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'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.
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. Price||Cores | Threads||P-Core Base/Boost||E-Core Base/Boost||TDP / PBP / MTP||DDR4-3200||L3 Cache|
|Ryzen 9 5950X||$799||16P | 32 threads||3.4 / 4.9 GHz||-||105W||DDR4-3200||64MB (2x32)|
|Core i9-12900K / KF||$589 (K) - $564 (KF)||8P + 8E | 16 Cores / 24 threads||3.2 / 5.2 GHz||2.4 / 3.9 GHz||125W / 241W||DDR4-3200 / DDR5-4800||30MB|
|Ryzen 9 5900X||$549||12P | 24 threads||3.7 / 4.8 GHz||-||105W||DDR4-3200||32MB (1x32)|
|Core i9-11900K||$549||8P | 16 threads||3.5 / 5.3 GHz||-||125W||DDR4-3200||16MB|
|Core i7-12700K / KF||$409 (K) - $384 (KF)||8P + 4E | 12 Cores / 20 threads||3.6 / 4.9 GHz||2.7 / 3.8 GHz||125W / 190W||DDR4-3200 / DDR5-4800||25MB|
|Core i7-11700K||$409||8P | 16 threads||3.6 / 5.0 GHz||-||125W||DDR4-3200||16MB|
|Ryzen 7 5800X||$449||8P | 16 threads||3.8 / 4.7 GHz||-||105W||DDR4-3200||32MB|
|Core i5-12600K / KF||$289 (K) - $264 (KF)||6P + 4E | 20 Cores / 16 threads||3.7 / 4.9 GHz||2.8 / 3.6 GHz||125W / 150W||DDR4-3200 / DDR5-4800||16MB|
|Core i5-11600K||$272||6P | 12 threads||3.9 / 4.9 GHz||-||95W||DDR4-3200||12MB|
|Ryzen 5 5600X||$299||6P | 12 threads||3.7 / 4.6 GHz||-||65W||DDR4-3200||32MB|