Since Intel announced and launched its 12th Gen Core series of CPUs in to the market, we've reviewed both the flagship Core i9-12900K, as well as the entry-level (but still very capable) Core i3-12300 processors. Today, we're looking at the middle of the stack, with the Core i7-12700K and Core i5-12600K both taking center stage.

Ever since AMD launched its Zen 3 architecture and its Ryzen 5000 series for desktop, Intel has been playing catch up in both performance and pricing. Intel's hybrid Alder Lake design is its second attempt (Rocket Lake) to dethrone Ryzen 5000 as the go-to processor for consumers building a high-end desktop system for gaming, content creation, and everything in between. It's time to see if the Core i7-12700K and Core i5-12600K can finally level the playing field, if not outright give Intel an advantage in the always popular mid-range and enthusiast markets.

Below is a list of our detailed Intel Alder Lake and Z690 coverage:

As a quick recap, we've covered Alder Lake's dual architectural hybrid design in our Core i9-12900K review, including the differences between the P (performance) and E (efficiency cores). The P-cores are based on Intel's high-performing Golden Cove architecture, which provides solid single-threaded performance. Meanwhile, the Gracemont-based E-cores, although lower-performing on their own, are smaller and draw much less power, allowing Intel to pack them in to benefit multi-threaded workloads without blowing the chips' power and thermal budgets.

Intel 12th Gen Core i7 and Core i5 Series: For The Mid-Range & Enthusiasts

At the beginning of 2022, Intel unveiled 22 new Alder Lake Desktop-S processors to the market, with the K-series processors such as the Core i9-12900K, Core i7-12700K, and Core i5-12600K having been made available back in November 2021. Looking at Intel's 12th Gen Core i7 lineup, there are five SKUs in total, all of which are variants of the 12700 offering the same 8 P-cores and 4 E-cores at different clockspeeds and TDPs. Leading the group are the Core i7-12700K and i7-12700KF, which come with an unlocked multiplier and can be overclocked when used with a Z690 motherboard.

The Core i7-12700 is a base model with no overclocking support, while the Core i7-12700F is the same as the base model without the integrated Xe Iris graphics. The last of the Core i7 models is the i7-12700T, which has a lower base TDP of 35 W, with a turbo TDP of 180 W and a P-Core turbo of 4.7 GHz primarily designed for low powered systems.

Intel 12th Gen Core, Alder Lake
AnandTech Cores
P+E
E-Core
Base
E-Core
Turbo
P-Core
Base
P-Core
Turbo
L3
MB
iGPU Base
W
Turbo
W
Price
$1ku
Core i7
i7-12700K 8+4 2700 3800 3600 5000 25 770 125 190 $409
i7-12700KF 8+4 2700 3800 3600 5000 25 - 125 190 $384
i7-12700 8+4 1600 3600 2100 4900 25 770 65 180 $339
i7-12700F 8+4 1600 3600 2100 4900 25 - 65 180 $314
i7-12700T 8+4 1000 3400 1400 4700 25 770 35 99 $339
Core i5
i5-12600K 6+4 2800 3600 3700 4900 20 770 125 150 $289
i5-12600KF 6+4 2800 3600 3700 4900 20 - 125 150 $264
i5-12600 6+0 - - 3300 4800 18 770 65 117 $223
i5-12600T 6+0 - - 2100 4600 18 770 35 74 $223
i5-12500 6+0 - - 3000 4600 18 770 65 117 $202
i5-12500T 6+0 - - 2000 4400 18 770 35 74 $202
i5-12400 6+0 - - 2500 4400 18 730 65 117 $192
i5-12400F 6+0 - - 2500 4400 18 - 65 117 $167
i5-12400T 6+0 - - 1800 4200 18 730 35 74 $192

Moving onto the 12th gen Core i5 series, there's a total of nine SKUs, which is a large stack for the mid-range market. Prices range from $289 for the top SKU, the Core i5-12600K with an unlocked multiplier and full overclocking support, and the Core i5-12600KF ($264), which is the exact specification minus Intel's Xe integrated graphics.

Out of all of Intel's 12th Gen Core i5 series parts, the Core i5-12600K and i5-12600KF are the only two chips to include both P-Core (Golden Cove) E-Core (Gracemont) hybrid cores. They both feature six P-cores four E-cores, for a total of 16-threads. The rest of the Core i5 stack for Alder Lake includes only six P-cores based on Intel's Golden Cove architecture, foregoing the E-cores entirely.

There are three 'base' models of the Core i5, including the i5-12600, i5-12500, and i5-12400, with differences only in base frequency and turbo frequencies (and price), with just $31 separating them in 1K unit pricing. Intel also has three T series variants, including the Core i5-12600T, the i5-12500T, and i5-12400T, all with a base TDP of 35 W and a turbo TDP of 117 W. There's also an odd one out, the Core i5-12400F, which is the same specifications as the Core i5-12400 base model, but without integrated graphics.


Intel Laminar RM1 Stock CPU Cooler for non-K Core i7, Core i5, and Core i3 processors

As we highlighted in our Core i3-12300 review, Intel has also refreshed its 'stock' coolers for the first time in what feels like an age. Accompanying all of Intel's 12th Gen Core i7, Core i5, and Core i3 processors (not the K/KF SKUs) is the Intel Laminar RM1 stock CPU cooler, which has a revamped design over previous iterations of its stock cooler. The Laminar RM1 is constructed of a copper base with aluminum fins and is designed to support up to and including 65 W TDP processors.

The Intel Core i7-12700K & Core i5-12600K: Market Positioning and the Competition

For the first time since AMD released its Zen 3 based Ryzen 5000 series desktop processors, Intel has undoubtedly been playing catch up. Its 11th Gen Core (Rocket Lake) architecture bridged the gap somewhat, but as seen in our initial review of Alder Lake via our Core i9-12900K review, only with their latest generation of chips has Intel been able to leap-frog ahead of AMD at the top of the desktop CPU market. 

Looking at where the 12th Gen Core i7-12700K slots in, it has 8+4 (12) cores for 20 threads, and as such, it competes against the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, which has 12-Zen 3 cores and 24 threads. Especially following some very recent tightening of the market for AMD chips, the Core i7-12700K has become a much better deal on paper with a current selling price at Amazon of $400 versus the $480 that the Ryzen 9 5900X currently costs.


Intel Core i5-12600K (left) and Core i7-12700K (right) CPU-Z screenshots

The Core i5-12600K is slightly different, as it has two main rivals on the market, the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X with 8 cores and 16 threads for $390, and the Ryzen 5 5600X, which can be purchased at Amazon for $229 at present. In contrast, the Core i5-12600K has a hybrid 8+4 (12) core design for 16 threads, and it fits in between both of these in the market with a current selling price at Amazon of $279.

 

Despite many design differences between the aforementioned chips, including core count, thread count, architecture, and core structure, the only differences many are likely to care about are the performance and the price. Earlier this month AMD cut pricing on virtually all of its Ryzen 5000 line-up, which made things much more competitive when comparing Intel's 12th Gen Core MSRP versus AMD's Ryzen 5000's initial launch MSRP. However a very recent bounce in AMD chip prices has started to undo this.

 

Another variable to consider in this market segment is AMD's new Ryzen 7 5800X3D, with 3D V-Cache, which targets gamers, 8-cores, 16-threads, but it isn't overclockable. AMD intends to launch it on April 20th, and the Ryzen 7 5800X3D will launch with an MSRP of $449. This roughly coincides in terms of pricing with its Ryzen 9 5900X, and is $50 more expensive than the Core i7-12700K, which benefits from more cores and faster cores...and it's overclockable.

Test Bed and Setup

Although there were some problems initially with the Intel Thread Director when using Windows 10 at the launch of Alder Lake, any core scheduling issues are entirely negated by using the latest Windows 11 operating system. The Intel Thread Director works in tandem with Alder Lake to assign the right P-cores and E-cores to different tasks based on the complexity and severity of the workload. We are also testing the Core i7-12700K and Core i5-12600K with DDR5 memory at JEDEC specifications (DDR5-4800 CL40). We are also using Windows 11, which we are using now for CPU and motherboard reviews as we advance into the rest of 2022 and beyond.

For our testing, we are using the following:

Alder Lake Test System (DDR5)
CPU Core i5-12600K ($289)
6+4 Cores, 16 Threads
125W Base, 150W Turbo

Core i7-12700K ($409)
8+4 Cores, 20 Threads
125 W Base, 190 W Turbo
Motherboard MSI Z690 Carbon WI-FI
Memory SK Hynix
2x32 GB
DDR5-4800 CL40
Cooling MSI Coreliquid 360mm AIO
Storage Crucial MX300 1TB
Power Supply Corsair HX850 
GPUs NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti, Driver 496.49
Operating Systems Windows 11 Up to Date

All other chips for comparison were run as tests listed in our benchmark database, Bench, on Windows 10.

CPU Benchmark Performance: Power, Office, And Science
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  • ballsystemlord - Saturday, April 2, 2022 - link

    Not being a financial guy, I'm just a bit lost here. Please clarify. I will try to explain what I don't understand.

    Intel gives a rebate for using their CPUs in designs, but only if the OEMs sell them? Then the retailers also get a rebate on the sale of the product?

    Intel doubles production of CPUs every year. How do they get rid of them all? If that was working, why did they switch to demand based production for Ice and Alder Lake?

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • Qasar - Sunday, April 3, 2022 - link

    ballsystemlord, wow, you actually read all of that ? i started to, but the more i read, the more it sounded like it was all just made up babble. i have asked him to post sources for his " info " but never does, just posts a link to his OWN site, which, also has NO links to sources. some of his posts, sound like he was drunk when he typed them. Reply
  • mode_13h - Sunday, April 3, 2022 - link

    I'm not really sure what to make of it. I treat it mostly as noise, unless/until someone who seems to know their stuff can either challenge or vouch for it.

    My biggest concern is that these posts are really just a sophisticated form of stock price manipulation, but that's not a claim I'm ready to make. I feels pretty unpleasant when the news comments are used to further someone's agenda, so I hope that's not what this is about.
    Reply
  • Qasar - Sunday, April 3, 2022 - link

    considering what his posts contain most of the time, and the fact the only link he posts, is to his own page, to me, thats exactly what it is, nothing more. he is trying to promote himself, and how he puts " Mike Bruzzone, Camp Marketing " at the end, kind of proves that.

    which is why most of the time, i just skip over his posts. its just spam and bs.
    Reply
  • Mike Bruzzone - Sunday, April 3, 2022 - link

    @mode_13th Think of it as industry and business news most media won't touch for fear of retaliation. Over 30 years denials of access to Intel, to Intel processors, industry boycott, individual blacklist, Intel and agents targeting competitors to destroy economically.

    Since 1991 there are only three x86 original survivors; me, AMD and Nvidia. I make no money from this task cultivating awareness and understating of primarily the open commerce issues. Nor am I a fan of many Intel invented realities.

    I am not paid in my auditor monitor role. The assignment only pays when Intel Inside price fix is recovered on my USDOJ contract that pays a percentage of the Intel Inside federal procurement price fix over charge only. Why I represent 27 States as well, and could collect bounties from States on their Intel Inside citizen specific recoveries, I have waived States bounty on our constituent pact to successfully recover Intel Inside for return to all end buyers. A cartel sales administration cost for registered metering reports to Intel. Think of it as a clandestine tax, illegally robbed at Sherman Act 15 USC 1 by an Intel contracted combine at15 USC 2 intent on conduct to monopolize, Intel false certifications and sales contracts specific Intel Inside requirement prove the case. Then at 18 USC 1962c which is the State AG claim routing processors sold in box and integrated into computers across State lines for what is essentially a clandestine consumer toll way charge. In this example it's called a route fee charge. That charge is again the cost of metering Intel processor sales flow paid by the end buyer in Intel processor price. In the 18 USC 1962c example for exclusive dealing that crosses state lines. Mail fraud is a related example when relied to ship OEM direct PC purchases to the buyer and that OEM cashes in on the Intel Inside route charge cost to the end buyer paid by Intel. mb
    Reply
  • Mike Bruzzone - Sunday, April 3, 2022 - link

    @Qasar, I've mentioned I am the source. I am the data scientist, the production economist on raw data, the industrial management scientist, general systems technician just like any other analyst who assesses raw data to determine a greater result. I do all my own data collection for the most part it's primary research. I have no secondary source to point too, unless for example the data is from annual or quarterly 10K/Q. My work is mostly from raw data. I am the source of that data's interpretation. I've mentioned much of the data is eBay seller data; unduplicated offers, which is what AMD, Intel and Nvidia rely in house to do the exact same job I do but in my case for the Federal Trade Commission; production economics and supply chain management. But with a twist, that is posting the data and my analysis publicly for government transparency specific FTC v Intel 15 USC 5 Docket 9341. I am a federal attorney enlisted, in an academic role I recommend to no one, Docket 9341 consent order auditor monitor; AMD, Intel, Nvidia, VIA and also includes Arm in relation x86 specifically. mb Reply
  • Qasar - Sunday, April 3, 2022 - link

    " @Qasar, I've mentioned I am the source " ahh, so in other words, you pull these number and info out of your butt, and it is completely made up. got it. with out legitimate sources, and links to those sources, all of your posts are just fluff, and BS... good thing i skip over most of your posts then. Reply
  • Mike Bruzzone - Tuesday, April 5, 2022 - link

    @Qasar, maybe I should put u to work on this as virtual resource to "see this is not fluff", how much time do u have [?], see my SA comment and blog post string and let me know what u r interested in, totally a citizen assignment of course. mb Reply
  • Qasar - Wednesday, April 6, 2022 - link

    sorry mike, but your posts are fluff, once you post sources to where you get your info from, then they might not be. but till then, they look like they are made up with random info, and posting your own site as a source, is not a source. Reply
  • Mike Bruzzone - Wednesday, April 6, 2022 - link

    Quasar, fluff? then is Jon Peddie Research a source, Mercury Research, IDC, Gartner, Canalysis none can show their data or work. I'm the only one who shows my data and proof of work.

    My data is from ebay, seller offers, I do the same job people ldo inside AMD, Intel and Nvidia keeping track of channel supply volume that can be directly applied to micro production economic assessment and is used by AMD, Intel, Nvidia primarily for channel sales management.

    If my site is not a source then, from your perspective, neither is JPR, Mercury, IDC, Gartner, Canalysis, Micro Design Resources, published of Microprocessor Report, not a source?

    Sorry to joust with you. Please define source?

    Regards, mb
    Reply

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