Intel’s Alder Lake-S processors mark a major shift in the chipmaker’s design philosophy. For the first time, we’re seeing a major desktop platform shift to a heterogeneous (hybrid) architecture. We’re looking at eight performance (big) cores and eight efficiency (little) cores on the flagship. This mix of Golden Cove and Gracemont cores improves the multi-threaded performance of the Core i9-12900K, but certain older lightly threaded applications, including games, see a small drop in performance with the efficiency cores enabled.
As seen in the above benchmark from CapFrameX, Death Stranding sees a drop of nearly 10% with the efficiency cores enabled. In other words, disabling the efficiency cores may improve the performance in older titles by a notable margin. This likely boils down to the games using a custom scheduler that fails to distinguish between the efficiency and performance cores, prioritizing the former in some cases instead of the latter.
As indicated in Intel’s developer guide, there will be a slight drop in older titles using an engine-level scheduler. Luckily, the drop isn’t something that will make these games unplayable or choppy. In addition to scheduling, the Alder Lake CPUs are also unsupported by titles using Denovo DRM technology. The company has already rolled out patches for Intel’s new CPUs, but not all developers will be applying it due to a wide variety of reasons.