Mystery Intel Alder Lake Core i5 CPU spotted... but you can’t buy it

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(Image credit: Intel)

Intel made some big revelations at CES 2022 – including powerful new Alder Lake mobile chips, and some fresh desktop CPUs too – but one thing that wasn’t aired is a mysterious 12th-gen desktop variant which has been spotted in China.

VideoCardz provides photographic evidence of the existence of a Core i5-12490F in the form of multiple pics of the box (sourced from apparently), but we obviously still need to be somewhat skeptical about its existence (photos can be faked, of course, but these look authentic enough, it has to be said).

The purported Core i5-12490F has essentially the same core spec as the Core i5-12500, one of the new processors Intel unleashed at CES – having six performance cores (so 12-threads, with no efficiency cores) and boost to 4.6GHz – except it’s only on sale in China.

Or at least that’s the case now, and as the tech site points out, given that the 12490F wasn’t listed in the official crop of new Alder Lake desktop CPUs revealed at CES – some 22 of them – it seems likely that this will remain a China-exclusive processor from Intel.

This is not without precedent, as there have been variants in the past which are only sold in the Asian market, although who knows, maybe we might eventually see this CPU get a broader release in other regions.

Analysis: Core i5-12490F looks a potentially tempting buy if it was on shelves

Bearing in mind all the aforementioned caveats about whether or not this might be genuine, while the 12490F is pretty much the same CPU as the 12500, there are some minor differences. Namely that the China-only chip has a touch more L3 cache (20MB rather than 18MB – hardly a big difference) and of course it doesn’t have any integrated graphics (which is what the ‘F’ suffix denotes).

There’s also no stock cooler, but many buyers won’t miss that – or integrated graphics – and given that the 12490F will weigh in a bit cheaper, it’s a mid-range option that some folks would doubtless be interested in.

It’s difficult to determine anything from the claimed pricing in China for this Intel CPU, but VideoCardz notes it’s 1,600 Chinese Yuan (around $250, £185 or AU$350), meaning it’s pitched at 100 Chinese Yuan (around $16, £12 or AU$22) more than the Core i5-12400. So, in short, it’s only a fraction more expensive than the 12400 while offering 200MHz more boost speed (and that tiny increase in L3 cache too).

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).