Intel doesn’t dominate the CPU landscape like it once does, with Apple transitioning to its own silicon and AMD proving a worthy rival.
The company has been forced to adapt, shifting to a new hybrid architecture with 12th-gen Alder Lake which benefits both performance and battery life.
But Intel can’t rest on its laurels and must continue to innovate. 13th-gen CPUs, known as Raptor Lake, aren’t expected to introduce wholesale changes. But the rumoured refinements and tweaks could make them a forced to be reckoned, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be waiting long for the first to arrive. Here’s everything you need to know.
Intel Raptor Lake release date
At an investor meeting in February 2022, Intel confirmed the first 13th-gen CPUs are on track to release in the second half of 2022. The company even showed off a system powered by a Raptor Lake chip, in case we were in any doubt about them being on the way.
New Intel processors are typically announced at the company’s Innovation event in late September. That’s now confirmed for 27-28 September, so it seems likely that Raptor Lake will debut there.
Indeed, leaker Enthusiastic Citizen suggested the first 13th-gen CPUs – Raptor Lake-K for desktops – would launch on 28 September. As Tom’s Hardware reports, these will supposedly go on sale from 17 October.
It seems we’ll be waiting until 2023 for other desktop chips, plus those designed to be integrated into laptops. The latter tend to launch at CES, making the event in January 2023 a likely candidate.
Intel Raptor Lake pricing
It’s not clear how much Raptor Lake desktop CPUs will, although the current-gen Rocket Lake pricing gives us an idea how much we’ll have to pay for desktop chips:
Core i9-11900K – $513-$539
Core i7-11700K – $374-$399
Core i5-11600K – $237-$262
Core i5-11400K – $157-$182
These are the prices suggested by Intel, with manufacturers ultimately deciding how much you’ll pay – that explains the range that’s offered.
Assuming Intel also release Raptor Lake chips for laptops, they’ll be designed for integration into the devices and not available to buy as standalone components. In that situation, the price you’ll pay is also dependent on the manufacturer, but the design and other specs too. It’s impossible to predict how much they’ll cost, but the widespread rollout of Alder Lake chips suggests there’ll be plenty of choice.
Intel Raptor Lake spec rumours
The same investor meeting that announced a rough release date also revealed some key features. It’s expected to continue with a hybrid architecture, this time with up to eight performance cores and up to sixteen efficiency cores. The company also said it’s aiming for a double-digit performance improvement (presumably in percentage) compared to Alder Lake.
Raptor Lake will supposedly adopt a modular design, making it easier to chop and change various tiles according to the situation . This will allow Intel to easily integrate its new Arc discrete GPUs, too.
As Tom’s Hardware reports, the initial lineup of Raptor Lake will include the following desktop CPUs:
The same article highlights a larger L3 cache and faster clock speeds as the main improvements compared to Alder Lake.
Elsewhere, VideoCardz has published what looks to be an official roadmap for the company’s upcoming launches, alongside some key features:
Following its introduction in 2021, it suggests that there will be some subtle changes to the new hybrid core system in order to improve performance. It’s not clear what these will involve – Intel perhaps doesn’t know itself yet. Raptor Lake will also supposedly be when the company switches to LPDDR5X – the next-gen RAM solution that launched in late 2020. Finally, introducing a new DLVR Power Delivery System should allow Raptor Lake to better optimise its power output according to the situation – this would lead to better efficiency, and in turn battery life.
Alongside the same hybrid CPU changes, the laptop-focused version of Raptor Lake will also apparently bring an improved cache for gaming and a new feature set for Intel vPro. The latter is a company platform that offers a range of features tailored for business users, including top-drawer performance, remote manageability and high-end security.
While this sounds convincing and fairly realistic, it’s worth noting that the diagram still shows Rocket Lake as being from 2020, despite it arriving in March 2021. That suggests this roadmap is at least a few months out of date, and the situation may have changed significantly since then.
The full Raptor Lake CPU lineup has now leaked, courtesy of YouTube channel Adored TV. It’s been accompanied by the following diagram, showing low-power, mainstrain and enthusiast chips:
Key takeaways here include a maximum of 24 cores and 32 threads on high-end Core i9 CPUs, while the budget-focused Pentium chips will be limited to 4 cores and 4 threads.
The 35W, 65W and 125W power requirements have already been reported from sites such as Igor’s Lab in Germany – they’re similar to Alder Lake. In reporting the news, Wccftech suggests that the existing LGA 1700 socket will still be supported by Raptor Lake.
On the desktop side, it looks like the top-spec Core i9-13900K will turn things up a notch. According to Wccftech, it’ll consist of 24 cores and 32 threads, the most we’ve seen from an Intel CPU. It’ll also supposedly be able to reach an impressive maximum clock speed of 5.8GHz.
Prominent leaker Raichu suggests the frequency will be dramatically increased, too. This will supposedly form part of Intel’s new ‘Game Cache’ functionality.
RPL will over the new highest freq which was created by 12900KS. More 2-300 MHz is possible.— Raichu (@OneRaichu) April 13, 2022
While we should always take them with a pinch of salt, Raptor Lake benchmarks revealed in December 2021 are underwhelming. A now-deleted result recorded in BAPCo Crossmark was screenshotted by Tom’s Hardware, and appears to show a high-end Raptor Lake CPU (1,591) lagging behind the top-spec Core i9-12900K (2,376) and AMD’s flagship Ryzen 9 5950X (1,694) on overall scores.
Should this turn out to be true, it would represent disappointing performance. It also suggests this CPU will have 24 cores and 32 logical cores.
However, a subsequent benchmark result makes for more encouraging reading. As Twitter user @TUM_APISAK spotted in June 2022, the top-spec Raptor Lake CPU is around 20% faster than the equivalent Core i9-12900K and Ryzen 9 59590X according to user benchmarks.