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11th Gen Intel Core CPU Review Roundup

Written on March 30, 2021 by Matt Bach
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Introduction

Earlier this month, Intel announced their new 11th Gen Intel Core desktop processors (code-named "Rocket Lake"). These new processors are marketed as having substantially better per-core performance compared to their previous 10th Gen Core models, but the top-end model (the Core i9 11900K) has two fewer cores than the previous generation which may hamper performance in some applications.

The improved IPC (Instructions Per Clock) performance of these new CPUs should make them significantly faster for lightly threaded applications like Photoshop and After Effects in particular, but the lower maximum core count may become an issue in many other workloads. To see how these new CPUs do in a range of other real-world scenarios, we have reviews looking at a number of applications across video and photo editing, game development, photogrammetry, and more. While this post includes a summary for each entry, we highly recommend reading the full article for programs you are interested in as we go into much greater detail in the individual reviews.

If you want to read about what sets these new 11th Gen CPUs apart from the previous generation, we recommend checking out our landing page for the 11th Gen Intel Core Processors.

While specifications are often not that useful when comparing Intel and AMD CPUs (or even two CPUs from different families), we did want to specifically point out the MSRP pricing for the 11th Gen CPUs as compared to the previous 10th Gen CPUs and the AMD Ryzen 5000 series. While pricing currently fluctuates widely depending on supply, this is still important because it gives a baseline with which to compare the different CPUs.

Processor MSRP
Intel Core i5 10600K 6 Core $262
Intel Core i5 11600K 6 Core $262
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 6 Core $299
Intel Core i7 10700K 8 Core $374
Intel Core i7 11700K 8 Core $399
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X 8 Core $449
Intel Core i9 10900K 10 Core $488
Intel Core i9 11900K 8 Core $513
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X 12 Core $549
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16 Core $799
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Adobe Photoshop

Read the full article: Adobe Photoshop: 11th Gen Intel Core vs AMD Ryzen 5000 Series

Summary: Depending on your budget, the new 11th Gen Intel Core processors range from being essentially on par, to slightly behind AMD's current Ryzen offerings. At the i5 and i7 level, the Core i5 11600K and Core i7 11700K perform a bit under the Ryzen 5600X and 5800X respectively, but cost a bit less as well. The Core i9 11900K, on the other hand, performs about the same as the Core i7 11700K, making it a both more expensive, and slower, than the Ryzen 5800X.

Overall, as long as you stick to the latest generation Core i7/i5 or Ryzen 5/7 processors, it is hard to go wrong with any of the Intel or AMD models for Photoshop. Above that price range, however, there is little to gain from either brand. The Intel Core i9 11900K isn't a great investment compared to the Core i7 11700K, and Photoshop doesn't benefit from the higher core count of the AMD Ryzen 5900X and 5950X processors. But below the ~$500 MSRP mark, you can pretty much expect to get a bit more performance for every bump up in price.

Adobe Photoshop 11th Gen Intel Core Performance

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Read the full article: Adobe Lightroom Classic: 11th Gen Intel Core vs AMD Ryzen 5000 Series

Summary: Unlike other applications like Photoshop where the 11th Gen CPUs often perform on par with the AMD Ryzen 5000 Series, AMD maintains a firm lead in Lightroom Classic. Depending on the price-point, the AMD Ryzen CPUs are overall 12% to 15% faster than the 11th Gen Intel CPUs, with most of that coming from passive tasks like exporting and generating previews where AMD can be 30% faster (or more).

One saving grace for Intel is that if you do not work with large numbers of photos, the Intel Core i7 10700K and Core i9 10900K are roughly on par with the AMD Ryzen processors for active tasks like switching between modules, adjustment sliders, etc. They are not faster than AMD, and even the Ryzen 5600X will perform within a few percent, but at least Intel is able to close the gap for those types of tasks.

Overall, however, if you are looking for a Lightroom Classic workstation, you will want to stick with the AMD Ryzen CPUs for now.

Lightroom Classic 11th Gen Intel Core Performance

Adobe After Effects

Read the full article: Adobe After Effects: 11th Gen Intel Core vs AMD Ryzen 5000 Series

Summary: Depending on your budget, the new 11th Gen Intel Core processors are either slightly faster or slightly slower than the AMD Ryzen CPUs depending on the type of workload. At the i5/i7 level, the Core i5 11600K and Core i7 11700K are a bit faster than the Ryzen 5600X and 5800X for RAM Preview and Rendering but fall behind quite a bit for Tracking tasks. The Core i9 11900K, on the other hand, performs about the same as the Core i7 11700K, making it a relatively poor value compared to either the 11700K or a similarly priced AMD Ryzen processor.

Overall, we would recommend going with the Intel 11th Gen CPUs if you don't do a lot of tracking, or the AMD Ryzen 5000 series if you do. Intel's advantage for RAM Preview and Rendering isn't that large, however, so if you are looking for the most balanced option, AMD is likely the best option at the moment.

Photoshop 11th Gen Intel Core Performance

Adobe Premiere Pro

Read the full article: Adobe Premiere Pro: 11th Gen Intel Core vs AMD Ryzen 5000 Series

Summary: Depending on your budget, the new 11th Gen Intel Core processors range from being slightly ahead, to slightly behind AMD's current Ryzen offerings. At the i5 and i7 level, the Core i5 11600K and Core i7 11700K cost a bit less than the Ryzen 5600X and 5800X respectively but perform within a handful of percent. This, with the advantage of supporting Quick Sync, puts Intel in a small lead.

The Core i9 11900K, on the other hand, performs about the same as the Core i7 11700K, making it a bit more expensive and slower than the Ryzen 5800X, or 14% slower than the more expensive Ryzen 5900X.

Overall, we would say that Intel has a slight lead for Premiere Pro at the sub-$400 range with the i5 11600K and i7 11700K, but the difference is so small that you could go with AMD if you wanted to without giving up too much. Above the $400 MSRP mark, however, AMD is likely going to be the better choice with their AMD Ryzen 5900X or 5950X.

Adobe Premiere Pro 11th Gen Intel Core Performance

DaVinci Resolve Studio

Read the full article: DaVinci Resolve Studio: 11th Gen Intel Core vs AMD Ryzen 5000 Series

Summary: Whether the new 11th Gen Intel Core processors are a good investment for DaVinci Resolve depends on a number of factors including your budget and how important Fusion performance is in your workflow.

Overall, we would rank the Core i5 11600K as a better option over AMD if you are on a tight budget due to its higher Fusion performance, while the Core i7 11700K is roughly equal to the similarly priced options from AMD from a value standpoint. The Core i9 11900K, however, you likely won't want to consider since, depending on the workload, it performs either the same as the Core i7 11700K, or is beaten by AMD's offerings.

DaVinci Resolve Studio 11th Gen Intel Core Performance

Unreal Engine

Read the full article: Unreal Engine: 11th Gen Intel Core vs AMD Ryzen 5000 Series

Summary: While Intel’s per-core performance improvements do have noticeable impacts when compared to the 10th Gen, they still lag behind the Ryzen CPUs with the same core count or price. Only one Intel CPU managed to outperform an equal Ryzen CPU, but only in one specific test. Otherwise, AMD outperformed Intel across the board, often at a lower price point.

Unreal Engine is an application that will leverage as many CPU cores as you throw at it. As such, Intel only offers up to 8 cores, while Ryzen also has 12 and 16 core options that significantly outperform anything Intel has. The Z590 platform also has improvements over the Z490, such as PCIe Gen4, but again, those improvements are putting them on par with what AMD has been offering for a while.

Unreal Engine Intel 11th Gen Performance

Cinema 4D

Read the full article: Cinema 4D: 11th Gen Intel Core vs AMD Ryzen 5000 Series

Summary: For CPU based rendering, the number of cores is the primary concern. Intel’s decision to cut two cores from the i9 11900K really hurt it with this generation. It barely manages to match the performance of the much less expensive AMD Ryzen 9 5800X. Only slightly more expensive than the 11900k is the 5900X which boasts 40% faster rendering performance.

The lower tier 11700K and 11600k do show significant performance improvements over the last generation but are just playing catchup with the similar offering from AMD. Then there is the upgrade path. If you did want to buy a workstation now, with the intent of upgrading the CPU later to improve rendering performance, Intel’s top offering barely matches the middle of the pack from AMD. When it comes to CPU rendering, AMD is the only clear choice.

V-Ray CPU Rendering

Read the full article: V-Ray: 11th Gen Intel Core vs AMD Ryzen 5000 Series

Summary: For CPU based rendering, the number of cores is the primary concern. Intel’s decision to cut two cores from the i9 11900K really hurt it with this generation. It barely manages to match the performance of the much less expensive AMD Ryzen 9 5800X. Only slightly more expensive than the 11900k is the 5900X which boasts 40% faster rendering performance.

The lower tier 11700K and 11600k do show significant performance improvements over the last generation but are just playing catchup with the similar offering from AMD. Then there is the upgrade path. If you did want to buy a workstation now, with the intent of upgrading the CPU later to improve rendering performance, Intel’s top offering barely matches the middle of the pack from AMD. When it comes to CPU rendering, AMD is the only clear choice.

V-Ray Next Intel 11th Gen Performance

Agisoft Metashape

Read the full article: Agisoft Metashape 1.7.2: 11th Gen Intel Core vs AMD Ryzen 5000 Series

Summary: The new Intel 11th Gen Core processors perform near the top in our Agisoft Metashape benchmark. However, AMD's Ryzen 7 5800X beats them for roughly the same price: its MSRP of $449 puts it right between the $399 and $513 for Intel's Core i7 11700K and i9 11900K, respectively. AMD's higher-end Ryzen 9 chips can also get a performance boost in Metashape by disabling SMT, putting them even further ahead of Intel. Those wanting the absolute best performance in Metashape will want to stick with AMD's Ryzen 5000 Series, but for most users any of these top-end Intel and AMD processors would do very nicely.

Metashape 1.6.4 11th Gen Intel Core CPU Performance

How well do the 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs perform overall?

While the 11th Gen Intel Core processors showed terrific performance gains versus the previous 10th Gen CPUs (especially at the i5 and i7 level), in many cases it is only enough to catch up to AMD's Ryzen 5000 series processors. And in the case of the Core i9 11900K, the loss of two cores versus the Core i9 10900K it replaces means that it rarely matches the AMD Ryzen 5900X or even the less expensive Ryzen 5800X outside a handful of specific tasks.

The Core i5 11600K is likely the strongest CPU of this new line - often matching or slightly beating the slightly more expensive Ryzen 5600X. This is not true for all workloads, however, so you should check our individual application results to ensure that you are not using an application (like Lightroom Classic) that performs best with an AMD CPU. But in general, the i5 11600K is a great CPU if you are on a tight budget.

The Core i7 11700K isn't quite as good as the Core i5 11600K relative to AMD, but in many cases is roughly on par with the Ryzen 5800X as far as value goes since it is slightly slower, but also slightly less expensive. One of the biggest issues with the Core i7 11700K is not that it under-performs for its price, but rather that it often performs roughly the same as the Core i9 11900K, making it on par with the highest-end SKU for the Z490/Z590 platform. This leaves no upgrade path if you need a more powerful CPU in the future, while with the AMD Ryzen 5000 series, you can easily upgrade to the Ryzen 5900X/5950X, and presumably to the next generation of AMD Ryzen CPUs without too much trouble.

Overall, for the 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs, the Core i5 11600K, in particular, is often a great option if you are on a tight budget, and the Core i7 11700K can also be a solid choice depending on the workload. The Core i9 11900K, on the other hand, is rarely worth the investment over the 11700K and is typically significantly slower than the Ryzen 5900X which is only $36 more.

One thing we do want to note is that these results may change slightly in the coming weeks and months. We unfortunately were not able to use a Z590 motherboard for our testing, and while we don't expect that to affect the results, surprises can - and do - happen. In addition, there is a feature called "Thermal Velocity Boost" for the Core i9 11900K that is currently in beta that may allow that CPU to squeeze out a little bit more performance. We don't expect either of these to greatly affect the results, but they may allow the Core i9 11900K, in particular, to be a bit more competitive versus AMD. We should have follow-up articles covering both these topics in the near future.

If you are looking for a workstation with one of these new 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs, you can visit our solutions page to view our recommended workstations for various software packages (some of which are using - or will be using - the 11th Gen CPUs), our custom configuration page, or contact one of our technology consultants for help configuring a workstation that meets the specific needs of your unique workflow.

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Tags: Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, Lightroom CLassic, DaVinci Resolve, Unreal Engine, Cinebench, V-Ray, Metashape, Intel 11th Gen, Intel vs AMD, i5 11600K, i7 11700K, i9 11900K
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