Last week we reported upon a mysterious new 12th Gen Intel Core (Alder Lake-S, ADL-S) processor. Unfortunately, the purported new Intel Core i5-12490F didn't launch alongside its mainstream brethren at CES 2022. The chip is exclusive to the Chinese market. The good news is that we are now seeing the first crop of Core i5-12490F benchmarks emerging. In some bad news, these are Geekbench runs (via BenchLeaks) but are still worthwhile to compare close members of the same processor family.
Rather than appear in press and consumer materials as part of Intel's CES 2022 presence and more comprehensive Alder Lake-S launches, the Core i5-12490F just popped up at retailers in China, such as JD.com. It is sold to enthusiasts in a boxed offering but lacks new translucent blue Laminar bundled coolers. The mysterious Intel Core i5-12490F should naturally fit, on the performance scale, somewhere between the i5-12400/F and i5-12500.
Tom's Hardware has reviewed several ADL-S processors, most recently the Core i5-12400, so of course, we were very interested to see how this new out-of-the-blue chip would represent itself. In brief, the China-exclusive Intel Core i5-12490F appears to be about 10% faster than the Core i5-12400 in single-threaded workloads and about 15% faster in multithreaded workloads.
To gain its advantage, the interesting Intel Core i5-12490F has a 500 MHz faster base and 200 MHz faster boost clocks, as well as a fatter L3 cache advantage (20MB, rather than 18MB). In many respects, it is nearer to the Core i5-12500, offering the same clocks and 2MB more cache, but no iGPU (there is no Core i5-12500F). Thus, the performance in a suite of system benchmarks like Geekbench should show little difference between the Intel Core i5-12490F and Core i5-12500. It indeed seems to be the case if you look below.
With different chips and motherboards, the above comparison is close enough to be considered noise on the distribution graph. For example, the Core i5-12490F is up to 5% faster in this comparison, and it does have a smidgeon more L3 cache. Still, you can often see more considerable variances in systems with the same CPU due to other platform factors. It's the reason why third-party reviews, like here on Tom's Hardware, are so vital - as platform variances are limited to the minimum possible for more accurate and consistent results.
The bottom line is that the Intel Core i5-12490F seems to be as capable a performer as its near neighbors – so it should be an excellent choice for mid-range PC systems. But, of course, the Core i5-12490F's success comes down to pricing and availability. So, in this case, Chinese retailer pricing is essential and how the processor positions itself against the rest of the Alder Lake family and the AMD rivals in that nation.