Intel’s Core i7-12700 continues to be an excellent choice for gaming

I wasn’t planning on using Intel’s 12th Gen hardware. I tested the Core i9 and i5 variants of Comet Lake and Rocket Lake, and settled on the Core i9-11900K as the daily driver for my gaming rig. It was smooth sailing for the most part, with the 11900K holding its own for demanding multi-core workloads and absolutely delivering the goods for gaming. It wasn’t ideal for energy efficiency, but that wasn’t a consideration for me.

But my motherboard (a Z490 Aorus Master) had other plans. It decided to not boot one day, throwing up memory initialization errors. I figured it might be the Corsair Vengeance kit that was at fault, but changing to another DRAM module didn’t fix the issue. So while I sent the board for service, I decided I may as well switch to Alder Lake and find out for myself how much of a difference there is over Rocket Lake.

Having used Core i5 and i9 models over the last two years, I went with the Core i7-12700. This is a locked part with the same 12-core 20-thread configuration as the 12700K with eight performance cores alongside four efficiency cores. While you miss out on overclocking, the 12700 has a much better value — coming in at $342 while the 12700K costs $399 — and when paired with a good liquid cooler, it offers fantastic gaming performance that’s indistinguishable to its unlocked sibling.

Intel Core i7-12700

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

I’m not going to focus too much on the architecture itself — head to our Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K reviews if you’re interested in learning more about Alder Lake — but here’s a high-level overview. The Core i7-12700 is built on the Intel 7 fabrication tech that’s based on a 10nm node but with efficiency gains, putting it on par with TSMC’s 7nm node. What’s new with this generation is a hybrid core system that sees Golden Cove for performance-intensive workloads, and energy-efficient Gracemont cores for lighter tasks.

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