Computing

Ryzen 5 7600X vs. Intel Core i5-12600K

Ever since its release in 2021, the Core i5-12600K has established itself as one of the top CPUs available. With its attractive midrange price and impressive performance, it easily surpassed AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X, which now sells for nearly $100 less due to its lower performance. However, AMD’s Ryzen 7000 series is on the horizon, and the upcoming Ryzen 5 7600X could potentially challenge the i5-12600K in a similar fashion.

Pricing and Availability

An Intel Alder Lake Core i5-12600K CPU and its packaging.
Image credit: Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The Core i5-12600K was launched in 2021 and is currently available for around $280. If you opt for the KF version without integrated graphics, you can get it for $270. On the other hand, the Ryzen 5 7600X is scheduled for release on September 27 with a price tag of $299, just slightly higher than Intel’s midrange champion from the previous year.

There are a couple of factors that might work in favor of the 12600K. Firstly, it’s often challenging to find new PC components right after launch, and although AMD’s CEO has assured this won’t be the case with Zen 4 CPUs like the Ryzen 7000, there’s still a possibility of limited availability. Secondly, the price of the 12600K could potentially drop further. Unlike other Intel CPUs, which have seen significant price reductions since their launch, the 12600K has remained relatively stable at $299. Only time will tell, but for now, the 12600K enjoys an advantage in terms of availability and pricing due to its longer presence in the market.

Specs

Intel Alder Lake pin layout.
Image credit: Used with permission by copyright holder

Comparing specifications has become increasingly challenging as AMD and Intel pursue different paths to enhance CPU performance, resulting in distinct designs. Without third-party benchmarks, these specifications provide us with some insight, albeit limited.

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The 7600X has four fewer cores than the 12600K, but there’s a catch. Four of the 12600K’s cores are efficiency cores, designed for power efficiency rather than top performance. In contrast, the 7600X has six cores that are more comparable to the 12600K’s performance cores. In this sense, the two CPUs are more similar than initially perceived.

While the 7600X boasts advantages in clock speed and cache, those factors alone are insufficient for making accurate performance judgments. CPU design involves more than just clock speed and cache. Many CPUs with lower frequencies and less cache still deliver exceptional speed.

One potentially relevant specification is power consumption. However, it’s important to note that Intel and AMD measure power differently. Intel CPUs usually consume power equal to their Thermal Design Power (TDP), whereas AMD CPUs tend to consume about 30% more. Consequently, the 7600X is expected to consume a few watts less than the 12600K, but the difference is unlikely to be significant.

Performance

An AMD Ryzen 7000 processor slotted into a motherboard.
Image credit: Used with permission by copyright holder

As the 7600X has not been released yet, there are no independent benchmarks available. AMD showcased the performance of Ryzen 7000 during its reveal event, highlighting the 7600X as 5% faster in gaming compared to Intel’s flagship Core i9-12900K. The tests involved popular AAA titles such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Rainbow Six Siege, ensuring a fair comparison rather than cherry-picking games that favor Ryzen. If this holds true, it suggests that the 7600X is at least 5% faster in games than the 12600K.

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While AMD did not provide other benchmarks, they did mention that the Ryzen 9 7950X would offer 29% higher single-threaded and 44% higher multithreaded performance than the Ryzen 9 5950X. Assuming a similar uplift in single-threaded performance for the 7600X compared to the 5600X, it’s reasonable to expect the 7600X to be about 10% faster than the 12600K.

Regarding multithreaded performance, expecting a 44% improvement is unrealistic. The 7950X has a significantly higher power limit than the 5950X, whereas the 7600X’s increased power consumption compared to the 5600X is less impactful due to its six cores. A realistic expectation would be a 20% to 30% improvement in multithreaded performance, potentially placing the 7600X 10% to 20% ahead of the 12600K in most multithreaded benchmarks. However, this is purely speculative at this point.

While the 7600X will likely outperform the 12600K in most benchmarks, the margin may not be significant since Intel’s 12th-generation CPUs were already quite fast upon their release in 2021.

Features

Ryzen 5 7600X vs. Intel Core i5-12600K
Image credit: Used with permission by copyright holder

AMD is catching up to Intel in terms of features by introducing support for PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 memory with Ryzen 7000. Technically, AMD holds an advantage here, but it might not necessarily make the 7600X significantly better than the 12600K.

Current-gen Intel LGA1700 Alder Lake motherboards support PCIe 5.0, but only for NVMe solid-state drives (SSDs) and not graphics cards. In contrast, all AM5 motherboards support PCIe 5.0 NVMe drives, and higher-end models will even include support for PCIe 5.0 GPUs. However, this advantage isn’t particularly relevant for midrange CPUs. If you’re building a midrange PC, investing in PCIe 5.0 support for the GPU might not be cost-effective, especially considering the current unavailability of PCIe 5 GPUs and the uncertain impact on gaming performance.

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AM5 motherboards support faster 5,200MHz DDR5 RAM compared to the 4,800MHz supported by LGA1700. Nonetheless, this advantage is not particularly crucial since most RAM kits include an XMP profile that automatically overclocks the RAM, irrespective of the officially supported frequency. In fact, for a midrange PC, the 12600K might be more appealing since it supports slightly slower but much cheaper DDR4 RAM compared to DDR5.

Overall, the difference in features between the 7600X and the 12600K is negligible. While AM5 is arguable more modern, the cutting-edge features it offers tend to be too expensive for midrange PC builders who prioritize budget considerations. This makes both CPUs equally suitable for midrange desktops.

Wait and See

While the Ryzen 7600X is likely to be the faster CPU in this head-to-head comparison, we can’t be certain of the extent until the new AMD chip undergoes independent testing. Rest assured, once available, we will thoroughly benchmark the 7600X and promptly share the results when the embargo lifts.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in staying updated with the latest news on Ryzen 7000, keep an eye on our guide to everything Zen 4.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Intel Core i5 vs. i7: Which CPU is right for you in 2023?
  • After 15 years, Intel may be killing the Core i5 and Core i7
  • AMD Ryzen 5 7600X vs. Ryzen 5 7600: Is cheaper better?
  • CPU confusion made buying a laptop in 2022 a nightmare
  • Head-to-head: Intel Core i7-12700H vs. AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS

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