Today, Intel finally took the wraps off all the details about its upcoming 11th-gen Rocket Lake processors. While the announcement wasn’t a surprise—so much information is out there in the wild already, and some consumers and reviewers have even gotten their hands on a chip or two well before the official launch date—there’s still some fresh information. I would actually argue we now know the most important information: clock speeds, SKUs, prices, performance, and other extra features that Intel didn’t include in its previous generation of desktop processors.
Let’s start with what probably will always be the elephant in the room: Yes, Intel’s 11th-gen processors are on a 14nm mode. But even without moving to a new transistor node, Intel says it was still able to increase gen-to-gen performance with a few key architectural changes. The Rocket Lake CPUs are based on Intel’s Cypress Cove architecture, which consists of Ice Lake’s 10nm node ported back to 14nm, combined with Tiger Lake graphics. Basically, Intel’s 11th-gen desktop CPUs have some features of its 11th-gen mobile processors, which makes it the first time the company has re-done its desktop architecture in about five years.
Porting the 10nm node back to a 14nm node also meant the chipmaker could only fit a total of 8 cores and 16 threads onto its 11th-gen CPUs, but the new architecture means an increase in how many instructions are completely executed in a clock cycle. Intel said it was able to increase instructions per cycle by 19%, but using the new architecture also means a 50% boost in integrated graphics performance.
When it comes to gaming, that translates to about an 8-14% frames per second boost when comparing the new Core i9-11900K to the Core i9-10900K, and a 7-16% fps gain from the Core i5-10600K to the Core i5-11600K. Intel said its flagship i9-11900K has about a 3-11% lead over AMD’s Ryzen 5900X in some games.
Intel also boasts increased processing times in various creative tasks, like photo tagging, video creation, and other productivity tasks with Microsoft Office programs. Compared to its 10th-gen processors, Intel said its 11th-gen Core i9 is up to 88% faster in video creation workflows, and 35% faster compared to AMD’s Ryzen 9 5900X. That’s not AMD’s top Ryzen 5000 processor, however, so it’ll be interesting to see how the new Core i9-11900K compares to the Ryzen 9 5950X.
Intel made some changes to its enthusiast-level processors, but clock speeds aren’t one of them: 5.3 GHz is still the highest clock speed you can get out of any of the processors, and the top-of-the-line Core i9-11900K and Core i9-11900KF still need 125W of power. All K-processors are unlocked, and all F-processors come without Intel UHD 750 integrated graphics.
Like we mentioned previously, Intel ditched its 10-core, 20-thread Core i9s for a simpler 8 cores and 16 threads, but the Core i9s now support both DDR4-2933 and DDR4-3200 RAM. But the other trade-off is these CPUs’ starting prices are more expensive than the previous generation—more than $500 for the i9-11900K compared to the $488 i9-10900K.
- i9-11900K—up to 3.5 GHz base / 5.3 GHz boost ($539)
- i9-11900KF—up to 3.5 GHz base / 5.3 GHz boost ($513)
- i9-11900—up to 2.5 GHz base / 5.2 GHz boost ($439)
- i9-11900F—up to 3.5 GHz base / 5.2 GHz boost ($422)
- i9-1900T—up to 1.5 GHz base / 4.9 GHz boost ($439)
It’s a similar story with Intel’s high-end Core-i7 processors. Prices start a little higher than the previous generation, K processors are unlocked, and F processors are sans integrated graphics. RAM support is the same, but these CPUs can only get up to a 5.0 GHz boost clock compared to the i7-10700K’s 5.1 GHz. Top-end i7s also take 125W of power. All are 8-core, 16-thread.
- i7-11700K—up to 3.6 GHz base / 5.0 GHz boost ($399)
- i7-11700KF—up to 3.6 GHz base / 5.0 GHz boost ($374)
- i7-11700—up to 2.5 GHz base / 4.9 GHz boost ($323)
- i7-11700F—up to 2.5 GHz base / 4.9 GHz boost ($298)
- i7-11700T—up to 1.4 GHz base / 4.6 GHz boost ($323)
The Core i5s are arguably the most “bang for your buck” processors. They’re mid-tier, starting prices haven’t changed from the previous generation, and Intel was able to increase the boost clock just a tad. Intel is also starting out with more Core i5 configurations than last year, nine compared to five, and all are 6-core/12-thread with a max thermal design power of 125W for the top-end i5-11600K and i5-11600KF. They all also support both DDR4-2933 and DDR4-3200 RAM.
- i5-11600K—up to 3.9 GHz base / 4.9 GHz boost ($262)
- i5-11600KF—up to 3.9 GHz base / 4.9 GHz boost ($237)
- i5-11600—up to 2.8 GHz base / 4.8 GHz boost ($213)
- i5-11600T—up to 1.7 GHz base / 4.1 GHz boost ($213)
- i5-11500—up to 2.7 GHz base / 4.6 GHz boost ($192)
- i5-11500T—up to 1.5 GHz base / 3.9 GHz boost ($192)
- i5-11400—up to 2.6 GHz base / 4.4 GHz boost ($182)
- i5-11400F—up to 2.7 GHz base / 4.4 GHz boost ($157)
- i5-11400T—up to 1.3 GHz base / 3.7 GHz boost ($182)
Intel is not including a Core i3 line-up in its 11th-gen lineup. Instead, the chipmaker has opted to refresh its 10th-gen line, adding six new options. All but one, the Core i3-10105F, will come with integrated UHD 630 graphics, and a nearly all-refreshed 10th-gen Core i3 has slightly higher clock speeds than its original counterparts that were released last year, with Turbo Boost Technology enabled. All are 4-core/8-threads, 65W TDP (except for the i3-10105T, which is 35W), support dual channel DDR4-2666 RAM, and all are locked so no overclocking.
- i3-10325—up to 3.9 GHz base / 4.7 GHz boost ($154)
- i3-10305—up to 3.8 GHz base / 4.5 GHz boost ($143)
- i3-10305T—up to 3.0 GHz base / 4.0 GHz boost ($143)
- i3-10105—up to 3.7 GHz base / 4.4 GHz boost ($122)
- i3-10105F—up to 3.9 GHz base / 4.4 GHz boost ($97)
- i3-10105T—up to 3.0 GHz base / 3.9 GHz boost ($122)
One of the most requested features for Intel’s H and B-series motherboard is memory overclocking. In the past, just Z-series Intel motherboards had XMP (the fancy term for memory overclocking) profiles pre-loaded in the BIOS. The Z490 and Z590, for instance, let you overlock your RAM with a few simple clicks—and now Intel’s H570 and B560 chipsets will let you do the same. All 500-series chipsets are backwards compatible with 10th-gen processors, too.
Users also won’t need to enter the BIOS anymore to overclock their RAM, either. Intel has enabled that feature in its Extreme Tuning Utility program, so anyone can change the speed of their RAM from their desktop with a push of a button. Seems like a good option for anyone who doesn’t necessarily want to tinker in the BIOS, but would want the benefit of slightly faster RAM. This will only work with 500-series motherboards though.
Lastly, Intel’s 11th-gen CPUs finally get the PCIe 4.0 treatment. If you have a 400-series motherboard, it’s likely that is already PCIe 4.0 compatible; Intel previously had an issue getting the new standard to work chip-side, but if you’ve been waiting to throw down on a new PCIe 4.0 SSD, now might be a good time to start shopping around.
PCIe 4.0 support means that Intel is finally on the same standard as AMD—not to mention all 11th-gen processors support Resizable BAR, so once Nvidia rolls out the feature to all of its RTX 30-series cards, any Intel/Nvidia combo will be able to compete with AMD’s Smart Access Memory. Both features can help boost frame rates in games, sometimes up to 30 frames a second, as we saw previously when we tested AMD’s RX 6800 XT and RX 6800 graphics cards.
Intel will launch its entire lineup of 11th-gen desktop processors on March 30.