The latest 12th-generation of Intel Core processors are finally available to purchase, but how does the latest i5 CPU compare to its predecessor?

We’ve had the chance to get our hands on the latest Alder Lake processor, so we’ve got some first-hand experience testing out how the Intel Core i5-12600K compares to the Intel Core i5-11600K.

Keep reading to find out how these two processors compare and what changes Intel has made this time around.

Price

The Intel Core i5-11600K has been out for a few months now and can be bought from third-party sellers. Overclockers are currently selling the Rocket Lake processor for £218.99.

The price has dipped a little since the latest processors came out, but that’s expected. Nevertheless, it makes it a more affordable option compared to 12th Gen,

The new Intel Core i5-12600K can be bought from Overclockers for £279.99, which fits within Intel’s recommended price range. This makes it one of the cheapest range of the new Alder Lake range.

It’s also important to remember you’ll need to purchase a motherboard with the new Z690 chipset in order to get the latest Intel chips up and running, adding to the cost further.

Specs

The latest 12th-generation chips from Intel use a 10nm Enhanced SuperFin process, with the company referring to the new node as the ‘Intel 7’. The 11th-generation processors use a 14nm node, meaning they can’t fit as many transistors on the chip as their newer siblings, therefore limiting the performance ceiling.

The i5-12600K has 10 cores and 16 threads, while the i5-11600K has 6 cores and 12 threads.

The i5-12600K’s 10 cores are made up of 6 P-cores and 4 E-cores, using a new ‘performance hybrid’ architecture. This hybrid architecture allows two different types of cores to be housed on a single chip.

Intel Core i5-12600K Intel Core i5-11600K
Architecture Alder Lake Rocket Lake
Node 10nm 14nm
Cores / Threads 10 / 16 6 / 12
Max frequency 4.9 GHz 4.9 GHz
Processor base power 125 W 125 W

It’s worth noting that the P-core tops out at 4.9GHz and the E-core caps out at 3.6GHz. Meanwhile, the max frequency speed of the i5-11600K comes in at 4.9GHz.

Both processors do have about the same level of power consumption, with a 125W of Processor Base Power. This checks out in our benchmark tests, with both chips seeing extremely similar power consumption.

One of the major talking points of the new 12th Gen chips are its support for DDR5 and PCIe 5.0, which raise the performance ceiling for RAM and SSDs in your system.

For comparison, the Intel Core i5-11600K is limited to DDR4 and PCIe 4.0 support. For this reason it alone it may be worth considering the i5-12600K instead, as such features will keep your PC futureproofed for the foreseeable future.

Performance

Looking at the performance difference between the 11th and 12th-generation chips, we can confirm that Alder Lake is more powerful than its predecessor.

Our testing showed, when paired with an RTX 3060 Ti GPU, that the i5-12600K chip scored 1742 in the Geekbench 5 single-core test, while the i5-11600K scored 1647.

Geekbench 5 single core
Geekbench 5 multi core
PCMark 10
Cinebench R23

In a similar fashion the i5-12600K scored higher in the Geekbench 5 multi-core test, at 12,049, while the i5-11600K capped out at 7602. It’s arguably this area where the new i5 has seen the greatest improvement, now capable of competing with AMD with multi-threaded workloads, which is important for content creation.

We can also see that the Alder Lake processor scored higher in specific games; Dirt Rally showed a significant performance increase at Full HD and Quad HD resolutions, although improvements to 4K were minimal.

Dirt Rally (4K)
Dirt Rally (Quad HD)
Dirt Rally (Full HD)

It’s a similar store with Horizon Zero Dawn, with the bigger performance gains seen at a Full HD resolution, while there was a minimal different for 4K.

Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (4K)
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (Quad HD)
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (Full HD)

So, while the improvements are not always that significant, we can safely say that the latest Intel Core i5 outperforms the earlier models. If you want more substantial performance gains, you’re better off upgrading your GPU instead.

You can check out a more in-depth look at the differences in the table just below.

USA RRP
Power Consumption
Base Clock Speed
Boosted Clock Speed
Architecture
Number of Cores
Number of Threads
Motherboard Chipset

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