Intel announced its Alder Lake-S desktop processors the other day, with benchmarks claiming a 30% increase in gaming performance compared to the fastest AMD CPU. The average delta between the Core i9-12900K and the Ryzen 9 5950X varies between 11-16%, however. And on top of that, there’s a caveat. Something Intel didn’t mention in its webcast.
The Ryzen 9 5950X was tested with the TDP (PL1) set to 105W, while the Core i9-12900K had its PL1 set to 241W. That’s 2.3x more for the latter, making it a very unfair comparison. This means that with the TDPs equalized the performance deltas between the 5950X and the 12900K will be in single-digit figures. Launching a “revolutionary” architecture that’s only 5-10% faster than competitor products which have been around for over a year doesn’t sound very hot, does it?
Keep in mind that this is the PL1 (stock) TDP and not the boost TDP we’re talking about here. It’s unclear what the boost PL2 power for the 12900K is like with the PL1 set to 241W, but the 5950X usually settles around 150-170W.
Fortunately, you can take the content creation benchmarks seriously as both the Alder Lake and Rocket Lake parts had their PL1 values set to PL2. Ironically, Intel didn’t compare its new processors against the Ryzen 5000 parts in the content creation segment which itself says a lot. This means that while Alder Lake will be faster (~10%) in gaming workloads, it’s likely going to be on par with the Ryzen 5000 parts in content creation. The former should be offset with the launch of Zen 3D in H1 2022.
Finally, the last tidbit that we need to understand is that these benchmarks were taken before the Windows 11 fix for the Ryzen processors landed. The L3 cache fix improves the lows in most games, while the firmware patch advances the single-threaded performance by letting the OS choose the fastest available core (correctly).
All this means that the third-party benchmarks from reviews may be a fair bit different from the 1st party benchmarks shared by Intel yesterday. Either way, we recommend against pre-ordering any Alder Lake part before the third-party reviews are released.