Question To Alder Lake or Not To Alder Lake?

Collider

Senior member
Jan 20, 2008
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I'm well overdue for a new system and need upgrade advice. My current system specs are listed in the signature, its a battle tested X58 system that's been with me since 2009.

Frankly I am amazed that this platform lasted me almost 12 years. I've done everything I can to upgrade it, maxing out ram, swapping i7 920 for an overclocked X5675 and going NVME for OS/Boot drive. But it's starting to show its age and I need an upgrade.

My workloads are mostly software development with heavy multitasking. Usually have a ton of things running, multiple Visual Studio and IntelliJ instances, 1-2 emulators/VMs, 50+ chrome windows, MS office stuff and tons of other apps running simultaneously.

Originally was thinking to go the Threadripper route (3960X or 3970X) but it being a dead end platform doesn't make much sense at this point. Zen 3 doesn't look any better with Zen 4 coming next year.

Alder Lake 12900K + overclock seems like an obvious choice, but my concern is its only 16 cores. Yes I know I'm getting by with only 6 cores now and 12900K is roughly 4x times faster, but still.

What other options should I consider? Should I wait for Zen 3 or Alder Lake Xeons or stick it out and wait for Zen 4?

Thanks in advance!
(sorry for a long thread)
 

Joe NYC

Senior member
Jun 26, 2021
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There are some rumors of Sapphire Rapids based HEDT platform, which would mean more of the good ADL cores, and none of the randomness generator cores.

Then Zen 4 or a Zen 3D successor of 5950x
 

Accord99

Platinum Member
Jul 2, 2001
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My workloads are mostly software development with heavy multitasking. Usually have a ton of things running, multiple Visual Studio and IntelliJ instances, 1-2 emulators/VMs, 50+ chrome windows, MS office stuff and tons of other apps running simultaneously.
To me it sounds like you have a lot apps open, but not really loading the CPU cores simultaneously. In most cases, a moderate number of extremely powerful cores will probably benefit you more than a greater number of less powerful cores.
 

Shmee

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All good points here. I would be tempted with a 5950X and X570, especially if a good deal can be had, and even a possible CPU upgrade if there is a refresh. Since you may not upgrade for a while, based on how long you have had your current system, I would consider also waiting a bit more for DDR5 to mature, and considering upcoming platforms of Zen 4 and Alder Lake / whatever Intel comes next.
 

coercitiv

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Jan 24, 2014
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Alder Lake 12900K + overclock seems like an obvious choice, but my concern is its only 16 cores. Yes I know I'm getting by with only 6 cores now and 12900K is roughly 4x times faster, but still.
We're talking about 2.5X more performance at the same core count and getting "only" 2 more P-cores and 8 more E-cores for a combined MT performance jump of 4X or more. I you upgrade today to either 12900K or 5950X , when would you say you're going to want/need to upgrade again?

If you're still happy rocking your obviously excellent build, then do so and wait until next year to see what Zen4 & Raptor Lake bring to the table, there are some major gains in doing so in the sense that DDR5 platforms will finally mature. However, if you need the massive performance jump today, just upgrade and skip worrying about some huge core count you're obviously not using and likely won't be using in the next 5 years either.
 
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Gideon

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Nov 27, 2007
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Get the 12900K. If you plan to keep the rig even half as long as your Westmere, I'd suggest to target DDR5 platform.

It does nothing for gaming but the extra bandwidth already helps with productivity. I would assume this will only increase once more people transition to DDR5/LPDSR5 and apps take that into account.

In a couple of years you can max out the memory relatively cheaply
 
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DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
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If you run a setup like @AdamK47 you can probably beat a stock 5950X in everything. 5950X does not have that much headroom that you can open up with additional cooling. Yeah you can work with it a little using PBO/curve optimizer but still. N7 is so hard to cool beyond certain voltages that it's not realistic to push it to 300W or beyond unless you go subzero.

A 12900k can scale to 300W and beyond, and you can just watercool it.
 
Nov 26, 2005
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I'm sorta thinking of upgrading to a 12900K but for a different reason. Give Alder Lake a little more time to see if there are any serious bugs that come up. AMD unfortunately had issues with USB connectivity for a large number of people while a larger number didn't have the issue. I was fortunate with both my 5800X builds. Also I hear Socket 1700 will be compatible with Raptor Lake which should bring in Intel DLVR and reported massive CPU power efficiency.

Please correct me If I am wrong
 

CropDuster

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Jan 2, 2014
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I'm tempted to hop on this train too. Lack of supply and high prices for DDR5 and GPUs has me hesitating though. Maybe just get a DDR4 board and move my 1070 to it or the time being?
 

Shmee

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Sep 13, 2008
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Another thing to consider, is what OS will you be running? Correct me if wrong, but unless there are new fixes out, Alder Lake does not do as well as it could in Windows 10, and likewise with Ryzen in Windows 11. And if one is running *nix, how do things stack up then?

I for one, and many others, do not really like the current state of Windows 11.
 
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eek2121

Golden Member
Aug 2, 2005
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I'm well overdue for a new system and need upgrade advice. My current system specs are listed in the signature, its a battle tested X58 system that's been with me since 2009.

Frankly I am amazed that this platform lasted me almost 12 years. I've done everything I can to upgrade it, maxing out ram, swapping i7 920 for an overclocked X5675 and going NVME for OS/Boot drive. But it's starting to show its age and I need an upgrade.

My workloads are mostly software development with heavy multitasking. Usually have a ton of things running, multiple Visual Studio and IntelliJ instances, 1-2 emulators/VMs, 50+ chrome windows, MS office stuff and tons of other apps running simultaneously.

Originally was thinking to go the Threadripper route (3960X or 3970X) but it being a dead end platform doesn't make much sense at this point. Zen 3 doesn't look any better with Zen 4 coming next year.

Alder Lake 12900K + overclock seems like an obvious choice, but my concern is its only 16 cores. Yes I know I'm getting by with only 6 cores now and 12900K is roughly 4x times faster, but still.

What other options should I consider? Should I wait for Zen 3 or Alder Lake Xeons or stick it out and wait for Zen 4?

Thanks in advance!
(sorry for a long thread)
Alder Lake is only upgradable to Raptor Lake, sure that will give you a small bump when it comes out, however, as others have said, if you can’t wait any longer, I would go with the 5950X. If you can wait ~3 months you can get the Zen3D variant possibly. Normally I don’t suggest “waiting” for anything.

I use the 5950X for software development for what it’s worth. Performs like a champ. Being able to run tests across 28-32 threads is a game changer.

If you can wait, wait for Zen 4 with DDR5 ideally. Another option is Alder Lake Mobile when it comes out. Lower performance than desktop, but the best hardware you can get without tying yourself to a specific platform.

If going the laptop route, I recommend avoiding AMD laptop chips for now. They will be refreshed in 2 months, and absent any surprises from AMD, they will likely trail behind Alder Lake considerably even post refresh.

EDIT: To be clear, I am suggesting avoiding desktop Alder Lake, because while Intel has done a great job with it, at the end of the day, top tier Ryzen chips outclass it. Intel is getting there, but they aren’t there yet.
 
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Zucker2k

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Feb 15, 2006
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Get Alderlake. Since you don't upgrade often, go for the highest ipc on x86. That's 8 very fast cores, and 8 other fast cores (in throughput, compared to your current rig). You also have an upgrade path to Raptor Lake with 24 cores and 32 threads. I'd go with DDR5 right from the get go, and upgrade to faster iterations when DDR5 gets more mature and faster.
 

dullard

Elite Member
May 21, 2001
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I'm well overdue for a new system and need upgrade advice. My current system specs are listed in the signature, its a battle tested X58 system that's been with me since 2009.

Frankly I am amazed that this platform lasted me almost 12 years. I've done everything I can to upgrade it, maxing out ram, swapping i7 920 for an overclocked X5675 and going NVME for OS/Boot drive. But it's starting to show its age and I need an upgrade.

My workloads are mostly software development with heavy multitasking. Usually have a ton of things running, multiple Visual Studio and IntelliJ instances, 1-2 emulators/VMs, 50+ chrome windows, MS office stuff and tons of other apps running simultaneously.

Originally was thinking to go the Threadripper route (3960X or 3970X) but it being a dead end platform doesn't make much sense at this point. Zen 3 doesn't look any better with Zen 4 coming next year.

Alder Lake 12900K + overclock seems like an obvious choice, but my concern is its only 16 cores. Yes I know I'm getting by with only 6 cores now and 12900K is roughly 4x times faster, but still.

What other options should I consider? Should I wait for Zen 3 or Alder Lake Xeons or stick it out and wait for Zen 4?

Thanks in advance!
(sorry for a long thread)
Honestly, you'll be happy with anything modern. If I were you, I wouldn't worry about waiting. If you wait months and get something 10% faster, would you really notice compared to the massive improvement that you are getting? Threadripper, Xeons, and Zen 4 just are overkill when you truly don't seem to need the speed given that you use a 12 year old computer just fine.

You listed software development as your item that really needs a powerful CPU. Code compilation has pretty close results from both AMD and Intel. The best result is with the AMD 5950X, but not by much and it is a more expensive CPU. The next best is the Intel 12900K. Then the AMD 5900X, then Intel 12700K, then AMD 5800X, then Intel 12600K, etc. Both companies will do your tasks quite well. It all comes down to how much you want to pay for the system.

Multi-tasking is not really relevant here. Because most of what you listed is just going to be idle using nearly no CPU time. You should invest in a lot of RAM though for all of that. And RAM prices might ultimately be what decides the better system for you.

(Sorry for not posting with bias towards one chip company or the other).

Here is one example of code compilation speeds:
1637248853134.png
 

Borealis7

Platinum Member
Oct 19, 2006
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if you are going to load up all cores and plan to overclock you better have a serious cooling setup. this chip takes a lot of power and outputs a lot of heat.
 

fleshconsumed

Diamond Member
Feb 21, 2002
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Eh, for a power user I'd go with 5950x. General trend has been apps become increasingly multithreaded, OP already multitasks a lot, and even Operating System itself spawns a ton of background processes to keep things running. Q6600 fared a hell of a lot better than E8400 as time went on, 2600K fared a lot better than 2500K as time went on, and 9900K is still a good CPU as opposed to say 7700K.

Alder Lake is fine for bursty type of loads, and it even manages to compete with 5950x in multithreaded applications, but at a huge power cost and platform cost. I see little reason getting Alder lake when 5950x is just as good, costs less, consumes less power, and will probably age a lot better.
 

kschendel

Member
Aug 1, 2018
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I have a similar workload and I'm perfectly happy with a 5800X. I don't see the point in waiting. Yes, a 12th-gen plus DDR5 platform might be a few percent faster, but so what. If a build takes 20 minutes on your current platform, it might be 7 minutes with a 5800X or 5900X and 6.5 minutes with a 12900K. Big deal and with Alder Lake you get to be on the leading edge, which isn't where I want to be with an income producing machine that's not time billable.

It sounds like you run a bit more simultaneous activity than I do, so 5900X or 5950X with a good B550 or X570 motherboard. (the chipset choice depending on how much I/O you expect to be pushing.)
 

eek2121

Golden Member
Aug 2, 2005
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Eh, for a power user I'd go with 5950x. General trend has been apps become increasingly multithreaded, OP already multitasks a lot, and even Operating System itself spawns a ton of background processes to keep things running. Q6600 fared a hell of a lot better than E8400 as time went on, 2600K fared a lot better than 2500K as time went on, and 9900K is still a good CPU as opposed to say 7700K.

Alder Lake is fine for bursty type of loads, and it even manages to compete with 5950x in multithreaded applications, but at a huge power cost and platform cost. I see little reason getting Alder lake when 5950x is just as good, costs less, consumes less power, and will probably age a lot better.
Well OP is a developer from what he said, and that to me screams 5950X. Alder Lake actually is good for things such as rendering, etc. However, development work? Honestly if AMD dropped Zen 3 threadripper I would suggest that. On my 5950X I can make a code change, have the project automatically compile in the background *and* automatically run the test suite without disturbing my foreground tasks.

Web developers see even more benefit. Near instant, continuous end to end testing while writing code.
 

eek2121

Golden Member
Aug 2, 2005
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I have a similar workload and I'm perfectly happy with a 5800X. I don't see the point in waiting. Yes, a 12th-gen plus DDR5 platform might be a few percent faster, but so what. If a build takes 20 minutes on your current platform, it might be 7 minutes with a 5800X or 5900X and 6.5 minutes with a 12900K. Big deal and with Alder Lake you get to be on the leading edge, which isn't where I want to be with an income producing machine that's not time billable.

It sounds like you run a bit more simultaneous activity than I do, so 5900X or 5950X with a good B550 or X570 motherboard. (the chipset choice depending on how much I/O you expect to be pushing.)
Where DDR5 helps is throughput. However, until we see faster DDR5, that won’t matter much, and without PCIE 5 SSDs, utility is limited anyway.
 

AdamK47

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
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if you are going to load up all cores and plan to overclock you better have a serious cooling setup. this chip takes a lot of power and outputs a lot of heat.
Oh, really? I don't think anyone has pointed that out before in this thread.
 

Markfw

CPU Moderator, VC&G Moderator, Elite Member
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May 16, 2002
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Oh, really? I don't think anyone has pointed that out before in this thread.
If you run stock 241 watt its overclocking IMO (and I am not alone here) and yes, you need serious cooling for that. My fastest 5950x uses a 612-2 $40 coolermaster and works fine @100% load 24/7

I say the 5950x is the better option here.
 

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