12th Gen Intel Core i9-12900K Review: Intel Strikes Back

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Intel seems to have answered all the critics with its latest 12th Gen Alder Lake desktop CPUs. The company has launched as many as eight Alder Lake CPUs, where the Intel Core i9-12900K is currently the flagship offering from the company for PC and gaming enthusiasts.

 

Rating:
4.5/5

12th Gen Intel Core i9-12900K Review: Intel Strikes Back

Intel had a lot at stake before the launch of the Alder Lake CPUs, especially given the stiff competition from AMD. The Intel Core i9-12900K does not only have to outperform the Intel Core i9-11900K, but it also has to compete against the likes of the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, which is one of the fastest consumer CPUs that we have tested so far.

With the retail price of around Rs. 53,000, the price of the Intel Core i9-12900K is similar to the Intel Core i9-11900K. Besides, it is slightly cheaper than the AMD's Ryzen 9 5950X. We have been testing the Intel Core i9-12900K and the Intel Core i5-12600K for the last few days, and here is the full review of the most powerful consumer-grade CPU from Intel.

12th Gen Intel Core i9-12900K Specifications

12th Gen Intel Core i9-12900K Specifications

  • Number Of Cores: 16
  • Number Of threads: 24
  • Base Clock Speed: 2.4GHz (E-Cores) 3.2GHz (P-Cores)
  • Boost Clock Speed: 5.2GHz (Max Turbo Frequency)
  • Total L3 Cache: 30MB
  • Total L2 Cache: 14MB
  • PCI Express Version: PCIe 5.0
  • Lithography: Intel 7
  • Package: FCLGA1700
  • TDP: 125W (Base Power) 241W (Max Turbo Power)
Intel Core i9-12900K Features
 

Intel Core i9-12900K Features

The Intel Core i9-129000K has twice the number of cores as the Intel Core i9-11900K. The Core i9-12900K has eight P-cores with hyperthreading support along with eight E-cores. As this is a K series CPU, it does support overclocking and it also has a built-in Intel UHD Graphics 770 GPU.

The P-cores have a base clock speed of 3.2GHz with support for Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0, which can take a single core frequency to 5.2GHz. The E-cores have a base clock speed of 2.4GHz and a max turbo frequency of 3.9GHz. The CPU has 14MB of L2 cache and 30MB of unified L3 cache.

As per the TDP, the Intel Core i9-12900K has a base TDP of 125W and a maximum turbo power of 241W. The CPU can support up to 128GB of DDR4/DDR5 RAM with up to 4800 MT/s on DDR5 and 3200MT/s on DDR4 type RAM. The CPU supports dual channel memory with a max memory bandwidth of 76.8 GB/s.

What’s New?

What’s New?

The Intel Core i9-12900K is an out-and-out new CPU platform. From hybrid core architecture to the LGA1700 socket, it has everything new. In fact, most of your existing PC components such as cooler, RAM, and motherboard which works fine with the 11th Gen Rocket Lake CPUs. Alder Lake CPUs are also the first series of consumer chips to support DDR5 RAM and PCIe Gen 5 with higher memory bandwidth.

The Intel Core i9-12900K and all the other 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs do support both DDR4 and DDR5 memory. However, you can only get a motherboard that supports DDR4 or DDR5. We tested the Intel Core i9-12900K with a 32GB DDR5 kit from Kingston, which we paired with the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro motherboard and Aorus Waterforce X360 liquid cooler.

Again, though you might be able to use the Alder Lake CPU with a DDR4, we suggest you get a motherboard with DDR5 RAM support to make your build future-proof. Coming to the CPU itself, the Intel Core i9-12900K is a 16-core, 24-thread CPU with eight efficient cores and eight performance cores. Only the performance cores support hyperthreading, hence the CPU only has a total of 24 threads, which is less than the Ryzen 9 5950X that packs 32 threads.

What’s New?

The Intel Core i9-12900K is also one of the first CPUs to utilize Intel 7 lithography, which also makes it the most efficient desktop CPU. However, it still has a base TDP of 125W and a max turbo TDP of 241W. If you have a PSU with over 700W of rated power, you should be able to get the most out of this CPU without any issue.

While AMD CPUs faced some performance issues with the Windows 11 OS, Intel actually worked closely with Microsoft to improve the Alder Lake CPU performance on PCs running on Windows 11 OS. So, to get the most out of your new 12th Gen Intel CPUs, it is best to update your PC to Windows 11 OS.

Another important addition to the Alder Lake CPU is the Intel Thread Director Technology. Given the 12th Gen series of CPUs have two different types of CPU cores, Intel Thread Director technology, which is a combination of hardware and software to provide runtime feedback to the OS and dynamically adopts to complete the task in the most efficient way. This feature is currently limited to Windows 11 OS, which is a bummer.

What's New?

As mentioned before, the new Alder Lake CPUs also use a new socket design (LGA1700) which is slightly taller and wider than the LGA1200 socket used by 10th Gen and 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs. This means if you have a water cooler with a 240mm or smaller radiator, you might have to get a new one to fully cool this performance powerhouse.

Intel completely overhauled Alder Lake, which seems to be the result of stiff competition from AMD. You can read more about the Alder Lake CPUs from here, which also covers the entire range of CPU models that Intel recently unveiled.

Our Test Bench

Our Test Bench

Our test bench for the Intel Core i9-12900K CPU consists of 32GB Kingston Fury Beast DDR5 RAM with up to 5200MT/s speed, Corsair VS650 PSU, Gigabyte Aorus Waterforce X 360 liquid cooler, 256GB Samsung 970 EVO Pro M.2 SSD, Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Pro motherboard, and Gigabyte Gaming GeForce RTX 3080 GPU.

Intel India sent us most of the components that we have used in this review. The specifications of our build are also similar to the test build that we did for the test of the Ryzen 9 5950X, which we reviewed in late 2020. In most of the benchmarks, we will be comparing the performance of the Intel Core i9-12900K with the Intel Core i9-11900K and the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X.

Intel Core i9-12900K Geekbench 5 Performance

Intel Core i9-12900K Geekbench 5 Performance

Cinebench R23 takes us close to the real-world CPU rendering capabilities of a CPU. Again, even in this test, the numbers speak for themselves. The Intel Core i9-12900K is the first CPU that we have tested so far to offer 2000 plus points on a single-core CPU rendering test. However, when it comes to multi-core rendering tests on the Cinebench R23, the Ryzen 9 5950X has a slight edge over the Intel Core i9-12900K.

Intel Core i9-12900K Cinebench R23 Performance

Intel Core i9-12900K Cinebench R23 Performance

Cinebench R23 takes us close to the real-world CPU rendering capabilities of a CPU. Again, even in this test, the numbers speak for themselves. The Intel Core i9-12900K is the first CPU that we have tested so far to offer 2000 plus points on a single-core CPU rendering test. However, when it comes to multi-core rendering tests on the Cinebench R23, the Ryzen 9 5950X has a slight edge over the Intel Core i9-12900K.

Intel Core i9-12900K CPU-Z Performance

Intel Core i9-12900K CPU-Z Performance

CPU-Z is mostly used to verify the hardware. However, it also has a built-in tool to get an idea regarding the capability of the CPU. The Intel Core i9-12900K posted 812.6 points on single-core and 11328 points on multi-core CPU test on CPU-Z. Again, the Intel Core i9-12900K maintains a huge lead when it comes to single-core performance. However, the multi-core performance is slightly less than the Ryzen 9 5950X.

Do note that, the multi-core performance of the Ryzen 9 5950X is slightly ahead of the Intel Core i9-12900K. The Ryzen 9 5950X is around one to two percent faster than the Intel Core i9-12900K. One of the reasons for this could be the fact that the Ryzen 9 5950X has 32 threads while the Intel Core i9-12900K just has 24 threads.

Intel Core i9-12900K Blender Performance

Intel Core i9-12900K Blender Performance

Here are the numbers of Blender benchmark, which also tests the rendering performance of the Intel Core i9-12900K. As we have not run this benchmark for the Ryzen 9 5950X, we won't be able to compare the performance of the Core i9-12900K with the Ryzen 9 5950X. A good CPU should take less time to render a scene and here are the time taken by Intel Core i9-12900K to complete various rendering tests.

Intel Core i9-12900K 3D Mark Performance

Intel Core i9-12900K 3D Mark Performance

3D Mark benchmark uses both CPU and GPU to gauge the comprehensive performance of the PC. Do note that, we did test the Intel Core i9-12900K and the Ryzen 9 5950X with the RTX 3080 GPU. In both CPU score and graphics score, the Intel Core i9-12900K has outperformed the Ryzen 9 5950X with over at least 10 percent more performance.

Intel Core i9-12900K PCMark 10 Performance

Intel Core i9-12900K PCMark 10 Performance

On PCMark 10 benchmark test, the Intel Core i9-12900K showcases a clear dominance over the Ryzen 9 5950X. From the overall score to the productivity and digital content creation, the Intel Core i9-12900K outperforms the Ryzen 9 5950X and the Intel Core i9-11900K.

Intel Core i9-12900K Superposition Benchmark

Intel Core i9-12900K Superposition Benchmark

Superposition is again a benchmark, which tests the gaming capabilities of the CPU. At 1080p high settings, the Intel Core i9-12900K posted an average fps of 180.94 while the Ryzen 9 5950X scored 175.25, which confirms that the Intel Core i9-12900K is indeed the best pick when it comes to gaming. As per the 4K gaming, both CPUs posted around 47fps at 8K optimized settings.

Intel Core i9-12900K Gaming Performance

Intel Core i9-12900K Gaming Performance

To test the real-world gaming capabilities of the Intel Core i9-12900K, we paired the CPU with the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. In both GTA: V and The Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, the Intel Core i9-12900K outperforms the Ryzen 9 5950X. We also tested the latest Far Cry 6, where we got an average FPS of 145 at 1080p high graphics settings.

These numbers confirm that the Intel Core i9-12900K is currently the best gaming CPU that you can get. The Core i9-12900K is not only has a higher turbo clock speed, but it also has features like support for DDR5 RAM and PCIe Gen 5 lane support, which does improve the performance of the Intel Core i9-12900K over the competition.

Verdict: The Winning Formulae

Verdict: The Winning Formulae

Last year, we recommended the Ryzen 9 5950X for hardcore gaming enthusiasts, but that was until now. The Intel Core i9-12900K clearly has an edge over the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X. However, do note that you also need to invest in a good cooler to keep sustain the peak performance of the Intel Core i9-12900K and the Gigabyte Aorus Waterforce X 360 liquid cooler did an excellent job of cooling the Intel Core i9-12900K.

Despite the Ryzen 9 5950X having a slight edge over the Intel Core i9-12900K in a few synthetic benchmarks, we didn't notice any performance improvement when it comes to real-world usage. If you are planning to build a high-end PC then the Intel Core i9-12900K is the CPU that we suggest, as it is both cheaper and faster than the Ryzen 9 5950X.

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