Intel i9-12900K and i5-12600K Evaluate: The Empire Strikes Again

The Intel twelfth era codenamed Alder Lake is an important Intel Core structure replace previously decade. We’re taking a more in-depth have a look at its peak efficiency in CPU-heavy benchmarks and analyzing the implications for energy customers and gaming PC lovers.

We’ve described the structure at size in our Intel Gen12 Alder Lake overview, however right here’s the high-level view: Intel has embraced a heterogenous X86 structure that embeds two completely different CPU core varieties, the “Efficiency” and “Environment friendly” cores.

I received’t go deep into how the brand new {hardware} and software program schedulers work and the way advanced it should have been to construct them. Intel and Microsoft appear to have been doing a terrific job. We’re going to have a look at peak efficiency, so many threads will look alike, no matter which core sort they run on. We’re aiming for max {hardware} utilization right here.

I anticipate to see extra nuance from the scheduler once we’ll take a look at Intel’s twelfth gen laptop computer CPUs, the place the heterogeneous nature of those new CPUs ought to shine much more, particularly by way of energy effectivity. For peak efficiency, Home windows 10 customers shouldn’t fear about potential enhancements in Home windows 11’s up to date scheduler.

The brand new structure lets Intel run extra cores (as much as 16) and extra threads (as much as 24) to raise CPU efficiency to new ranges. Evaluate that with the 8 cores / 16 threads of the last-gen Core i9-11900K, and it’s straightforward to see how issues would scale properly for massively multi-threaded apps.


On the subject of CPU efficiency saturation, typical benchmarks like GeekBench and Cinebench could possibly be good proxies, despite the fact that they’ll’t mirror all real-world conditions. Although Intel was crucial of Cinebench previously, that benchmark has a great following within the Inventive crowd, and Intel is now doing very well at it.

Benchmarks aren’t be-all end-all functions, however they supply helpful perception for particular person parts with the correct evaluation. Additionally, you’ll discover that they approximate many real-world use circumstances fairly effectively.

If something, our have a look at the product “worth” (pace/value) on the finish of the overview may be an important “actual world” standards, and that’s what I’d use when searching for a CPU. Extra on that later.

Intel Alder Lake CPU benchmarks

We have now used the standard Package that almost all reviewers function for this spherical of assessments, and variations usually come from roughly aggressive cooling options. The motherboard settings had been left to the “default,” and we’ve not made any makes an attempt to overclock this configuration for the time being.

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Motherboard: ROG STRIX Z690-E Gaming WIFI
CPUs: Intel Core i9-12900K (official specs) and Intel Core i5-12600K (official specs)
DDR5: Micron 2x32GB UDIMM DPARXPM001, PN MTC16C2085S1UC48BA1
CPU cooler: Thermaltake TOUGHAIR 110 140W TDP

Word that Intel’s twelfth era CPUs and Intel Z690 chipset assist each DDR5 and DDR4 reminiscence modules, so you’ll possible have to decide on which, based mostly in your finances. In the mean time, we haven’t run any DDR4 assessments, so contemplate these numbers because the best-case situation from a RAM standpoint.

For cooling, we’ve a plain Thermaltake TOUGHAIR 110 CPU heatsink rated for 140W TDP. It ought to mirror what you get in a comparatively customary construct, with out liquid cooling or unique (costly) supplies. The general system is very quiet as we use an open case.

Taking a look at each the Geekbench and Cinebench scores, you’ll understand that each stress the CPUs very effectively, and that’s why they have a tendency to correlate. Principally, Intel is again on the prime.

You can see roughly the identical sort of outcomes and rankings on actual apps that may saturate all CPU threads at 100{9e1da16bad3afc7a5f40b72bc8a74962aa496be5d80d3159b9e2870e6dd27062}, like heavy CPU photoshop filters, CPU 3D rendering, and so on. You may run tons of benchmarks and preserve seeing this total image.


Apps that depend on large datasets profit from the superior DDR5 bandwidth, so should you’re knowledgeable, I’d suggest choosing that reminiscence sort. Avid gamers would possibly save a buck with DDR4 since recreation builders are inclined to optimize RAM utilization to slot in reasonably priced computer systems.

I’ll level out that the video games have to be CPU-limited for the CPU to affect the framerate closely. That extra possible occurs at decrease resolutions like 1080P or barely above. As you scale from 1080p to 1440p, 4K, and 8K, the GPU’s fillrate turns into the first limiting issue because the variety of pixels rises exponentially.

Sport builders and 3D Engine builders spend a substantial amount of time (actually tons of of man-year yearly) optimizing for multithreading, so it’s a great guess to have a high-thread CPU.

Essentially the most superior 3D engines have a pre-rendering go the place all duties are organized in dependency timber and dispatched into quite a few threads that maximize CPU utilization. The probabilities are that Intel’s new CPUs will do very effectively in lots of AAA video games.

CAD and Inventive professionals working particular apps would possibly seek for industry-specific benchmarks. However even with out being that choosy, they may be swayed by the worth proposition of those new CPUs. In spite of everything, cash discuss.

Worth proposition highlights

Intel’s new processors do have glorious “absolute efficiency” of their class. You’ll discover way more costly Intel Xeon or AMD ThreadRipper CPUs with barely higher efficiency at a lot larger costs, so “no thanks.”

And that’s why an important metric is “how a lot CPU pace are you getting in your cash?” (efficiency / $)

Taking a look at our worth information beneath, the Intel Core i5-12600K ($289) is a stunner, and the Core i9-12900K ($488) is way forward of AMD’s formidable Ryzen 9 5950X ($718) and 5900X ($484), not to mention the 5600X ($299). All these avenue costs are what I discovered at publication time.

And that’s the second side of Intel’s new desktop processors. This new Alder Lake structure brings nice efficiency for the worth. That’s what the information clearly exhibits. That’s very true for the i5-12600K, which is cheaper than the AMD 5600X however performs noticeably higher.

Whereas AMD merchandise’ worth dominated Intel’s last-generation i9 CPUs, the Alder Lake structure has turned the tables.

Most individuals store for CPUs with a restricted finances, and everybody desires probably the most efficiency for each greenback spent. If something,  the Intel Core i5-12600K needs to be your default selection, and in case your finances permits, the Core i9-12900K is superior.


Speaking about “worth,” it is best to verify the entire price of your system, together with DDR5 and the motherboard. Each may be costly this shut proper now, however issues would possibly ease off quickly.

Avid gamers can safely leap onto this new Intel platform with future-proof options comparable to PCIe 5.0 that ought to assist with future graphics playing cards, DDR5 for absolutely the quickest reminiscence, and the brand new Intel Z690 chipset that has higher IO and bandwidth.

Energy consumption is usually not an enormous issue for high-performance desktop computer systems, however I’d level out that the Core i9-12900K attracts extra energy than its AMD rivals at peak workloads. Should you had been to construct a server farm, this could possibly be an extra criterion, however I don’t assume it’s an enormous issue for people.


Intel did it! I didn’t know if this new structure would ship at this stage. It was important to see it in motion, and the outcomes converse for themselves: Intel has regained its (gaming) CPU crown.


For IT-related utilization or sustained heavy workstation-type workloads, you would possibly need to put money into a elaborate cooling resolution to verify thermals don’t restrict the efficiency. I used to be impressed by the pace, even with a plain heatsink.

And I believe there’s extra to find from Intel’s Alder Lake CPU structure. These desktop processors present the sort of absolute peak efficiency we are able to get. Nonetheless, the laptop computer variations will, indubitably, provide new ranges of efficiency and battery life (power-efficiency). I’m very a lot wanting ahead to it.

Filed in Computer systems >Gaming. Learn extra about CPU, Editorspick, Intel and Processors.

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