Intel Announced 11th Gen Rocket Lake Core i9, i7, and i5 Desktop CPUs
intel 11th gen
Intel has officially launched its 11th Generation Core family of desktop processors, nicknamed Rocket Lake, which are based on Intel’s most advanced 14nm process node technology. This new product family, which includes processors with up to 8 cores, will serve as the foundation of Intel’s premium desktop portfolio for the majority of 2021, if not longer. The new microarchitecture, Cypress Cove, and the Xe-LP graphics design, both of which are redesigns of Intel’s 10nm mobile products, are highlights. These components also include Intel’s first PCIe 4.0 offering for the desktop, new AVX-512 for the desktop, improved memory support, resizable BAR support, new overclocking features, and enhanced multimedia acceleration.
When Intel releases new desktop processors, we typically see that the new family is all-encompassing, enabling products ranging from the top Core i9 or i7 parts all the way down to Pentiums and Celerons. Intel typically accomplishes this by producing one, two, or more different sizes of silicon, with cores and graphics often differing to achieve the best balance of cost, yield, and performance. Intel has decided to only produce one size of silicon and segment its offering for this generation, with the new family only being used for Core i5 and up.
Core i9, i7, and i5 Specification
The new Intel 11th Generation Core desktop processor family will begin with the Core i5, which has six cores and twelve threads, and progress to the Core i7 and Core i9, which both have eight cores and sixteen threads. All processors will support DDR4-3200 natively, and supported motherboards will include 20 PCIe 4.0 lanes – these lanes will enable graphics and storage direct from the processor, typically in an x16/x4 or x8/x8/x4 configuration.
Both the Core i9 and Core i7 have the same core count this time around – normally, the Core i9 would offer an obvious difference, such as more cores, but the difference for this generation is more subtle: the Core i9 will offer higher frequencies and thermal velocity boost (TVB).
The Core i9-11900K is at the top of the stack. The Core i9-11900K is priced at $539 per 1000 units, according to Intel. It’s worth noting that Intel does this 1,000-unit pricing for OEMs, so the final retail price is frequently $10-$25 higher. This is significantly more than AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X, which is also an 8-core processor and costs $449 SEP (MSRP). Along with improved gaming performance, Intel claims that this processor also includes next-generation integrated graphics, support for new AI instructions, and enhanced media support for the price difference.
Most of the Core i9-11900 specifications K’s were known from a previous announcement, but we now know that this processor has a base frequency of 3.5 GHz, with a peak turbo of 5.3 GHz in Thermal Velocity Boost mode, 5.2 GHz otherwise on the favored core, or 5.1 GHz on non-favored cores. In TVB turbo mode, the all-core frequency is 4.8 GHz; otherwise, it is 4.7 GHz.
Thermal Velocity Boost is a relatively new feature on the desktop, but it means that if the processor is under a certain temperature, it will add an additional +100 MHz frequency during turbo. This temperature is 70oC in the case of desktop processors (158F). However, motherboard manufacturers are free to disregard this temperature level, and in our experience, almost all consumer/gaming motherboards disable that check and allow for TVB at any temperature.
The i9-11900T, the 35 W member of the Core i9 family, is the only one that does not receive TVB. Because its base frequency is 1.5 GHz, this processor has 35 W on the box, but it can turbo up to 4.9 GHz single core and 3.7 GHz all-core. These T processors are typically found in OEM systems and mini-PCs that strictly adhere to Intel’s turbo recommendations.
All Core i9 processors will support DDR4-3200, and the specification states that the K/KF processors will enable a 1:1 frequency mode with the memory controller at this speed, whereas the non-K/KF processors will run at 2:1 at DDR4-3200 or 1:1 at DDR4-2933 (more on this later).
The Core i7 family includes the Core i7-11700K, which we have already reviewed and tested on the most recent microcode. This processor has eight cores and sixteen threads, a single core turbo of 5.0 GHz on the preferred core, 4.9 GHz otherwise, and an all-core turbo of 4.6 GHz.
On the subject of memory support, the Core i7 family does support DDR4-3200; however, Intel’s specifications state that any non-Core i9 processor should default to a 2:1 DRAM-to-memory-controller ratio, rather than 1:1, effectively lowering memory performance. This creates some separation between the Core i9 and the rest of the processors, as the DDR4-2933 specification for the rest of the processors is 1:1. Despite this technical specification, we can confirm that all of the motherboards we’ve tested with our Core i7-11700K default to 1:1 at DDR4-3200. It appears that motherboard manufacturers are confident in their memory designs enough to disregard Intel’s specifications on this.