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Intel Core i7-11700KF 8-Core Processor Review

A gaming performance review of the Intel Core i7-11700KF 8-core processor.

Introduction: Core i7-11700KF

In this review we’ll take a close look at the gaming performance of the Intel Core i7-11700KF. A no-IGP, 2nd-class citizen in Intel’s stacks, their non-KF CPUs receive no respect from Intel as the company prefers its IGP-infused offerings. For most gamers, there’s really no point in having an IGP and while it does have its merits, the KF-type CPUs are remarkably underpromoted by Intel. That said, the lower cost and potentially cooler CPU due to the lack of an IGP does have its many advantages but as we’ll see in this review, that’s not always the case.

Today marks Intel’s official launch of its 11th-gen Core CPUs, codenamed Rocket Lake. Already preempted by early reviews, the CPUs should be available immediately and we’ll talk about how it fits in this shortage-stricken world. The Core i7-11700KF is certainly a CPU for enthusiasts but as it shares the same core and thread count with the Core-i9 11900K, is Intel shooting themselves in the foot by offering a potentially more enticing offer in the Core i7 range or are we seeing the exact opposite. Read on to find out more!

Note: As this review is released alongside our Core i9-11900K review, many details and content will be shared with that review.

11th-Gen Intel Core Desktop CPU Architecture

Its not easy being an Intel fan the past year and many have been clamoring for Intel’s promises for a new architecture and a refined process but we’re sort of getting that with the 11th-gen Intel CPU… sort of. Built on the 10nm Sunny Cove architecture, due to production difficulties, constraints, hurdles, etc. on their 10nm node, Intel has decided to backport and build Rocket Lake-S for desktop on 14nm. The Sunny Cove cores aren’t the only ones getting a backport as the integrated graphics for Rocket lake is also getting the 14nm treatment from 10nm on the Xe-LP IGP, as seen on Tiger Lake. That said, this marks another addition to Intel’s 14nm history perpetuating the meme of the 14nm+++++++++++++++^n. Intel’s new CEO Pat Gelsinger is confident that they can overcome this soon as they have the capacity and capability to do so.

What’s the deal with 14nm?

Intel’s tick-tock cycle has been on a standstill for a while and Skylake saw it becoming one of the most mature desktop CPU if the the only one that lasted as long as it did when it saw Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, Coffee Lake Refresh and Comet Lake. Intel’s story regarding its 10nm process is known but details are not very public and but Intel has recently come out and stated that efforts to bring 10nm for socketed desktop CPUs has seen them on the negative end of the development process. As Ice Lake already existed, Intel decided to end Skylake’s prolonged stay with Rocket Lake. This birthed the decision to backport Ice Lake to 14nm together with Xe-LP.

Intel’s 11th-gen Core Desktop CPU Architecture

The issue here is that with modern desktop CPUs being marketed with >4Ghz clocks, both AMD and Intel have put it upon themselves that they can make architectures that can operate with such clock speeds despite also being having lower power draw. AMD managed to get over that hurdles thanks in part to third-parties capable of producing at a smaller process with TSMC handling their manufacturing. As a company that generally produces things in-house, Intel’s choice to keep it within themselves to create their solution to 10nm has been largely a bust and has cost them a growing chunk of the desktop market, particularly the gaming segment.

Test Setup and Methodology

 Intel Core i9-11900KIntel Core i7-11700KFIntel Core i9-10900KIntel Core i7-10700KAMD Ryzen 9 5950XAMD Ryzen 7 5800X
uArchCypress CoveCypress CoveComet LakeComet lakeZen3Zen3
Cores/Threads8-core/16-thread8-core/16-thread10-core/20-thread8-core/16-thread16-core/32-thread8-core/16-thread
Base Frequency3.5 Ghz3.6 Ghz3.7 Ghz3.8 Ghz3.4 Ghz3.8 Ghz
Turbo Frequency5.3 Ghz5 Ghz5.3 Ghz5.1 Ghz4.9 Ghz4.7 Ghz
TDP125W125W125W125W105W105W
PCIeGen4 (20 lanes)Gen4 (20 lanes)Gen3 (16 lanes)Gen3 (16 lanes)Gen4 (24 lanes)Gen4 (24 lanes)

This review will focus primarily on gaming performance but to touch on CPU performance, we’ll have some reviews as well. The motherboard used for the 11th-gen CPUs is the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero and our RAM of choice is the G.Skill Trident Z Royal DDR4-4000 C17 32GB (16GBx2) memory kit. This setup makes up our previously drafted AMD test bench for our GPU and we will use it here in hopes of achieving the same expectations from the current performance king amongst the mainstream CPUs which is the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X.

Test System

Intel Core i9-11900K Intel Core i7-11700KF Intel Core i9-10900K Intel Core i7-10700K AMD Ryzen 9 5950X AMD Ryzen 7 5800X
Motherboard ASUS ROG MAXIMUS XIII HERO (BIOS 0610) ASUS ROG MAXIMUS XII EXTREME ASUS ROG CROSSHAIR VIII FORMULA
RAM G.Skill Trident Z Royal DDR4-4000 C17 32GB (16GBx2) Dual-Channel Memory Kit
GPU ZOTAC RTX 3080 Trinity OC
PSU SeaSonic P1050 1050W + Powenetics Power Measurement System
SSD Patriot Viper VP4100 1TB (CPU Test), GIGABYTE GP-AG42TB 2TB SSD (Gaming Test)
Cooling NZXT X63 280mm AIO

These tests has been done on the week of March 25th with final testing finishing on March 29th. That is just a few hours away from this launch and we hope that we’re also launching with Z590 reviews. That said, I’ve chosen to focus on the CPUs first as they’re integral to the overall scheme of things.

Back to our test bench, all the systems are tested in open test benches. Ambient temperature is maintain at 28*C and motherboards are kept on stock except for XMP. MCE is disabled. All tests are performed in the same time frame, no score is recycled from previous tests. No CPU is simulated as well.

Back to our test bench, all the systems are tested in open test benches. Ambient temperature is maintain at 28*C and motherboards are kept on stock except for XMP. MCE is disabled. All tests are performed in the same time frame, no score is recycled from previous tests. No CPU is simulated as well.

CPU Tests

  • Arithmetic Test
    • SuperPI 32M(Single-Threaded)
    • wPrime (Multi-threaded)
  • Rendering Test
    • Blender 3D
    • Cinebench R20
    • Cinebench R23
    • POV-Ray
    • CoronaRender
    • VRay 4
  • Encoding Test
    • 7zip
    • x265 1080p
    • x265 4K
  • Memory Test
    • AIDA64 Memory Benchmark
  • Content Creation Test
    • PugetBenchmark for Photoshop
    • PugetBenchmark for Premiere Pro
  • Productivity Test
    • Microsoft Office Word
    • Microsoft Office Excel
    • Microsoft Office PowerPoint
  • Synthetic Gaming Test
    • 3DMark Time Spy
    • 3DMark Fire Strike

Gaming Test

  • Counter-Strike Global Offensive (DirectX 9)
  • DOTA 2 (DirectX 11)
  • Rainbow Six Siege (DirectX 11)
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DirectX 11)
  • Grand Theft Auto V (DirectX 11)
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider (DirectX 12)
  • Call of Duty Warzone (DirectX 12)
  • Apex Legends (DirectX 11)
  • Valorant (DirectX 11)
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) (DirectX11)
  • Cyberpunk 2077 (DirectX 12)

All games tested on 720p, 1080p, 1440p and 4K

Thermal Behavior and Power Consumption

Intel has been criticized about its power consumption many times over and that remains the same for this generation. Despite reporting a 125W TDP, Intel and its motherboard partners can freely ignore the restrictions supposedly set by Intel as it provides a free “boost” of performance at the cost of some extra power. That said, turbo performance has been the primary benchmark of performance for many motherboards in the Z-class for Intel and these boards enforce their own prescription of what an Intel CPU can work with. We’ll touch more about how some motherboard try to get around this further in this generation in our Z590 motherboard reviews.

Going back to Rocket Lake, we’re introduced to AVX-512 with this release. AVX-512 has debuted in some form on some HEDT and the server space but Rocket Lake marks its MSDT debut. AVX in itself is a taxing CPU load so AVX-512 should push that workload further causing heat and power to spike.

Intel Core i7-11700KF power and temperature behavior under load

These are the peak power draw we recorded during our stress testing sessions. Depending on your workload and configuration, these values may change. These results are only comparable to the setup similar to ours. The workload is AIDA64 stability test (only disk and GPU unchecked) and 3DMark Fire Strike.

Overclocking the Core i7-11700KF Review?

Despite being supplied by Intel CPUs for these reviews, only ASUS has provided a form of documentation about these CPUs. I was not able to secure a copy of Intel’s reviewer’s guide for this CPU and had no primer regarding the architecture nor the expectations. ASUS did share a quick OC guide which details some of the new behaviors to be expected from this CPU. Regardless, that was a bit late into testing and initial trials on overclocking was challenging.

I am the kind of reviewer that when overclocking is involved, I would make sure I have adequate cooling. That said, I had higher expectation on the Core i7-11700KF due to configuration but alas, Rocket Lake is simply a hot chip and with voltages already past 1.5v, while I feel this is enough to drive the 5.2Ghz OC, the temperatures are just going against me in this case. We’ll check back on overclocking in a future article but take note, this is a toasty chip.

CPU Test

Arithmetic, Rendering, Encoding

SuperPI is a long-standing benchmark and is popular in the overclocking scene. As a single-threaded application, it calculates the value of Pi to a very large of digits, specifically 32 million for this benchmark. Gives a good idea how fast in math a single thread of a CPU is. wPrime

wPrime is another math benchmark designed to find prime numbers. This multi-threaded benchmark is designed to use up multiple CPU threads to perform its testing operations.

Blender’s Open Data project allows users to publish their own benchmarks so that the Blender project can create a reference guide for users on various systems and generate expected performance. We use the Barcelona Pavilion benchmark running on the CPUs for this test.

Cinebench R20 and R23 are Maxon Cinema 4D‘s benchmarking component and is available freely for download for everyone. These benchmarks are popular CPU rendering benchmarks and creates a taxing workload as it renders a single 3D image. R23 introduces a stress test mode as well for stability and throttle testing.

POV-Ray is another long-existing benchmark which is a raytracer. With raytracing being more commonly heard right now, the the heavily-taxing nature of raytracing during rendering is still a good benchmark to measure CPU performance and POV-Ray is a good example of that.

Just like CineBench, Corona is another rendering benchmark for a static scene and leverages CPU capabilities.

7-zip benchmark is a compression and decompression benchmark and outputs its results in millions of instructions per second or MIPS. The better the system, the higher the score but is primarily influenced by the CPU and RAM.

Memory Performance

A straightforward test: shows us a measurement of memory bandwidth.

Content Creation

PugetBench is a collection of benchmarks designed to gauge the performance of workstations and is made by boutique PC builder, Puget Systems. The benchmark measures various operations of the the applications and scores them. Photoshop benchmark measures plenty of the application’s commonly used function and Premiere Pro is tested on its editing and rendering as well effects application performance. The smoother the experience and faster the render, the better the score. This is a system benchmark and many factors affect each individual benchmark.

Productivity

Microsoft Office is one of the most ubiquitous software in the world and people take it for granted. Our testing will cover typical performance from file opening, copy images, moving data, and various other tasks. This is done on a very sizable project for each application and the total time to complete the overall operation is presented for Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Syntethic Gaming

UL Benchmark is a popular way to showcase the theoretical gaming performance of a system with its very uniform testing scenes. They have a global database that pools these data and allows you to gauge if your system is operating as expected or not. While it is GPU-intensive, the total score will also be influenced by your CPU.

Looking good for Intel on synthetic testing but do some actual testing. Before we dive right in, I’ll refer your to one of our recent tests for my GPU testing methodology. You can also see our most recent update on how we measure graphics card performance in this article.

Gaming Performance (720p)

Testing games in 720p is a theoretical test to induce a CPU-limited scenario by pumping frames and giving us a good image of how a CPU would perform once it reaches these numbers. A system incapable of handling 720p numbers would theoretically not be able to attain anything higher with the resolution cranked up. That said, this serves as a purely artificial testing scenario especially for this review’s particular tier.

Core i9-11900K games benchmark in 720p (RTX 3080)

Gaming Peformance: Esports

Counter-Strike Global Offensive

DOTA 2

Rainbow Six Siege

Call of Duty Warzone

Apex Legends

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)

Valorant

Gaming Performance

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Grand Theft Auto V

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Cyberpunk 2077

Value & Conclusion

It’s an hour before embargo lifts and as I stare at the charts and try to dive into Intel’s mentality in releasing this product. As a company faced heavily with a successful competition and as a company who is faced against a wall into developing their technology further, Rocket Lake is an acceptance of those realities. While it features Intel’s newest technologies, those new technologies fail to deliver a what a modern CPU is striving for. To keep enthusiasts happy, boost clocks serve nothing more as a band-aid as the upper products of Rocket Lake just won’t hold a candle to AMD’s 8-core CPU offering.

At the time of writing, the Core i7-11700K is retailing for around $450 on early sellers. Extrapolating possible KF prices, I am assuming that the Core i7-11700KF would be around $380-$420, which is somehow too much to ask given the Core i9-10900K is already seeing sub-$400 listing and the Core i7-10700K already dipping for way less. With both Rocket Lake CPUs on-par or inferior with its predecessor, it’s going to be hard to push Gen4 as a feature to sell these CPUs.

Looking at it from a purely gaming perspective, you’re not going to be getting a massive boost in performance with Gen4 graphics cards and Gen4 SSDs themselves still a while away from reaching the theoretical limit of Gen4 which really pushes the interface. Other than that, there is nothing in Rocket Lake that the majority of gamers will like. I went into this review having the state of mind that maybe, just maybe, pricing may be good for Intel and I’m still hopeful but that remains to be seen.

Intel Core i7-11700K: worth it for gaming?

If you’re buying a new PC, price would still be a factor here and that plays into the purchasing decision as some distributors may push CPU+Motherboard just to buy a GPU, so given the insane prices of graphics cards today, that could be a possibility which would improve overall price. Is it bad for gaming? Not really, but the cost-benefit ratio is hard to justify with the current landscape while Comet Lake is still available.

Intel Core i7-11700K: good upgrade?

As an upgrade, you’re not getting much coming from Comet Lake and it is most certainly not worth hopping the fence over from AMD if you’re from at least a Zen2. We’re still anticipating pricing and a market change could force this CPU into a position where people have no choice but to buy it with AMD still suffering from their own shortage.

Related reading: Intel Core i7-10700K Review – Better than a Flagship

Without anything else in the market, the Intel Core i7-11700K would’ve stood out against a 1st-gen Ryzen and would’ve decimated it outright, but with delays upon delay, Intel’s Core i7-11700KF is not for this time.

This processor is a lot of IFs and BUTs as a purchase decision so if you’re reading this after 6 months and a shortage has completely ravaged AMD stocks and demand for Comet Lake drove it to extinction which leaves you with Rocket Lake, just leave a comment and future me will take care of you.

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My favorite animal is the scapegoat.

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