Intel Core i7 11700KF processor review

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11th Generation Core series processors

11th Generation Core series processors (RKL)

Intel has been unfolding the new series with an up-to 8-core and thus 16-threads processor (2 cores down from last-gen) in the desktop processor segment (HEDT seems dead). Intel markets this series as its Core processor series whereas HEDT would have been tagged Core-X. More recently it has been adding the denominator the Core i9 series into that desktop lineup. Rocket Lake-S-based processors need to be paired with the Z490 series chipset (after compatible BIOS upgrade) or the new Z590 chipset for motherboards, as it has processor socket LGA1200. The top of the line processor is the Core i9-11900K with 8 cores and 16 processing threads (SMT). Its Base / Turbo frequency is 3.5 GHz and it can run upwards to 5.3 GHz on a core or two with what is called a velocity boost. It has 16 MB of L3 cache (down from 20MB), 20 PCI-Express 4.0 lines on the CPU, DDR4 @ 3200 MHz Dual-Channel memory configuration support, and a 125W TDP. 

  • TB2 - Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0: Dynamically increases the processor frequency up to 4.9 GHz when applications demand more performance. Speed when you need it, energy efficiency when you don’t.
  • TB3 - Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0: Identifies the four best-performing cores to provide increased single- and dual-core performance up to 5.2 GHz, quad-core performance up to 5.1 GHz. 
  • Velocity Boost
  • Adaptive Boost

Velocity Boost

Intel offers a third classification for its highest boosting frequency, this is called 'Thermal Velocity Boost'. This is an extra boost of 100 MHz, on both the single and all-core turbo, however, it is only active under certain conditions. The conditions, as you can tell by its name, are the temperature of the processor, which needs to remain below 70 degrees Celsius. Once the processor gets warmer than this value, you'd revert to base or lower frequencies. This technology was introduced with Cascade Lake-X and is available towards mainstream desktop to ensure single-threaded tasks run on the fastest cores. Pretty much end-users with liquid cooling will benefit from this the most.

Adaptive Boost (only for Core i9 series)

Two weeks prior to release, another boost mode got introduced, which has been finding its way into BIOSes one week prior to reviews. The 11th Gen Core series codenamed “Rocket Lake-S” will get a 4th Boost mode, labeled Adaptive Boost. Both Thermal Velocity Boost (TVB) and Adaptive Boost Technology (ABT) will be exclusive to Rocket Lake’s Core i9-11900K(F) series. Adaptive Boost will only be available for the Core i9 K and -KF models: In other words, only Core i9-11900K and Core i9-11900KF. With a processor temperature of less than 70°C, it achieves a Thermal Velocity Boost of 5.3 GHz on two cores. That's 5.2 GHz without TVB. If more than two cores are working, a maximum of 5.1 GHz is possible, but only for up to four cores if TVB activates. So four cores max. Adaptive Boost now takes it up a notch, if a proper power supply is applied, and if temps remain below 70 Degrees C, all eight cores can boost to 5.1 GHz. So for more than four cores the up to 5.1 GHz far exceeds the previous specification of 4.9 or 4.8 GHz. You'll need the latest BIOS revisions to get this supported. You can see where this new Boost feature would help, multi-threaded apps and games.

DDR4 

The official recommendation for system memory is now DDR4-3200, far below what the CPUs can actually manage. What is new, however, is the so-called Gear 1 or Gear 2 mode, which you can compare with the synchronous IF (Infinity Fabric) clock at AMD. Only the top model Core i9-11900K guarantees DDR4-3200 with Gear 1, all other CPUs have to make do with Gear 2 and can only use Gear 1 up to a maximum of DDR4-2933. According to Intel, Gear 2 costs a bit of performance and latency, we will definitely investigate this more closely as soon as the time comes, because so far Intel has been silent on this topic. All CPUs have up to 44 PCI-Express 4.0 lanes. The Thermal Velocity Boost only works up to 70 ° C. Only the K models have an open multiplier for overclocking. Only the Core i9 models have the official Gear 1 approval for the RAM with DDR4-3200, DDR4-2933, however, works with every CPU with Gear 1.

Architecture changes

All processors prior to Rocket lake have genuinely been based upon the Skylake architecture as a building block that you know from pretty much all socket 1151 parts, but then scaled upwards and from there on you have seen tweaks and fabrication process updates. While Intel is still at their 14nm node, a fundamental change has been made with 10nm Golden cove / 14nm Cypress Cove CPU cores. Intel now applies a doubled-up L2 cache of 512 kB and L1 is 80kB in total (48kB data + 32kB instruction caches. However, relative to that the L3 cache is 2 MB per core. With these processors, you will now see three Turbo modes dubbed 2.0, 3.0, as explained in more detail in our upper paragraph, Velocity boost. This new cache hierarchy will bring an IPC increase combined with high clock frequencies., for which intel still is kind of high frequencies. 


Rkl-arch-overview-v2
 Proc Core 10th Core 11th Ryzen 5000
Max Cores 10 8 16
Architecture Comet  Cypress Zen 3
IGP Gen 9 Xe-LP -
IGP Cores 24 32 -
L1-Data 32 KB 48 KB 32 KB
L2 Cache 256 KB 512 KB 512 KB
L3 Cache 20 MB 16 MB 64 MB
DDR4 2 x 2933 2 x 3200 2 x 3200
PCIe 3.0 x16 4.0 x20 4.0 x24
TDP 125 W 125 W 105 W

This series has 20 PCIe Gen 4.0 lanes on the processor side (16+4 from the CPU). The chipset however still is PCI Express 3.0, here 24 lanes are fed, 8 lanes are used as interconnect in between CPU and chipset, that's thus a DMI 3.0 x8. Mind you, on Z490 that's halved at an x4 lane link. The Z590 / Rocket-Lake platform will have native USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20 Gbps). You'll notice Wi-Fi 6 and 2.5GbE support for these new processors, don't get confused as that is not native, the controllers simply are made compatible, motherboard manufacturers can opt to add-in the appropriate modules as a feature.

 

Xe Integrated graphics

Intel also used the Xgraphics from 10nm Tiger Lake and re-purposed these towards 14nm, Xegraphics. The processors have Xe-LP GPU cores, holding 32 EUs, which should be significantly slower than the 24 older EUs on Comet Lake. While making use of the new Xe generation, the cores have proved to be up to 40% slower than what the completion offers. Some key features:

  • Support for AVX-512 baked into Intel desktop CPUs.
  • Integration of Intel’s new Xe-LP graphics core
  • Support for up to 20 PCIe 4.0 lanes
  • DDR4-3200 support

11th Gen Intel Core Desktop Specifications and Prices

It is a bit much to list the pricing of all the models, but below we inserted a table overview of what you can expect specs and prices wise. We highlight the K series as they are the ones that have unlocked multiplier, KF models do not have integrated graphics, or at last not activated. 


Core Arch Base All-core Single-core Cores/threads L3 TDP OC DRAM GPU EUR
Core i9-11900K Cypress Cove 3.5GHz 4.8GHz 5.3GHz 8/16 16MB 125W Yes DDR4-3200 UHD 750 548
Core i9-11900KF Cypress Cove 3.5GHz 4.8GHz 5.3GHz 8/16 16MB 125W Yes DDR4-3200 - 521
Core i9-11900 Cypress Cove 2.5GHz 4.7GHz 5.2GHz 8/16 16MB 65W No DDR4-3200 UHD 750 446
Core i9-11900F Cypress Cove 2.5GHz 4.7GHz 5.2GHz 8/16 16MB 65W No DDR4-3200 - 429
Core i9-11900T Cypress Cove 1.5GHz 3.7GHz 4.9GHz 8/16 16MB 35W No DDR4-3200 UHD 750 446
Core i7-11700K Cypress Cove 3.6GHz 4.6GHz 5GHz 8/16 16MB 125W Yes DDR4-3200 UHD 750 406
Core i7-11700KF Cypress Cove 3.6GHz 4.6GHz 5GHz 8/16 16MB 125W Yes DDR4-3200 - 380
Core i7-11700 Cypress Cove 2.5GHz 4.4GHz 4.9GHz 8/16 16MB 65W No DDR4-3200 UHD 750 328
Core i7-11700F Cypress Cove 2.5GHz 4.4GHz 4.9GHz 8/16 16MB 65W No DDR4-3200 - 303
Core i7-11700T Cypress Cove 1.4GHz 3.6GHz 4.6GHz 8/16 16MB 35W No DDR4-3200 UHD 750 328
Core i5-11600K Cypress Cove 3.9GHz 4.6GHz 4.9GHz 6/12 12MB 125W Yes DDR4-3200 UHD 750 266
Core i5-11600KF Cypress Cove 3.9GHz 4.6GHz 4.9GHz 6/12 12MB 125W Yes DDR4-3200 - 241
Core i5-11600 Cypress Cove 2.8GHz 4.3GHz 4.8GHz 6/12 12MB 65W No DDR4-3200 UHD 750 216
Core i5-11600T Cypress Cove 1.7GHz 3.5GHz 4.1GHz 6/12 12MB 35W No DDR4-3200 UHD 750 216
Core i5-11500 Cypress Cove 2.7GHz 4.2GHz 4.6GHz 6/12 12MB 65W No DDR4-3200 UHD 750 195
Core i5-11500T Cypress Cove 1.5GHz 3.4GHz 3.9GHz 6/12 12MB 35W No DDR4-3200 UHD 750 195
Core i5-11400 Cypress Cove 2.6GHz 4.2GHz 4.4GHz 6/12 12MB 65W No DDR4-3200 UHD 730 185
Core i5-11400F Cypress Cove 2.6GHz 4.2GHz 4.4GHz 6/12 12MB 65W No DDR4-3200 - 160
Core i5-11400T Cypress Cove 1.3GHz 3.3GHz 3.7GHz 6/12 12MB 35W No DDR4-3200 UHD 730 185
Core i3-10325 Skylake 3.9GHz 4.5GHz 4.7GHz 4/8 8MB 65W No DDR4-2666 UHD 630 157
Core i3-10305 Skylake 3.8GHz 4.3GHz 4.5GHz 4/8 8MB 65W No DDR4-2666 UHD 630 145
Core i3-10305T Skylake 3GHz 3.7GHz 4GHz 4/8 8MB 35W No DDR4-2666 UHD 630 145
Core i3-10105 Skylake 3.7GHz 4.2GHz 4.4GHz 4/8 6MB 65W No DDR4-2666 UHD 630 124
Core i3-10105F Skylake 3.7GHz 4.2GHz 4.4GHz 4/8 6MB 65W No DDR4-2666 - 99
Core i3-10105T Skylake 3GHz 3.6GHz 3.9GHz 4/8 6MB 35W No DDR4-2666 UHD 630 124
Pentium Gold G6605 Skylake 4.3GHz - - 2/4 4MB 65W No DDR4-2666 UHD 630 87
Pentium Gold G6505 Skylake 4.2GHz - - 2/4 4MB 65W No DDR4-2666 UHD 630 76
Pentium Gold G6505T Skylake 3.6GHz - - 2/4 4MB 35W No DDR4-2666 UHD 630 76
Pentium Gold G6405 Skylake 4.1GHz - - 2/4 4MB 65W No DDR4-2666 UHD 610 65
Pentium Gold G6405T Skylake 3.5GHz - - 2/4 4MB 35W No DDR4-2666 UHD 610 65

The Series T

So many suffixes, A "K" means an unlocked processor. A "U" means the chip is designed for laptops and mobile devices, as "U" chips are Intel's "ultra-low-power" models. Where "F" means the chip has no built-in graphics processor the "T" means the chips are designed to use less power while also having less performance than the standard chips without any letters. 


TDP and PL States

Rocket Lake processors are allowed to run load clock frequency values considerably higher and longer than 9th and 10th gen Coffee Lake. The TDP that is specified/listed is 125 Watt for the more core parts with 65 Watts for the more energy-friendly models. However, the story does not end there though as these TDP values are based on what is called the P1 state. For a 9900K that value sits at 95W, with the Comet- and Rocket Lake S thus 125W, of course, it is two more cores so nobody will wonder about that. However, there is also a PL2 state where a higher power limit can be applied for a short time. If you allow me to take that 9900K again as an example, it had a PL2 allowance of 1.25 times PL1, = 119W, for a duration of 28 seconds. Here's what's so different and where Intel yields most of its performance for Comet and Rocket lake, if I take the 11900K as an example, PL2 now is 2 times PL1, so 250W. That PL2 state now also is more longspun, ~56 seconds. And therein reaps the benefit of additional performance, substantially, but at the cost of energy and heat. 


CPU  P1 State PL2 State  Duration
Core i9 11900K 125 Watt 250 Watt 56 seconds
Core i7 11700K 125 Watt 229 Watt 56 seconds
Core i5 11600K 125 Watt 182 Watt 56 seconds
Core i5 11400F 65 Watt 125 Watt 29 seconds
Core i9 9900K 95 Watt 118 Watt 28 seconds
Core i9-9900KS 127 Watt 159 Watt 28 seconds

This means the overall performance can be a lot higher, but it will have an effect on power consumption and inevitably, heat levels. That close to a minute PL2 state duration is significant. With such significant power states, we do fail to see the significance and reliability of a listed TDP value these days if you allow double the TDP for almost a minute these days. Motherboard manufacturers can and will play around with this value, with maybe even longer PL2 states.


Z590 and what is the deal with that listed PCI Express 4.0 support?

With each new generation of CPUs, new chipsets are introduced at Intel. With Bo (a) rd this time are B560, H570, and Z590. The biggest innovation concerns the B560 and H570 chipsets, which for the first time offer the possibility of overclocking the main memory, which was previously reserved for the Z chipsets. According to Intel, the individual board manufacturers decide how much RAM-OC the boards can handle. There is also support for USB 3.2 Gen 2, x8 DMI Gen 3.0, Wi-Fi 6E, and Thunderbolt 4. Rocket Lake-S will move towards PCI Express 4.0, however just the processor. The Z590 PCH is still fully fetched PCIe Gen 3.0, the PCIe Gen 4.0 graphics card lanes thus are driver straight from the processor, and not chipset. The DMI link as such also sticks towards PCIe Gen 3.0 lanes (DMI = interconnect in-between CPU and chipset). Intel however did double up the bandwidth, connecting not four but eight lanes (with Z590). That also means Z490 is still using an x4 DMI PCIe Gen 3 interlink. And in case if you ever wondered how much one Z590 chip costs, it is 50 USD.


Z590block
 Z590Z490Z390
OC / Tweaking Yes Yes Yes
PCIe  lanes CPU 20 / Gen 4 16 16
PCIe lanes chipset 24 / Gen 3 24 24
SLI / Crossfire Yes Yes Yes
SATA3 6 6 6
USB 3.2 2x2 6 - -
USB 3.1 - 6 6
USB 3.0 10 10 10
USB 2.0 14 14 14
AX WiFi 6  Yes, by CNVi Yes, by CNVi -
2.5 Gigabit LAN Yes, by PHY Yes, by PHY -

OC Features

Intel provides more features than Comet Lake. In addition to the mentioned memory OC options on B560 and H570 chipsets, you have the option of changing the memory clock in real-time, configuring the offset for AVX2 and AVX-512 individually or even switching off AVX completely. Rocket Lake offers all the advantages that Comet Lake already offered, including XM profiles for the RAM, the Velocity Boost, per-core hyperthreading, BCKL-OC, maximum clock rate for individual cores - there are no limits to the possibilities, it should go without saying that you need a K-suffixed CPU to do this.

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