Tech

Intel Core i5-12400, future mid-range champion?

If Intel launched its first Alder Lake processors on the market a few weeks ago, the range currently only consists of six high-end models: the Core i5-12600K, Core i7-12700K and Core i9-12900K, with their “KF” variants without integrated graphics. Fortunately, the manufacturer plans to expand its portfolio soon with the arrival of new, more affordable entry-level mid-range models. Among these, the Core i5-12400 is particularly expected.

MSI MAG Z690 Edge – Credit: Igor’s Lab

Introduction

In order to get a first glimpse of the in-game performance that can be expected from this processor against other Alder Lake CPUs already available, but also against AMD Ryzen, our colleague Igor Wallossek (from the Igor’s Lab site) used a Core i5-12600K for emulate the characteristics of the future Core i5-12400. The two models indeed display technical specifications sufficiently close so that the “transformation” of a Core i5-12600K into a Core i5-12400 is (almost) possible: the first has 6 P-Cores and 4 E-Cores where the second has 6-Pcores and no E-Cores. As a result, the E-Cores were simply disabled in the BIOS, the result being an Alder Lake processor relying solely on its P-Cores. The Alder Lake architecture, with its novelties and improvements, remains the same apart from the hybrid aspect which disappears completely from the equation.

The frequencies and consumption limits of the Core i5-12600K have also been adapted in order to “copy” those of the Core i5-12400, i.e. a base frequency of 2.5 GHz (compared to 3.7 GHz on the Core i5-12600K ), a Turbo peaking at 4.4 GHz (4 GHz on all cores) and PL1 and MTP limits of 65 watts and 117 watts respectively. In the end, we get a “nickname” Core i5-12400, similar to the one we will be able to find on the market in a few weeks, with one difference: the amount of cache memory. If the L1 and L2 caches are identical between the two models, i.e. 48 KB of L1 cache for data, 32 KB of L1 cache for instructions and 1.25 MB of L2 cache per P-Core, the amount of cache memory of level 3 reaches 20MB on the Core i5-12600K while the i5-12400 only has 18MB. In practice, the difference is small enough that the performance gap between our emulated Core i5-12400 and a real one. model is negligible.

Test platforms

Unable to be able to perform the tests on a platform based on a mid-range chipset, not yet available on the market, the choice fell on an MSI MAG Z690 Edge motherboard. This accepts DDR4 memory, which remains consistent with the idea of ​​a mid-range configuration, DDR5 memory being for the moment reserved for the high-end given its still very high price. The rest of the platform consists of 1 x 16 GB of DDR4-4000 memory from Corsair, configured in DDR4-3733, a Radeon RX 6900XT Gaming X OC from MSI as well, an MSI Spatium M480 SSD of 2 TB, a second Corsair MP660 Pro XT 2 TB SSD and a Be Quiet power supply! Power Pro 12 of 1200 watts. The cooling is entrusted to a water-cooling system, all placed on a Coolermaster bench table.

The Core i5-12600K, i7-12700K and i9-12900KF were tested on an MSI MEG Z690 motherboard accompanied by 2 x 16 GB of Crosair Dominator DDR5-5200 memory. Finally, the Ryzen 5 5600X, Ryzen 7 5800X, Ryzen 9 5900X and 5950X were installed on an MSI MEG X570 Godlike motherboard with 2 x 16 GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR4-4000 memory configured as DDR4-3800, with a 1: 1 ratio. The rest of the configuration (SSD, power supply, test bench, etc.) remains the same.

The test protocol

Testing was performed using updated Windows 11 Pro, with the most recent graphics drivers available. A total of 10 games make up our test panel to make it as representative as possible of what we find on the market. Two of them use the Vulkan API (Ghost Recon Breakpoint and Wolfenstein: Youngblood), the others are based on DirectX 12 (Anno 1800, Borderlands 3, Control, Far Cry 6, Horizon Zero Dawn, Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Watch Dogs Legion). The objective being to measure processor performance and no graphics card, all games have been tested at 720p, 1080p (Full HD) and 1440p (QHD). The graphics settings of the various titles have been set to the maximum, with the exception of DXR which we have disabled on all games, except on Metro Exodus Enhanced Editio which benefits from a hybrid rendering.

What performance in game in 720p?

intel core i5 12400 720p
Credit: Galaxie Media
intel core i5 12400 720p
Credit: Galaxie Media

The lower operating frequencies, the absence of “Efficient” cores and the lower TDP than on the Core i5-12600K unsurprisingly penalize the Core i5-12400, which is then slightly behind the Ryzen 5 5600X and its Zen architecture 3. However, it is still a little faster than the Core i7-11700K of the previous range, and a fortiori than the Core i5-11600K. On average, the difference between the latter and the Core i5-12400 reaches almost 10% in 720p!

intel core i5 12400 720p
Credit: Galaxie Media

If we focus on minimum FPS, the Core i5-12400 does as well as AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X, and much better than the Core i7-11700K and Core i5-11600K of the previous generation, with an increase of + 3% and + 11% respectively. It is only about 5% behind a Core i9-11900K, a processor that is not yet in the same market segment. This “small” Alder Lake, although without E-Cores and therefore not benefiting from the hybrid architecture put forward by Intel, therefore seems particularly at home in video games.

intel core i5 12400 720p
Credit: Galaxie Media
intel core i5 12400 720p
Credit: Galaxie Media

With a TDP of only 65W, we could assume that this Core i5-12400 (emulated) would show itself very energy efficient. This is indeed the case, and even beyond our expectations! It displays an average consumption of only 50 watts, placing itself well at the top of our test panel: the difference with the closest competitor, namely the Ryzen 5 5600X, reaches -25%! Considering its quite decent performance in 720p, the Core i5-12400 displays a excellent energy efficiency (the famous ratio of watts per IPS), far superior to that of the rest of the Alder Lake range or of any Ryzen processor. Of course, the Core Rocket Lake, engraved as a reminder in 14 nm, finish at the back of the pack.

What performance in game in 1080p (Full HD)?

intel core i5 12400 1080p
Credit: Galaxie Media
intel core i5 12400 1080p
Credit: Galaxie Media

Switching to a Full HD definition naturally leads to a decrease in framerate, but this rather benefits the Core i5-12400 since it manages to catch up with its slight delay on the Ryzen 5 5600X. The two competing processors are on an equal footing in terms of average performance, across all the games in our panel. The gap with the other processors in this comparison is reduced, the workload moving from the processor to the graphics card as the definition is increased.

intel core i5 12400 1080p
Credit: Galaxie Media

If the Core i5-12400 was more or less on par with the Ryzen 5 5600X in terms of minimum FPS at 720p, Intel’s processor takes off against its competitor when we go to a definition of 1080p. The difference is almost 5%, which is far from negligible. Just like its big brothers, this Alder Lake CPU improves the framerate minimum in games and therefore the stability of the rate of frames per second compared to the previous generation.

intel core i5 12400 1080p
Credit: Galaxie Media
intel core i5 12400 1080p
Credit: Galaxie Media

The observation remains the same as in 720p: in Full HD, the Core i5-12400 wins the gold award for the most energy efficient processor, just like that of the CPU offering the best watts / FPS ratio, far ahead of the others. models from our comparison. This model therefore confirms its excellent energy efficiency in play.

What performance in game in 1440p (QHD)?

intel core i5 12400 1440p
Credit: Galaxie Media
intel core i5 12400 1440p
Credit: Galaxie Media

The performance differences between the processors in our comparison shrink as the definition increases. We note all the same that the Core i5-12400 is placed between the Ryzen 9 5950X and Ryzen 7 5800X, and especially in front of all the Cores of the previous generation. With such performance, this “little” Alder Lake is perfectly capable of making a place for itself among top-of-the-range models.

intel core i5 12400 1440p
Credit: Galaxie Media

the framerate average minimum confirms that the Core i5-12400 is a very good model: it performs as well as the Ryzen 7 5800X and Ryzen 9 5950X, and in all cases outperforms the Core i7-11700K and Core i5-11600K of the previous generation. Even if the difference is less than when the definition is lower, this Alder Lake CPU once again confirms that it lives up to its claims and that it is perfectly suited to video games.

intel core i5 12400 1440p
Credit: Galaxie Media
intel core i5 12400 1440p
Credit: Galaxie Media

Once again, and unsurprisingly, the Core i5-12400 is the most energy efficient, falling below the mark of 45 watts consumed on average over all the games in our test panel. The energy efficiency also appears excellent here, this delightful Alder Lake processor, once again, the first place of this comparison: it is thus almost 25% more efficient than a Core i7-12700K, and 28% than a Ryzen 5 5600X, the other two models on the podium. Needless to say, from the point of view of energy efficiency, the other Ryzen models and especially the previous generation Cores do not play in court …

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