In the present day marks the beginning of retail availability for Intel’s 2021 gaming CPU lineup, codenamed Rocket Lake-S. Rocket Lake-S remains to be caught on Intel’s venerable 14 nm course of—we have lengthy since misplaced rely of what number of pluses to tack onto the top—with options backported from newer 10 nm designs.
Clock pace on Rocket Lake-S stays excessive, however thread counts have decreased on the excessive finish. General, most benchmarks present Rocket Lake-S underperforming final yr’s Comet Lake—not to mention its actual competitors, coming from AMD Ryzen CPUs.
Our hands-on check outcomes didn’t appear to match up with Intel’s advertising claims of as much as 19 % gen-on-gen IPC (Directions Per Clock cycle) enchancment over its Tenth-generation elements.
Multithreaded CPU efficiency
It should not come as an infinite shock that Core i9-11900K underperforms final yr’s Core i9-10900K in multithreaded checks—this yr’s mannequin solely affords eight cores to final yr’s 10. If this half had proven a 19 % enchancment in IPC, that may have come out to a wash—20 % fewer cores, balanced out with 19 % increased IPC.
What we really noticed was noticeably decreased efficiency throughout the board. Cinebench R20 and Passmark scores are every down about 10 %. Geekbench 5, which tends to attenuate the influence of upper thread counts, exhibits an alarming 27 % gen-on-gen efficiency lower.
This yr’s Core i5 makes a significantly better displaying than its Core i9 massive sibling. In Cinebench R20, the i5-11600K virtually catches up with Ryzen 5 5600X, and it simply dominates final yr’s Comet Lake i5 equal. It would not come very near its Ryzen competitor in Passmark or Geekbench multithreaded checks, nevertheless it does outpace final yr’s mannequin all the best way round.
This represents the clearest, most important generation-on-generation victory we noticed out of Rocket Lake-S.
Single-threaded CPU efficiency
Core i9-11900K manages to set new information for single-threaded efficiency—if by razor-thin margins, when in comparison with Ryzen 9. In comparison with final yr’s Comet Lake i9, these margins are a lot much less skinny.
As all the time, we advise readers to not make an excessive amount of hay of this. Few real-world workloads are genuinely single-threaded, and even the biggest margins proven listed below are fairly skinny.
Core i5-11600K will get inside a hair’s breadth of Ryzen 5 5600X on single-threaded benchmarks, and it does so whereas scoring considerably extra vital victories over final yr’s Core i5-10600K. For probably the most half, this is similar relationship we noticed between Rocket Lake-S, Zen 3, and Comet Lake within the earlier Core i9 versus Ryzen 9 slides.
To our shock, 3DMark gaming benchmark Time Spy disapproved of our Rocket Lake-S samples—and did so disproportionately to the outcomes we noticed from extra general-purpose benchmarks Cinebench R20, Passmark, and Geekbench 5. Each Core i9-11900K and Core i5-11600K got here in at hefty Time Spy disadvantages to their 2020 Tenth-generation equivalents.
Earlier than you get too alarmed, that is the Time Spy CPU check solely—it focuses on modeling physics in ways in which do not lend themselves to GPU rendering. Assuming that typical video games would see related decreases in general body fee can be a grave error. Time Spy Excessive—which permits extra superior processor optimizations and better thread rely—exposes a good wider hole. (We solely examined Time Spy Excessive on the Core i9.)
As we famous within the gaming-focused Spring 2021 System Information, the CPU has minimal influence on AAA gaming—body fee in most video games is decided virtually totally by GPU. If the solely factor you’ve gotten open in your PC is the sport, you solely want to satisfy a minimal CPU threshold—roughly talking, “2015-era i5 or higher.” Nevertheless, the extra additional duties you load onto your system—browser tabs and e-mail shoppers open within the background or, worst of all, stream-capturing your personal video games—the extra CPU horsepower you will must hold issues transferring.
We noticed successfully no change in general Time Spy rating between Tenth- and Eleventh-generation CPUs—and we did not count on to. Sure, the single-threaded efficiency elevated considerably; no, that does not usually have a big influence on gaming efficiency.
Built-in GPU efficiency
Rocket Lake-S will get a small however noticeable improve to its built-in graphics efficiency—the Tenth-generation Core CPU’s UHD 630 graphics will get bumped as much as UHD 750. Whereas it’s an enchancment, it is nothing to jot down house about—in the event you have been hoping for an equal to Intel’s Iris Xe graphics in Tiger Lake laptop computer CPUs (or AMD’s Vega 11 in desktop APUs) you will be sorely dissatisfied.
A modest GeForce GTX 1060 is nice for a Time Spy Graphics rating of roughly 4,000. Intel’s flagship i7-1185G7 laptop computer CPU manages practically half that at 1572, with AMD’s Vega 11 lagging noticeably behind at 1226. Rocket Lake-S’ UHD 750 is available in at a yawn-inducing 592—rather less than half the efficiency of Vega 11 and a bit greater than one-third the efficiency of Iris Xe.
Though the UHD graphics are sorely underwhelming, we must always level out that they do not less than exist. Competing Ryzen CPUs within the retail channel provide no built-in graphics in any respect—and with the present provide shortages and ugly worth hikes in discrete GPUs, that may imply paying a nasty premium in full-system builds that are not alleged to concentrate on gaming within the first place.