Intel Core i9-12900K Review

Intel Core i9-12900K Review

Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs have arrived, bringing a slew of improvements and innovations to today’s and tomorrow’s PCs. The business collaborated closely with Microsoft to optimize the new CPUs for Windows 11, including new scheduling technologies that automatically load the Core i9-12900K based on which cores are used where and for what. On the first new motherboard platform to handle the latest chips, the Intel Z690, support for the new, high-speed DDR5 RAM standard, as well as an upgrade to PCI Express 5.0.

 Several benchmarks showed that Intel’s latest Alder Lake performance-boosted Core i9-12900K stayed in the race. In PC gaming, AMD’s lower AMD Ryzen 7 5800X has proven to be a worthy competitor in terms of performance-to-price. The high cost of a new Z690 motherboard and DDR5 adoption, as well as Intel’s insistence on upgrading your system to Windows 11, are all factors to consider for anyone thinking about upgrading to the 12th generation.


The Alder Lake processor from Intel is the first to combine two distinct processor cores into a single chip. Deeper, wider processing pipelines, redesigned and extended cache architectures, new instruction decoders, improved branch prediction, and more are all features of the new cores. Intel coupled eight performance cores with eight efficiency cores on the top Core i9-12900K, an architecture evocative of today’s smartphone system-on-chips. Two of the eight P-cores may run at 5.2GHz, while the others are limited to 5.0GHz. The Intel HD Graphics 770, which is based on Intel Xe graphics processors, is included in the 12900K, and it supports up to four DisplayPort or HDMI connectors.


In terms of raw core count, the Intel Core i9 12900K is a close match for AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X. On the P-Cores, HyperThreading is enabled, bringing the total number of threads to 16. With a base frequency of 3.2GHz, performance will be comparable to AMD’s flagship CPU. The Core i9 12900K has the greatest Maximum Turbo Power (MTP) of all Intel’s 12th Generation processors, with a maximum of 241W. With unlocked K-series processors and compatible Z690 motherboards, overclocking is encouraged.

This chip works with both DDR5 and DDR4 memory kits, so make sure you know which one you want before you buy. Because no board supports both, the Z690 motherboard you choose will have a big impact on overclocking.

Chipset and Motherboard:

Users will need to acquire a new motherboard to use Intel’s new Alder Lake Lake processors because they only have one socket, LGA1700. DDR5 memory, a larger Direct Media Interface (DMI), and PCIe 5 support are three major characteristics of the new 600 series chipsets. The data interface between the processor and the chipset is known as DMI.


The Intel Alder Lake processor is the company’s first desktop processor to employ the Intel 7 process node, formerly known as Intel 10nm SuperFin. It’s also the first time in a long time that the 14nm process node hasn’t been used. Performance Cores and Efficient Cores are housed in the hybrid Core architecture. The P-Cores of Alder Lake is more closely related to earlier Intel desktop generations’ CPU cores. They have the fastest clock speeds of the two and have nailed down a smooth single-threaded speed. 

They’re also designed to reduce latency, and they’re wider and smarter in terms of technology to keep up with the competition. E-Cores and Thread Director, which are incorporated in the motherboards of Intel’s Alder Lake processors, are two extra low-power cores. The Thread Director is best used with Windows 11 and helps your OS select which workloads should go to which cores. There are still some out there.

Test system:

In this generation, Intel has renamed the CPU power levels, formally abandoning the use of TDP to describe power consumption and thermal dissipation. The following are the new definitions: Processor Base Power has replaced TDP (PBP). It’s the time-average power dissipation that the CPU has been certified not to exceed during manufacture while running an Intel-specified high-complexity task.


In practically every game we tested, Intel’s Core i9 12900K reclaims the gaming performance title, and frequently by a considerable margin. The fact that it’s clocked to the sky certainly helps, but the Golden Cove P-Cores look to be performing admirably when it comes to gaming workloads. In the Cinebench R23 single-core benchmark, Intel’s new Core i9 12900K CPU competes against AMD’s best of Zen 3. Even the lower-clocked Core i5 12600K gives a significant performance boost, indicating that Intel is back on track. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting the combination of P-Cores and E-Cores to perform so well. 

The Core i9 12900K isn’t the most power-efficient CPU on the market, at least in its default configuration. I can only hope that these problems are resolved quickly and that future releases are properly optimized for Alder Lake. 


I put the 12900K through its paces at four different power levels: 125W (PBP), 241W (MTP), MCE settings on the motherboard, and a manual overclock. The Intel 7 node and its new architecture’s efficiency are on full display here. Cinebench R20 uses Maxon Cinema 4D’s Physical rendering engine to create a snapshot of the processor’s performance by measuring how quickly it can render a 3D scene. In some workloads, such as Adobe Lightroom Classic and DaVinci Resolve, the 12900K was 20% faster than the 11900K. The biggest difference was in digital content creation, where the 12900W was 18% ahead.

The Resolve benchmark from Puget Systems puts the CPU, GPU, and a combination of both to the test in a range of situations, including 3D, green screen, and motion graphics tasks. With the power limit eliminated, the 12900K is 56% quicker than the 11900K. POV-Ray ray traces a pre-defined scene and produces a pixel-per-second output. On a high-end desktop processor, the benchmark takes less than a minute to complete. The most common chess engine today is Openbenchmark – Stockfish. It calculates all possible future moves to evaluate a given chess position.


The Core i9 12900K is an amazing processor that we’ve been waiting for a long time to get our hands-on. This time, Intel is releasing the most advanced technology, such as DDR5 and PCIe 5.0, ahead of AMD. On Intel’s Ark product, this chip is featured at its least price. As a result, AMD no longer has a completely unrivaled enthusiast desktop processor against which to fight. AMD’s AM4 platform offers a plethora of low-cost motherboards, which we may have to wait for for the time being. More competition leads to lower prices, more diverse feature sets, and quicker adoption of current standards.

Power and Thermals:

Intel’s top-of-the-line Alder Lake chip got incredibly heated. In Cinebench R23, the 12900K reached a peak temperature of roughly 80°C and drained nearly 300W. To control the beast, overclockers will need a good AIO or a specialized water loop. The multithreaded performance was marginally improved by leaving thermals as an afterthought.


  • Across a variety of runs, the benchmark wins outright. 
  • DDR5 compatibility is available on the Z690 platform, depending on the motherboard. 
  • In comparison to AMD, it is reasonably priced. 
  • Overclocking features galore


  • A new motherboard is required. 
  • Adoption costs are high for peak performance. 
  • Some games that use Denuvo DRM protection are currently incompatible.


The Core i9-12900K is Intel’s first truly novel high-end desktop CPU in years, with a performance/efficiency mixed-core design and DDR5 memory compatibility that show great promise. Just be prepared for a high initial adoption cost—and possibly some PC-gaming growing pains.

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