Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs Are Awesome…With a Catch


After six generations (yes, six) of using 14nm nodes, the company made a radical change in the architecture. In fact, this could be the biggest change since Intel adopted AMD’s 64-bit architecture that was based on x86.

Starting with the overclockable versions this side of the New Year, and the rest in 2022, these new processors are the first wide-scale launch of a hybrid processor design for mainstream Windows-based desktops using the underlying x86 architecture. Intel has created two types of core, a performance core and an efficiency core, to work together and provide the best of performance and low power in a singular package. This hybrid design and new platform however have a number of rocks in the river to navigate.

Adapting Windows 10, Windows 11, and all sorts of software to work properly, but also the introduction of DDR5 at a time when DDR5 is still not widely available. On top of all this, Intel is bringing new technology into the mix with the 12th Gen Core. These processors will have PCIe 5.0 support, but also DDR5-4800 and DDR4-3200 support on the memory. This means that Alder Lake motherboards, using the new LGA1700 socket and Z690 chipsets, will be either DDR4 or DDR5 compatible. No motherboard will have slots for both (they’re not interchangeable), but as we are quite early in the DDR5 lifecycle, getting a DDR4 motherboard might be the only way for users to get hold of an Alder Lake system using their current memory.

Intel 12th-gen ‘Alder Lake’ performance

It’s the latest and greatest from Intel, and it comes with significant architectural improvements. Intel’s 10th-gen CPUs and 11th-Gen were lacking some key features that AMD was offering, such as support for PCIe 4.0. Now, Intel is competing with PCIe 5.0.

The Core i5-12600K, while still being pretty great, is meant to be more mainstream. Intel’s 12th-gen lineup pretty much consists of three chips for now (six totals, since each one has a variant without integrated graphics). There’s the Core i5-12600K, the Core i7-12700K, and the Core i9-12900K. The Core i9-12900K is enthusiast-level, and you’re paying enthusiast prices for it. On the other hand, the Core i5-12600K costs half the price of the Core i9.

The ‘K’ suffix means that these processors can be overclocked, and if you see an ‘F’, that means that there are no integrated graphics. You’re going to see a lot more 12th-gen SKUs moving forward, including mainstream ones that don’t have a ‘K’ at the end.

While those chips have historically been 65W (Intel says it’s not saying TDP anymore, since it’s not accurate with the way that its modern chips work), K-series processors have offered a higher wattage. With this generation, it starts at 125W, with the Core i9 being able to be boosted up to 241W. That’s a lot of power from one CPU.

The Catch (Until It Fixed)

Intel has confirmed that over 50 games are facing issues on PCs based on its 12th-generation Core processors due to incompatibility with certain Digital Rights Management (DRM) software. The list of games that are being affected as a result of the DRM problem includes Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Far Cry Primal, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, among others. Intel said that a software fix of the affected DRM software is being rolled out. But in the meantime, the chipmaker has also provided a workaround to manually allow players to launch and play the impacted games. Intel said that some third-party gaming DRM software incorrectly recognizes the efficiency cores as another system. “This prevents games implementing that DRM software from running successfully,” the company said on a support page.

The initial patch is expected to reach 11 games sometime in the middle of November, through the upcoming Windows 11 update. These games include titles like Anthem, Bravely Default 2, Fishing Sim World, Football Manager 2019, Football Manager Touch 2019, Football Manager 2020, Football Manager Touch 2020, Legend of Mana, Mortal Kombat 11, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, and Warhammer I.

This is basically what you will face when you’re an early adopter. So there is no doubt the products of both Intel and Microsoft are the finest and probably the leap forward towards the future of computing. But at first, let the issues be settled down.

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