Intel's latest 12th Gen chips make Alder Lake way better on a tight budget

Intel Core logos throughout the performance stack
(Image credit: Intel)

Intel has now revealed the entire 12th Gen Alder Lake processor lineup—everything from the Core i9 12900F to the Celeron G6900. That's good news for gamers, too, because while we love the existing K-series chips, there's definitely something to be said for the specs on the Core i5 12500, 12400, and 12300.

We love a bargainous gaming chip, and Intel's been delivering plenty of affordability with its more reasonably priced gaming processors as of late. These new Alder Lake chips actually run a little more expensive than their 11th Gen predecessors in tray price, but if Alder Lake's impressive performance holds true throughout the stack, that might not be all that off putting.

Click on this image for the very nearly the complete 12th Gen lineup. (Image credit: Intel)

The only thing missing from the above list is Intel's T-series, which are lower-power chips with Base Power ratings of 35W throughout. They don't usually come into play for PC builders, but if you see a prebuilt gaming PC out there with one, don't be too alarmed. They should do the job just fine, and can trim costs by way of cooling and PSU capacity.

Back to the prime gaming chips, however, and it's the Core i5 12400F for $167 that stands out from the crowd. That's a six-core, 12-thread processor (all Performance Cores) and one that runs at up to 4.4GHz Turbo frequency. That's definitely going to get us by in a little gaming, and it's importantly going to fall a fair bit cheaper than the Core i5 12600K. 

Also further down you've got the Core i3 12300 and Core i3 12100, both of which are four-core and eight-thread processors. Now that doesn't sound like much nowadays, what with eight-, ten-, or even 16-core processors being all the rage, but it was once the tippy top of processor performance, and should get you by in plenty of modern games. For under $150, it's certainly worth a look on a tight budget.

All of these cheap chips play nicely with the incoming chipsets from Intel for the 12th Gen: the H670, B660, and H610. These should make for motherboards that are a lot cheaper than the Z690 boards we've seen already, and that will help drop the platform costs considerably. Importantly, that should see Intel able to compete a little more with AMD's cheaper Ryzen platform.

Intel's three new stock coolers with specs

(Image credit: Intel)

Arriving alongside the new chips and chipsets are also new stock coolers. These are hardly a surprise, considering they've already been put through testing. However, they definitely look a bit smarter than their predecessors, and you can expect to see a lot more of them with the arrival of the remainder of the 12th Gen lineup.

That's all set to arrive over the coming months, though we don't have a specific 'launch date' per se. OEMs and system builders are likely to get hold of these chips first though, so keep an eye out for those announcements during the remainder of CES 2022.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would go on to run the team as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top staff as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industries and testing the newest PC components.