What to look out for before buying Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs

Intel's 12th Gen Alder Lake i9 and i5 CPUs (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA)
Intel's 12th Gen Alder Lake i9 and i5 CPUs (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA)

Well, the cat is out of the bag. Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake processors are official and will be releasing on 4 November.

The 12th Gen CPUs boast massive improvements over the Intel 11th Gen CPUs, but we won’t know exactly how much until we test it and observe some real-world benchmarks. Yahoo Gaming SEA received the Core i9-12900K and the Core i5-12600K from Intel for review, so do keep an eye out for more content on them.

What we do know, even before testing, is that there is more to upgrading to Intel's latest processors than just buying a new CPU.

Alder Lake not only requires a new motherboard, it also has a different socket and uses DDR5 memory instead of DDR4. It also has a few quirks not found in conventional consumer CPUs until now, so we are here to help you with things that you will need to look out for before pulling the trigger to buy them.

1. You WILL NEED a Z690 motherboard

It is as simple as that. You will need to purchase a new Z690 motherboard (or one of its variants that support the Intel 12th Gen CPUs, like the B660) if you are planning to purchase an Intel 12th Gen CPU.

Previous versions of Intel motherboards will not be able to take this chip due to the socket difference and also the need for DDR5 memory to function. The newest Z690 chipset also boasts PCIe 5.0 support for futureproofing.

2. You will NEED a new bracket for your CPU cooler

With the new CPU size and bracket, you will also need a compatible LGA 1700 bracket for your CPU cooler.

On the surface, it may look like the mounting holes for the coolers are in the same position as Intel’s previous generation of CPUs, but there is a difference in mounting pressure and height for the newer 12th Gen CPUs.

You will either need to find and purchase a compatible bracket with screws for your cooler (like how Corsair does it for its Elite line of AIOs), or buy an entirely new cooler that has the LGA 1700 mounting tools.

3. Watch out for DDR4 compatibility

Thinking of reusing the DDR4 memory that you already have? You may have to purchase a Z690 motherboard that actually supports DDR4.

Because of the difference in pins and functions on DDR5 memory modules, you cannot just shove your old DDR4 into your new system. You will need to look for a motherboard that explicitly states it supports DDR4 memory, or else you will need to purchase new DDR5 ram to go with your CPU.

4. You may need to use Windows 11 to get the most out of Intel’s 12th Gen

On one slide during Intel’s presentation to the media on the CPUs, we noticed that they were heavily promoting “optimised performance” on Windows 11.

At this point, we only have leaked benchmarks and Intel’s promotional materials to go by (since we can’t exactly tell you how it performs until the embargo for that lifts), but if this rings true, you will need to be using Windows 11 to get the most performance out of your new Intel CPU.

Leaked benchmarks have stated that it performs 10-15 per cent worse on Windows 10, since Windows 10 does not have the capability to use the hybrid cores of the 12th Gen CPUs to its fullest potential.

This is something that you may want to take note of as well if you are planning to upgrade, because the jump from Windows 10 to Windows 11 will take some time for you to get used to.

All in all, it is going to be a costly upgrade if you are set on buying the new CPUs. You will need a new motherboard, potentially a new CPU cooler and potentially new DDR5 ram.

As with all new releases, it's likely that the prices for something like DDR5 will include an “early adopter tax” as well, so do factor in these things when planning to purchase these CPUs.

At least we know that the upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 is “free”, if you already have an existing Windows 10 license.

Dominic loves tech and games. When he is not busy being headshotted in VALORANT or watercooling anything he sees, he does some pro wrestling.

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