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

Intel Core i9-12900K & i5-12600K: 3D Rendering, Audio and Video Encoding

In our custom LAME XP MP3 encoding test, we convert 16, large uncompressed WAV files to the MP3 format, which is a popular use case for many end users, to provide portability and storage of their digital audio content. The LAME engine is an open-source MP3 audio encoder that is used widely in a multitude of third party applications.

LAME XP Audio Encoding

In this test, we created 16-copies of our own 223MB WAV file (an 11 minute Grateful Dead jam) and converted it to the MP3 format using the multi-thread capable LAME XP tool. Processing times are recorded below, listed in minutes:seconds. Shorter times equate to better performance.

lame 12th gen alder lake perf

The Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K both put up strong numbers here. The flagship Core i9-12900K leads the pack, besting even the Ryzen 9 5950X by over 10 seconds. The Core i5-12600K manages to outrun the Core i9-11900K and leaves the Ryzen 9 5900X and Ryzen 7 5800X in its dust.

x265 Video Encoding Benchmark

The multi-threaded HWBOT x265 Benchmark is based on the open source x265 encoder that leverages modern CPU instructions to speed video encoding. We tested the CPUs represented here with the 64-bit encoder using the default 1080p and 4K workloads.

x265 12th gen alder lake perf

The new 12th Gen Core i9-12900K can't quite catch the Ryzen 9 5950X in this video encoding test, but it isn't too far behind and still manages to outpace the 5900X. The Core i5-12600K has no trouble dispatching Intel's previous flagships, however, and hangs tight with the Ryzen 7 5800X.

Cinebench R23 Rendering Benchmark

Cinebench rendering performance test based on Cinema 4D from Maxon. Cinema 4D is a 3D rendering and animation tool suite used by animation houses and producers like Sony Animation and many others. It's very demanding of system processor resources and can utilize any number of threads, which make is an excellent gauge of computational throughput. This is a multi-threaded, multi-processor aware benchmark that renders and animates 3D scenes and tracks the length of the entire process. The rate at which each test system was able to render the entire scene is represented in the graphs below.

cinebench 12th gen alder lake perf

Here's one you probably weren't expecting considering AMD's dominant performance over the last few years. In Cinebench R23, the Core i9-12900K outpaces all of the Ryzen 5000 series processors in the multi-threaded test, including the 16-core / 32-thread 5950X and it puts up the best single-threaded score by far. The Core i5-12600K also performs well, outrunning the Core i9-11900K and the higher-priced Ryzen 7 5800X.

POV-Ray CPU Ray Tracing Benchmark

POV-Ray, or the Persistence of Vision Ray-Tracer, is an open source tool for creating realistically lit images. We tested with POV-Ray's standard 'one-CPU' and 'all-CPU' benchmarking tools on all of our test machines and recorded the scores reported for each. Results are measured in pixels-per-second throughput; higher scores equate to better performance.

pov ray 12th gen alder lake perf

The overall performance trend in POV-Ray mimics Cinebench. Here, we also see the Core i9-12900K outpacing all of the mainstream processors in both the single and multi-threaded tests -- it's only the 24-core Threadripper that finishes out in front. The Core i5-12600K also continues to impress, with its excellent single-thread result and multi-threaded result that lands between the Ryzen 9 5900X and Core i9-11900K.

Blender Rendering Benchmarks

Blender is a free and open source 3D creation suite that can handle everything from modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking. It has a purpose-built benchmarking tool that will track the time it takes to complete rendering a particular model (or models). We used the CPU-focused bmw27 and fishy_cat models for these tests...

blender 12th gen alder lake perf

The Core i9-12900K's and Core i5-12600K's results are somewhat mixed in the Blender benchmark. When rendering the bmw27 model, Intel's newest chips perform exceptionally well, finishing in the same positions as they did in the POV-Ray and Cinebech tests. With the fishy_cat model, however, the 12th Gen processors drop down a couple of rungs, and end up trailing the Ryzen 9 5950X or Ryzen 7 5800X.

Y-Cruncher Multi-Threaded Pi Calculator

Y-Cruncher is a multi-core-capable tool that calculates the value of pi to a specified number of digits. In this case, we ran the tool on all threads and had the application calculate the value of pi to 1 billion digits. The values below are the time required to perform the calculation expressed in seconds. As a result, lower values indicate better performance.

y cruncher 12th gen alder lake perf

The new 12th Gen Core processors also performed well in the Y-Cruncher benchmark. The Core i9-12900K once again outran the Ryzen 9 5950X and the Core i5-12600K dispatched the Ryzen 7 5800X and previous Intel flagship Core i9-11900K.

STARS Euler3d Multi-Threaded CFD Benchmark

STARS Euler3d is a computational fluid dynamics benchmark which uses a CFD grid that contains 1.23 million tetrahedral elements and 223 thousand nodes. The benchmark executable advances a mach 0.50 Advisory Group for Aerospace Research, or AGARD, flow solution for an aeroelastic test wing. The benchmark score is reported as a CFD cycle frequency in Hertz.

This benchmark is multi-threaded, but is also dependent on platform bandwidth, and cache and memory latency, so the final results are not determined by compute performance alone. Cache sizes / speed and memory bandwidth affect the score as well...

STARS 12th gen alder lake perf

Their massive memory bandwidth, larger caches, and high-performing P-cores push the 12th Gen chips up the ladder in this benchmark as well. The Core i9-12900K lands in the pole position, ahead of every other platform we tested, and only the Intel HEDT Core i9-10980XE and Ryzen 9 5950X are able to outpace the Core i5-12600K.

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