Ive compared the last 5 generations of Inteli7 processor in both games and applications tohelp you find out if its time to upgrade or ifyou can save some money getting an older model! These are the differences in specs betweenthese 5 generations of Intel i7 processors.The main differences are of course the core andthread counts, cache sizes and clock speeds,though the speeds arent everythingas there are of course various IPCimprovements each generation.
The newest 12th genalso changes things up by adding efficiency cores,which is how theyve been able to getthe newest i7 to a 20 thread part. This is the system thats been usedfor all testing, so the same NZXT case,MSI Core Liquid S360 AIO and Noctua NT-H2 thermalpaste have been used for fair thermal results,however the motherboard and RAM havebeen changed as required depending onthe platform.
You can find all hardware thatsbeen tested in the description below the video. Another difference is that Intels 12th gen wasthe first to add DDR5 support, and while DDR4is also supported with some motherboards, Iveonly got a DDR5 board, so this is what Ive used.
Now the main reason why Ive only looked at 5processors is because these are whats currentlysupport with Windows 11. Sure, I probably couldhave made Windows 11 work with older platforms,but I also dont have a 7700K and olderanyway, so Ive limited the testing to thelast 5 i7s. Alright lets get straight into someapplication benchmarks followed by power draw,thermals, then afterwards well look atgaming as well as cost per frame value.
Lets start out with Cinebench R23, as its aneasy way to get a general idea of both singlethreaded and multi threaded performance. Ive gotthe newest 12th gen at the top, followed by 11th,10th, 9th and 8th gen underneath,so sorted by newest to oldest downthe bottom. Performance gets better witheach newer generation, as youd expect,however the most recent 12th gen is clearlyoffering the biggest improvement. Not only isthe multi core score with the i7-12700K 54% higherthan the 11th gen i7-11700K just below it despiteonly having a 25% higher thread count, but thesingle threaded performance is 25% higher too,the biggest gen-on-gen improvement out ofthis selection of processors in this test.
Linux kernel compilation is the only test Ivedone on Linux rather than Windows 11.
This isa multi threaded test, and as for the most partthe thread count of the i7 has improved over theyears, its no surprise to see the newer optionscompleting the task faster. 10th and 11th gen wereboth 8 core 16 thread parts, and while the jumpto 11th gen is generally considered pointless the11700K was still completing this 12% faster thanthe 10700K before it, but then the 12700K was 38%faster than the 11700K, a much betterimprovement in less than 12 months. Blender was tested with the Open Data benchmark.This is another multithreaded workload, and thelonger classroom test was only 6% faster on 9thgen compared to 8th gen, while 11th gen was 12%faster than 10th gen before it, though 10thgen was 38% faster than 9th gen because thisis when Intel added hyperthreading back to i7.Again 12th gen had the largest gen-on-gen gain,completing the test 44% faster than 11thgen which came out earlier in the same year.
The V-Ray benchmark is another heavymulti-threaded rendering workload, and 12th genwas scoring 41% higher than 11th gen just beforeit, which was clearly the biggest jump out of thelast 5 generations. Again theres a reasonableboost going from 9th to 10th gen because 10th genbrought back hyperthreading, but after that11th gen was only 14% higher than 10th gen. The Corona benchmark also uses the processor torender out a scene, but this time the 9th gen9700K was actually slower than the 8700K, whichIm guessing is due to it having 4 fewer threadsas it lacks hyperthreading.
This wasnt an issuein any of the previous tasks, but here it seemsthat 6 cores 12 threads beats 8 cores 8 threads,though only by 5 seconds. Again the differencebetween 10th and 11th gen was much smallercompared to the gains on offer with 12th gen.
Handbrake was used to convert one of my4K 60 FPS laptop review videos to 1080p.This workload also relies on more coresand threads, though were back to seeingeach gen offer an improvement here.
The12700K was able to complete the task 41%faster, quite a big difference if this isa production workload youre waiting on,and again the biggest generational improvementout of the last 5 that were testing. Adobe Premiere was tested withthe Puget Systems benchmark tool,and this tests video editing tasks likeexporting, playback and more. Once more,highest score with the 12700K at the top,which was 20% ahead of the 11700K before it.
The gap was a little smaller in DaVinciResolve, another video editing suite,where the 12700K was scoring 16% higher thanthe 11700K, but hey its still nearly a 250point increase, while 11th gen was only100 points ahead of 10th gen below it. I also usually test Adobe Photoshop, howeverWindows 11 plus Intel 12th gen has knownissues that prevented the test from running, sorather than just not include Photoshop data Ifigured the other 4 generations were stilluseful and thought this helps illustratethat 12th gen is still a new platform withsome teething issues that need to be fixed.
Now for some office tasks, this is basicallythe new PCMark and covers Microsoft Excel,Word, PowerPoint and Outlook,and the general trend as beforeis that 12th gen offers the biggest boostcompared to previous generational jumps. Ive used 7-Zip to test compressionand decompression speeds, and likemany of the other workloads tested this saw biggains with 12th gen, though not the largest,the biggest jump was from 9th to 10thgen. Prior to Alder lake, AMDs Ryzenwas typically far ahead of Intel here, but nowwith these improvements theyre closer together.
AES encryption and decryption had thebiggest improvements with 12th gen. 8th,9th and 10th gen were all essentiallythe same, until 11th gen offered a 22%boost, but then 12th gen destroys11th gen with a 53% boost.
I dont personally rely on Geekbenchscores at all, but you guys ask forit and the results are fairly similarto what we saw earlier with Cinebench. Heres how much better the 9th gen i7-9700K wascompared to the 8th gen i7-8700K just before it,so only Corona was doing better on 8th genas discussed earlier. On average the 9thgen chip was 7% faster than 8th gen, at leastout of these specific workloads.
These testsinclude a number of random single and multithreaded tests, so this average only appliesto this selection of tests. Its not fairto apply it to the processor in general. If we instead compare the 10th gen i7-10700Kagainst the 9th gen i7-9700K, well now werelooking at at larger 21% gain with 10th gen,and this is because it enabled hyperthreadingwhich was missing from 9th gen for some reason,I guess they needed an excuse to sell 10th gen.
Then after that the jump with 11thgen was about 13% ahead of 10th gen,again only when comparing these specificapplications. While generally not much of adifference, the single threaded tests towards thetop did see fairly reasonable gains with 11th gen.
12th gen is where the magic happens though.Were seeing the i7-12700K nearly 33%ahead of the i7-11700K in these same tests,the biggest difference when comparing eachgeneration to the one that came out after it. Now although 12th gen did have thebiggest generational improvement,what Ive done so far is compare each generationto the next, and its unlikely that most peopleare going to be upgrading from one i7 to the nextone every time one comes out. So lets find outhow the older i7s compare against the newer12700K and find out if its time to upgrade.
If we compare 8th gen to 12th gen in the sameapplications, well the 12700K has a massive 95%lead.
While we only saw smaller differencescomparing between each generation,things really start to add up by the time youlook back between 5 different generations. 12th gen still has a good lead over 9th gen too,with the 12700K performingaround 82% better in these tests. The 12700K was then around 51%ahead of the 10th gen i7, as 10th gen addedhyperthreading this closed the gap a bit,and as we saw just before, 12th gen isthen 33% ahead of 11th gen just before it. So weve established that the newest 12thgen i7 performs the best, but despite thisin Blender it actually wasnt drawing as muchpower from the wall when compared to 11th gen.Now it is important to note that Im measuringtotal system power draw from the wall here,and there are component changes between11th and 12th gen including motherboardand RAM.
Still though, the fact that 12thgen isnt using more power than 11th genwhile also completing this particularBlender task 44% faster really driveshome how much of an improvement Alder Lake is,or how crap Rocket Lake was, take your pick.
Now although 12th gen was using lesspower than 11th gen, the 12700K wasstill running 11 degrees Celsius warmercompared to any other i7 that came beforeit. Personally I have absolutely zeroissue running at these temps long term,but I have a fairly beefy new 360mm AIO, soif youre using an older cooler with say 9thgen and you get LGA1700 mounting hardwareyou might want to monitor temperatures. 12th gen processors are a different size andmore rectangular than those that came before it,so ideally youre going to want a coolerthat better covers more of the IHS. Alright now lets look at some games!
Im going to compare all 5 processorsin 10 different games at 2 different resolutions.
Far Cry 6 was tested with the games benchmark.Ive got the 1080p results on the bottom half ofthe graph and the 1440p results above, againwith older CPUs down the bottom moving up tonewer processors above. In this game we cansee that there are performance improvementswith newer processors, even at the higher 1440presolution, something which isnt the case ina number of games as well see. At 1080p, 9th genwas reaching 17% higher average FPS than 8th gen,10th gen was 12% ahead of 9th gen, 11th gen wasjust 4% ahead of 10th gen, while 12th gen was 9%ahead of 11th gen before it.
Even the 1% lows from12th gen are ahead of the average FPS from 8th gen5 generations prior, so again things add upmuch more if youre upgrading on longer cycles. Cyberpunk 2077 was tested in the same part ofthe game on all 5 processors. In this one theperformance difference is basically nothingwhen it comes to the higher 1440p resolution,at least in terms of average FPS, thoughthere is a little more change noted in the 1%lows from 10th gen and newer.
These 1%low differences are also noted at thelower 1080p resolution, going from 9th to10th gen boosts 1% low performance by 26%,so a much more stable experience on 10th genor newer. In terms of average FPS though,12th gen was only 15% faster than 8th gen,not a whole lot for a 5 generation jump.
Red Dead Redemption 2 was testedwith the games benchmark. At bothresolutions 10th gen was actuallyperforming better than 11th gen,granted the difference is within marginof error at the higher 1440p resolution,but still goes to show that in some games 11thgen was kind of a step back. This results in 12thgen reaching 9% higher average FPS than 11th genbefore it, 7% ahead of 10th gen, 20% of 9th gen,and 27% ahead of 8th gen. The differenceswere smaller at 1440p as were more GPU bound,but the 12700K was still able to get us a 17%higher average frame rate compared to the 8700K. Microsoft Flight Simulator was testedin the Sydney landing challenge,and also saw the 10th gen i7-10700Koutperforming the newer i7-11700K,at least in terms of average FPS, as the1% lows were ahead with the newer 11th genchip.
That weirdness aside, 12th gen wasoffering the best result, and at 1080p was30% ahead of 8th gen, 18% ahead of 9th gen, 9%ahead of 10th gen and 11% ahead of 11th gen. Watch Dogs Legion was tested with thegames benchmark. Similar to what we sawin Cyberpunk earlier, the 1% lows get some niceimprovements once we go from 9th to 10th gen,so presumably this game and othersmay benefit from more than 8 threads.At least 11th gen was actually doingbetter than 10th gen before it this time,and again the newest 12700K wasdoing the best as youd expect.
Control is a GPU heavy game, which is likely whywere seeing some of the smallest differences inthis game out of all 10 titles tested.
Bestcase, the 12th gen processor was only able tooffer a 5% higher average frame rate comparedto 8th gen at the lower 1080p resolution,so just goes to show that in some games likethis a CPU upgrade isnt really going to help,you could definitely save moneywith a cheaper older generation. Now lets get into the weirder results. RainbowSix Siege was tested with the games benchmark,and while everything looks about how youdexpect at 1080p, at 1440p results were abit less consistent. 10th gen was actuallygiving me the highest average frame rate,and sure its only a small difference, but stillit helps illustrate that at higher resolutions youdefinitely dont need the latest and greatest.The differences were quite large at 1080p,the 12700K was reaching a 50% higher averageframe rate compared to the 8700K here,or a much higher 122% improvement inthe 1% lows, so for competitive gameslike this at lower resolutions a CPUupgrade might actually make more sense.
Assassins Creed Valhalla was also tested withthe games benchmark, and the results werejust all over the place here. The 8th and 9thgen chips were actually performing the best atboth resolutions, at least in terms of averageframe rates, and then generally things declinedat higher thread counts, so perhaps this is justone that benefits from fewer threads or something. F1 2021 was also a bit weird. The1080p results look relatively normal,but then 1440p is a mixed bag, with again8th gen and 9th gen coming out ahead of thenewer processors when it came to averageframe rate. Its not a big difference,but it was consistently measurable as I took theaverages of 5 test runs for each of these results.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider was againtested with the games benchmark,and again 1080p was looking fine, progressivelyimproving with newer CPUs as youd expect,but once more the 1440p results were a bit ofa mess with 9th gen actually doing the best.Again not exactly sure why, perhaps some gamesjust work better with fewer available threads,I know weve seen this in the past and somepeople actually disable hyperthreading forsome games to get a speed boost, but thats notsomething Ive personally experimented with.
Here are the average frame rates for all 5processors at both 1080p and 1440p resolutions.At 1080p we can see that on average, theresan improvement stepping up to each generation,though the changes between 10th and 11th gen weremuch smaller compared to the rest. The differencesare then smaller at the higher 1440p resolution,which is to be expected as were more GPU boundhere, but the newer i7s are still able to offera boost, although the differences between 9th,10th and 11th gen are like 1 frame onaverage, so for 1440p gaming if youvealready got a 9th gen 9700K system theresnot much point upgrading as the 12700Kis only 3% faster, but for 1080p there wouldbe a larger 17% performance improvement.
Heres how things look in terms of value oncewe factor in current prices at Newegg.
Rightnow the oldest 8th gen i7-8700K is actuallythe worst value, because its the second mostexpensive at $400 USD. This is generally thecase with older CPUs if youre buying them new,when theyre not made anymore stockbecomes more limited, so price goes up,though there is also the second hand market.Anyway 8th gen aside, 12th gen seems to bequite a bit worse value compared to 9th, 10th and11th gen options as its about $80 more expensive,and this is only taking into account CPUprices. If we were to also consider the newZ690 motherboards and DDR5 RAM I tested with,then 12th gen would end up as even worse value,so yeah it does perform best, butyouve got to pay more to get it.
The value is a bit different if we instead useone of the applications tested earlier. Thisgraph shows that the 12th gen i7 was offering thebest value in terms of Cinebench R23 performanceboth in single core and multi core, sobasically for more productivity styleworkloads compared to gaming there is morevalue to be had with the newer generation,but again this is only factoring CPUcost rather than entire platform cost.
So theres definitely less of a differencewhen it comes to gaming when comparing Intelslast 5 i7 processors, at least compared to theproductivity workloads that we looked at earlier.In games CPU choice matters far lessat higher resolutions like 1440pand if youre going up to 4K then it would mattereven less. But at 1080p depending on the game wecould see some pretty big improvements going upto a newer version.
From the gaming data that Ivecollected if youre already on 10th or 11th genthen its probably not really worth upgrading to12th gen just for the gaming improvement. Butif youre also after some productivity booststhen 12th gen could be worthwhile. If you are justgaming with either 8th or 9th gen, well it couldbe worth upgrading to 12th gen as in some casesthere were some pretty big gains even in gaming. At the end of the day though, even ifyou do have one of these older i7s itdepends on how your systems actuallyrunning.
If youre satisfied with theperformance coming out of it then theresno need to upgrade.
You only really need toupgrade if your system is starting to slowdown and not perform how you want it to,so if thats the case for you, well now youve gotthe data to see which i7 you should upgrade to. Now of course Intel is by no means the onlyCPU maker in town, check out this video nextif you want to see how the i7-12700Kcompares against AMDs Ryzen 9 5900X,and make sure youre subscribed for when AMDrefresh their processors with their new V-Cache.Ill be comparing those against Intelin early 2022 once theyre available!.