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How Many Cores Do Intel Core i7-12700KF CPUs Have?

Find out how many cores Intel's 12th generation Core i7 12700KF processors have.

Motherboard Timur Garifov / Unsplash

Last Updated: January 11, 2022

Written by Kevin Jones

In addition to discussing the number of cores contained in the 12700KF, this article will discuss recommendations for CPUs and compatible motherboards, CPU coolers, and memory.

How Many Cores Do 12700KF CPUs Have?

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Intel's 12700KF CPUs have 8 Performance (P) cores and 4 Efficiency (E) cores for a total of 12 cores.

The P cores are comparable to previous generation cores. They support Hyper-Threading, which means they provide two threads each.

E cores are focused on adding additional threads in an energy-efficient manner. They take up much less room on the CPU and generate less heat. However, their smaller cache and minimal interconnect capabilities make them more appropriate for offloading background tasks.

The Intel Thread Director handles scheduling between the types of cores. Running a game will primarily use P cores. At the same time, the Intel Thread Director may offload operating system tasks and low priority periodic events to E cores.

Check out our Recommended 12th Gen CPUs and Motherboards below.

Intel Core i7-12700KF Intel Core i7-12700KF Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Which Operating Systems Can Make Optimal Use of the E Cores?

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The Intel Thread Director is used to help operating systems determine onto which cores to schedule work.

Currently, only Windows 11 makes optimal use of the Intel Thread Director.

As of early 2022, Linux support for the Intel Thread Director is still in progress. The latest version of Linux will typically prioritize P cores over E cores using the current less efficient implementation that uses the Turbo Boost Max 3.0 driver.

How Many Threads Does the 12700KF Have?

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Hyper-Threading is only available on Performance cores. One thread for each of the 4 Efficiency cores plus two threads for each of the 8 Performance cores results in a total of 20 threads.

At What Frequency Does the 12700KF Run?

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Prior to Intel's 12th generation of processors, CPUs had a single base frequency and max turbo frequency. With Intel's 12 generation processors, the Efficiency and Performance cores use two individual sets of frequency values.

The 8 Performance cores have a 3.60 GHz base frequency and support a 4.90 GHz max turbo frequency.

The 4 Efficiency cores have a 2.70 GHz base frequency and support a 3.80 GHz max turbo frequency.

What Does the KF Suffix in 12700KF Mean?

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Processor Name Suffix Meaning
K "K" means it's an unlocked CPU. Unlocked CPUs have configurable frequencies and thus support overclocking. Your motherboard must use a Z-series chipset to overclock these unlocked CPUs. For example, motherboards with the Z690 chipset support overclocking Intel's 12th Gen Core CPUs.
F "F" means it requires discrete graphics. In other words, it doesn't have integrated graphics (basically a GPU built into the processor), thus requiring a standalone graphics card.

The 12700KF model name has an F suffix. F-suffixed CPUs do not contain integrated graphics, and a separate graphics card is required.

The 12700KF model name has a K suffix. K-suffixed CPUs can be overclocked with a compatible motherboard.

Your motherboard must use a Z-series chipset to overclock these unlocked CPUs. For example, motherboards with the Z690 chipset support overclocking Intel's 12th Gen Core CPUs.

CPU Cooling for the 12700KF

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A CPU cooler's TDP (Thermal Design Power) rating indicates how much heat it can dissipate in watts. If the cooler can't keep your CPU cool enough, your CPU may throttle (slow down), and your cooler will constantly run at full speed.

Intel CPU specifications indicate this power dissipation number as "Processor Base Power" and "Maximum Turbo Power."

The Core i7-12700KF has a base TDP of 125 watts and a max turbo TDP of 190 watts.

A CPU cooler can still work with a lower TDP rating than the TDP of a CPU. However, the CPU will eventually throttle itself to a lower frequency to allow itself to cool.

Without adequate cooling, the CPU may not be able to achieve or maintain maximum turbo speeds.

Learn more in What is the Best Type of CPU cooler for a Gaming PC?

The distance between heatsink screw holes for the LGA 1700 increased to 78x78 mm from the 75x75 mm spacing typical of recent sockets. This new spacing means you'll need a new cooler/heatsink or upgrade kit that supports the new configuration.

Motherboard Requirements for LGA 1700 Processors

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For 12th Gen Intel Core processors, you'll need a motherboard with an LGA 1700 socket. You will need a motherboard with the Z690 chipset to support CPU overclocking. Otherwise, you can use a motherboard with Intel's other 600 series desktop chipsets (e.g., H670, B660, H610).

Motherboards with the Z690 chipset were the first ones available, while motherboards with the other chipsets are starting to be released in early 2022.

Intel 600 Series Desktop Chipsets
Z690H670B660H610
Release Date Q4 2021 Q1 2022 Q1 2022 Q1 2022
CPU Overclocking Yes No No No
PCIe 5.0 Slots via Processor One x16 or Two x8 One x16 or Two x8 One x16 One x16
PCIe 4.0 Slots via Processor One x4 One x4 One x4 None
PCIe 4.0 Lanes via Chipset Up to 12 Up to 12 Up to 6 None
PCIe 3.0 Lanes via Chipset Up to 16 Up to 12 Up to 8 8
Memory Overclocking Yes Yes Yes Yes
Memory Channels 2 2 2 1
DMI 4.0 Lanes 8 8 4 4
USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20 Gbps) Up to 4 Up to 2 Up to 2 None
USB 3.2 Gen 2x1 (10 Gbps) Up to 10 Up to 4 Up to 4 Up to 2
USB 3.2 Gen 1x1 (5 Gbps) Up to 10 Up to 8 Up to 6 Up to 4
USB 2.0 Ports 14 14 12 10
Wi-Fi 6E Yes Yes Yes Yes
SATA 3.0 Ports Up to 8 Up to 8 Up to 4 4
PCIe RAID 0,1,5 Support Yes Yes No No
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Best Intel High-Performance Enthusiast CPU: Intel Core i9-12900K

  • Up to 5.2 GHz: perfect for games, video editing, and high-intensity tasks.

  • 16 cores (8 Performance + 8 Efficiency): Quite a few cores considering the frequency! This combination makes it a great all-around system that can handle almost any task.

  • Virtualization features make it great for running virtual machines.

  • Check the latest price of the Intel Core i9-12900K on Amazon (affiliate link).

    Intel Core i9-12900K Processor 16 Cores (8P+8E) up to 5.2 GHz Intel Core i9-12900K Processor 16 Cores (8P+8E) up to 5.2 GHz Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link
  • For the Intel Core i9-12900K CPU, you'll need a motherboard with the Z690 chipset to support CPU overclocking. Otherwise, you can use a motherboard with Intel's other 600 series desktop chipsets (e.g., H670, B660, H610).

  • Our recommended DDR4 motherboard to pair with the i9-12900K is Gigabyte's Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4: GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4 GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

    • PCIe 5.0 support
    • It supports up to 128GB of DDR4 memory!
    • 2.5 Gb Ethernet port is faster than most home Internet speeds with room to spare for file transfers.
    • Wi-Fi 6
    • Bluetooth 5.2 is great for streaming music to Bluetooth headphones.
    • Four x4 NVMe M.2 slots, which is fantastic! All four of these run at PCIe 4.0 speeds.
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
    • Check the latest price of the GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4 on Amazon (affiliate link).
  • Our recommended DDR5 motherboard to pair with the i9-12900K is Gigabyte's Z690 AORUS Master: GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Master GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Master Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

    • PCIe 5.0 support
    • It supports up to 128GB of DDR5 memory (DDR5 provides the fastest memory speeds)!

      DDR5 memory appears to be out of stock at most retailers, so I recommend sticking with a DDR4 motherboard or preparing for a long wait.

    • 10 Gbps Ethernet port is faster than any home Internet speed available with tons of room to spare for file transfers.
    • Wi-Fi 6E makes it easy to reach the fastest speeds and future-proof your Wi-Fi system.
    • Bluetooth 5.2 is great for streaming music to Bluetooth headphones.
    • Four x4 NVMe M.2 slots, which is fantastic! Three of these run at PCIe 4.0 speeds, and one at PCIe 3.0 speeds.
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
    • Check the latest price of the GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Master on Amazon (affiliate link).

Best Value CPU: Intel Core i5-12600K

  • Less than half the price of the i9-12900K, but still excellent performance at up to 4.9 GHz.

  • 10 cores (6 Performance + 4 Efficiency): This core count makes it suitable for everyday multi-threading tasks, such as having tons of browser windows open.

  • Virtualization features make it great for running virtual machines.

  • Check the latest price of the Intel Core i5-12600K on Amazon (affiliate link).

    Intel Core i5-12600K Intel Core i5-12600K Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link
  • For the Intel Core i5-12600K CPU, you'll need a motherboard with the Z690 chipset to support CPU overclocking. Otherwise, you can use a motherboard with Intel's other 600 series desktop chipsets (e.g., H670, B660, H610).

  • Our recommended DDR4 motherboard to pair with the i5-12600K is GIGABYTE's Z690 Gaming X DDR4 motherboard: GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X DDR4 GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X DDR4 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

    • PCIe 5.0 support
    • It supports up to 128GB of DDR4 memory!
    • Four x4 NVMe M.2 slots, which is fantastic! All four of these run at PCIe 4.0 speeds.
    • 2.5 Gb Ethernet port is faster than most home Internet speeds with room to spare for file transfers.
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
    • Check the latest price of the GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X DDR4 on Amazon (affiliate link).
  • Our recommended DDR5 motherboard to pair with the i5-12600K is GIGABYTE's Z690 AORUS PRO motherboard: GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS PRO GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS PRO Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

    • PCIe 5.0 support
    • It supports up to 128GB of DDR5 memory!

      DDR5 memory appears to be out of stock at most retailers, so I recommend sticking with a DDR4 motherboard or preparing for a long wait.

    • Three NVMe M.2 slots, which is excellent! These all run at PCIe 4.0 speeds.
    • 2.5 Gb Ethernet port is faster than most home Internet speeds with room to spare for file transfers.
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
    • Check the latest price of the GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS PRO on Amazon (affiliate link).
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The LGA 1700 socket will require a CPU cooler that supports the new socket size. Some manufacturers are releasing upgrade kits for LGA 1200 heatsinks to support the new size.

Best AIO Liquid Cooler: Enermax Liqmax III 360

  • This Enermax liquid cooler has an excellent cooling capability with a 360-watt TDP (Thermal Design Power).
  • Supports a variety of CPU sockets, including Intel LGA 2066, 2011-3, 2011, 1700, 1200, 1366, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150 and AMD AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1.
  • Quiet operation at 14-27 dBA.
  • You can request an LGA 1700 mounting kit via the LGA 1700 Mounting Kit Request Form.
  • Make sure your computer case dimensions support this, as it will take up a decent amount of space! Enermax Liqmax III 360 Enermax Liqmax III 360 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Best Dual-Fan Air CPU Cooler: Thermaltake TOUGHAIR 510

  • This CPU cooler doesn't have any fancy LED lights, but the dual 120 mm fans do a great job of cooling LGA 1700 CPUs.
  • Suppose you think this cooler will take up too much space. In that case, Thermaltake has a few single-fan TOUGHAIR variants which use different orientations.
  • This CPU cooler has a 2000 RPM max speed for optimal cooling.
  • 180-watt TDP (Thermal Design Power). Thermaltake TOUGHAIR 510 Thermaltake TOUGHAIR 510 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link
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Due to the limited availability of DDR5, I'm only recommending a specific DDR4 product at this time.

However, you can check the current availability of DDR5 on Amazon (affiliate link).

  • It comes in a variety of frequencies, including 3000 MHz, 3200 MHz, 3600 MHz, 4000 MHz, and 4400 MHz
  • Reasonable CL16 timings (CAS Latency)
  • The low-profile form factor ensures that the heat spreaders don't get in the way of other devices, including your CPU heatsink
  • Crucial is a reputable brand, and I have used their memory in my machines
  • The customizable LEDs zones are a pretty cool bonus Crucial Ballistix RGB DDR4 Crucial Ballistix RGB DDR4 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Learn More About the Intel Core i7-12700KF

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Other Considerations When Building a PC

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