i3, i5, and i7 SKUs is said to a be a sizeable improvement over the e-waste stock cooler Intel has been shipping with its processors for ages. That likely contributes to rectifying the i5 SKU’s thermal performance.
As you can tell, the non-K Alder Lake slate is looking like a winner already. It brings forth massive improvement over the previous-gen Comet Lake processors and actually seem to be giving AMD a run for its money this time around. Intel is said to unveil these SKUs at CES 2022 with a likely day-and-date release considering just how much these processors have been leaked. If not, expect a release close to the official announcement in January.
All image credits go to Enthusiast Citizen and Chiphell.