It hasn’t been a good year — or years — for Intel. The company has been struggling to move off its aging 14 nanometre manufacturing process for at least half a decade, giving AMD some enormous PR and benchmarking wins over the last year. Intel has tried to keep up by stretching the absolute limits of its silicon, and today, we’ve got a better look at just how far that limit can be stretched.
The main thing with Intel’s 11th generation is that the company is still stuck on their aging 14nm process, putting Intel’s engineers in all sorts of strife. The latest gen was supposed to be made on Intel’s 10nm node, but that wasn’t functionally possible, so Intel had to backport the core design onto 14nm to make it all work.
Obviously, you can’t go backwards without making some sacrifices. The cost here is in core counts: Intel’s best 11th-gen chips cap out at 8 cores and 16 threads, less than what the i9-10900k was offering last year. Intel argues that the improved core architecture is worth it, however, with high single digit to middle-double digit improvements in some games.
We’ll get into that, but before that, here’s what you can expect from Intel’s “Rocket Lake” lineup. There’s a lot of chips in here, and not all of them are actually Rocket Lake chips (like the i3 series).
The biggest advantage might have here is simply availability. Stock of the Ryzen 5000 CPUs, as good as they are, have been super hard to come by. And if the price is right, then what else can you do?
But it’s hard to overlook that the whole thing is a little weird. For one, some European and North American retailers have already begun selling Intel’s Rocket Lake chips direct to consumers. The motherboards have been out for even longer — they’ve been in Australia for at least a month.
So it’s a bit weird that we don’t have Australian pricing, and the CPUs aren’t supposed to launch until March 30, but there’s already a string of international benchmarks out there. Anandtech actually had a review out almost a full fortnight ago, and there’s benchmark videos available online if you look around. I’d wait a couple of weeks for proper figures, only because everyone will then have access to the final release BIOS, and those things always have the potential to impact final performance. (At least one outlet reckons the difference in gaming is a few percent, and even less in production workloads.)
Either way, we’ll know in a couple of weeks what value Rocket Lake has for the Australian market. There’s a very good chance that the older 10th gen Intel CPUs will become a lot more competitive locally. The i7-10700KF is already going for $399, which is a good price given that the Ryzen 7 3700X is still selling for close to $500 at a lot of retailers.