Intel Core i5-12600K "Alder Lake" CPU Review

Intel's Core i5-12600K "Alder Lake" processor is an impressive CPU for its performance, low power consumption, and availability.

@TylerBernath
Published Mon, Nov 8 2021 2:15 PM CST
Rating: 98%Manufacturer: Intel (i5-12600K)

Introduction and Pricing

Intel Core i5-12600K Alder Lake CPU Review 01 | TweakTown.com
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With Alder Lake now released to the masses, it's only a matter of time before enthusiasts and gamers alike start re-evaluating their machines. DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 make this a desirable platform, and with board vendors pushing some impressive solutions to market, we should see a slight shift in CPU market share later this year and early next year.

Intel Core i5-12600K Alder Lake CPU Review 02 | TweakTown.com

12600K will be huge for Intel, early reviews are high on this chip, and for the proper reason, its lower power consumption and high performance make it a fantastic bang for your buck. For those not aware, the Core i5 entry into the Alder Lake portfolio features ten cores with a 6-P 4-E arrangement; the P-Cores offer Hyper-Threading to push threads to 16 with peak turbo frequencies at 4.9GHz and 3.6GHz, respectively.

The Intel Core i5 12600K has a tray price of $289; market pricing is currently $319.99.

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Intel Core i5-12600K Desktop Processor 10 (6P+4E) Cores

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* Prices last scanned on 11/29/2021 at 4:19 pm CST - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Packaging and Test System

Intel Core i5-12600K

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Like the 12900K, the 12600K features the same LGA1700 design, locating cutouts are on the top and bottom.

Intel Core i5-12600K Alder Lake CPU Review 12 | TweakTown.com

On the LGA side, we have 1700 pads.

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The board sent for testing the 12600K is the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming Wi-Fi.

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Our full test setup, seen above, does include a kit of Micron DDR5. Additional components are listed below.

Cinebench R20,R23 and AIDA64

Cinebench and AIDA64

Cinebench

Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and AMD to showcase their newest platforms during unveils. The benchmark has two tests, a single-core workload that will utilize one thread or 1T. There is also a multi-threaded test that uses all threads or nT of a tested CPU. We run both the legacy R20 and modern R23.

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Kicking off our testing, 12600K does quite well, touching 715 in R20 single thread. This puts it above every current Zen 3 SKU.

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R20 nT places the 12600K right under the 5900X, ahead of both the 5800X and 5600X from AMD.

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R23 shows a similar case; 12600 K beats out both 5800X and 5600X by a good margin.

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nThread R23 shows 17519 for 12600K.

AIDA64

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Memory throughput follows 12900K; we saw 77K read, 76K write, and 77K copy.

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AIDA64 still has yet to officially support Alder Lake in any of their benchmarks, but preliminary runs show 86512 for the 12600K

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SHA3 showed 3303 for the 12600K.

UL Benchmarks and CrossMark

PCMark 10 Applications

PCMark 10 Applications

PCMark is a benchmark from UL and tests various workload types within Microsoft Office and Edge.

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PCMark overall gives us a score of 8696, not far behind the 12900K.

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Score breakdown shows 12600K beating 12900k in productivity and matching it in digital content.

3DMark

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CPU Profile in 3DMark has the 12600K near even with the 11700K.

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Timespy with our RTX card showed a score of 14950 for the 12600K.

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Breakdown shows a benefit to 12600K in graphics while a touch behind in CPU power to the 12900K. It does beat up on last-gen 11700K by a good margin.

CrossMark

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Running through CrossMark, the 12600K grabbed 2307 to the 12900K at 2320.

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The breakdown for CrossMark has the 12600K matching 12900K in two of three workloads.

Gaming, Power and Final Thoughts

Gaming Performance

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I used Far Cry New Dawn and Shadow of the Tomb Raider for comparison purposes, testing both 1080p and 1440p gaming at high resolution.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider was quite good, 12600K dropping a single frame to the 12900K.

Far Cry New Dawn was nearly identical, 12600K a sizable upgrade over last gen.

Power Consumption

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Power consumption for the 12600K was 91 watts idle for our test system. We read 226 watts at load with R23, which is quite a bit lower than the flagship 12900K.

Thermals

Intel Core i5-12600K Alder Lake CPU Review 47 | TweakTown.com

We used a Noctua NH-U12A Chromax cooling solution for the 12600K to keep things fair across all platforms. In testing, the 12600K idled at 28c, full load in R23 reached 66c.

Final Thoughts

As we saw in our initial review of Alder Lake with the 12900K, this platform is a huge jump for Intel. The 12600K cements the lineup as the entry-level CPU and gateway for many gamers to DDR5 and PCIe 5.0, and I suspect many of you have already been thinking about your upgrade path.

It's unknown, at this point, where AMD will take Zen 3; rumors offer us a possible solution early next year with 3D V-Cache technology but likely not a platform overhaul. This boosts Intel tremendously as they could be the only vendor offering DDR5 and PCIe 5 for upwards of a year, and with Gen5 NVMe just around the corner, things are heating up!

Mentioned briefly above, the 12600K is a fantastic option for those building gaming machines on the current Z690 platform. In our testing, we had several scenarios where the 12600K was the better CPU; in PCMark, productivity was at its highest with 12600K, and Crossmark showed higher performance with Creativity. AIDA64 showed identical memory throughput for 12600K, so nothing was lost with the Core i5, and 3DMark even proved a near 200-point advantage for 12600K in graphics performance with our RTX 3070.

Like the 12900K, we saw a solid boost in FPS for Far Cry and Tomb Raider, and more recently, we have played with Warzone and a few others that showed similar 5-10FPS jumps in FPS. Power consumption is much more reasonable with 12600K, 91 watts idle for our tests system, and at full CPU load, we were using 226 watts. This lower power aided our temperatures, with the 12600K reaching a mild 66c in testing with the NH-U12A Chromax.

Buy at Amazon

Performance

99%

Quality

95%

Features

99%

Value

99%

Overall

98%

The Bottom Line

12600K more than any other SKU delivers as it offers the same impressive performance with lower power consumption, not to mention availability!

TweakTown award
98%

Intel Core i5-12600K Desktop Processor 10 (6P+4E) Cores

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$334.95$334.90-
* Prices last scanned on 11/29/2021 at 4:19 pm CST - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Tyler joined the TweakTown team in 2013 and has since reviewed 100s of new techy items. Growing up in a small farm town, tech wasn't around, unless it was in a tractor. At an early age, Tyler's parents brought home their first PC. Tyler was hooked and learned what it meant to format a HDD, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95. Tyler's love and enthusiast nature always kept his PC nearby. Eager to get deeper into tech, he started reviewing.

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