If you wait long enough, a newer, faster CPU will appear. That is a proven fact. The rumored benchmark leaks for Intel’s next Alder Lake chips only seem to support that assertion.
However, you should expect more information on Intel’s new hybrid CPUs, which combine “big” performance cores with smaller “efficiency” cores, than just how much of a raw performance bump you receive.
With the introduction of Alder Lake, more variables enter the picture. Choosing a decision about what to put in your PC later this year may become a lot more difficult—and if you don’t wait, you risk making a less-than-ideal pick for your next rig and your wallet. This is why.
Efficiency of a hybrid architecture
For most PC users, Alder Lake’s hybrid architecture will be a novel notion. Despite the fact that other chips (such as those from Arm, Apple, and even Intel’s own Lakefield CPU) use the method, it was never widely used in Windows devices.
Combining performance cores with more efficient cores should result in distinct benefits that aren’t addressed by typical benchmarks. For starters, these processors are expected to require less power when doing simple activities. That could improve battery life on laptops and lower power bills on PCs. (Not everyone lives in an area where electricity is inexpensive.)
Laptops could possibly get a boost in battery life or become even more compact if less room is required for cooling.
Nonetheless, the major question is how Alder Lake will do once it hits the shelves. We’ll look at how jobs are divided between the two types of cores and how much your operating system influences overall performance.
It may make your choice of the finest chip for you even more reliant on your priorities. On the desktop, it may continue to be a battle of sheer performance, whereas on laptops, the necessity for long battery life against great performance may split people’s best choices.
That’s particularly true if some customers try to avoid using Windows 11, which Microsoft has optimized for Alder Lake’s hybrid design, and instead stick with Windows 10.
DDR5 and PCIe 5 support
Alder Lake will allow quicker memory as well as higher-bandwidth connections for storage and expansion cards, in addition to the benefits of its hybrid design. In theory, this means that in some tasks, a PC with an Alder Lake processor, DDR5 RAM, and PCIe 5 storage could outperform one with an AMD processor, DDR4 memory, and a PCIe 4.0 drive. The supposed leak of Cinebench R23 findings suggests that outcome, since it showed a desktop Core i9-12900K beating AMD’s 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X by a wide margin.
Nevertheless, until such a system is available, we won’t know how much of a performance gain you’ll get. We won’t even know what the trade-offs are. For example, no one knows how much hotter DDR5 RAM will run, which can be important in particular PC setups. To see how it all works out, you’ll have to wait another half year—the first PCIe 5.0 SSDs are expected to arrive in the second quarter of 2022, according to projections.
This allows the market time to adjust. During that time, we’ll learn how fast Alder Lake processors are, what kind of performance advantages AMD’s Zen 3+ chips will provide in comparison to Intel, and how widely (and expensively) DDR5 memory will be accessible. After all, money is a factor. Why pay a higher price if you just get minor improvements in the areas that matter to you?