Intel 12th Gen Core Alder Lake Performance Review: Chipzilla Is Back

Intel Core i9-12900K & i5-12600K: CPU And System Benchmarks

When configuring our test systems for this article, we first made sure all firmwares were up to date, then we entered each system's respective BIOS / UEFI and set each board to its "Optimized" or "High performance" defaults. We then saved the settings, re-entered the BIOS and set the memory frequency to the maximum officially supported speed for the given platform (without overclocking). The SSDs were then formatted, and Windows 11 Pro was installed and fully updated.

12 gen core i9 setup

When the Windows installation was complete, we installed all of the drivers necessary for our components, disabled Auto-Updating and Windows Defender, and installed all of our benchmarking software. When that process was done, we performed a disk clean-up, cleared any temp and prefetch data, and optimized all of the SSDs using Windows' built-in utility. Finally, we enabled Windows Focus Assist to minimize any potential interruptions and let the systems reach an idle state before invoking a test.

HotHardware's Test Systems: Revamped For Windows 11

alder lake test systems

SiSoft SANDRA 2021 Benchmarks

We began our testing with the latest version of SiSoftware's SANDRA 2021, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran twoof the built-in sub-system tests that partially comprise the suite with the Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K (CPU Arithmetic and Multimedia). All of the scores reported below were taken with the CPUs running at their default settings, with 32GB of DDR5 RAM running at an effective 4,800MHz, in dual-channel mode, on the MSI MPG Z690 Carbon Wi-Fi motherboard.

12900k san cpu 12900k san mm
Intel Core i9-12900K
Processor Arithmetic
Intel Core i9-11900K

12600k san cpu 12600k san mm
Intel Core i5-12600K
Processor Arithmetic
Intel Core i5-12600K

SANDRA's CPU Arithmetic benchmark shows Core i5-12600K hitting an aggregate score of 339.52GOPS, whereas the flagship Core i9-12900K broke the 462GOPS mark. Aggregate performance in the Multimedia test put the Core i5-12600K at 989MPix/s and the Core i9-12900K at over 1.5GPix/s. Normally we'd also include memory bandwidth and cache + memory latency information here as well, but the version of SANDRA we used wasn't cooperating with our 12th Gen processors in those tests. We were, however, also running AIDA64's CPU Cache and Memory benchmark and have some data to share...

AIDA64 Memory Bandwidth, Memory Latency & Cache Latency

AIDA64's CPU Cache and Memory benchmarks measures memory bandwidth during read, write and copy operations, in addition to memory latency, and cache bandwidth and latency.
mem bandwidth 12th gen alder lake perf

In terms of memory bandwidth, the 12th Gen Core processors fall within the 66GB/s - 75GB/s range, when paired to DDR5-4800 CL38 memory in dual channel mode (bandwidth will be higher with faster memory). That puts memory bandwidth way above previous-gen mainstream platforms, but a notch behind the HEDT platforms that leverage quad channel memory configurations.

mem latency 12th gen alder lake perf

In contrast to the increased bandwidth afforded by DDR5's higher clocks, the higher CAS latency of current DDR5 memory kits results in significantly increased memory latency versus 11th Gen Core processors and AMD's Ryzen 5000 series.

cache latency 12th gen alder lake perf
Cache latencies on the 12th Gen Core processors are also higher than 11th Gen products, but keep in mind 12th Gen processors have more cache all around. That means accessing the cache may take slightly longer, but there in an increased likelihood of a cache hit, since ultimately more data is held closer to the CPU cores.

Geekbench v5.4.1 CPU Compute Benchmark

In the GeekBench tests, we're stressing only the CPU cores in a system (not the graphics card and GPU), with both single and multi-threaded workloads. The tests are comprised of encryption processing, image compression, HTML5 parsing, physics calculations and other general purpose compute processing workloads.

geekbench 12th gen alder lake perf

With our first set of comparisons in Geekbench, the new 12th Gen Core processors look great. The Core i9-12900K puts up the best single-thread score by far followed by the Core i5-12600K. The Core i9-12900K also puts up the best multi-threaded score of all the mainstream processors, besting even the Ryzen 9 5950X -- only the 24-Core HEDT Threadripper 3960X is faster in the multi-threaded test.

UL PCMark 10 Benchmarks

Next, up we have some full-system testing with PCMark. We're reporting all test results from the PCMark 10 benchmark suite, including the Essentials, Productivity, Digital Content Creation and and total PCMark score. The Essentials test covers workloads like web browsing, video conferencing and app start-up times, while Productivity tests everyday office apps from spreadsheets to word processing. Finally, the Digital Content Creation test evaluates performance of a machine with respect to photo and video editing, as well as rendering and visualization.

pcmark10 12th gen alder lake perf

The new 12th Gen Core processors also put up strong scores in PCMark 10. Here, the Core i9-12900K takes the pole position, besting every other platform we tested. The Core i5-12600K can't muster a content creation score quite as high with its lower core count and clocks, but it still manages to land in 4th place, sandwiched between the Ryzen 9 5900X and 5950X.

Bapco Crossmark Testing

Crossmark is a new cross-platform benchmark from Bapco that's available for Windows, Android, iOS and MacOS. Like PCMark, Crossmark measures overall system performance and using real-world applications. It characterizes system responsiveness as well, based on the results of its Creativity and Productivity benchmarks.
crossmark 12th gen alder lake perf

The new 12th Gen Core processors take first and second place, outclassing all of the other platforms we tested by far. The Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K both put up strong scores across the board in Crossmark, which may seem skewed until you see how these processors perform in some browser-based tests...

Browser & Web App Benchmarks: Jetstream 2 And Speedometer 2

Next up, we have some numbers from the Speedometer 2.0 and Jetstream 2 tests available at The Speedometer Benchmark Suite uses a wide array of latency and throughput benchmarks to evaluate web application performance and Jetstream evaluates Javascript and WebAssembly performance; both tests take all of their individual results and tabulate them into a final score.

These benchmarks measures performance of an array of browser-based technologies used on modern, rich web applications. Scores in these benchmark are an indicator of the performance users would see when browsing the web and running advanced web apps. All of the systems were tested using the latest version of Microsoft's Edge browser, with default browser settings, on a clean, fully-updated install of Windows 11.

jetstream 12th gen alder lake perf

speedometer 12th gen alder lake perf

The Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K absolutely crushed every other platform in both Jetstream and Speedometer. Of course, all of these platforms are plenty fast for browsing and web apps (though the HEDT platforms completely fall down on Windows 11 -- at least for now), but the performance of these 12th Gen processors with lightly threaded workloads is clearly top-notch.

7-Zip Data Decompression Tests

The 7-Zip benchmark measures compression and decompression performance using the LZMA method, which leverages the Lempel–Ziv–Markov chain algorithm to perform lossless data compression. The benchmark produces a final rating in GIPS (giga instructions per second).

7zip 12th gen alder lake perf

The Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K don't shine quite as bright in 7-Zips decompression tests. They clearly outpace the older 11th Gen processors, but trail Ryzen in both the single and multi-threaded tests.

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