Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake processors are finally out, with reviews ranging from very positive to neutral. One of the most interesting debates surrounding these new CPUs is regarding DDR5 memory. Does the use of the newer memory standard grant any notable benefit over DDR4, or is the additional price premium not worth it? Let’s have a look. Since Intel decided not to send us a review unit (at least not on time), we’ll be borrowing benchmarks from my friends at CapFrameX.
The main issue with initial DDR5 modules is the latency. It’s too high. This means that the advantage conferred by the additional bandwidth is more or less erased. Looking at the above benchmarks, this can be seen in action. Going from DDR4-3700 to DDR5-5400, you gain pretty much nothing in gaming workloads. In fact, some titles even show a regression upon switching to DDR5-5400 which is a real shame since these new memory modules cost a pretty penny:
In popular titles like Rainbow Six Seige and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, DDR4-3700 memory is up to 7 FPS faster than the newer DDR5-5400 standard. Although the deltas in most cases are within the margin of error, it can’t be denied that DDR4 (even overclocked) is a fair bit cheaper than standard DDR5-5400 kits which makes it hard to recommend the latter. And this is with the higher-end Z690 chipset. The budget H610 and B660 boards will most likely be a better fit with DDR4 due to both the economical and performance aspects.
One interesting aspect of the benchmarks tests is that despite featuring sixteen cores, the Core i9-12900K falls behind the Ryzen 9 5950X in heavily threaded workloads like Cinebench, Blender, and other rendering applications. Looks like AMD won’t have much trouble snatching back the crown with Zen 3D if it delivers potent gaming performance.