Intel 11th-generation Rocket Lake-S gaming CPUs did not impress us

Enlarge / Our check rig is a bit more unlovely than traditional, on account of Asus’ resolution to entomb the CPU socket in surrounding high-rise heatsinks, with the system’s RAM closing in simply as tightly from the underside.

Jim Salter

In the present day marks the beginning of retail availability for Intel’s 2021 gaming CPU lineup, codenamed Rocket Lake-S. Rocket Lake-S continues to be caught on Intel’s venerable 14 nm course of—we have lengthy since misplaced depend of what number of pluses to tack onto the tip—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 12 months’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 up to 19 percent 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 12 months’s Core i9-10900K in lots of multithreaded checks—this 12 months’s mannequin solely presents eight cores to final 12 months’s 10. On the plus facet, Intel’s claims of 19% gen-on-gen IPC are largely borne out right here, largely balancing the loss out in Passmark and Geekbench.

This 12 months’s Core i5 makes a significantly better displaying than its Core i9 massive sibling. In Cinebench R20, Core i5-11600K virtually catches up with Ryzen 5 5600X, and it simply dominates final 12 months’s Comet Lake i5 equal. It does not catch as much as its Ryzen competitor in Passmark or Geekbench multithreaded checks, nevertheless it outpaces final 12 months’s mannequin all the way in which 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, in Cinebench R20 and Passmark. Geekbench 5 offers the i9-11900K a extra noticeable victory.

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 most important margins proven listed below are skinny.

Core i5-11600K will get neck and neck with Ryzen 5 5600X on single-threaded benchmarks, and it does so whereas scoring extra important victories over final 12 months’s Core i5-10600K. For essentially 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 charts.

Gaming efficiency

Time Spy gaming benchmarks put this 12 months’s i9-11900K neck and neck with final 12 months’s i9-10900K, whereas displaying a small however noticeable gen-on-gen enchancment for the i5-11600K. Time Spy Excessive—which permits extra superior processor optimizations and better thread depend—punishes this 12 months’s i9 for its decreased thread depend, for a major web lower.

Earlier than you get too enthusiastic about these outcomes, we have to remind you that 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 comparable decreases in general body fee could be a grave error.

As we famous within the gaming-focused Spring 2021 System Guide, the CPU has minimal impression on AAA gaming—body fee in most video games is decided virtually totally by GPU. If the solely factor you have got 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 further duties you load onto your system—browser tabs and e mail purchasers open within the background or, worst of all, stream-capturing your personal video games—the extra CPU horsepower you may must hold issues transferring.

We noticed successfully no change within the full Time Spy rating between Tenth- and Eleventh-generation CPUs, as examined with an RTX 2060 Tremendous GPU—and we did not anticipate to. Sure, the single-threaded efficiency elevated considerably; no, that does not usually have a big impression on gaming efficiency.

Built-in GPU efficiency

Rocket Lake-S gets an upgrade to its integrated graphics—but if you were hoping for UHD 750 to play in the same league as Iris Xe and Vega 11, you're out of luck.
Enlarge / Rocket Lake-S will get an improve to its built-in graphics—however when you had been hoping for UHD 750 to play in the identical league as Iris Xe and Vega 11, you are out of luck.

Jim Salter

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 write down dwelling about—when you had 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 may 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 almost 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 654—roughly half the efficiency of Vega 11, and roughly one-third the efficiency of Iris Xe.

Though the UHD graphics are sorely underwhelming, we should always level out that they do a minimum of 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.

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