Intel 12th Gen Corei5 ChipSource: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

Best answer: Intel's 12th Gen Core "Alder Lake" processors (CPU) use a new LGA 1700 socket. This is a replacement for the previous LGA 1200 socket that was used for 10th and 11th Gen Intel CPUs. There is so far just one Z690 chipset available for motherboards with the LGA 1700 socket.

What's new with the LGA 1700 CPU socket?

Intel processors and motherboards link up through a socket with protruding pins that make contact with the bottom of a CPU. Each CPU has a certain number of flat connectors that corresponds to the number of pins in the socket. When a CPU manufacturer like Intel changes up the number of pins and the shape of the chip, sockets must also change to accommodate these CPUs.

Intel 12th Gen Hero Corei9 ChipSource: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

Intel's new LGA 1700 socket is a replacement for the LGA 1200 socket that was used for 10th and 11th Gen Intel CPUs. There have been quite a number of different sockets used over the years, but this change brings a rare redesign. The LGA 1700 socket is taller with an asymmetrical design. That means older CPUs won't work with the LGA 1700 socket, and the new 12th Gen Intel Core CPUs won't work with older sockets (like the LGA 1200). Since you can't swap out the socket on a motherboard, you're likely looking at a considerable rebuild if you're upgrading to a 12th Gen Intel CPU.

The redesign also means most CPU coolers designed for previous Intel chips won't work properly with the new hardware. You might get lucky and find an LGA 1700 adapter kit for your specific cooler. Notably, Noctua was one of the first companies to announce a free upgrade for the new socket.

Which 12th Gen Intel Core CPUs can you buy now?

Intel 12th Gen Core I9 Hero BoxesSource: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

So far there are six desktop-class processors available from Intel's 12th Gen Core "Alder Lake" lineup. The Intel Core i5-12600K and its i5-12600KF counterpart (without integrated graphics) are excellent choices for anyone who needs superb performance at a modest price. They come with 10 cores and 16 threads.

The Intel Core i7-12700K and Core i7-12700KF (without integrated graphics) are a decent step up for those who need extra cores for heavier multitasking workloads. They come with 12 cores and 20 threads. And the Intel Core i9-12900K and i9-12900KF (without integrated GPU) are for ultimate performance. They have 16 cores and 24 threads. It can be a bit tricky to figure out which CPU is best for your specific needs, but our guide on how to pick the right 12th Gen Intel Core CPU can help.

And since you're no doubt going to need a new motherboard for your 12th Gen Intel Core CPU, we've also rounded up the best motherboards for Core i5-12600K, best motherboards for Core i7-12700K, and best motherboards for Core i9-12900K to help ensure you get exactly what you need.

12th Gen Intel Core i5

Intel Core i5-12600K

The Core i5-12600K is a great value processor from Intel, offering 10 cores and 16 threads for less than $300. It's strange to consider this level of performance as "mid-range."

12th Gen Intel Core i7

Intel Core i7-12700K

Stepping it up a gear from the i5 brand is the impressive Core i7-12700K. It has 12 cores, 20 threads, and room for overclocking if you've got enough thermal capacity.

Intel Core i9-12900K

Intel Core i9-12900K

You likely don't need something like the Core i9-12900K, but it would be amazing to have one installed inside your PC. These monsters have 16 cores and 24 threads, and can turbo boost all the way up to 5.2GHz.

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