In today’s performance review, we have taken the Intel Core i7-12700K vs AMD Ryzen 7 5800X CPUs and put them head-to-head, mano e mano, to find out who the champion is in PC performance today. Intel’s 12th Gen Core Procesossors are the new kids on the block, and they certainly have a lot to prove. Based on a hybrid core approach with performance and efficiency cores, Intel had to prove to everyone that this would work on the PC platform, and tell everyone why they needed this approach on the PC platform.
We have been working our way up the CPU product stack, starting with the Intel Core i5-12600K on DDR4. Then thanks to MSI we got the chance to test out directly DDR4 versus DDR5 performance on the 12600K with the MSI MEG Z690 UNIFY motherboard. MSI also sent us a retail Intel Core i7-12700K CPU so that we can properly see how Alder Lake compares on the desktop and test high-end motherboards. Therefore we put it on our test bench today with DDR5 and found out how the i7-12700K compares to the Ryzen 7 5800X, which has proven itself over time.
The Intel Core i7-12700K CPU has an RCP pricing of $409 and generally can be found online between $400-$450. This is a “12 Core” CPU, consisting of 8 Performance Cores and 4 Efficiency Cores (8P+4E) for a total of 20 threads. This is in comparison to the Ryzen 7 5800X which has 8 cores and 16 threads.
The 12700K also has 8 “Cores” but then the addition of the 4 Efficiency Cores, which are very powerful, and adds another 4 threads worth of multi-threading performance to the CPU over the 5800X. The 5800X launched with an MSRP of $449, therefore by MSRP the two CPUs are comparable as they are marketed around a similar price point. Since its launch, the 5800X has come down in price online and is now available between $350-$400.
Synthetic and Rendering Performance
Performance on the Intel Core i7-12700K started out great in the system benchmarks. In PCMark’s standard benchmark, in office-type workloads, the 12700K was on top of the 5800X in performance by 10%. In its Application Benchmark which looks specifically at Microsoft Office performance, the 12700K was up by 12% over the 5800X. This means even in just standard office workloads the 12700K is faster.
Testing continued in 3DMark’s CPU Profile and Geekbench 5’s testing, looking at multi-threaded and single-threaded performance in multiple different types of workloads. 3DMark’s Max Threads test put the 12700K at 30% faster than the 5800X, more threads, better multi-threading performance, simple as that. However, even in single-threaded performance, the 12700K was on top by 10%. This was all backed up in Geekbench which showed a whopping 55% improvement for the 12700K over the 5800X in multi-threading. In single-threading it was 13% faster.
When we loaded up SiSoftware Sandra 2021 we looked specifically at integer and floating-point performance in multi-threading and single-threading. The 12700K smashed integer performance either way. In integer multi-threading, it was 25% faster, and in integer single-threading, it was 15% faster. In floating-point multi-threading, it was 34% faster. In floating-point single-threading, both CPUs were tied.
Then when it came to the rendering portion of our testing the 12700K continued to be a beast. In Cinebench R23 multi-core it was 47% faster than the 5800X, and in single-core, it was 20% faster. In V-Ray 5 it was 33% faster. The 12700K also saved us time in Blender and HandBrake. In Blender, it shaved off 2 minutes of render time over the 5800X, and in HandBrake, it shaved off over 3 minutes of render time transcoding video.
Moving on to Game Performance there were a few surprises here as well. We tested at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K on a GeForce RTX 3080 Ti in several games. Starting with Battlefield 2042 we found that at 1080p there was a 9% performance advantage towards the 12700K. Even at 1440p, we saw a smaller 2% difference. Far Cry 6 also showed a very large advantage at 1080p with the 12700K being 22% faster than the 5800X. Even at 1440p, there was a 15% difference. Those kinds of numbers are big enough to affect gameplay and to make or break a fast refresh rate gaming setup.
Watch Dogs Legion was another game where at 1080p there was a 20% difference in favor of the 12700K with smaller differences at 1440p and even 4K. There was a small difference in Cyberpunk 2077 at 1080p, but otherwise, it was GPU limited at 1440p and 4K. MS Flight Sim seemed to be pretty much on par between the CPUs in the new DX12 mode. Crysis Remastered did show some slight differences as well.
We were surprised how big some of the differences were in games at 1080p. The Intel Core i7-12700K is clearly the superior CPU for gaming any way you look at it compared to the 5800X. When you are playing games with a faster GPU, the 12700K will be the CPU that is able to stand out more. If you have a slower GPU or play at 4K, you will more than likely always be bound by the GPU. However, if you have an RTX 3080 Ti, or 3090, or in the future get something even faster when it comes out, the 12700K is going to be the CPU that performance favors. This will be evident even at 1440p in some games. This is something important to think about for the future.
Power and Temp Summary
Alder Lake has been getting a bad rap lately for being called a power-hungry CPU. The thing is, as we have shown, this depends on the scenario. This is why we tested two different scenarios in our power testing today. On one hand, you have the scenario where you are running the CPU at full performance and utilization, think along the lines of rendering video or 3D modeling. In this scenario, our testing reveals that yes, the 12700K is going to consume more power than the 5800X, about 30% more. However, in terms of temperature, we actually found it was slightly cooler than the 5800X, which is helpful.
There is another scenario though, and one that is encountered more frequently, and that is the scenario that you are not always running your CPU at full utilization. This is for something like playing games, your CPU is not going to be at 100% utilization. When we actually ran this real-world scenario the 12700K was pulling the same amount of power as the 5800X. They were both equal in terms of power demand. Yet, we know the 12700K is allowing higher framerates in games. Therefore, it’s doing the same amount of power demand, but also providing fastester performance. That’s actually good efficiency. In terms of temperature, it is also a win at running 10% cooler than the 5800X at the same power load.
Intel has come a long way since the past few CPU launches. Real improvement has been made here, real advancements, and real advantages over the competition have been realized. We think the Intel Core i7-12700K is the sweet spot for gaming performance.
This is the gaming CPU you want. It will ensure that when you get faster GPUs you become less CPU bottlenecked than the 5800X for comparison. The clock frequency of the 12700K is a real advantage for gaming performance. Its ability to boost to 5GHz is good for games.
It has just the right balance of cores for gaming performance with plenty of threads to spare for games. The 8 Performance Cores with Hyperthreading are plenty for games, that’s 16 threads for high-performance gaming. The Efficiency Cores can then work in the background to manage background tasks, keeping the CPU from bottlenecking its Performance Cores while gaming. Those Performance Cores can then boost up as high as possible while gaming.
When gaming, the CPU draws no more power than the 5800X, and it actually runs cooler. Therefore power draw while gaming should not be a concern. It is only when at 100% utilization it will demand more power than the 5800X. However, it also delivers by providing a massive boost to multi-threading performance in these scenarios. In multi-threaded applications, it just simply do more with its total of 20 threads.
It can boost render times in anything that renders, well, anything. If you do a lot of video encoding/decoding/transcoding, this CPU will be better than the 5800X for these tasks. We found out that even on a single-core/single-thread function the 12700K is about 10-20% faster than the 5800X. Therefore on a per-core basis, the 12700K is faster, to begin with.
Honestly, AMD should be worried about this. Isn’t competition great? The price of the Intel Core i7-12700K is a bit more than the 5800X right now, but the 12700K offers more and is very forward-looking for gaming performance with faster GPUs in the future. It’s not that much more in price and can be found around $400-$420 right now, which is competitive.