Intel Core i9-12900K Review

Introduction to Intel Core i9-12900K Features

With its new 10nm process improving, now called Intel 7, the Alder Lake-S generation is the first x86 processor with an architecture based on the Big.Little design that ARM introduced into its Cortex designs a few generations ago. This design, as we will see in this review, allows the new Core i9-12900K to  be the first model of the Intel brand to develop up to 24 process threads distributed between its performance cores or P-Cores and those of energy efficiency or E -Cores.

In this review I will go into the numbers, the user experience and the performance. If you want more information about the new architecture, its design and capabilities, I recommend this reading from my colleague Antonio .

The new Intel design is the first generation of processors of this type that we can find based on x86, an important milestone, but without a doubt they come after their success reaching ARM systems such as mobile devices and tablets and in recent months in the resounding success in Apple systems such as the latest MacBook and iMac of the brand. Flexible designs that allow combining energy efficiency without neglecting the power we expect from a next-generation processor.

Another advantage of this design is the hybrid performance produced by these new units, which is achieved by introducing new instructions such as the renewed “Branch Predictor” that is combined with the “Thread director”, also in the processor, which communicates actively with the operating system (Windows 10, Windows 11 or the latest versions of the Linux kernel are fully supported) to route tasks to each kernel in the most appropriate way. The developer will not have to do anything to allow these processors to realize their full potential in both combined performance and energy efficiency.

Specifications and technical characteristics of the Intel Core i9-12900K

  • P-Core base frequency: 3.2GHz
  • E-Core base frequency: 2.4GHz
  • Intel Max Turbo Frequency: 5.1GHz
  • Turbo frequency on all cores: 4.8GHz
  • Max Turbo Frequency: 5.2GHz
  • Cores: 8 P + 8 E
  • Process threads: 24
  • Socket: FCLGA1700
  • Thermal Design: 125w TDP, PL2 241 w
  • Smart Cache Size: 30MB
  • L2 cache size: 14MB
  • Internal multiplier unlocked: Yes
  • Number of PCI Express 5.0 Lanes: 16
  • Number of PCI Express Lines 4.0: 4
  • Memory configuration: Dual Channel 128-Bit DDR4-3200MHz, DDR5 4800MHz
  • Graphics: Intel® UHD Graphics 770
  • Intel Optane Support: Yes
  • Others: VT-x, VT-x EPT, VT-d, VPro, Intel AES, AVX-512, Intel® Deep Learning Boost

New chipsets, new socket

It is common for Intel to change the design of its sockets and many times they are controversial measures because there are no obvious technological changes that justify it, but in this case the new Socket LGA1700 of the Core i9-12900K and its brothers is supported by facts. The extra 500 pins are required for your new connective capabilities and your new power requirements. These processors are also longer, 7.5mm, so they will also need thermal solutions adapted to their new dimensions.

In this case, the higher pinout comes more from the introduction of PCI Express 5. 0 and DMI Bus 4 than to the new controller capable of supporting both DDR4 memory and DDR5 memory. To accommodate this increased connective capacity, which is almost double that of the previous generation, many of those extra pins that the LGA1700 adds over the 11th generation LGA1200 are needed.

A whole new generation of chipsets await these new Intel models, but for now, for the H670, or B660 or H610, we will have to wait for Intel to also introduce new mid-range and low-end processors that require these lower-performance chipsets. For the launch, with these high-capacity K-series processors, we will only find the most expensive and capable chipset of the brand, the Z690.

SATA connectivity also increases, with up to 8 ports available and USB support, however, it is unchanged in this generation, but it still supports all the latest technologies and a large number of ports. It supports up to 3 USB 3.2 Gen2 2×2 ports of 20Gbps of bandwidth, or up to 10 USB 3.2 Gen2 2×1 ports of up to 10Gbps of bandwidth, not counting the 14 legacy USB 2.0 ports.

This chipset also supports the full spectrum of overclocking opportunities for the K processors, from memory to busses to, of course, changing multipliers and turbo modes of the performance and efficiency cores. Everything is absolutely controllable by the user, also the maximum consumption in turbo mode. A new version of the well-known XTU application from Intel will give us access to all these parameters from any motherboard based on the Intel Z690.

This chipset also maintains other improvements of the previous generation such as native support for Thunderbolt 4.0 and USB 4.0 which makes it the domestic platform with a broader catalog of external connectivity. Support is also maintained for native LAN and Wi-Fi in 2.5GbE formats and up to Wi-Fi-6E in 2×2 configurations of up to 2.4Gbps of bandwidth.

The performance of the Intel Core i9-12900K

The hybrid configuration of the Core i9-12900K is the most massive that we will find in this new Alder Lake-S processor catalog from Intel. It has a total of 24 processing threads that translate into 8 P-Core cores with two processing threads per core, and another 8 E-Core cores for energy efficiency tasks. As you can see, its capacity to work in parallel is enormous, maintaining consumption at 125w TDP, and its PL2, its maximum turbo level, at a consumption of up to 241w. A real beast that leaves its brother the Core i5-12600k at a much lower level of processing capacity.

The integrated graphics, non-existent in the KF variant of this same processor, does not evolve too much over the previous generation, it is an Intel UHD Graphics 770 with 32 processing units, like the previous generation, and only improves, and little, the processing speed reaching up to 1.55GHz compared to the previous generation’s 1.3GHz, about a 20% performance improvement and 10% more over other processor configurations of this generation as in the case of the Core i5-12600K . They also support important video processing elements such as the new QuickSync Video modes with support for HDR and ultra high definition in high quality formats such as HEVC / VP9.

In addition to very high IPCs, in this generation we have other elements that will add performance to the whole, although it may also mean an increase in entry costs to this new platform. One of these elements I am talking about is DDR5 memory, these are the first home and desktop environment processors to support it. The processor supports both DDR4 and DDR5 memory formats, but performance will vary from 50GBps to 75GBps of bandwidth in a dual-channel configuration with a maximum supported of 128GB. The maximum amount of DDR4 memory supported and the access channels are the same.

Another of the great improvements of the Core i9-12900K , which it shares with other models of the brand such as the Core i5-12600K , is found in its supported PCI Express lines. It has a total of 20 PCI Express lanes, which is nothing new with respect to the previous generation, except that this time 16 of them are PCI Express 5.0 lines that double in bandwidth to their predecessors, they are 64Gbps of width. band by line.

The downside is that currently there is not a single component on the market that supports this technology, neither graphics nor storage, not at least in the domestic market. The good news is that we can take advantage of PCI Express 4.0 connectivity without any inconvenience since it is fully retro compatible.

Physically these processors are also different from what Intel has accustomed us for many generations, at least in the desktop market, they are 7.5mm longer, now they are rectangular, so physically it is also suitable that they receive contact plates for cooling adapted to its new dimensions.

The Core i9-12900K has 30MB of Smartcache, a 95% improvement over the previous generation and also introduces a second-level cache with a total of 14MB, the maximum in this generation. According to Intel, the CPI of these processors is up to 15% higher in the P cores compared to the previous generation, 28% compared to the tenth generation, and the E cores are 1% faster than the cores of a 10th Gen Intel.

They are processors with an amazing parallel computing capacity, their E-Core are also fast when they need to be, and their processing speeds per core have also been boosted in the P-Core so the improvement is comprehensive and will make the yields increase yes or yes in any application or modern operating system.

Direct competition from the Intel Core i9-12900K.

The price of the Core i9-12900K , if Intel maintains its model replacement trends maintaining starting prices, will be placed around 600 Euros which leaves the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X in a necessary price drop to remain competitive, the only thing What could stop the buyer, seeing the results that we will obtain later, is that the entry into this new platform, including DDR5 memory, will be much higher than that of entering the AMD platform, which is already much more stabilized in the market with chipsets and very reasonably priced motherboards and memory, which although expensive, will certainly be cheaper than DDR5.

Overclocking capacity, working temperatures

The Core i9-12900K makes the most of its architecture and allows higher turbo consumption levels, above 200w in load. With this capacity, its overall frequencies are sustained at two or up to four cores above 5GHz in our benchmark tests.

The temperatures, therefore, are also higher than in the case of the Core i5-12600K, but our Coolermaster MasterLiquid PL360 Flux heatsink makes up for this with slightly more turns on its three fans. The temperatures in load of this processor are around 78 degrees, it is not cool no, but it is far from its throttling temperature and we have not had any problems of stability in performance due to this.

This processor comes standard with a PL2 power profile of 241w , well above its 125w TDP which would be its PL1 mode. At this maximum consumption we can achieve stable speeds of 5.2GHz in two P cores and 5GHz in another two of them, the other four stabilize at 4.8GHz which is not bad. As for the E-Core, the 3.7GHz is the keynote in the 8 cores of this type that this processor has. Our consumptions measured by hardware offer, at factory frequencies, 220w in stress, a figure that is undoubtedly high that we will have to compensate with a good heatsink but which is not far from the capabilities of many conventional heatsinks and of course not many cooling kits. market liquid. These consumptions occur at a variable voltage of around 1.3v.

When it comes to overclocking, this processor still leaves us some margin with conventional heatsinks. With it, we can achieve stable frequencies of 5.3GHz in all P cores and up to 4.1GHz in E cores. Combined, they achieve a spectacular performance increase of more than 25% in applications closely related to parallel computing such as Cinebench.

Deactivating the E-Core to gain margin in the P-Core is undoubtedly an interesting idea, but in our experience it does not mean a substantial improvement in the frequencies that the P can reach and if in a very important general loss of performance. We have also been able to verify in our tests with applications that do not take advantage of all the cores that the E-Core never take control of threads with intensive load, Windows 11 and these processors communicate perfectly in this regard.

Consumption at rest

Consumption on load

Standstill temperature

Charge temperature

Intel Core i9-12900K performance results

The tests that you will see below are not what Intel expects us to do with these new processors, they are our classic battery of tests that give us a good idea of ​​the evolution of several generations of processors that have passed through our hands. Despite this, other than tests specifically adapted to the new architecture of these processors, the truth is that the new twelfth generation Intel shine in all of them.

It is true that those who expected to see how this new processor destroyed the forceful AMD Ryzen 9 5950X from Intel will have to wait because it is not like that, AMD continues to defend itself well in this range, but the truth is that it is also a much more processor It is expensive than the Intel Core i9-12900K and in many applications it loses out openly, also achieving better results, short on improvement, it is true, when it comes to computing with a single core.

This processor is a beast, which we can also make it gain even more performance quite easily, especially in applications that take advantage of all its P and E cores at the same time. There is some overclocking, especially in the E, we can gain up to 20% performance without going over a controller consumption of about 260w and simply with a little extra voltage.

Testing machine:

  • Memory: G.SKILL Trident Z5 F5-5600 2x15GB DDR5
  • Motherboard: MSI MPG Z690 Carbon Wifi
  • Source:  Seasonic Connect 750w
  • Hard Drive :  Corsair MP600 Core
  • Cooling: CoolerMaster MasterLiquid FLUX PL360
  • Graphics card:  Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition

Sisoft Sandra. Arithmetic

Sisoft Sandra. Multimedia

Sisoft Sandra. Memory bandwidth

Cinebench R20 CPU

Cinebench R15 SMP

Cinebench R15 1xCPU

Handbrake. Less is better.

Geekbench 5 Single

Geekbench 5 SMP

Geekbench 4 Single

Geekbench 4 SMP

Testing in games. 1080 with Geforce RTX 3070. Battlefield 1

Testing in games. 1080 with Geforce RTX 3070. Doom Eternal

Testing in games. 4K with Geforce RTX 3070. Battlefield 1

Testing in games. 4K with Geforce RTX 3070. Doom Eternal

Analysis and conclusion

This new generation of processors, with the Core i9-12900K at the helm, will allow us more efficient computing, with consumptions below 10w at rest, but also new levels of performance in parallel processing, as we have seen in our tests. .

The combination of very fast cores, with others more efficient, will have more impact on systems more sensitive to consumption, such as laptops, but that will come later, probably early next year. What we now have in desktop processors are far more efficient units than previous generations, with brilliant performance and great fun potential for users who want to experience their full customizability when it comes to performance. The new Intel processors leave us with a magnificent taste in our mouths, this model being simply spectacular.

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Extraordinary performance, with a significant generational leap

Good overclocking and lots of parameters to play with

Added support for PCI Express 5.0 and DDR5


E-cores are perceived more as a contribution of performance than efficiency in a desktop environment

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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