Experts agree that Intel's 12th Gen CPUs bring the fight back to AMD

Intel 12th Gen Core I9 Hero

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

Intel launched its 12th Gen processors on October 27, 2021, including the Core i5-12600K, Core i7-12700K, and Core i9-12900K. Reviewers have now had some time to share their thoughts on the CPUs and run extensive benchmarks and performance tests. The 12th Gen CPUs from Intel marked a significant jump from the 14nm process to the Intel 7 process, which was formally known as Intel 10nm Enhanced SuperFin (10ESF).

Nanometers, threads, and core counts aren't everything when it comes to CPUs. AMD proved that with its Ryzen processors, and Intel looked to return serve with its 12th Gen Alder Lake chips. Across the board, Intel's latest lineup earned praise. Here's what experts think of the 12th Gen Intel processors. Spoiler alert: The processors are being called some of the best CPUs you can buy.

Intel Core i5-12600K

Linus Tech Tips did a deep dive on the new chips as well (see video above), noting the Core i5 is a "legit generational leap over even the [AMD Ryzen] 5600x ... and is the big winner today."

Our very own Rich Edmonds said the new midrange chip from Intel stacked up well against its competition from AMD in his Intel Core i5-12600K review:

The Core i5-12600K will easily give the Ryzen 7 5800X a run for its money across a variety of benchmark tests, leaving it in dust for gaming. Intel has turned itself around for 2021 with an answer for all of AMD's processor offerings and the Core i5-12600K is a fine choice for mid-range PC builds.

PCMag gave the Core i5-12600K a solid review as well, though the company highlighted some of the added costs to get into the ecosystem, such as a motherboard and DDR5 RAM:

Put aside the overall cost to get in the room with Alder Lake, though, and the Core i5-12600K has a lot going for it, and shows a lot of promise for what's to come for Intel's 7 Process. If you're willing to play the wait-and-see game for less-expensive motherboard platforms in the future, the Intel Core i5-12600K is a strong contender for one of the best midrange processors that the company has launched in years.

Hot Hardware also lauded the midrange chip for its performance and value:

Street pricing in the current market will likely change the equation and Z690-based motherboards and DDR5 memory will certainly command a premium as well, but the value proposition for Intel's 12th Gen Core processors is on point. The Core i5-12600K in particular is a strong value; power and performance look great, especially when you consider this $289 chip outruns the previous-gen flagship Core i9-11900K more often than not.

XDA is very bullish on the Core i5, while acknowledging, "You'll pretty much have to build a whole new PC for this":

I have to say though, these CPUs are phenomenal. For most people, the Core i5-12600K is a dream. I say it's great for most people because many of us won't benefit from the big boost in multitasking performance that the Core i9 provides. The Core i5-12600K is powerful, it gets the job done, and it's even overclockable.

Intel Core i7-12700K

The 12th Gen Intel Core i7-12700K didn't receive quite as much attention as its peers. However, TechPowerUp performed an extensive review of the CPU. The outlet said of the chip:

Overall performance of the Core i7-12700K is very impressive given its positioning. The new processor is 15% faster than the previous-generation i7-11700K, 10% faster than AMD Ryzen 7 5800X and just 5% behind the more expensive Ryzen 9 5900X. Today's flagship, the Core i9-12900K, is 10% faster on average. While the Core i9-12900K comes with an 8+8 core configuration and runs at up to 5.2 GHz, the 12700K is 8+4 with up to 5.0 GHz, so the biggest difference is the loss of four E cores. You still get eight P cores, and HyperThreading.

Intel Core i9-12900K

Intel 12th Gen Core I9 Hero

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

Our PC expert Rich Edmonds ran Team Blue's high-end offering through its paces for his Intel Core i9-12900K review:

Whether you need a CPU for gaming or for video editing, the Intel Core i9-12900K is an amazing processor. The new hybrid technology Intel is using just works. The CPU uses very little power when the system is doing next to nothing but is capable of ramping up to impressive clock speeds when you need the performance.

Anantech has an extensive review of the Core i9-12900K as well. It also concluded that Intel's most powerful new processor competes well with AMD:

Overall though, it's no denying that Intel is now in the thick of it, or if I were to argue, the market leader. The nuances of the hybrid architecture are still nascent, so it will take time to discover where benefits will come, especially when we get to the laptop variants of Alder Lake. At a retail price of around $650, the Core i9-12900K ends up being competitive between the two Ryzen 9 processors, each with their good points.

Eurogamer came away impressed with both the Core i5 and Core i9 chips from Intel's 12th Gen:

While the cost of entry is undoubtedly high, there's plenty here to get excited about. If you want the fastest gaming CPU on the market right now, the Core i9 12900K backed with DDR5 looks to have claimed that title - and if you're interested in a much better value option, the Core i5 12600K looks tremendous - once you get into the ecosystem, anyway.

XDA also liked the Core i9 a lot remarking:

The Core i9-12900K is just next-level. It's what you get when you want the best, and indeed, I'd take it over anything that AMD has to offer.

Picking a processor

Intel 12th Gen Core I9 Hero Boxes

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

If you like the sound of Intel's latest processors but aren't sure which one is right for you, make sure to check out our guide on how to pick the right 12th Gen Intel CPU for your PC.

We also have guides on the best motherboards for Intel's 12th Gen processors.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at