Another year, another CPU launch. This turn is for Intel to impress us and hopefully deliver great chips to the consumers. Intel has been stuck on a 14 nanometer process for a very long time and this is looking to be the last generation before they switch.
Question is - are they any good? The short answer is meh, but I actually think that may be a good thing for Intel. Stick around as we delve deeper.
So we finally got the new 11th Gen Intel CPU, code named Rocket lake. It is based on the Cypress Cove microarchitecture which in itself is a variant of Sunny Cove that was used in the Ice Lake mobile processors. Rocket lake is using LGA 1200 socket and this generation has a cut down maximum core count of 8 in comparison to 10 core 10th gen models.
The rest of the details on paper seem very similar: we have slight differences in base and turbo frequencies on the i5 and slightly lower base frequency on the i9. The most notable difference is memory speed increase as well as the new integrated graphics.
On top of all of this, Intel now is matching AMD with 20 PCIE Gen 4 lanes. This allows you to use a PCIE Gen 4 NVME drive and PCIE Gen 4 GPU without ever coming close to bottlenecking the lanes.
On the surface it does not look particularly different from last gen, but Intel claims up to 19% improvement on IPC. Will this be enough to dethrone AMD and compete on the high end?
In this video we are comparing the absolute highest performing chips from both manufacturers (Intel i9 11900K and Ryzen 9 5950X) as well as a more budget 6 core versions (Intel i5 11600K and Ryzen 5 5600X). To reduce any possible bottlenecks we are pairing these systems with RTX 3090. Also, in order to keep things transparent - we have disabled multicore enhancement and enabled Intel adaptive boost.
See the test bench information down below.
A quick note for those who are planning to buy these new Intel processors - for some reason right now they are really finicky with certain RAM sticks and performance seems to shift drastically. We would recommend aiming for a 3200MHz kit with fastest possible timings like Cl14 if you can afford it.
Jumping into gaming, first we have CS:GO and at 1080p there is a clear lead from both AMD chips, leaving Intel way behind. This unfortunately for Intel is repeated again at 1440p and in 4K, but that is expected as workload simply shifts to GPU.
In Doom Eternal we see a different story. Here Intel 11900K essentially matches Ryzen 5 5600X in performance. And the other two chips are lagging behind by a margin.
In Ghost Recon Breakpoint we see both Intel chips compete with Ryzen 5 5600X. It is funny to see Ryzen 9 5950X trailing behind even with its double the amount of cores.
In Horizon Zero Dawn we see almost perfectly matching performance between AMD and Intel chip pairs. They are within the margin of error of each other. When looking closer at the results, we found that while running both of the high end chips they are actually fast enough to put RTX3090 in a bottleneck.
This is a great example demonstrating why in CPU focused comparisons it is best to have 1080p or lower settings as results like these are inconclusive and it is not clear which CPU actually performs better.
The next game is Shadow of the Tomb Raider and here we have matching performance between Ryzen 5 and Intel i9 on average FPS but Intel has a considerable lead on 1 percentiles.
And last but not least is Total War Three Kingdoms.Here we yet again see bottleneck on the RTX3090 while at 1080. It is not surprising as this is a very GPU demanding title. Even so - kudos to all of these chips performing so well and choking this beast of a graphics card.
From all of the above mentioned results, it is quite clear that both of these Intel processors hold their own in gaming against AMD and even in extreme high-end they are trading blows. I suspect this is what Intel was aiming for - get as much as possible out of these chips to not be worse than AMD, essentially being just good enough for gamers.
Let’s see how it stacks up in more general productivity tasks, starting with good old Blender. Here in the 6 core battle, Intel wins in the shorter BMW test by a few seconds and AMD chip wins in the longer Classroom render. When we look at the high-end, well here we have half the cores so it is not even a race.
Next is 7Zip compression and decompression benchmark and we see a very similar story. AMD CPUs simply wreck Intel in these types of workloads.
In Cinebench R20 we see i5 losing out to the Ryzen 5 by a small margin, and i9 beating out Ryzen 9 on single core score, but then getting crushed on multi core score due to AMD having double the cores.
When we delve deeper into it, we find something interesting. First of all in the multicore test - Intel CPUs run at a lot higher frequency, yet in i5 example it still finishes the task at roughly the same time as Ryzen 5. This indicates the IPC difference between the two architectures is considerable.
Take a note at i9 boosting to an average of 4.9 GHz across all cores. When we check out temperatures - that boost comes through very clearly as seen on the generated heat. It is about 350MHz faster than i5 and about 20 degrees Celsius warmer. At 20 seconds’ mark it drops the boost and actually clocks down to reduce the heat. Just a reminder - all of these tests were carried out on the same 240mm liquid all-in-one cooler.
To throw some extra gasoline in the fire - the amount of power this CPU is drawing is mind blowing. While boosting it has reached 248W which is basically double of its rated TDP. It just comes to show that Intel had to really squeeze performance out of this one.
With all of this said, I actually think Intel has done exactly what was required - they have closed the gap enough to stay competitive and in gaming they are trading blows. In the normal market all they need to do is be also price competitive, but right now the world is not normal and supply is outweighed by demand. Considering Intel could not even keep their own pre-released chips under a lock and key, it seems they have plenty of stock to go around. Because of this, if you are a gamer looking for a new CPU - Intel is still a great choice. Just make sure to have a beasty cooler and power supply.
Test Bench Information:
CPU Ryzen 9 5950X:
Ryzen 5 5600X
Intel i9 11900K
Intel i5 11600K
AMD ASUS TUF Gaming B550M Plus Wi-Fi
Intel Z590 ROG MAXIMUS XIII HERO
Palit GeForce RTX 3090 GamingPro OC
Fractal Design 240mm Celsius+
Corsair VENGEANCE® RGB PRO 3600MHz C18 (8x2)
Sabrent 1TB Rocket Q4
Fractal Design ION 650W
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