Intel’s 14th-Generation Super Desktop CPUs: A Subtle Iteration in a Changing Landscape

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Intel's track record of recent desktop processor generations hasn't been one of groundbreaking innovations, largely due to challenges in implementing new manufacturing technologies. While the 12th-generation CPUs, codenamed Alder Lake, brought significant improvements, subsequent iterations have often fallen short in delivering exciting advancements.

Intel's 14th-generation desktop processors have just been officially launched, and they continue the trend of incremental updates, which is especially evident when compared to their 13th-generation predecessors. The silver lining for budget-conscious PC builders is that these new chips remain compatible with existing 600- and 700-series motherboards with a BIOS update. Intel isn't introducing new motherboards to accompany the 14th-gen processors. So, while there may not be compelling reasons to upgrade from a 12th-gen setup, the option is there.

Even the branding Intel has chosen for these processors harks back to the past. The next-gen Meteor Lake chips for laptops, as well as other chips in Intel's lineup, are shifting away from the generational and i3/i5/i7/i9 branding in favor of simply “Core” and “Core Ultra.” Intel acknowledges that this branding signifies the striking similarity between the 14th-gen chips and their 13th-gen and 12th-gen predecessors.

The 13th-gen refresh, known as Raptor Lake, brought some noteworthy changes to the Alder Lake architecture. In high-end chips, Intel increased the maximum number of E-cores, added extra L2 and L3 cache, and made slight clock speed improvements. Power budgets also saw modest increases. For some lower-end chips, primarily those in the non-overclockable i5 tier and below, Intel retained the Alder Lake architecture with a few additional E-cores and clock speed boosts but no fundamental changes in the silicon.

The 14th-gen CPUs are essentially a reiteration of Raptor Lake. There are no additional E-cores in the high-end models, no increase in cache, no enhancement in officially supported memory speeds, and no change in default power requirements. Base and Turbo clock speeds for P- and E-cores have seen minor increments of 100 or 200 MHz, and the integrated Intel UHD 770 GPU remains unchanged.

Intel is releasing its new desktop CPUs with its usual strategy, starting with six unlocked and overclockable processors: three K-series CPUs with integrated GPUs and three KF-series CPUs without GPUs, which come at a $25 lower price point.

Key Specifications:

  • Core i9-14900K: 8P/16E cores, base/boost clocks 3.2/6.0 GHz (P), 2.4/4.4 GHz (E), 68MB total cache, 125/253 W power.
  • Core i9-13900K: 8P/16E cores, base/boost clocks 3.0/5.8 GHz (P), 2.2/4.3 GHz (E), 68MB total cache, 125/253 W power.
  • Core i7-14700K: 8P/12E cores, base/boost clocks 3.4/5.6 GHz (P), 2.5/4.3 GHz (E), 61MB total cache, 125/253 W power.
  • Core i7-13700K: 8P/8E cores, base/boost clocks 3.4/5.4 GHz (P), 2.5/4.2 GHz (E), 54MB total cache, 125/253 W power.
  • Core i5-14600K: 6P/8E cores, base/boost clocks 3.5/5.3 GHz (P), 2.6/4.0 GHz (E), 44MB total cache, 125/150 W power.
  • Core i5-13600K: 6P/8E cores, base/boost clocks 3.5/5.1 GHz (P), 2.6/3.9 GHz (E), 44MB total cache, 125/181 W power.
Intel 14th Generation Desktop

The i9-14900K and i5-14600K are essentially the same as their predecessors with slight clock speed increases. Although Intel claims to have “refined” its Intel 7 manufacturing process for these chips, the optimizations haven't resulted in radical changes in performance or power consumption. The i9-14900K can reach 6 GHz with Intel's Thermal Velocity Boost feature, but this remains a marginal real-world improvement.

The i7-14700K stands out with an additional cluster of E-cores, bringing their count to 12, which, when combined with the P-cores, total 20 cores. This has also led to an increase in the CPU's L2 and L3 cache. While it may not surpass the i9 in performance, this change makes the i7 a more attractive option for cost-conscious home workstations.

Intel's performance figures often avoid direct comparisons with the previous generation, but they do show comparisons with AMD's flagship Ryzen 9 7950X3D. While Intel often shows the i9-14900K outperforming it, the improvements are generally marginal. The i7-14700K, however, exhibits more significant generation-over-generation improvements, with performance ranging from 1.14 to 1.63 times that of the Core i7-12700K, depending on the task.

Details about the lower-tier non-K processors are expected in early next year, typically around CES in January. While there's little reason to anticipate more exciting changes in these cheaper chips, the addition of extra E-core clusters to mainstream workhorse CPUs in the Core i5 and i7 families would be a welcome improvement.

Lastly, Intel has introduced a new feature called “AI Assist” in its XTU overclocking software, which uses AI models to estimate stable overclock settings. As of now, this feature only works with the i9-14900K and KF-series CPUs. Expanding its compatibility to older CPUs supported by XTU would be a notable development.

In conclusion, the new 14th-gen Intel processors, while promising, don't bring about a significant shift in the desktop computing landscape. They share many similarities with their predecessors, making them a rather unexciting choice for desktop builders. Performance and power consumption benchmarks will provide more insight, but the initial impression is one of modest improvement.


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