Intel Core i9-12900K vs. AMD Ryzen 9 5950X: Flagships Tested

Intel’southward 12th-gen Alder Lake processors are ushering in a new era of desktop computing. Information technology’s the outset fourth dimension nosotros’re seeing a hybrid architecture from a slot-in CPU, and it marks a shift in leadership at Intel. Notwithstanding, a big carmine glow hangs over Intel’s flagship Core i9-12900K — and it comes from the Ryzen 9 5950X.

Both the Cadre i9-12900K and Ryzen ix 5950X are 16-cadre processors that are acme of course in their respective production ranges, and they’re amidst the all-time processors you can buy. To find out which 1 is better, we put both chips through a gauntlet of benchmarks and comparisons. And although at that place’s a lot to talk nigh, one fleck is clearly better than the other.

If yous’re looking at CPUs within a more than reasonable budget, brand certain to check out our Core i5-12600K versus Ryzen 5 5600X comparison, as well.

Pricing and availability

Dan Baker/Digital Trends

The Ryzen 9 5950X and Core i9-12900K are both available at present, just the Core i9-12900K is sold out at the moment. The processor just launched, so information technology’s naturally tough to find. Fifty-fifty with the chip shortage, CPUs have come back in stock quickly, and so you should be able to find 1 inside a few weeks post-obit the November iv release.

The Core i9-12900K has a suggested price of $589, and the Ryzen 9 5950X has a suggested price of $799. Y’all’ll likely meet the chips selling for slightly different prices, though. The Core i9-12900K is selling between $620 and $650 right now, while the Ryzen 9 5950X hovers between $750 and $800.

At nearly, there’southward over a $200 difference between the two chips. Even taking into business relationship sales — which ordinarily see the Ryzen 9 5950X dropping to $720 — the Core i9-12900K is $70 cheaper (and that’s at the highest retail price we could discover). The Cadre i9-12900K is much cheaper, no matter which style you slice it.

As should become clear as we starting time digging into our benchmarks, these ii processors are performance competitors, but they’re not price competitors.

Specs

Pins on Intel Core i9-12900K.

It’s difficult to compare the Core i9-12900K and Ryzen 9 5950X based on specs. Both are 16-core processors with similar base and boost clock speeds, but the Cadre i9-12900K uses a hybrid CPU architecture. The cadre count is the same across the two chips, merely the cores themselves couldn’t be more than different.

The Core i9-12900K uses a hybrid architecture. Instead of 16 performant cores, it includes eight performant (P) cores and eight efficient (Eastward) cores. The P-cores are similar to the cores within the Ryzen 9 5950X, while the Eastward-cores are much less powerful. These cores clean up background tasks so the P-cores can focus on more demanding workloads.

We can’t compare the cores direct, simply we can compare power draw. Keeping with previous Intel generations, the Core i9-12900K can depict as much as 241 watts of ability when in turbo mode. That compares to a base power draw of just 105W on the Ryzen nine 5950X, showing that AMD is still capable of delivering performant cores within a tight efficiency window.

When overclocked, the Ryzen 9 5950X can draw effectually 200W of power, but that’southward withal far beneath the Core i9-12900K. The Intel chip can describe closer to 300W when overclocked based on our testing. It’s a performant processor, at that place’s no doubt about that, merely information technology demands one of the all-time power supplies on the market.

Performance

Intel Core i9-12900K in a motherboard.

Although nosotros tin’t compare the specs of the Core i9-12900K and Ryzen 9 5950X, we tin compare how they translate into performance. And across the board, the Core i9-12900K takes the crown. The tests beneath were run with 32GB of RAM (DDR4 on the AMD exam bench and DDR5 on the Intel ane) with the latest build of Windows 11.

Naturally, this configuration favors Intel. AMD fries had some bug with Windows 11 (though, they’ve been resolved since launch) and DDR5 isn’t an choice for AMD right now. If you want to see the pocket-sized differences between Windows ten and Windows 11, make certain to read our Core i9-12900K review. For DDR5, the differences are mostly insignificant, and we’ll call out any cases where it had a big impact on our final results.

Intel Core i9-12900K AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
Cinebench R23 single-core 1989 1531
Cinebench R23 multi-cadre 27344 27328
Geekbench 5 unmarried-core 2036 1726
Geekbench 5 multi-cadre 18259 14239
PC Mark 10 9092 8254
Handbrake (seconds, lower is better) 47 58
Pugetbench for Premiere Pro 1066 992
Pugetbench for Photoshop 1315 1009
7-Zip 126215 139074

Thankfully, our kickoff test isn’t concerned with memory speed. Cinebench is squarely focused on processor functioning, and it shows the differences between the two chips clearly. The multi-cadre scores are identical, but the Core i9-12900K has a much higher single-core outcome (about a xxx% improvement).

Geekbench cares much more most memory speed. Although the Core i9-12900K is around 28% faster than the Ryzen 9 5950X in the multi-core test, the processors switch spots with DDR4. Still, the Cadre i9-12900K maintains a lead in unmarried-core performance, regardless of DDR4 or DDR5.

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Nearly of the other results mirror what Geekbench and Cinebench evidence — the Core i9-12900K leads significantly. It’s faster in Premiere Pro and Photoshop, and it shaved 10 seconds off of our render time in Handbrake. The 7-Zippo compression/decompression criterion is the only one where the Ryzen ix 5950X took a lead, and information technology’due south a minor 1.

DDR5 is an advantage of the Core i9-12900K, only even with DDR4, it manages to outclass the Ryzen 9 5950X in most benchmarks. That’s non to mention multitasking, where the Cadre i9-12900K should really shine. When the cores are focused on a single job, they’re faster than the Ryzen nine 5950X, and then that should interpret into multiple tasks as well.

Gaming

AMD Ryzen 9 3900x pins.
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Intel has said the Cadre i9-12900K is the best gaming processor on the marketplace, and our results back that upwards. Across games, the chip shows improvements over the Ryzen 9 5950X, some small and others major. All of our tests were run with 32GB of RAM with an RTX 3090. The results below were run at 1080p to isolate CPU functioning equally much as possible.

Intel Core i9-12900K AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
3D Mark Time Spy nineteen,396 17,922

Carmine Dead Redemption two
137 fps 135 fps

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
118 fps 121 fps

Forza Horizon 4
234 fps 201 fps

Civilization Half-dozen
(plow time, lower is better)
7.3 seconds 7.v seconds

InCarmine Dead Redemption 2,the Core i9-12900K only showed a minor lead over the Ryzen 9 5950X, but a lead is still a lead. It’due south important to keep price in mind here. The Core i9-12900K is around $200 less than the Ryzen nine 5950X, then operation parity is still impressive.

Functioning improvements are even more impressive, which is what nosotros saw inForza Horizon 4.Information technology’south hard to argue with an extra 33 frames, vastly outpacing the Ryzen 9 5950X.Civilization VIshowed a minor improvement in plow times, too, though any 16-core CPU should exist able to churn through the game’southward A.I. without any issues.

Assassin’s Creed Valhallais the one game where the Ryzen 9 5950X took the lead — minor as that lead may exist. Ubisoft says this game has problems with the Cadre i9-12900K right now, which explains the lower result. Once more, though, performance parity still favors the Core i9-12900K given its price.

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Finally, 3D Mark Time Spy provides an overview of how these fries stack up overall. The Core i9-12900K is most viii% faster overall. Naturally, some games stress the CPU more than than others, so sure games, such as
Forza Horizon 4,
will run across a big benefit, while others like
Cerise Dead Redemption two will only see a pocket-sized uplift.

Exterior of the processors, DDR5 is a big deal when it comes to gaming. Faster memory can have a large bear upon in certain titles, and the Core i9-12900K allows you to use DDR5. Both of these fries are overkill if you’re simply concerned with gaming, simply based on our testing, it’s clear that the Cadre i9-12900K is the ameliorate option.

Power and thermals

Someone screwing in a power supply.

Although the Core i9-12900K is more powerful than the Ryzen 9 5950X, information technology also requires more power. The base power draw is 20W higher, and the maximum turbo ability draw is over 100W higher. The Core i9-12900K has a higher operating temperature, too, scaling upwards to 100 degrees Celsius while the Ryzen 9 5950X tops out at ten degrees lower.

The ability and thermal demands don’t immediately disqualify the Cadre i9-12900K — they’re only another factor to consider. Naturally, you lot’ll need a beefier power supply and a solid cooling system — read our best AIO coolers roundup for that — to use the Core i9-12900K. We’re talking about 2 flagship, 16-core processors, though, so you probably aren’t using a weak power supply or cooler with either of these chips.

Functioning leader

Intel Core i9-12900K box.

Beyond benchmarks, the Core i9-12900K outperforms the Ryzen 9 5950X. Non only that, it has admission to new features like DDR5 and information technology’due south optimized for Windows 11 — which showed some small advantages in our benchmarks. It’s a CPU that not simply contains the latest and greatest technology, but also manages to fully apply it.

Ability and thermal concerns utilise. Even so, those bug are a lot easier to justify when the Core i9-12900K has as significant of a performance reward equally information technology does. If yous’re using your PC for content creation or CPU-intensive work, the Cadre i9-12900K is the all-time option. Information technology holds a small lead in gaming, too, though neither chip shows its total power while playing games.

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