I make no bones about my love of Alder Lake. It’s an incredibly impressive CPU generation. One that has me jonesing to build a whole new system around it. Honestly. Even though I’m surrounded by perfectly good gaming PCs, I want to get my hands dirty putting Intel’s 12th Gen CPUs to work.
I assumed that Alder Lake’s launch being so close to Black Friday would translate to numerous deals on 11th and 12th Gen Intel Core processors, and I’d have to wait until the deals season was over before heading to the virtual shelves to piece together my next build.
And sure enough, there are plenty of deals to be had on Intel’s previous chips. The thing is, even when you’re looking at sizeable savings on those chips, the pull of Alder Lake is too strong to take those seriously. Specifically the near-black-hole-like pull of the Alder Lake Core i5 12600K.
This is a chip that not only takes the fight to AMD’s latest and greatest, but runs rings around Intel’s previous best. Even the Core i9 11900K falls to the power of Alder Lake’s hybrid design, making this nominally $320 chip a better option than the last-generation $540 darling.
What I didn’t expect though was for the best CPU for gaming to receive a price cut, yet that’s exactly what Newegg has done. Right now, you can grab the Intel Core i5 12600K for $299.99, saving $20 off the release price. That’s not a saving you can afford to walk away from.
If there is a problem with Alder Lake right now though, it’s that the platform is in its infancy, and as is often the way, the only motherboard chipset currently available is the expensive high-end one.
Intel’s Z690 chipset may be all bells and whistles, but it sure makes for some expensive motherboards. You’re looking at $300 for the cheapest DDR5 offerings, and you can bounce off $600 all too easily.
One option, if you’re on a tight budget, is to forgo the joys of the new memory standard and stick with the known entity that is DDR4. Not only is DDR4 in a sprightly place right now but there are plenty of deals to be had in the current sales bonanza—32GB kits are available from as little as $99.99. This is what you’ll pay for this bling-free Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB DDR4-3200 kit over on Newegg.
Alternatively, you could use the RAM that is in your current system, assuming that it is of the right flavour and of a decent speed. Alder Lake officially supports up to DDR-3200, although individual motherboards will often support much faster sticks.
The missing piece here is the motherboard, and while DDR5 are pricey, things are a little easier on the wallet in the DDR4 space. The likes of the MSI Pro Z690-A DDR4 motherboard can be had for $220 on its own, although it’s also available in a bundle with the aforementioned Core i5 12600K for an even better overall saving.
It’s worth taking a close look at such bundles, as it can be a way for resellers to offload hardware that isn’t selling, but given how new the CPU and motherboard is, this doesn’t seem to be the case here. It’s just a good combo that’s worth picking up.
If you do want to futureproof yourself a bit more, then you could grab one of the DDR5 motherboard and chip bundles, but be mindful that DDR5 is a lot more expensive than its predecessor, and it’s also incredibly hard to find in stock anywhere.
I’m more about the instant gratification, so will happily piece together a DDR4 platform now instead of waiting for more DDR5 to be launched.