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Intel Core i7-12700 Review: Excellent CPU for high-end gaming

Intel’s new Alder Lake processors have shown a significant performance improvement over their last-gen counterparts, and the new Core i7-12700 is no different. This is essentially a locked version of the Core i7-12700K CPU, but it offers almost the same level of performance as the fully unlocked part. For $350, the Intel Core i7-12700 is, without a doubt, one of the best options out there right now for high-end gaming rigs.

You can easily pair it with, say, a good-quality B660 motherboard and walk away with that package for less than $500. That’s less than what you’d spend for buying just a Ryzen 9 or an equivalent processor. The Core i7-12700 is an excellent chip and I highly recommend considering it over the 12600K or even the 12700K if you’re not interested in overclocking. Pair it with a potent CPU cooler as I did, and it’ll come close to matching the general performance of even the Core i9-12900K in many applications without breaking a sweat.


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Intel Core i7-12700 Review: Pricing & Availability

The Intel Core i7-12700 went on sale earlier this year along with a bunch of other new desktop parts from the Alder Lake family. The Intel Core i7-12700 is priced at $350, putting it slightly above the Core i5-12600K unlocked CPU. If you are going to use a discrete GPU, then we recommend picking up the Core i7-12700F variant of the chip, which is essentially the same as the 12700, except this one has no integrated GPU. Both variants of the processor are readily available on the market right now. You can also buy the Core i7-12700K if you want to overclock to get more performance out of your CPU.

Intel Core i7-12700 Review: Excellent CPU for high-end gaming

Intel Core i7-12700 Review: Specifications

Here’s a quick look at the specifications of the Intel Core i7-12700 processor:

SpecificationCore i7-12700
LithographyIntel 7
Total cores (P + E)12 (8 + 4)
P-core Frequency8
E-core Frequency4
Cache25 MB Intel Smart Cache
L2 Cache12MB
Base power65W
Turbo power180W
Max Memory Size128GB
Memory TypesUp to DDR5 4800MT/sUp to DDR4 3200MT/s
Number of memory channels2
Max Memory Bandwidth76.8 GB/s
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 770
Graphics frequency300Mhz to 1.5GHz
Execution units32
Max resolution
Number of displays supported4
PCIe Revision5.0 and 4.0
PCIe configurationsUp to 1×16+4, 2×8+4
Max number of PCIe lanes20
Price$339.00 – $349.00

As a part of the new Alder Lake family, the Intel Core i7-12700 requires a new motherboard with an LGA1700 CPU socket and Intel’s 600 series chipset. You can either pick up one of the more expensive Z690 motherboards like the Gigabyte Aorus Pro or choose to go with one of the newer B660 mainboards to trade some features for a relatively cheaper price. Either way, you’ll definitely need a new motherboard to use any of these new 12th gen Intel Core processors.

That being said, let’s now take a quick look at the test rig that I put together just in time to review this particular processor:

Intel Core i7-12700 Review: Test Rig

CPUIntel Core i7-12700
GPUNvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super FE
CPU CoolerASUS ROG Ryujin II 360 AIO
RAM16GB ADATA XPG Gammix D30 DDR4-3200Mhz
Storage500GB WD SN550 Blue NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD
PSUGigabyte GP-P750GM
MotherboardASUS TUF Gaming Z690-Plus WiFi D4

The Intel Core i7-12700 processor is bundled with one of the new Laminar stock CPU coolers. However, Intel shipped a review sample of the Core i7-12700 without the stock cooler which is why I was only able to test the performance of the CPU with an aftermarket cooler. While the general performance of the processor with the stock CPU cooler may vary slightly, I think it’ll be just fine if you choose to use the bundled cooler. The Core i7-12700 is a locked CPU which means you’ll only be running it at the stock frequency at any given point. It’s relatively easier to cool the non-K version of these processors than the fully unlocked ones.

Intel Core i7-12700 Review: Performance

While the Intel Core i7-12700 supports DDR5 memory, we’ll only be looking at the processor’s performance coupled with a DDR4 RAM kit. This, however, shouldn’t really be an issue considering the fact that the new memory standard doesn’t offer a significant improvement over the older one. You can learn more about the performance difference between the two in our DDR4 vs DDR5 RAM comparison.

But besides that, the test rig that I managed to put together for this review is quite powerful. The specifications are more in line with what most people will have in mind for a high-end gaming rig with a Core i7-12700. I managed to run a long list of tests on this particular rig, although I’ll only be producing a few important results for the sake of keeping this review short and simple. That said, I’ve added some performance numbers from our Core i5-12600K and Core i9-12900K review to give you a better understanding of where this particular CPU stands.

Starting off with the Cinebench R23 test, the Core i7-12700, as you can see, performs better than the Core i5-12600K in the multi-core test. Well, that’s not really a surprise because we’re looking at more cores and corresponding threads to do the heavy lifting for the 12700. But what’s more impressive about the Core i7-12700’s performance is that it comes close to the general performance of the Core i9-12900K, especially in the single-core test.

I noticed this behavior across the board and even inside some applications and gaming workloads. The performance number drops across the board for the Core i7-12700 when you enforce the 65W spec, but that’s understandable given how little power it consumes at 65W in comparison to these fully unlocked chips. Also, here’s a quick look at the PCMark 10 score of the Core i7-12700:

Here’s a quick look at some other benchmark numbers of the Core i7-12700 processor:

TestIntel Core i7-12700 ScoreIntel Core i9-12900K Score
7-Zip File Manager Compression(Higher is better)81,29384,790
7-Zip File Manager Decompression(Higher is better)109755136974
Corona 1.3(Lower is better)6758
CPU-Z Single-thread(Higher is better)761807
CPU-Z Multi-thread(Higher is better)884911420
PCMark 10(Higher is better)80708329

I also ran a suite of 3D workloads and benchmarks to see how the CPU was supporting the GPU with graphics. While the graphics performance will largely depend on the discrete graphics card that you’re using, it’s safe to say that the 12700 will not prove to be a bottleneck, even when paired with the most powerful GPUs out there. Even though the Core i7-12700 comes with an integrated GP, it goes without saying that it’s best paired with a discrete graphics card for the best performance. Here’s a quick look at the gaming performance of the Core i7-12700 paired with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super graphics card:

GamesAvg Frames Per Second (FPS)
Dying Light 2(1080p High settings)81
God of War PC(1080p Ultra settings)70
Forza Horizon 5(1080p Ultra settings)82
Halo Infinite(1080p Ultra)110
Apex Legends(1080p Ultra settings)144
Far Cry 6(1080p Ultra settings)88

The Core i7-12700 runs slightly hotter than the Core i5-12600K at stock settings. That being said, it’s still under acceptable limits and it’s not particularly difficult to cool this processor. My test sample with a 360mm AIO didn’t even cross the 80-degree mark, even under heavy load, so it’s safe to say that the included Laminar cooler should be able to do the trick. I’ll try to revisit this particular review if/when I get my hands on the included stock cooler and add some performance numbers to give you a better idea. Although the general performance of the processor should remain pretty much the same.

Is it worth buying?

The Intel Core i7-12700 is one of the best CPUs out there right now, and I highly recommend it. But as is the case with every other product, it’s not for everyone.

The Core i7-12700 is looking very promising, especially when you consider the performance going against the fully unlocked parts like the Core i5-12600K and even the 12900K. Sure, you can also buy the 12600K for slightly less money, but the Core i7-12700 offers better multi-core performance, and it does that while running at stock settings consuming relatively less power. It’ll be interesting to see how it compares against the non-K Core i9-12900 considering this was only a tad bit slower on average when compared with the Core i9-12900K processor.

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