With the release of Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs, the battle between AMD and Intel is well and truly alive again. The latest fight comes alive in the form of the i5-12600K vs Ryzen 7 5800x.

A few weeks ago, we put the i5 12600K against the Ryzen 7 5600x and found that the 12600K beat the 5600x in DirectX12 titles, and wasn’t far behind in other titles. Therefore, even though the two CPUs are identical in price, AMD has some catching up as Intel is clearly ahead in gaming performance while being sold for nearly the same price points. So, today we will be putting the i5-12600K against the more expensive Ryzen 7 5800x, and see if the competition is more even. 

Intel has taken groundbreaking steps in the launch of its new generation of Alder Lake CPUs. The i5 CPUs are going head to head against the Ryzen 7 processors. The i9-12900K leaves even the 5900x in the dust. But today we are focusing on the i5-12600K, which delivers very impressive performance in the mid-to-high range market. Now, in terms of (launch) price, the i5-12600K competes more with the Ryzen 7 5600x than the 5800x. However, in terms of performance, it’s the Ryzen 5800x with which the i5-12600K competes. This alone gives us a good idea that Intel has done something that AMD could not. Today, we will be looking at what that is, in detail.

Intel’s Brand New Alder Lake Generation

Intel always introduces us to three new types of CPUs (i5, i7, i9) in its new Alder Lake Generation. These are divided into two categories, The K variant and the KF variant. The difference being that the K variant has integrated graphics, while the KF variant does not. So yes, the CPU in question today, the i5-12600K, features an iGpu.

Before we compare the two CPUs in question, it is very important that we look at what the important factors are that might favor the Alder Lake i5-12600K over the Ryzen 7 5800x. So let’s discuss that a bit. 

Performance and Efficiency Cores

Unarguably, the most important factor that differentiates Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs from its previous generations and AMD’s Ryzen CPUs is splitting cores into two types. Instead of fitting as many full power cores into a CPU as possible, Intel has taken a revolutionary step with their Hybrid Architecture design. They have fit two different core microarchitectures into a single CPU, in their 12th Generation lineup. So the cores are divided into Performance (P) and Efficiency (E) cores that work together.

The Efficiency or E cores are based on Intel’s Gracemont microarchitecture, which will also be seen in Intel’s latest lineup of Atom CPUs. It shows a great microarchitectural leap over the previous microarchitecture, Tremont. The Efficiency Core features one physical core and one logical core. It delivers a performance boost of about 40% compared to 1 physical core and one logical core of Intel’s Skylake CPUs.

Intel's Efficient Core Microarchitecture (from Intel's Architecture Day 2021)
Intel’s Efficient Core Microarchitecture (from Intel’s Architecture Day 2021)

On the other hand, the Performance or P cores are based on Intel’s Golden Cove microarchitecture. Intel claims Intel’s Golden Cove microarchitecture to be the biggest microarchitectural leap in Intel’s “Core” family in about a decade. Intel further claimed that Golden Cove will provide a 19% increase in IPC or Instructions Per Cycle compared to the previous microarchitecture, Cypress Cove. In simple terms, this translates to better performance. The Golden Cove cores will also be used in Intel’s latest upcoming generation of Xeon CPUs by the codename of Sapphire Rapids.

Intel's Performance Core Architecture (from Intel's Architecture Day, 2021)
Intel’s Performance Core Architecture (from Intel’s Architecture Day, 2021)

Key differences between Performance and Efficiency Cores:

Performance Core Efficiency Core
  • Physically larger
  • Physically smaller, 4 E cores can fit into the space of 1 P core.
  • High-performance core with more power consumption
  • Offers lower performance and less power consumption
  • Supports hyperthreading (SMT)
  • No hyperthreading (non-SMT)
  • Optimized for single-threaded tasks
  • Optimized for multi-threaded tasks

So above, we see the brief and basic differences between the two types of cores that are present in these Alder Lake CPUs. Both these cores will be working together to maximize performance and efficiency. Our Intel CPU in question, has 6 P cores and 4 E cores for a total of 10 cores. Since each performance core has two threads, and each efficiency core has a single thread, 2×6 +4 gives us 16 threads. 

Intel’s Thread Director

Based on Intel’s Thread Director Technology (ITDT), Intel introduced its new Thread Director technology. This comes as a need of the time with the Alder Lake CPUs running on two different types of cores, as discussed above. Teaming up with Intel, Microsoft has worked on a technology on Windows 11. This technology allows Windows to decide which thread should be utilized for which task. 

For this, you’ll need to download the run and Task Scheduler, which will do the work for you. This will allow Windows to differentiate between the E cores, P cores, and the extra threads on P cores. By default, your system will be booting up with only the E cores and a single thread on each P core. The extra threads will only be utilized once a program requiring the extra workload is opened. 

Intel 7 Manufacturing Process

Intel introduced their new Intel 7manufacturing process with their Alder Lake CPUs. This Intel 7 is essentially just a rebranding of Intel’s 10 nm Enhanced Superfin (ESF) node. They have also introduced their new method of naming nodes. According to Intel, it gives a performance boost of around 10 to 15% per watt over the previous 10 nm node.

 Intel's new node naming
 Intel’s new node naming, July 2021 (Credits: Intel)

Multicore Enhancement

Intel’s unlocked Alder Lake CPUs will come with Multicore Enhancement enabled by default. This banishes the concept of Stock TDP or PL1 (Power Limit 1), which is advertised as 125w. This means that by default, Power Limit 1 will be equal to Power Limit 2 (PL1 = PL2), which is 150w. Thus, the processor will be running at peak turbo frequency. This, of course, only applies as long as you have adequate cooling, as well as VRM thermals.

DDR5 Memory Support

Intel’s 12th Generation of CPUs has brought up another major milestone in the PC tech industry: the capability of running DDR5 Memory. So now you’ll have the choice of whether you want to go with the brand new DDR5 Memory, or the tried and tested DDR4. 

On paper, DDR5 Memory looks to be the better investment. It has various advantages such as the two 32 bit channels instead of a single 64-bit channel leading to higher bandwidth, increased capacity per module, built-in voltage control, much-improved base frequencies, and even slightly better power efficiency. But at present, DDR5 Ram is in its very early stages and has not stood the test of time as DDR4 Memory has. Moreover, it’s much more expensive than DDR4 Memory.

PCI Express 5.0

Another major milestone that Alder Lake brings us is that these CPUs will be supporting PCIe 5.0. PCIe, or Peripheral Component Interconnect Express, are the slots on your motherboard which support your graphics card(s) and SSD(s). Intel’s 11th Generation of CPUs saw the introduction of PCIe 4.0 not too long ago, in 2021, as well. 

Each new PCIe generation doubles the amount of transfer speed compared to its predecessor. As PCIe 4.0 supported 16 Gigatransfers per second or GT/S, so PCIe 5.0 doubles that amount to an impressive 32 GT/S of transfer speed, a major boost. This modern PCIe generation will power the latest and greatest generations of graphics cards and SSDs. We previously did a comparison of PCIe Gen 3 vs PCIe Gen 4.

Thunderbolt 4 

Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs will also be supporting Thunderbolt 4, which is the latest Thunderbolt technology aimed at high transfer speeds to charge your devices and power your displays. 

Thunderbolt 4 hasn’t seen any significant improvements over Thunderbolt 3 when it comes to transfer speeds. Both the technologies offer transfer speeds of up-to 40 GBps (Gigabytes per second) and not more. They are also running on the same connector, USB Type C and offer up-to 100 watts of charging power. 

There are, however, some improvements to be noted. Thunderbolt 4 will be able to support 2 4K displays or a single 8K display, while Thunderbolt 3 only supports a single 4K display. Thunderbolt 4 also increases the minimum data rate requirements through PCI Express to 32 GB, double that of Thunderbolt 3’s 16 GB. We will also be up to 4 Thunderbolt docks on accessories like monitors, while Thunderbolt 3 only supports a maximum of 2. 

Wi-Fi 6E

Intel’s Alder Lake will also be supporting Wi-Fi 6E devices. These devices run on the brand new 6 GHz networking bands that are set to be the next generation of bands in networking and connectivity. These bands will support up to 1200 MHz of the spectrum compared to 400 MHz, the maximum capacity of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi. This will be a great step up, especially in areas with a concentration of Wi-Fi networks with multiple users connecting to the same bands of frequencies, which slows down Wi-Fi speeds for every user. 

Intel Core i5-12600K

We’ve discussed certain aspects of how Alder Lake is one of the bigger improvements that Intel has made in a generation of CPUs in many years. Now, perhaps the biggest talk of the town has been the Core i5 12600K. Intel has released this CPU to appeal to the mid-to-high range market. We’ve discussed the main specifications above, with this CPU having 10 cores clocking in at a base speed of 3.7 GHz. We’ll be comparing it to the Ryzen 7 5800x, but before that, let’s take a brief overview of this Ryzen CPU released in 2020.

AMD Ryzen 5800x

AMD took the CPU market by storm in 2020 with its Ryzen 5000 series releasing, which blew apart Intel’s 10th Generation of CPUs in gaming and productivity performance. At the center of it all, was the Ryzen 7 5800x. This CPU was priced at around 400$, a 100$ more than its smaller and less powerful brother, the Ryzen 7 5600x. This 5000 series proved too hot to handle for Intel as even the cheapest chip; the 300$ Ryzen 7 5600x beat out Intel’s i9 10900k in most games and productivity tests. AMD marketed a 19% increase in IPC or Instructions Per Clock over its Ryzen 3000 series, and this promise was indeed fulfilled. 

The core reason for such a huge performance boost over the previous generation was, well, in the core of it all. AMD introduced its new Zen 3 architecture with the release of the Ryzen 5000 series. With 32 MB of L3 cache being shared equally amongst the 8 cores instead of being divided into 4 cores each. Therefore each core will be able to access the L3 cache easily and quickly. This leads to a drastic decrease in core to core and cache latency by reducing the communication times to a minimum.

AMD's Zen 2 vs. Zen 3
AMD’s Zen 2 vs. Zen 3 (Image Credit: AMD)

The Ryzen 5000 CPUs are based on TMSC’s 7 nm process for the chipsets, and GlobalFoundries’ 14 nm process for the I/O dies. 

The Ryzen 5000 series also proved a good competition when Intel released its 11th Generation Rocket Lake CPUs, with the Ryzen 5 5600x comprehensively beating the i5 11600K in most games. You can read more about Ryzen 5 5600x through our motherboard article.

Gaming Performance: i5 12600K vs Ryzen 7 5800x

Now let’s look at the most important aspect, which is gaming performance while comparing Ryzen 7 5800x and i5-12600k. We’ve shown and discussed above how AMD’s Ryzen 7 series takes the lead over Intel’s 10th and 11th Generation of CPUs. But with the release of Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs, the tables have finally turned in favor of Intel. Before we get into that, let’s take a look at Basic Differences when seeing i5-12600k vs Ryzen 7 5800x.

Processor
Intel Core i5-12600k
AMD Ryzen 7 5800x
Box
Intel Core i5-12600K Desktop Processor 10 (6P+4E) Cores up to 4.9 GHz Unlocked  LGA1700 600 Series Chipset 125W
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X 8-core, 16-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
Architecture
Hybrid Core
Zen3
Socket
LGA 1700
AM4
Cores
10
8
Threads
16
16
Supporting Motherboard Series
  • B450
  • B550
  • X570
  • Total L2 Cache
    9.5 MB
    4 MB
    Total L3 Cache
    20 MB
    32 Mb
    Base Clock
    3.70 GHz
    3.8 GHz
    Boost Clock
    4.9 GHz
    4.7 GHz
    Default TDP
    125W
    105W
    Release Date
    Q4'21
    Q2'20
    Price
    $259.99
    $238.78
    Rating
    Processor
    Intel Core i5-12600k
    Box
    Intel Core i5-12600K Desktop Processor 10 (6P+4E) Cores up to 4.9 GHz Unlocked  LGA1700 600 Series Chipset 125W
    Architecture
    Hybrid Core
    Socket
    LGA 1700
    Cores
    10
    Threads
    16
    Supporting Motherboard Series
    Total L2 Cache
    9.5 MB
    Total L3 Cache
    20 MB
    Base Clock
    3.70 GHz
    Boost Clock
    4.9 GHz
    Default TDP
    125W
    Release Date
    Q4'21
    Price
    $259.99
    Rating
    Processor
    AMD Ryzen 7 5800x
    Box
    AMD Ryzen 7 5800X 8-core, 16-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
    Architecture
    Zen3
    Socket
    AM4
    Cores
    8
    Threads
    16
    Supporting Motherboard Series
  • B450
  • B550
  • X570
  • Total L2 Cache
    4 MB
    Total L3 Cache
    32 Mb
    Base Clock
    3.8 GHz
    Boost Clock
    4.7 GHz
    Default TDP
    105W
    Release Date
    Q2'20
    Price
    $238.78
    Rating

    Last update on 2022-12-07

    Test Benches

    We will be testing the i5 12600K with both DDR4 and DDR5 Memory to see how much of an added advantage DDR5 will give us. Our test benches consist of the following specifications:

    For i5 12600K:

    • Motherboard: MSI Z690 Unify 
    • Memory: 32 GB Corsair – Dominator Platinum RGB 5200 MHz (2×16) AND 32 GB G. Skill Trident Z RGB 3600 MHz (2×16)

    For Ryzen 7 5800x:

    • Motherboard: MSI MEG X570 ACE 
    • Memory: 32 GB G. Skill Trident Z RGB 3600 MHz (2×16)

    The two test benches will be sharing the same OS, Windows 11, and Graphics Card, MSI RTX 3080 Gaming X TRIO. They will also be cooled by the same liquid cooler, Corsair iCue H115i Elite Capellix. 

    Far Cry 6

    The Ryzen 7 5800x took the edge over the i5-12600K (both DDR4 and DDR5) in Far Cry 6. The DDR5 Memory gives a notable boost to the i5 12600K.

    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k
    Far Cry 6 Benchmarks

    Call Of Duty: Warzone

    The two CPUs are pretty much neck and neck in Call of Duty: Warzone, with the faster DDR5 Memory giving no advantage to the i5 12600K. 

    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k
    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k Warzone

    Hitman 3

    In Hitman 3, the DDR5 Memory clearly gives an advantage to the i5 12600K. The i5 12600K beats the Ryzen 7 5800x comprehensively, both with DDR4 and DDR5 Memory. The DDR5 Memory gives us a significant boost, again. 

    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k Hitman 3
    Hitman 3 Benchmarks

    Cyberpunk 2077

    The DDR5 Memory delivers slightly worse performance for the i5 12600K as compared to DDR4, and the Ryzen 7 5800x falls behind both the 12600K systems.

    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k Cyberpunk 2077 Performance
    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k Cyberpunk 2077 Performance

    F1 2021

    The DDR5 Memory holds the i5 12600K back significantly in case of F1 2021, and the Ryzen 7 5800x beats both the i5 12600K systems.

    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k F1
    F1 Benchmarks

    Shadow of the Tomb Raider

    Both the CPUs are nearly neck and neck in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, with DDR5 Memory slightly holding back the i5 12600K yet again.

    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k Shadow of The Tomb Raider
    Shadow of The Tomb Raider Benchmarks

    Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege

    The two CPUs are again neck and neck with the Ryzen 7 5800x taking a tiny edge.

    Rainbow Six Siege i5-12600k
    Rainbow Six Siege Benchmarks

    Dota 2

    In the aging but highly popular Esports title Dota 2, the two CPUs are, again, very identical in performance. The DDR5 system, however, falls slightly behind. This doesn’t come as a surprise as Dota 2 is based on the Source 2 Engine which is likely too old to provide any benefits to systems running on DDR5 Memory.

    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k Dota 2
    Dota 2 Benchmarks

    Counter Strike: Global Offensive

    The Ryzen 5800x has a considerable boost over the 12600K in Counter-Strike: Global Offense. The DDR5 Memory hardly makes a difference here. This, again, makes sense considering how dated CS:GO’s the engine is. 

    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k
    CSGO

    Average FPS across the 8 tested games (CS:GO not included)

    To get a basic idea of the performance difference between the two CPUs, we’ll compare the average FPS taken across 8 of the tested games. We will not be including CS:GO since CS:GO is a decade old game and is not a AAA title. We tested CS:GO since it is a common benchmarking tool and gives us a good idea of single-core performance. 

    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k CSGO Benchmarks
    CSGO Benchmarks

    So with CS:GO removed from the frame, where the 5800x had the biggest advantage, the aggregate of average FPS and the %1 Lows are mightily similar for both the CPUs. So in terms of gaming performance, there’s no clear winner from i5 12600K vs Ryzen 7 5800x.

    The DDR5 Memory gives us mixed performances. It held us back in a few games, delivered better FPS in some, and made almost no difference in the rest. 

    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k Productivity Benchmarks

    We’ve not seen a clear winner in the gaming benchmarks, so now we’ll be looking at some productivity benchmarks and see if we can get a definite winner while comparing Ryzen 7 5800x and i5-12600k.

    Cinebench R23 (Single Core and Multicore Tests) 

    The i5 12600K takes a clear lead over the Ryzen 7 5800x in both single and multicore Cinebench tests. The DDR5 system falls a touch short in this test.

    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k Cinebench
    Cinebench Benchmarks

    Blender V2.90 Render Test

    The i5 12600K paired with the DDR4 Memory beats out both the Ryzen 7 5800x and the i5 12600K (DDR5) in our blender render test. 

    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k Blender
    Blender Benchmarks.

    Adobe Premiere 2021

    The Ryzen 7 5800x falls behind the 12600K again, while the DDR5 Memory holds the i5 12600K back. Again, the i5 12600K paired with DDR4 beats both the other systems. 

    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k Adobe Premiere
    Adobe Premiere

    Adobe Photoshop 2021 

    In our Adobe Photoshop benchmark, the Ryzen 7 5800x wins, with the i5 12600K (DDR5) falling a teeny bit short. The DDR4 counterpart lags behind significantly. 

    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k Adobe Photoshop
    Ryzen 7 5800x vs i5-12600k Adobe Photoshop Benchmarks

    Handbrake 1.4.2 Test

    The two CPUs nearly give off the same performance in our Handbrake conversion test, with the i5 12600K taking a slight lead. The DDR5 counterpart scores were slightly higher again. 

    i5 12600k vs Ryzen 7 5800x Handbreak
    Handbreak

    Geek Bench 5 

    In our Geek Bench 5 test, the Ryzen 7 CPU falls behind comprehensively in both the multicore and single-core tests. The i5 12600K gets a major boost with the DDR5 Memory over the DDR4 counterpart. 

    i5 12600k vs Ryzen 7 5800x Geek Bench 5
    Geek Bench 5 | All Benchmarks Courtesy: NJ Tech, YouTube

    So in productivity benchmarks, we see a clear winner in the i5 12600K. We can conclude that the i5 12600K is indeed much better for rendering-based work both in multicore and single-core performance, in comparing i5 12600K vs Ryzen 7 5800x. This doesn’t surprise us with the 10 cores and 16 threads on this CPU, and the heavy and light tasks being shared among the P and E cores. 

    Temperatures and Power Draw

    Let’s compare the temperatures and power draws of the two CPUs

     under load. We’ll be using the same test bench as the one used for the gaming benchmarks with the same cooler (Corsair iCue H115i Elite Capellix) in both systems for fair testing. Generally, you should read our Coolers For i5-12600k Guide for best ones.

    i5 12600k vs Ryzen 7 5800x
    i5 12600k vs Ryzen 7 5800x Temperatures
    i5 12600k vs Ryzen 7 5800x Power Comparison
    Power Comparison Courtesy: NJ Tech, YouTube 

    Not much difference in terms of temperatures and power draw. Both the CPUs remained under reasonable temperatures on heavy load and drew around the same amount of power under loads as well. 

    Final Thoughts on i5-12600k vs Ryzen 7 5800x

    So there we have it; after comparing the Ryzen 7 5600x to the i5-12600K, we compared the i5 12600K vs Ryzen 7 5800x. It turns out, the results are remarkably similar, at least in terms of gaming performance. But we have to draw a clear verdict somehow, right!? But before that, we have a few things to discuss.

    Productivity Performance 

    Well, there are a few things to keep in mind of course. The two CPUs do differ in a few aspects, with the i5 12600K hovering over the 5800x in productivity performance. 

    Compatibility

    You don’t have to spend a premium on DDR4 Memory. Nonetheless, you will have no other choice but to buy a Z690 motherboard if you want to run one of the Alder Lake CPUs in your system, as the cheaper H610, B660, and H670 motherboards are yet to be launched, later in 2022. Read more on Motherboards For i5-12600k here.

    Prices

    When talking prices, the i5 12600K vs Ryzen 7 5800x competition is even. This has only been the case since AMD cut off a whopping 150$ from the price of the Ryzen 7 5800x. Hence, now, it competes with the i5 12600K in price. Also, the Ryzen 7 5800x is older so it’s obvious that you can put together a system with this CPU for a lesser cost. This fact is further backed up because the prices of Z690 motherboards and DDR5 Memory are absurd at the moment. But if you build a PC with an Intel CPU with DDR4 Memory, you will definitely be paying a reasonable extra sum due to the higher prices of Z690 motherboards. This is just one of the things to keep in mind though.

    Should You Buy i5-12600k over Ryzen 7 5800x?

    So as a final verdict, we will be recommending the Intel i5 12600K. Not just on the basis of its improved productivity performance, but also the new technologies and upgradability that Alder Lake brings us. DDR5 Memory is one for the future and as it becomes more mainstream, it will become cheaper and will likely start outperforming its predecessor DDR4 in performance.

    At the moment, the performance difference is scarce at best. You also get support for Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6E, and PCIe 5.0. Our answer will be finalized once we see cheaper motherboards supporting Alder Lake CPUs. At the moment, however, it’s worth going with Team Blue nonetheless. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is the i5 12600K better than the Ryzen 7 5800x? 

    The clash of the i5 12600K vs Ryzen 7 5800x is just about even in gaming performance. However, it’s better in heavy workload tasks thanks to its 10 cores and 16 threads. It’s also more future-proof as it comes with DDR5 Memory.

    Is Intel back in the lead in the CPU market?

    Up until the launch of the Alder Lake CPUs, it had been years since Intel had truly “bossed” the CPU market. With AMD consistently offering better price-to-performance ratios since its Ryzen CPU lineup launch. At the moment, things have turned in favor of Intel.

    Is the i5 12600K good for gaming? 

    The i5 12600K is a solid gaming CPU in the mid-to-high range and delivers incredible performance in 1080P gaming. It can also handle 1440P gaming if paired with a good enough graphics card. 

    Are Z690 motherboards and DDR5 Memory necessary?

    You will need a Z690 motherboard at present, in order to run one of the Alder Lake CPUs. The Z690 motherboards support DDR4 Memory, so DDR5 Memory is unnecessary.

    When will we see a new lineup of CPUs from AMD?

    AMD is set to launch its Ryzen 7000 series in 2022 with a brand new Zen 4 Architecture and will be using the Land Grade Array design for the first time in its Ryzen series. These CPUs will be based on TMSC’s 5 nm process and will also bring support for PCIe 5.0. They’ll be supporting DDR5 Memory as well. So plenty is expected of AMD to strike back and win the CPU market once again. 

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    Abdemanaf has been a creative writer since 2011. He first dwelled in the tech world in early 2015 and has since compared many product offerings by different companies. Abdemanaf started working for Tech4Gamers in February 2022 as a blog and comparison writer.