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
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?
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
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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.