Intel is still the leading CPU manufacturer worldwide, but the competition is stronger than ever.
The rapid recent rise of AMD is reflected in the impressive Ryzen range, while Apple has successfully moved away from Intel and embraced its own silicon.
After a few years of minor updates, Intel shifted to a new hybrid architecture with the launch of 12th-gen Alder Lake chips. It seems to have been a success, with significant improvements to both performance and power efficiency.
However, not all CPUs have remained the same since launch. Here’s everything you need to know.
When were Intel Alder Lake CPUs released?
Intel launched a handful of Alder Lake desktop CPUs back in October 2021, before the bulk of its 12th-gen processors arrived at CES in January 2022.
Desktop CPUs became available to buy shortly after, before mobile chips powered many of the best laptops of 2022.
However, Intel didn’t stop there. The company launched a new high-end HX Series for mobile workstations (high-end devices with extra performance capabilities) in May 2022.
How much do Intel Alder Lake CPUs cost?
Intel revealed suggested pricing for the main Alder Lake desktop CPUs at launch. Where the company indicated a range, the lowest figure is indicated:
Core i9-12900KS – $739 Core i9-12900K – was $589, now $648 Core i9-12900 – $529 Core i9-12900F – $509 Core i7-12700K – was $409, now $450Core i7-12700KF – $389 Core i7-12700 – $359 Core i7-12700F – $329 Core i5-12600K – was $289, now $318Core i5-12600 – $239 Core i5-12500 – $219 Core i5-12400 – was $192, now $211 Core i5-12400F – $179 Core i3-12100 – was $122, now $134 Core i3-12100F – $109 Celeron G6900 – $79 Celeron G6900 (lower clock speed) – $59
However, some of those prices didn’t stick around for long. As Tom’s Hardware reported, Intel quietly increased the pricing on several of its 12th-gen desktop processors in January 2023. The 10% increase actually meant some of the equivalent 13th-gen CPUs are now cheaper – despite upgrades.
All the affected CPUs are listed above with a before and after price. Just remember, this is only suggested pricing. What you’ll actually end up paying is down to the retailers, and may vary considerably.
Alder Lake mobile CPUs are integrated into laptops and other mobile devices, so aren’t available to buy as standalone components. The price you’ll pay depends on a variety of other factors, including display, battery and design.
Intel Alder Lake specs & features
Alder Lake brings big changes to Intel silicon. These were the first CPUs to move beyond the 14nm process that the company introduced back in 2015. The 10nm process has been rebranded as Intel 7, part of a new architecture roadmap announced in July 2021.
Intel has also changed the structure of its CPUs to be more in line with ARM-based chips (including Apple’s M1 range). There’s now a mixture of performance and power efficiency cores, rather than focusing purely on making the most powerful chip possible. This hybrid model should allow devices to sustain performance over a longer period of time, as well as benefit battery life. Following underwhelming reviews of
11th-gen Rocket Lake chips, this shift is welcome.
However, as expected, you’ll need a new motherboard. It’s Intel’s new Z690 here, although you may also need an upgraded cooler to support the LG 1700 socket. You do at least get Wi-Fi 6E and USB 3.2 Gen 2 for fast data transfer. Thunderbolt 4 support remains, too.
There are also some encouraging signs from Alder Lake’s first true gaming test, even if the CPU was paired with the latest Nvidia RTX GPUs and DDR5 memory to maximise performance. As German tech site
Computerbase spotted, a
CapFrameX test of online strategy game Dota suggests Alder Lake can hit a maximum FPS of over 549, averaging over 120fps. However, we don’t know which resolution or settings were used when recording these figures.
Since their release, we’ve seen some impressive benchmarks for Alder Lake CPUs, specifically the Core i7-12700H.
Geekbench 5 results suggest it’s almost as powerful as AMD’s high-end Ryzen 9 5900X, while multi-core Cinebench scores put it ahead of the Ryzen 9 5900HX and Apple’s M1 Max – according to testing from
Guru3D, the top-spec Core i9-12900K performs significantly better than the Ryzen 9 5950X (AMD’s current flagship CPU) across both single-thread (26%) and multi-thread (11%) tests.
Wccftech reports, sales of Alder Lake desktop CPUs make for encouraging reading for Intel. The processors are beginning to replace
AMD’s Ryzen 5000 Series in best seller lists at US retailers such as Newegg and Best Buy, while Amazon in Germany and the UK shows a rough split between the two companies. However, that might change with the upcoming
Ryzen 7000 Series CPUs, after AMD chose to skip a generation of desktop support.
In total, we’re expecting 60 processors from Intel’s 12th-gen range. In addition to the 28 desktop CPUs announced so far, there are also 28 new mobile chips available. These will be included in many of the key laptops in 2022 and beyond.
They’re split into three distinct categories. The first is Alder Lake-H, designed for for enthusiast-level devices. Here’s a summary of what it offers:
ProcessorPerformance coresEfficiency coresThreadsL3 cacheMax clock speedBase poweri9-12900HK682024Mb5.0GHz45Wi9-12900H682024Mb5.0GHz45Wi7-12800H682024Mb4.8GHz45Wi7-12700H682024Mb4.7GHz45Wi7-12650H641624Mb4.7GHz45Wi5-12600H481618Mb4.5GHz45Wi5-12500H481618Mb4.5GHz45Wi5-12450H441212Mb4.4GHz45W
Understandably, these CPUs are the basis for many of Intel’s big Alder Lake claims. The company describes the Core i9-12900HK as “the fastest mobile processor ever”, surpassing both Apple’s M1 Max and AMD’s Ryzen 9 5900HX during internal testing.
Impressively, that’s the same conclusion our sister site
PCWorld came to after some exclusive hands-on testing. The Core i9-1200HK delivers around 30% better scores than the top-spec Alder Lake and Ryzen 5000 chips in Cinebench R20, which tests using real-world applications.
That extends to Cinebench R23, with about a 23% improvement over the M1 Pro. A CrossMark score of 1,975 also compares favourably to the fastest M1 Max result of 1,670 (via
BAPCo). It’ll be interesting to see how Alder Lake compares to AMD’s new
Ryzen 6000 Series laptop CPUs, which should deliver improvements over the Ryzen 5000 chip used here.
A more subjective claim is that Alder Lake is “the world’s best mobile gaming platform”. While it is capable of 4K gaming and benchmarks suggest it delivers a premium experience, it’s real-world usage that will decide just how good 12th-gen chips really are.
That’s also the case for Alder Lake-P, which aims to bring great performance to thin and light laptops:
ProcessorPerformance coresEfficiency coresThreadsL3 cacheMax clock speedBase poweri7-1280P682024Mb4.8GHz28Wi7-1270P481618Mb4.8GHz28Wi7-1260P481618Mb4.7GHz28Wi5-1250P481612Mb4.4GHz28Wi5-1240P481612Mb4.4GHz28Wi3-1220P281212Mb4.4GHz28W
More affordable devices are also catered for by Alder Lake-U. These chips still primarily focus on lightweight, portable computers:
ProcessorPerformance coresEfficiency coresThreadsL3 cacheMax clock speedBase poweri7-1265U281212Mb4.8GHz15Wi7-1260U281212Mb4.7GHz9Wi7-1255U281212Mb4.7GHz15Wi7-1250U281212Mb4.7GHz9Wi5-1245U281212Mb4.4GHz15Wi5-1240U281212Mb4.4GHz9Wi5-1235U281212Mb4.4GHz15Wi5-1230U281212Mb4.4GHz9Wi3-1215U24810Mb4.4GHz15Wi3-1210U24810Mb4.4GHz9WPentium 85051468Mb4.4GHz15WPentium 85001468Mb4.4GHz9WCeleron 73051468MbNo data15WCeleron 73001468MbNo data9W
In May 2022, Intel then launched a brand-new category of 12th-gen CPUs. Known as Alder Lake HX, they sit at the top of the company’s lineup of laptop CPUs and are built for mobile workstations.
Using the same structure as the Alder Lake-S desktop chips, all seven new processors use the same hybrid architecture and support overclocking. They’re designed for people who want the absolute best performance in a laptop, especially on devices with larger displays. Here’s a summary of what they offer:
Max clock speed
All will ship with discrete GPUs, both from Intel’s new Arc range and third parties such as Nvidia.
For news on Intel’s latest range of CPUs, we have a separate guide to 13th-gen Raptor Lake processors. We’re also looking ahead to 14th-gen Meteor Lake.
CPUs and Processors