The new generation of Intel desktop CPUs is upon us, and with it comes promise for the fastest single-core frequencies that the market has ever seen – though be it at the cost of any level of respectable multi-core performance.
One of the forerunners of this new series of Rocket Lake processors will inevitably become the Intel i7-11700K, as it now features the same core count as its higher-end counterpart, the i9-11900K. Of course, this does not mean it will perform on the same level as the i9-11900K, but many leaks have reported it to show promise in outpacing its AMD Ryzen 5000 series competition.
But how does it perform, specifically, against its last generation, Comet Lake, predecessors? In order to find out, let’s compare the i7-11700K to a slightly higher-end precursor, the i9-10850K, and see whether or not the 19%, gen over gen, IPC performance improvement that Intel claims is something that can be expected for the $400 price range.
|CPU Model||Intel i9-10850K||Intel i7-11700K|
|Lithography||14 nm||14 nm|
|Base Frequency||3.60 GHz||3.60 GHz|
|Max Turbo Frequency||5.20 GHz||5.00 GHz|
|Intel Smart Cache||20 MB||16 MB|
|TDP||125 W||125 W|
|Configurable TDP-down||95 W||95 W|
|Max Memory Size||128 GB||128GB|
|Max Memory Speed||2,933 MHz||3,200 MHz|
|Max Memory Bandwidth||41.6 GB/s||50 GB/s|
|Processor Graphics||Intel UHD Graphics 630||Intel UHD Graphics 750|
|Graphics Base Frequency||350 MHz||350 MHz|
|Graphics Max Frequency||1.20 GHz||1.30 GHz|
|MSRP||$453 - $464||$399|
The i9-10850K includes two additional cores & four extra threads, a 25% larger cache, and a 200 MHz higher overclocking frequency compared to the i7-11700K – while still maintaining the same processing node, bus speed, and even thermal design power (TDP) than its successor. Both CPUs include Intel’s Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 Frequency; but the i9-10850K reaches 5.10 GHz, versus the i7-11700K’s 5 GHz frequency.
Where the i7-11700K excels, against its 10th generation predecessor, is its memory compatibility, as this CPU can support DDR4 RAM with a base speed of 3,200 MHz and a max memory bandwidth of 50 GB/s – versus the max base speed of 2,933 MHz and max bandwidth of 41.6 GB/s of the i9-10850K. Additionally, the i7-11700K has PCIe 4.0 SSD compatibility that is missing from the i9-10850K – which would arguably be the more suitable option to be paired with this type of a hard drive, as it is the better option for productivity applications.
According to Intel’s performance claims, the UHD Graphics 750 included with 11th generation Rocket Lake-S processors is associated with a performance boost of up to 50%, versus the previous generation’s integrated graphics processor: the UHD Graphics 630. How much this will matter for these two higher-priced options is questionable, but the UHD Graphics 750 is able to process 4K & 5K (5,120 x 3,200) resolutions at 60 Hz, no matter what display connectivity is used. On the other hand, the UHD Graphics 630 does not support 4K with a 60 Hz refresh rate when connected to a display via HDMI.
In terms of features, the i7-11700K trades Intel’s Thermal Velocity Boost (a feature that automatically increases clock speeds depending on the temperature of the CPU) for Intel’s Deep Learning (DL) Boost, which accelerates AI deep learning performance by extending AVX-512 with a new Vector Neural Network Instruction (VNNI).
The MSRP difference between these two processors ranges between $53 to $64, which is only about 13% to 16%. The i9-10850K does have the superior specifications for the most part, but are the inherent advantages associated with the 11th generation’s Cypress Cove Architecture enough to outperform their higher-end predecessors – at least when it comes to single-core speeds? Let’s move on to the benchmarks and find out.
Official benchmarks from Intel have not yet been released for the i7-11700K, in any capacity, including their performance index website made for the 11th generation processors. What we do have, are a few leaks that have widely varying results.
Userbenchmarks has the i7-11700K surpassing the i9-10900K in single core performance by 19%, and the Ryzen 9 5950X by 14.5%. In fact, they even have it surpassing the latter CPU in both 4-core and 8-core performance, which seems to be quite the stretch. Other leaks relating to Greekbench 5.3 have the i7-11700K surpassing the i9-10900K in single core performance by 25%, and the Ryzen 7 5800X by 9%. These leaks do, however, have the Ryzen 9 5950X and the i9-10900K surpassing the i7-11700K in multi-core performance.
Finally, we have Anandtech’s CineBench R20 benchmarks, which show a much grimmer view – in an arguably a more impartial representation – of the i7-11700K’s performance. Here, the i7-11700K trails the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X by roughly 9% in single-thread performance – but it does outperform the i7-10700K (which is on par with the i9-10850K in terms of performance) by 11%. Accordingly, it trails the Ryzen 7 5800X by 4% in multi-thread performance, and surpasses the i7-10700K by 16%. In fact, in some gaming benchmarks carried out by Anandtech, the i7-11700K even trailed its i7 predecessor, the i7-10700K, in games such as Final Fantasy 15, Grand Theft Auto V, and Red Dead Redemption 2; which is theorized to be due to the L3 cache of this CPU having a higher latency of 51 cycles (28-30 ms), versus the 43 cycles (18-24 ms) of the Comet Lake processors.
So, is the i9-10850K worth the extra cost, or does the generational leap between Comet Lake and Rocket Lake CPUs enough to make the i7-11700K the more valuable option of the two?
It appears to be early to tell. If Anandtech’s benchmarks are true, then the i9-10850K is definitely worth the extra $50 to $60, as the i7-11700K would ultimately display a disappointing level of performance. The extra cores, threads, and cache storage size of the i9-10850K make it more suitable for productivity, though the lack of PCIe 4.0 compatibility might make the deal bitter sweet for many. Strictly for gaming, the i9-10850K does seem to provide more value per dollar spent, as well, since the additional cores and threads may come to use later during this generation of gaming applications.
That being said, if the i7-11700K does prove to have a faster single-core performance by 25% (or even 19%), when compared to the i9-10900K (as shown by Userbenchmarks, or the Geekbench leaks), then by all means the i7-11700K would be the superior option. However, since these benchmarks due seem to be quite unlikely, it is best to wait for official, third-party, testing.