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

High power consumption meets high pricing, again.

Core i7-11700K
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Why you can trust Tom's Hardware Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Intel Core i7-11700K Application Benchmarks, the TLDR:

We can boil down productivity application performance into two broad categories: single- and multi-threaded. The first slide has a geometric mean of performance in several of our single-threaded tests. The stock Core i7-11700K is 5.7% faster than the stock Ryzen 5600X, and 1.5% faster than the Ryzen 7 5800X. Tuning the Zen 3 silicon gives the 5800X a slight advantage, but the Ryzen 5 5600X can't match the 11700K in any configuration. You would need to step up to the Core i9-11900K if you wanted a substantial increase in single-threaded performance.

The overclocked i7-11700K's single-threaded result highlights an interesting issue that cropped up in our testing. Regardless of our settings, the chip sporadically dropped to 4.8 GHz on a single core during our LAME tests (and a few others), which indicates the chip dropped to the AVX offset during the test, while other processors do not. This unexpected behavior didn't crop up in all our testing (most of the other single-threaded tests are within expectations), but it skews the cumulative ranking here. You should expect the chip at 5.0 GHz to perform roughly the same, if not slightly faster, than the stock configuration in nearly all lightly-threaded applications. We're working to see if this issue can be corrected, and will update as necessary.

The geometric mean of our threaded applications finds the Core i7-11700K offering a slight boost over the stock and overclocked Ryzen 7 5800X, but in its stock configuration. The 11700K is 5.7% faster after overclocking, but we'd consider the two chips very closely matched at stock settings.

The Ryzen 5 5600X has two fewer cores, so it naturally trails by a much wider margin — the 11700K is ~31% faster at stock settings and 22% faster after we overclock both chips. 

Overall, the 11700K is obviously better than the Ryzen 5 5600X if you prize performance in threaded applications, but that's to be expected given the pricing and core counts. The 11700K is also competitive with the 5800X, though that does vary based on the type of application (more below), but the 11700K comes with a slightly more forgiving price tag. 

Rendering Benchmarks on Intel Core i7-11700K

The Core i7-11700K leads the Ryzen 7 5800X in POV-Ray and goes toe-to-toe in several of the Blender workloads, but the 5800X takes the lead in a broader spate of threaded applications, like Corona, Cinebench, and Blender. Overclocking the 11700K either significantly reduces the deltas or grants it the lead, as we see in V-Ray, two of the Blender renders, and Cinebench. 

Encoding Benchmarks on Intel Core i7-11700K

Our encoding tests include benchmarks that respond best to single-threaded performance, like the quintessential LAME and FLAC examples, but the SVT-AV1 and SVT-HEVC tests represent a newer class of threaded encoders. 

The Core i7-11700K trails the Ryzen 7 5800X in our LAME tests at stock settings, but the chip suffers an odd tendency to drop into its AVX offset during a few single-threaded tests, like the LAME and FLAC encoders. That causes the chip to actually run slower after overclocking. 

We test HandBrake in both AVX-light x264 and AVX-heavy x265 flavors. The 11700K and 5800X tie in x264 at stock settings, but the 5800X is noticeably faster in the x265 test. The 5800X also leads in the threaded SVT-HEVC test at stock settings, though the 11700K scores what is essentially a tie after overclocking. 

Web Browsing on Intel Core i7-11700K

These benchmarks are almost exclusively lightly-threaded and reflect performance with all security mitigations enabled. The Core i7-11700K is surprisingly strong in these tests — it even beats the Core i9-11900K in Speedometer. The 11700K also sweeps the Ryzen competition, with the lone AMD win coming in WebXPRT 3 with the overclocked Ryzen 7 5800X. 

Office and Productivity on Intel Core i7-11700K

The GIMP benchmarks respond exceedingly well to single-threaded performance, and here we see a similar trend to the web browser tests — the Core i7-11700K leads the majority of the tests, though we do see quite a bit more jockeying for position. 

The Ryzen 5000 processors hold sway in several key areas, with far better performance in application start-up tasks than the Rocket Lake chips. The Ryzen 7 5800X also scores notable wins in a few other tests, like the overall Microsoft Office score and the multi-threaded PCMark 10 photo editing benchmark.

Compilation, Compression, AVX Performance on Intel Core i7-11700K

The timed LLVM compilation workload finds the Core i7-11700K beating the Ryzen 7 5800X by decent margins at both stock and overclocked settings. The Ryzen 7 5800X turns the tables in the NAMD test, though, which is a highly-parallelized benchmark that serves as the gold standard for quantifying the performance of simulation code. 

Our y-cruncher tests are very interesting. As we've seen with other Rocket Lake chips, the 11700K demonstrates tremendous generational performance gains in the single-threaded AVX-512 enabled benchmark, but performance doesn't scale as well to multiple cores. The densely-packed AVX instructions press the Rocket Lake chips to the edges of their power envelope, which likely results in limited scaling. 

The Rocket Lake chips take a notable win in the Geekbench 5 cryptography, AES encryption, and SHA3 benchmarks due to architectural enhancements for these types of workloads. Zen 3 takes a big lead in the hanging benchmark due to its own hardware-based acceleration. 


MORE: CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy

MORE: All CPUs Content

Paul Alcorn
Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech

Paul Alcorn is the Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech for Tom's Hardware US. He also 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).
  • 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
  • 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


  • spongiemaster
    punkncat said:

    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.
  • 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.