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Rocket Lake Engineering Samples Benchmarked Against Zen 3

Tallying up the scores.

One of Chip Hell’s users reportedly acquired an early B560 motherboard and engineering samples of three of Intel’s new Rocket Lake CPUs, including the Core i7-11700, Core i9-11900, and Core i9-11900K, as detailed in a recent post.

The tests compared each processor to AMD’s best eight-core chip, the Ryzen 7 5800X, which is powered by the Zen 3 architecture. Because these Intel chips are engineering samples, their clock speeds are significantly slower than those of retail models. The poster also included Intel’s previous-generation Core i9-9900K and Core i7-10700K to compare performance gains between generations.

The testbed utilized the same B560 motherboard described previously, a B550 Taichi Razer Edition for the AMD tests, an ASRock Radeon RX 6800 Taichi, a 2x8GB kit of ZADAK Spark DDR4-3600 memory module, a 1000W Antec HCG-X1000 power supply, and a 360mm AIO liquid cooler.

Here are the tested samples of Rocket Lake engineering:

  • QV1J, Core i7-11700 ES — 1.8GHz base frequency, 4.4GHz boost frequency.
  • QVTE, Core i9-11900 ES — 1.8GHz base frequency, 4.5GHz boost frequency.
  • QV1K, Core i9-11900K ES — 3.4GHz base frequency, 4.8GHz boost frequency.

Even though Chip Hell hosts a variety of benchmarks, we will only discuss the locked 4GHz benchmark results. We chose to focus on this test because the engineering samples for Rocket Lake are clocked so slowly that any performance benchmarks derived from these samples are unique to these samples and will not reflect actual Rocket Lake performance when retail SKUs are released later this year.

The “4GHz Locked” Benchmark

Chip Hell ran Cinebench on the Core i9-9900K, Core i7-10700K, Core i11900K ES, and Ryzen 7 5800X, but with all the chips clocked at 4GHz. This allowed us to see how much of an IPC gain Rocket Lake-S has purely from an architectural standpoint, as clock speed is no longer the determining factor in performance.

Processor Cinebench R15 Single-Threaded Cinebench R15 Multi-Threaded
Ryzen 7 5800X 221 1,121
Core i9-11900K ES 200 1,029
Core i7-10700K 176 888
Core i9-9900K 168 852

Rocket Lake is 13% ahead of Comet Lake. Compare this to the 4% generational jump between Coffee Lake and Comet Lake.

Nevertheless, despite the architectural improvements, Intel is unable to defeat AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X, which wins by 8%.

It appears that Intel will rely heavily on clock speed to gain an advantage over AMD’s Zen 3 architecture, as AMD appears to continue to outperform Intel clock-for-clock. However, the architectural changes were sufficient to provide Rocket Lake with a respectable IPC increase over Comet Lake. If the clock speeds of shipping Rocket Lake models increase, the overall performance gap should also widen significantly.

Nevertheless, Intel will continue to struggle against AMD’s Zen 3 platform, regardless of whether or not it wins the single-threaded battle, as Rocket Lake will lag behind Zen 3 in terms of core count, and this will not change until Intel’s 12th-generation Alder Lake architecture is released.

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