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Intel Core i7-11700K Review: The Chip of Last Resort

High power consumption meets high pricing, again.

Core i7-11700K
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Intel Core i7-11700K Gaming Performance — The TLDR 

Below you can see the geometric mean of our gaming tests at 1080p and 1440p, with each resolution split into its own chart to give us a decent overall view of the current landscape. As per usual, we're testing with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 to reduce GPU-imposed bottlenecks as much as possible, and differences between test subjects will shrink with lesser cards or higher resolutions. These are cumulative metrics, so individual wins vary on a per-title basis. You'll find the game-by-game test results further below. 

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Compared to Intel's other chips, the Core i7-11700K looks like a decent advance. The 11700K is 5% faster than the previous-gen 10700K at 1080p, but the 300 MHz clock reduction (among other factors) gives the bare stock 11900K (without ABT) a 5% lead. Overclocking the 11700K to 5.0 GHz brings it to a tie with the 11900K with ABT engaged, which is impressive given the 11700K's lower price point.

The overclocked 11700K trails the overclocked 11900K by ~3% at 1080p, but that isn't very meaningful given that most gamers with this class of chip will game at higher resolutions. As you can see in the 1440p benchmarks, it would be difficult to tell the difference between the two overclocked chips at higher resolutions based on raw fps measurement — they're only separated by a few fps (slightly more than 1%).

Things change when we look at competing AMD processors. Due to its exceptional gaming performance and lower price point, if you're only interested in gaming, the Ryzen 5 5600X basically torpedos the 11700K's appeal. The stock 5600X is 5% faster than the stock 11700K at 1080p, and a mere 3 fps separates the two chips after overclocking, which is surprising given the Ryzen 5 5600X's suggested $300 price tag. The two chips are closely matched at 99th percentile measurements at stock settings, but the overclocked 11700K does have a 5% higher 99th percentile fps measurement at 1080p (note that this could vary due to the silicon lottery associated with overclocking).

Flipping over to 1440p reveals more slim deltas, with the Ryzen 5 5600X leading at stock by 2%, while the 11700K takes a ~1% lead after overclocking. The Core i7-11700K does have noticeably better 99th percentile measurements at 1440p, with a 3.4% lead at stock and 7% lead after overclocking. We didn't notice any outwardly visible signs of noticeably smoother gameplay during our tests with the Core i7-11700K, but those are appreciable 99th percentile deltas. That said, keep the measurements from the overclocked config in perspective — this could vary.

Overall, the performance deltas between these two chips aren't dramatic, though the 99th percentile measurements do give the 11700K an advantage at higher resolutions. However, the Ryzen 5 5600X's $99 cheaper price tag is very convincing if you can find the chip at suggested pricing. Paying 33% less in exchange for slightly lower 99th percentiles at higher resolutions is plenty attractive.

AMD doesn't have a directly comparable competitor here, at least based on pricing, so the $450 Ryzen 7 5800X comes into the picture. The extra $50 buys you essentially the same gaming performance as the Ryzen 5 5600X, both at stock and overclocked settings at 1080p and 1440p, along with an additional two cores that help out if you're after more than just gaming. Given the 5800X's big markup over the 5600X, it remains a tough sell for the gaming-focused. 

The Core i7-11700K offers solid performance in our gaming test suite, but you should look to less expensive alternatives, like the Ryzen 5 5600X or Core i5-11400, if gaming is your primary goal.

3D Mark, VRMark, Stockfish Chess Engine on Intel Core i7-11700K

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We run these synthetic gaming tests as part of our main application test script. We use an RTX 2080 Ti for these tests to facilitate faster testing, but we use an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 for all other gaming benchmarks (we don't include these synthetic tests for the preceding cumulative measurements). Synthetic benchmark results often scale linearly with increased processing resources, which unfortunately doesn't happen often in the real world. However, they do give us insight into the theoretical performance we could see as game engines evolve. 

The Stockfish test scales very well with increased core counts but also obviously benefits from other host processing resources, like cache capacity and interconnect speed. As we can see, the Ryzen 7 5800X takes a tremendous lead over the Core i7-11700K even though both chips come armed with eight cores and 16 threads. As expected, the Ryzen 5 5600X trails due to its six-core 12-thread design. The ten-core 10850K reminds us that Intel made some tradeoffs when it stepped back from ten to eight cores, but the 11700K beats its previous-gen counterpart, the 10700K, in a straight core-to-core competition.  

We see a similar trend in the DX11 physics test as the 11700K slots between the 5600X and 5800X, but the Core i7-11700K takes the lead in the DX12 CPU tests that scale better with increased core counts. 

The VRMark benchmark responds best to per-core performance, a mixture of clock speed and IPC throughput, and the 11700K takes a big step forward over the previous-gen Comet Lake processors. However, even though Rocket Lake has made marked generational improvements, the 11700K trails the Ryzen 5000 chips by significant margins at stock settings. 

Borderlands 3 on Intel Core i7-11700K

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It's important to remember that the winner of the gaming battle between Rocket Lake and Zen 3 varies based on the title. The Core i7-11700K shows a few of the vagaries we see with it compared to the previous-gen 10700K. Both chips come with eight cores and the 14nm process, but dissimilar architectures can respond differently to some types of code. Additionally, the 10700K actually has a 100 MHz clock speed advantage at stock settings. These differences surface as the Core i7-11700K trails significantly behind the 10700K at 1080p and 1440p settings in both stock and overclocked configurations.  

The Core i7-11700K effectively ties with the 5600X and 5800X at both resolutions, but carves out a lead after overclocking. 

Far Cry 5 on Intel Core i7-11700K

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Far Cry 5 finds the Core i7-11700K taking the expected lead over the 10700K in all tested configurations. This title tends to respond best to Intel architectures, and Rocket Lake is no exception. That results in two groupings in the test pool — Rocket Lake in the lead while Ryzen 5000 trails. 

Hitman 2 on Intel Core i7-11700K

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Hitman 2 doesn't scale well from 1080p to 1440p, at least not at the heightened fidelity settings we use for the benchmark. We stuck with the 1080p test for this title because the same trends carry over to 1440p. 

This title scales well with increased core counts, and that benefits the Ryzen 5 5800X as it enjoys a nice speed increase over the 5600X, allowing it to beat the 11700K across the board. 

Project CARS 3 on Intel Core i7-11700K

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Project Cars 3, long an Intel stronghold, swings the pendulum back in Ryzen 5000's direction. This title responds incredibly well to the Zen 3 architecture, rewarding the Ryzen 5000 chips with the lead across the board at 1080p and a near-sweep at 1440p.

We see similar swings in the final three titles in our suite below, with each favoring one architecture over another. 

Red Dead Redemption 2 on Intel Core i7-11700K

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Shadow of the Tomb Raider on Intel Core i7-11700K

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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.

  • BeaRi72
    Or just buy i7 11700 (non-K).

    Increase PL1 in Bios -->

    same Speed, 40,- cheaper and, if needed, with box-cooler (with copper-core).
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    The 5800x is down to $406 at Amazon right now. If you're building a new system, there is no logical reason for a home user to pick a $6 cheaper 11700k over the 5800x at those prices
    Reply
  • punkncat
    spongiemaster said:
    The 5800x is down to $406 at Amazon right now. If you're building a new system, there is no logical reason for a home user to pick a $6 cheaper 11700k over the 5800x at those prices


    Graphics



    Card
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    punkncat said:
    Graphics



    Card
    Ok, one reason, if you don't need a graphics card and an IGP is fine, then an 11700k would make more sense. If you don't have any graphics card and you need one for a new system, there's no point in buying anything at all right now. Wait until you get your graphics card, because there's no knowing how long that could take, and then buy the rest of the components. Prices are more likely to go down now than up, so you'll save money waiting. Depending on how long it takes to get your graphics, it may make more sense to wait a bit longer for Alder Lake or Zen 4.
    Reply
  • Howardohyea
    A few days back I saw the 11700K was around 360 from Amazon, but then again with this CPU's low overclocking I guess that an cheaper i7 11700 non-K is better, just raise the power limit.

    Mostly same performance with 5800X (okay maybe less), you can save on the motherboard, CPU, and cooling.
    Reply