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

Down With TDP 

Intel's Thermal Design Point (TDP) has never been meant to be a one-to-one measure of power consumption (it is a measure of the cooler's capacity to dissipate heat energy), but it has served as a 'good enough' proxy. However, when combined with Intel's boost tech and different power specs, it has become a confusing and often misleading array of metrics, some of which Intel hasn't previously shared on its specification sheets.

As such, Intel is changing its nomenclature and adding a new parameter to its spec sheet. It is also changing the default boost duration setting.

Intel Alder Lake

(Image credit: Intel)

Intel has long listed the TDP of a processor as its guaranteed rating at base frequencies, also known as PL1. However, the chip can also opportunistically (meaning this isn't guaranteed) boost to higher frequencies and thus consume far more power, but only if it is safely within certain power, temperature, and current limits. This is called the PL2 power state, and Intel hasn't included this metric on its standard spec sheets.

All of that changes now, as Intel has redefined its power nomenclature to have a 'Processor Boost Power' (PBP) value representing the guaranteed base performance level (PL1). This replaces TDP. 

In addition, Intel will also now list a 'Maximum Turbo Power' (MTP) specification that quantifies the power consumption during Turbo Boost, also known as PL2. That means you'll no longer see a TDP rating on the spec sheet. Instead, there will be two values that more accurately reflect both sides of the equation.

Intel's processors have a 'Tau Duration' setting that dictates how long the processor can stay in the boosted MTP state (PL2) before it drops back down to the PBP state (PL1 – base power). Intel has specified this Tau duration as 58 seconds for Rocket Lake chips, but this is only a guideline. Motherboard vendors are free to alter this value to any length of time if their motherboard can handle the power delivery required to sustain the boost. As shown in the graphic above, most motherboard vendors change the Tau setting to infinite to stay within boost for an infinite amount of time.

Given that Intel's Tau settings are only recommendations, the chip remains inside of the warranty regardless of boost duration. As an infinite Taue is a common practice on nearly every enthusiast motherboard, Intel will now set the Tau to a default of 'infinite' for all of its K-series (overclockable) models but retain the same 58-second duration for its locked chips.

This means that the Core i9-12900K's MTP (PL2) is now the same as its PBP (PL1). In other words, the chip will always operate at 241W.

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