Linux Now Faster Than Windows 11 For Intel Core i9 12900K "Alder Lake" With Latest Kernel

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 10 February 2022. Page 1 of 6. 25 Comments

Back in November when Intel's 12th Gen Core "Alder Lake" processors first launched I ran benchmarks across operating systems and found Windows 11 delivering better performance than Linux with the Core i9 12900K flagship processor. Fortunately, thanks to kernel improvements since Linux 5.16, that is largely no longer the case. Here is a fresh look at the i9-12900K performance under Ubuntu 22.04 daily with Linux 5.16 and 5.17-rc3 kernels tested as well and Clear Linux for Intel's very own reference Linux platform.

While it was sad seeing Alder Lake performing better overall on Windows 11 at launch compared to Linux, thanks to fixes around the hybrid handling and other kernel improvements since then Linux is comfortably on top with Linux 5.16+.

Like previously, this round of testing was with an Intel Core i9 12900K processor at stock speeds with the ASUS ROG STRIX Z690-E GAMING WiFi motherboard using the newest firmware at the time of testing, 2 x 32GB DDR5-4400 memory, and making use of the integrated Gen12 ADL-S GT1 graphics. The operating systems tested this round that were cleanly installed and tested out-of-the-box (except where noted with the kernels) included:

- Windows 11 Pro x64 with all available stable updates and drivers as of early February.

- Ubuntu 22.04 LTS daily image as of 7 February. The system here was booted using the i915.force_probe option to have working graphics acceleration on the i9-12900K.

- Ubuntu 22.04 daily with then moving to Linux 5.16 stable via the Ubuntu Mainline Kernel PPA.

- Ubuntu 22.04 daily with using Linux 5.17-rc3 from the Ubuntu Mainline Kernel PPA.

- Intel's Clear Linux 35810 rolling-release and its current Linux 5.16 based kernel.

Ubuntu 22.04 daily at the moment with Alder Lake doesn't have graphics acceleration / proper mode-setting (hence the low resolution on the 4K display pictured) on its 5.15 based kernel by default. And lacking performance improvements/fixes found in Linux 5.16+.

Ubuntu 22.04 LTS is planning on using the Linux 5.15 kernel by default given that it's also a Long-Term Support (LTS) release. At least for the moment it's current 5.15 packaged kernel on Ubuntu 22.04 doesn't contain any of the backports benefiting Alder Lake... Heck, even the ADL-S graphics by default isn't back-ported nor the i915.force_probe override by default to allow having the accelerated Alder Lake graphics by default. Assuming they continue their plans on sticking to Linux 5.15 as the default kernel, hopefully Canonical will at least pick-up those backports for better Alder Lake performance and then also the enabling of ADL graphics out-of-the-box.

Windows 11 vs. Linux - Intel Core i9 12900K Alder Lake

As the results are about to show, Ubuntu 22.04 with Linux 5.16+ is what moves the performance now ahead of Windows 11 compared to otherwise being behind Microsoft's operating system overall... Let's look at the numbers.

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