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Intel Shares Alder Lake Pricing, Specs and Gaming Performance: $589 for 16 Cores

Intel Alder Lake CPUs

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

After six years of waiting, Intel finally has new desktop PC chips with an entirely new process node and architecture. However, Intel's decision to only release the pricey K-Series models and Z690 motherboards means there won't be value-oriented chips or platforms available in the near term. 

Alder Lake's pricing does appear to be exceedingly competitive with AMD's flagship Ryzen 5000 chips, but we'll have to hold any judgements until we see our own test results. Additionally, AMD's Ryzen lineup is mature and appears to be in good supply, so AMD could adjust pricing while awaiting its 3D V-Cache retort early next year. AMD says those chips will come with up to 192MB of L3 cache and offer up to 15% more gaming performance, but they'll also probably be expensive. At least they'll drop into existing AM4 motherboards.

Intel Z690 Motherboards

(Image credit: Intel)

Intel's decision to jump forward to PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 gives it the lead in platform connectivity, but it will inevitably add cost to motherboards due to stricter tolerances, thicker boards with more PCB layers, and more costly componentry, like retimers, all of which are especially applicable to the Z-series boards that are our only choice for now.

The jump to DDR5 will also add significant costs to Alder Lake platforms, at least for early adopters who jump to the faster standard. However, according to Intel, DDR4 will offer comparable performance in most cases, which will help keep costs down for both the memory and motherboards, at least if you choose to go with a DDR4 platform. We hope to see more higher-end Z690 boards with DDR4 support, as they seem to be largely confined to the lower tiers. 

Intel Alder Lake

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

All in all, Alder Lake could end up having great chip pricing but eye-watering platform costs, especially as we wait for non-Z-series motherboards. You also might be best suited with a new cooler. We'll have firm calculations on overall platform costs in our review. 

We're also in the midst of the worst semiconductor shortage in history, but Intel says it has an ample supply of its Alder Lake chips. The chipmaker plans to sell 100's of thousands of K-SKUs this quarter, setting an all-time company record. Notably, the company will only have K-series chips at retail this quarter, so it is obviously maximizing profits in this silicon-starved market. In fact, Intel plans to sell two million Alder Lake chips by the end of Q1 2022, which means it has surely accommodated for producing that many chips.

Intel also says it is already shipping 28 different Alder Lake SKUs to OEMs for systems that will debut in Q1 2021. So we can probably expect the retail launch of the non-K SKUs in the same time frame and probably budget motherboards, too.

Intel's bullish sales predictions definitely project an air of confidence about the success of Alder Lake, but shortages of other componentry, like GPUs, could put a damper on sales. In addition, Intel's motherboard partners have 60+ designs coming to market at launch, but we'll have to see how well supply pans out in the coming months. 

All that's left is third-party testing, but it appears that the AMD vs Intel battle has been reignited. Come back on November 4, 2021. We'll have all the details then.

U.S. PriceCores | ThreadsP-Core Base/BoostE-Core Base/BoostTDP / PBP / MTPDDR4-3200L3 Cache
Ryzen 9 5950X$79916P | 32 threads3.4 / 4.9 GHz-105WDDR4-320064MB (2x32)
Core i9-12900K / KF$589 (K) - $564 (KF)8P + 8E | 16 Cores / 24 threads3.2 / 5.2 GHz2.4 / 3.9 GHz125W / 241WDDR4-3200 / DDR5-480030MB
Ryzen 9 5900X$54912P | 24 threads3.7 / 4.8 GHz-105WDDR4-320032MB (1x32)
Core i9-11900K$5498P | 16 threads3.5 / 5.3 GHz-125WDDR4-320016MB
Core i7-12700K / KF$409 (K) - $384 (KF)8P + 4E | 12 Cores / 20 threads3.6 / 4.9 GHz2.7 / 3.8 GHz125W / 190WDDR4-3200 / DDR5-480025MB
Core i7-11700K$4098P | 16 threads3.6 / 5.0 GHz-125WDDR4-320016MB
Ryzen 7 5800X$4498P | 16 threads3.8 / 4.7 GHz-105WDDR4-320032MB
Core i5-12600K / KF$289 (K) - $264 (KF)6P + 4E | 20 Cores / 16 threads3.7 / 4.9 GHz2.8 / 3.6 GHz125W / 150WDDR4-3200 / DDR5-480016MB
Core i5-11600K$2726P | 12 threads3.9 / 4.9 GHz-95WDDR4-320012MB
Ryzen 5 5600X$2996P | 12 threads3.7 / 4.6 GHz-65WDDR4-320032MB

Intel Alder Lake Test Notes

Paul Alcorn
Paul Alcorn

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.

  • wifiburger
    589$ is awesome, very interesting
    If I do upgrade I'll go with DDR4 since I already have a good 4400 bdie kit
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    wifiburger said:
    589$ is awesome, very interesting
    If I do upgrade I'll go with DDR4 since I already have a good 4400 bdie kit
    That's the 1K tray pricing, not "plebian" MSRP.

    At retail it'll definitely be more than that. Still, finding it under $700 may be totally possible, so good news there for sure. I'd say it's like at least 20% increase over the prices mentioned.

    Seems like Intel is not going ballistic with pricing, so that also hints at them being cautious. Not a bad thing, TBH.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • VforV
    As an AMD user all I care about Alder Lake is the price and I do hope these are the real prices on launch, even if these are only the mythical MSRPs, they should make AMD drop their Zen3 prices too.

    So that's good news if true, for me.

    Also I like how in their own gaming benchmarks intel has a average of about +15% lead over Zen3, like the same gap Zen3 V-Cache will add. Not the +50% all the synthetic benchmarks and click-bait titles were shouting from the rooftops up until now...
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    Yuka said:
    That's the 1K tray pricing, not "plebian" MSRP.
    Yes and all the big chains that will buy way more than just 1k will get them for cheaper than that.

    First couple of weeks are going to be higher prices because that always happens, the big question is what will happen after that, if scalpers will be a big issue or if they are going to be sold for more by retailers.
    Reply
  • keith12
    'The Alder Lake chips are available for preorder today, but they won't ship until October 4, 2021' - Am I stuck in a time warp! :tearsofjoy: So I could have ordered this 3 weeks ago!?
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    TerryLaze said:
    Yes and all the big chains that will buy way more than just 1k will get them for cheaper than that.

    First couple of weeks are going to be higher prices because that always happens, the big question is what will happen after that, if scalpers will be a big issue or if they are going to be sold for more by retailers.
    I was told Microcenter already has it listed for $650.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    Yuka said:
    I was told Microcenter already has it listed for $650.

    Regards.
    Looking at price history the 11900k was available at exactly the MSRP from day one, not everywhere but still, there is no reason to believe that the 12900k will be different, except for retailers that might take advantage of the situation.

    https://pcpartpicker.com/product/mDcG3C/intel-core-i9-11900k-35-ghz-8-core-processor-bx8070811900k?history_days=365
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    TerryLaze said:
    Looking at price history the 11900k was available at exactly the MSRP from day one, not everywhere but still, there is no reason to believe that the 12900k will be different, except for retailers that might take advantage of the situation.

    https://pcpartpicker.com/product/mDcG3C/intel-core-i9-11900k-35-ghz-8-core-processor-bx8070811900k?history_days=365
    Not disagreeing. I mentioned Microcenter as they're usually your "best case scenario" for retail pricing.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • hotaru251
    kind of weird they knowingly posted benchmarks vs a nerfed ryzen os.

    should of just omitted it and posted fair ones later.

    but props to em for mentioning it.
    Reply
  • nervousstate
    Yuka said:
    That's the 1K tray pricing, not "plebian" MSRP.

    At retail it'll definitely be more than that. Still, finding it under $700 may be totally possible, so good news there for sure. I'd say it's like at least 20% increase over the prices mentioned.

    Seems like Intel is not going ballistic with pricing, so that also hints at them being cautious. Not a bad thing, TBH.

    Regards.
    Not to mention everything else will be a premium at launch. PCIe5 and DDR5 are not going to make motherboards more affordable and DDR5 is at least 2X the price of DDR4 and overclocking the memory to actually achieve a benefit is still very much unknown and different than DDR3/4 due to the change to the power delivery as well as everything else that is new. We are also going to see the extended L3 Cache launched very soon from amd which they suggested is going to have a 20% improvement along with 16 REAL cores for about the same price as the 5950X - It does look like they have improved Single threaded performance over AMD but youll never get the same performance with 8 Atom Cores. The i5 looks like a compelling offer though. 6C/12T + 4 Low-Power Cores is going to compete well against the 5600X and LP cores will be nice for running docker containers or network services without effecting gaming performance. Unless of course AMD drops the price a little...
    Reply