Leaked results from Intel’s upcoming Rocket Lake CPU have suggested that the new core could be more competitive with AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series than what we saw with the 10th Gen family. New Geekbench 5 leaks, taken with the usual spoonful of sodium chloride, continue to point in this direction.
The new results show Intel’s Core i7-11700K outperforming the Ryzen 7 5800X by about 9 percent in both single-threaded and multi-threaded code. This is not necessarily unexpected. While Rocket Lake is still a 14nm CPU, it represents the first new desktop CPU architecture for Intel since 2015. It’s based on the Cypress Cove CPU core, which is itself a backport of the 10nm Sunny Cove CPU core that Intel introduced back in 2019.
A quick primer: Whiskey Lake is Intel’s previous 14nm mobile platform. Comet Lake is Intel’s previous desktop platform, with support for up to 10 CPU cores. Rocket Lake has trimmed the core count back to eight again and (reportedly) lowers the core clock slightly, as we’ll discuss.
The claimed clock speeds for the CPU imply that Intel has backported all of its IPC gains and only sacrificed a modest amount of clock to do it. WCCFTech reports that based on GeekBench 5 results, the Core i7-11700K is 1.34x faster in ST and 1.26x faster in MT compared with the Core i7-10700K. This is a little surprising relative to what we saw happen in mobile a few years back.
When Intel transitioned from Whiskey Lake (14nm mobile) to Ice Lake (10nm mobile), the CPU performance story was generally a wash. While Ice Lake / Sunny Cove CPUs were faster than the older Skylake CPU family in certain tests, the gains weren’t uniform. Intel only predicted a net gain of ~3.5 percent. GeekBench, however, tends to show larger gaps.
According to the GB5 database, GeekBench 5 ST can run 1.09x faster on Ice Lake compared with Whiskey Lake. Multi-threaded performance is as much as 1.19x higher.
The implication here is that GeekBench 5 may exaggerate the performance difference between CPUs like the Core i7-8665U and the Core i7-1065G7 — and could therefore also exaggerate the degree of actual improvement between the Core i7-10700K and the Core i7-11700K.
Higher clocks could account for some of the improvement, but as we noted at the beginning of this story, Rocket Lake CPUs officially clock slightly lower than their Comet Lake counterparts: The Core i7-10700K is an 8C/16T, 3.8GHz / 5.1GHz CPU, while the Core i7-11700K is (rumored) to be an 8C/16T, 3.6GHz / 5.0GHz CPU. It’s possible that Rocket Lake holds turbo for a longer period of time than Comet Lake does — and if that’s true, it would explain some of the performance difference between the two CPU families.
As for the 9 percent gain over AMD in both ST and MT, it’s not entirely unexpected and it may not be a good predictor of real-world performance based on the way GB5 appears to respond to Sunny Cove. The fact that GB5 might run particularly well on a given architecture is why we run multiple tests in the first place.
If we take the performance improvement at face value, it would give Intel some room to sell the Core i7-11700K at a higher price relative to the 5800X. Historically, this is Intel’s preferred move, but the company could opt to shake things up this time around.
A 9 percent performance improvement is enough to declare clear victory over AMD at the eight-core level, but it won’t insulate 11th Gen Core CPUs from AMD’s ability to bring more cores to bear per-socket. The Core i7-11700K scores 1,810 and 11,304 compared to 1,697 / 13,963 for the Ryzen 9 5900X. Intel wins ST by about 1.06x against the 5900X and loses multi-threading by 1.23x.
Intel will, of course, launch a Core i9-11900K, and we can expect that chip to modestly increase its ST lead while reducing its MT loss, but an additional 4-8 percent performance isn’t going to dramatically change the equation. Of course, this does assume that an application scales effectively to 12 cores in the first place.
The big question mark will be whether Intel can retake the lead in gaming performance. That’s a critical consumer market that AMD arguably snagged away from Intel for the first time in over a decade, and Intel will be very interested in reclaiming it. Again, as always, treat leaked or early results with caution.
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