Intel’s 14th-gen desktop CPUs are a tiny update even by modern standards – Ars Technica


Intel’s new desktop processor generations haven’t always come with significant generational improvements in recent years, as the company has struggled with new manufacturing tech that enables big leaps in performance and power efficiency. For every major jump—the 12th-generation CPUs, codenamed Alder Lake, come to mind—you usually get several faster but less-than-thrilling iterations.

Intel is officially launching its 14th-generation desktop processors today, and they’re firmly in that iterative, non-thrilling group, even compared to last year’s 13th-generation chips. The good news for price-conscious PC builders is that they’ll continue to work in all current 600- and 700-series motherboards after a BIOS update, and Intel isn’t launching a series of new motherboards to accompany them—there aren’t many compelling reasons to upgrade from a 12th-gen setup to a 14th-gen one, but it’s an available option.

Even the branding Intel is using here signifies that the processors are a throwback—next-gen Meteor Lake chips for laptops and all of Intel’s other chips are losing the generational and i3/i5/i7/i9 branding in favor of “Core” and “Core Ultra.” By Intel’s admission, the last gasp of the 14th-generation branding here is a nod to how similar they are to the 13th-generation chips that preceded them (and, for that matter, the 12th-gen ones before that).

The i9-14900K, i7-14700K, and i5-14600K

The 13th-generation refresh, codenamed Raptor Lake, made small but notable changes to the Alder Lake architecture. In the high-end chips, Intel boosted the maximum number of E-cores and added extra L2 and L3 cache, in addition to small clock speed increases. Power budgets generally went up a bit, too. (For some lower-end chips, primarily non-overclockable chips at the i5 tier and below, Intel kept the Alder Lake architecture fully intact, adding a few E-cores and boosting clock speeds but not actually changing the silicon.)

The 14th-generation CPUs are just Raptor Lake again—no additional E-cores at the high-end, no additional cache, no increase in officially supported memory speeds, and no increase in the default power requirements. Base and Turbo clock speeds across the P- and E-cores increase by 100 or 200 MHz, but that’s it. The integrated Intel UHD 770 GPU is also unchanged.

Intel is launching its new desktop CPUs as it usually does: starting at the top. It’s launching six unlocked and overclockable processors today, three K-series CPUs with integrated GPUs and three otherwise identical KF-series CPUs with no GPUs that cost $25 less.

CPU Launch MSRP P/E-cores Clocks (Base/Boost) Total cache (L2+L3) Base/Max Power
Core i9-14900K $589
$564 (F)
8P/16E 3.2/6.0 GHz (P)
2.4/4.4 GHz (E)
68MB (32 + 36) 125/253 W
Core i9-13900K $589
$564 (F)
8P/16E 3.0/5.8 GHz (P)
2.2/4.3 GHz (E)
68MB (32 + 36) 125/253 W
Core i7-14700K $409
$384 (F)
8P/12E 3.4/5.6 GHz (P)
2.5/4.3 GHz (E)
61MB (28 + 33) 125/253 W
Core i7-13700K $409
$384 (F)
8P/8E 3.4/5.4 GHz (P)
2.5/4.2 GHz (E)
54MB (24 + 30) 125/253 W
Core i5-14600K $289
$264 (F)
6P/8E 3.5/5.3 GHz (P)
2.6/4.0 GHz (E)
44MB (24 + 20) 125/150 W
Core i5-13600K $319
$294 (F)
6P/8E 3.5/5.1 GHz (P)
2.6/3.9 GHz (E)
44MB (24 + 20) 125/181 W

The i9-14900K and i5-14600K are the least exciting and easiest to explain—they are the same as the i9-13900K and i5-13600K with mild clock speed bumps. (Intel mentioned that it had further “refined” its Intel 7 manufacturing process for the chips, but whatever optimizations have been made haven’t radically changed the performance or power consumption of either chip.) The i9-14900K can hit a symbolically important 6 GHz out of the box using Intel’s Thermal Velocity Boost feature, but in the real world, that’s still only a small bump.

The i7-14700K at least gives us one hardware difference to chew on: an extra cluster of E-cores that brings their count from 8 to 12 (for a total of 20, counting the eight P-cores) and boosting the CPU’s L2 and L3 cache accordingly. That’s not enough to help the i7 catch up to the i9, but it does make a continued case for choosing the i7 over the i9 for cost-conscious home workstations.

Intel’s performance figures shy away from comparing the i9-14900K and i5-14600K to their direct predecessors, usually opting to compare it to AMD’s flagship Ryzen 9 7950X3D (most of the time, Intel’s slides show the i9-14900K winning, but not always, and generally not by much). The generation-over-generation improvement is more significant for the i7-14700K, which Intel says is between 1.14 and 1.63 times as fast as the Core i7-12700K, depending on the task. The i7 has added eight additional E-cores over the last two years, something that will benefit multi-threaded workloads.

We’ll need to wait until early next year to hear more about the cheaper non-K processors further down the stack—Intel usually announces these at or around CES in January. There’s no reason to think that these cheaper chips will be any more thrilling than the flagships, but extra E-core clusters for the mainstream workhorse CPUs in the Core i5 and i7 families would be welcome improvements.

Because these K-series chips (and their GPU-less KF-series counterparts) are overclockable, it’s worth noting one additional feature that Intel is adding to its XTU overclocking software. Called “AI Assist,” because it’s 2023 and everything is getting a dash or two of “AI” added to it, it “uses AI-models to estimate stable overclock settings for your system.” As of this writing, Intel says it only works with the i9-14900K and KF—it would be more exciting if it worked with all the CPUs that the XTU utility currently supports, going back to ninth-generation Core chips.

We’ve been testing the new chips and will publish our findings about performance and power consumption soon. But the high-level summary, for now, is that they don’t change the calculus for desktop builders very much because they’re not very different from the processors that Intel was selling yesterday.


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