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Do Intel 12th Gen processors have an edge against AMD and Apple? Experts weigh in

Intel 12th Gen Box Press
Intel 12th Gen Box Press (Image credit: Intel)

Intel announced a new wave of desktop processors on Oct. 27, 2021, giving everyone a better idea of how the company intends to bring its half-a-decade roadmap to life.

At the lower end of the scale of new announcements is the 10-core, 16-thread Core i5-12600K. And then, at the top of the food chain, is the 16-core, 24-thread Core i9-12900K that can hit up to 5.2GHz.

But while we know the scoop on the processors' specs, pricing, and release windows, one question remains: Is Intel's latest batch of processors anything to get excited over, or are we in for another par-for-the-course generational leap? Windows Central asked experts to weigh in — here's what they had to say.

Intel 12th Gen: How it challenges Apple and AMD

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

As many may have already speculated and agree with, experts weren't keen on the idea that Intel's offerings have any guaranteed consequences for the Apple camp, regardless of whether Intel's raw horsepower can dunk on the M1 Max. However, it was agreed that Intel's actions will have consequences for AMD.

"I think Intel's 12th Gen offerings are a meaningful challenge to AMD, because at this point it has become quite clear that Apple is going fully vertically integrated on all of its PCs regardless of performance tier," said Anshel Sag, Moor Insights & Strategy Principal Analyst. "Apple wants complete control and Intel cannot give it that."

Alan Priestley, Gartner Research VP, had similar thoughts. While Intel and AMD doing their usual sparring match was a safe bet, he wasn't so sure Apple would feel any major heat outside of a potential reduction in Windows encroachment capacity.

"Intel's 12th Gen looks like it will compete well with AMD's current offerings," Priestley said. "Also, the Intel Evo platform combined with Windows 11 looks to deliver enhanced user experience. It's unclear if 12th Gen will affect the adoption Apple M1 given the Apple ecosystem and existing user preferences for Apple products — but 12th Gen/Evo/Win11 may keep existing Windows users in the Windows camp and limit Apple's market share growth. I do not see Apple market share declining due to 12th Gen."

Intel 12th Gen: What are people missing?

Intel 12th Gen Core I9 Hero

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

With most new hardware or software, there's typically an angle to its benefits that the average consumer may not be paying attention to. As such, we asked the experts what they think makes Intel's 12th Gen announcement exciting that may not be immediately apparent to potential processor buyers.

"Alder Lake signifies Intel's commitment to changing the way x86 works on the PC and utilizing hybrid core or big and little cores, similar to what we've seen on ARM for years to maximize performance and efficiency," Sag said. "Intel is also getting serious about this with technologies like Thread Director which is squarely designed to make the transition to a big and little architecture on the PC much smoother."

Priestley zeroed in on similar elements, highlighting that Thread Director could be a feather in Intel's cap going forward. He also highlighted the Windows 11 factor.

"The mixed core architecture of 12th Gen and the thread director is interesting and should deliver better performance and battery utilization," Priestley stated. "Also the Evo platform, combined with 12th Gen, should deliver better user experience than current gen Windows PCs. A lot of 12th Gen benefit is going to come with combination of Win 11 & Evo, no doubt non-Evo 12th Gen platforms will be 'better' than current-gen PCs, but it's going to be the combination of all three (12th Gen/Evo/win11) that delivers the best experience for consumers."

Intel 12th Gen: The big picture

Intel 12th Gen Core I9 Hero Boxes

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Ultimately, Intel 12th Gen is just that, another generational leap. Numbers will increase and horsepower will multiply. But 12th Gen is not without new twists and fresh perks, such as Windows 11 optimizations and new architectural tricks.

How this all will affect the end consumer remains to be seen, but we can get an idea of what's coming from the above insights. Windows 11 users can look forward to a better Intel experience, Apple can keep doing its own thing, and AMD will have to keep upping its game to stay on the list of the best CPUs for your custom PC.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

11 Comments
  • Are people looking at the power draw of this thing? Talk about an oven? Apple is very competitive using so much less power. The power draw of todays chips are insane (CPU/GPU). That's all everyone's been doing, getting more performance by adding more power, that's the easy win. Everyone seems incapable (not including Apple) of trying to getting the perf/watt thing going.
  • They can be all vertical integrated but they still depend on TSMC process nodes. if TSMC fall back, there goes their efficiency. intel is using their troublesome 10nm process node for Alder Lake and Tiger Lake. Tiger Lake is competing quite fine with those laptops from the fruit while not using Alder Lake architecture. Of course not in efficiency. Anyway ...Alder Lake got the IPC crown back on the intel camp.
  • Nonsense. Power draw on i9 during gaming is similar to what AMD does now. True, and i9 can pull over 230W in Blender but it doesn't do it often and not during games (where it hovers around 125W), sometimes even lower than Ryzen. The i5's power draw rarely, if ever, goes over 125W during gaming or Blender, a negligible increase over the 5600X. The i5 is the real story on 12th gen, tbh. The i9 is just candy. But, the lower pricing (compared to AMD) and improved single-core performance does matter to end-users. I'm not sure why someone running an i9 would care about wattage. And this is Intel at 10nm. We know they're going to go lower and that P/E Core paradigm is going to matter even more.
    "That's all everyone's been doing, getting more performance by adding more power, that's the easy win. "
    That's not the big story at all with 12th Gen. You can read our reviews on why P/E cores are a big deal and how they really change the game when combined with Thread Director in Windows 11. It is a big deal and it's not just throwing more power at it.
  • I read the extensive review by Anandtech and it seems that Thread director does not work perfectly, not even with Windows 11. The reviewer suggest to keep always an eye on task manager in order to switch manually priority among different running tasks. I found it quite weird. It is as if the integration between HW and OS has some flaws. I hope Intel and MSFT will improve this, at least in chips for laptop devices where P/E cores can give a significant boost in performance and efficiency. The fact is that, in any case, Apple has a clear advantage vs Windows ecosystem since it is vertically integrated and it is in the position to lead the race for a very long time.
  • This vertical integration nonsense has to stop, yes it brings some advantages, but it's not that big of a deal, what you mention is just a sign of how things don't work 100% when they launch them and this also happens with Apple, just look at how their OS doesn't know how to deal with the notch properly despite it being "vertically integrated".
  • Dear Goncalo, you can call it as you like but the results do not change.
  • And in any case the latest Surface devices (Pro 8 and Surface Laptop Studio) are not even available in Italy. They should be available in 2022 not clear in which quarter.
  • What does this have to do with anything?
  • "I read the extensive review by Anandtech and it seems that Thread director does not work perfectly, not even with Windows 11."
    This has nothing to do with power consumption. Can you stick to the topic? I'm running Core i9 right now and ran the i5 for a few days. I've had zero issues with and no idea what you are referring to. If you are referring to how it works with an app in focus getting the P cores and apps in the background getting E cores, that's by design. Anandtech took issue with putting a video render in the background using E cores and the value in taking it off P cores. But that's not "not work[ing] perfectly" that is working how it is supposed to.
  • [Performance / Power] gives an incomplete picture. [Performance / (Power * Price)] will give a better picture to consumers. When Apple says that M1 performs better than "most PCs", what it doesn't say is that the cost of "Most PCs" is 1/3rd the cost Macbooks! Take 32 GB RAM / 1 TB SSD as an example. Dell Inspiron Costs $1600 & MacBook Pro costs $3500. For 16 GB RAM / 1 TB SSD, Inspiron costs $1300, & MacBook costs $2600
  • Windows PC with similar quality of MacBook cost as much or even more. In Italy you can already find MacBook Pro line with a 15% discount, at the end they cost less than a Surface device.