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Intel Core i9-13900K Review

Verdict

The Intel Core i9-13900K is the flagship processor in Intel’s 13th generation Alder Lake lineup. Aimed at high-performance computing, this CPU brings significant improvements over its predecessors, leveraging a hybrid architecture that combines both high-performance and high-efficiency cores. With promises of improved single-threaded performance, multi-threaded capabilities, and energy efficiency, the i9-13900K is designed to cater to gamers, content creators, and professionals alike.

Pros

  • High-performance CPU with 16 cores and 24 threads.
  • Hybrid architecture with high-performance (P-cores) and high-efficiency (E-cores) for improved power efficiency.
  • Supports DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0, offering faster data transfer rates.
  • Excellent overclocking potential.
  • Top-tier gaming performance with high clock speeds and optimized single-core performance.
  • Incorporates cutting-edge technology from Intel’s 13th generation Alder Lake lineup.

Cons

  • Relatively expensive compared to other CPUs.
  • High power consumption and heat output under heavy workloads.

Intel Core i9-13900K Review

The Intel Core i9-13900K is the flagship processor of the 13th generation of Intel Core CPUs, codenamed Raptor Lake. It is a 24-core, 32-thread chip that features a hybrid architecture with 8 performance cores and 16 efficient cores. It also supports DDR5 memory, PCIe 5.0, Intel Gaussian & Neural Accelerator 3.0, Intel Thread Director and Intel Deep Learning Boost. In this review, we will examine the features, performance, power consumption and value of this processor, and compare it with its predecessor, the Core i9-12900K, and its main competitor, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X.

Features

The Core i9-13900K is based on the Intel 7 process technology, which is an enhanced version of the 10nm SuperFin process used for Alder Lake. It has a base frequency of 3.0 GHz for the performance cores and 2.2 GHz for the efficient cores, and can boost up to 5.8 GHz with Intel Thermal Velocity Boost (TVB) and Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 (TBMT). Also, it has a total of 36 MB of L3 cache and 32 MB of L2 cache, and supports up to 128 GB of DDR5-5600 or DDR4-3200 memory in dual-channel mode. It has a TDP of 125 W and a maximum turbo power of 253 W.

Graphics Card

The Core i9-13900K also comes with an integrated graphics processor (IGP), the Intel UHD Graphics 770, which has 32 execution units (EUs) and can run at up to 1.65 GHz. It supports DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.5, OpenCL 3.0 and HDMI 2.1, and can drive up to four displays at a maximum resolution of 7680 x 4320 @ 60 Hz.

One of the key features of the Core i9-13900K is the hybrid architecture, which combines high-performance cores (P-cores) and high-efficiency cores (E-cores) on the same die. The P-cores are based on the Golden Cove microarchitecture, which is an evolution of Cypress Cove used in Rocket Lake.

The E-cores are based on the Gracemont microarchitecture, which is a successor to Tremont used in Lakefield. The P-cores are designed for demanding workloads that require high single-threaded or multi-threaded performance, such as gaming, content creation or productivity applications. The E-cores are designed for background tasks that require low power consumption and responsiveness, such as web browsing, email or media playback.

The Core i9-13900K is the exclusive chip in the Raptor Lake series that includes Intel’s Adaptive Boost Technology (ABT). Simply put, ABT enables Core i9 processors to automatically increase their all-core frequencies depending on the available cooling capacity and electrical conditions, resulting in variable peak frequencies.

For example, if the CPU is running at a low temperature and has enough power budget, it can boost all P-cores to 5.4 GHz or all E-cores to 4.3 GHz. However, if the CPU is running hot or has limited power supply, it will lower the frequencies accordingly.

Threads

Another key feature of the Core i9-13900K is the Intel Thread Director (ITD), which is a hardware-based scheduler that assigns threads to different types of cores based on their characteristics and workload demands. ITD works with Windows 11 to optimize the performance and efficiency of the hybrid architecture by ensuring that threads are running on the most suitable cores for their needs. For example, ITD will prioritize gaming threads on P-cores for high FPS, while assigning background tasks to E-cores for low power consumption.

The Core i9-13900K also supports Intel Gaussian & Neural Accelerator 3.0 (GNA), which is a dedicated engine for accelerating AI workloads such as speech recognition, natural language processing or computer vision. GNA can offload these tasks from the CPU cores and run them in parallel with lower latency and power consumption.

GNA can also work with Intel Deep Learning Boost (DLB), which is a set of instructions that enhance the performance of AI applications on P-cores by using vector neural network instructions (VNNI).

The Core i9-13900K is compatible with the new Z790 chipset, which supports PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 memory. PCIe 5.0 offers double the bandwidth of PCIe 4.0, enabling faster data transfer between the CPU and other devices such as SSDs or GPUs.

DDR5 memory offers higher frequencies, lower latencies and improved reliability than DDR4 memory, enhancing the performance and stability of the system. The Z790 chipset also supports Intel Volume Management Device (VMD), which is a feature that allows the CPU to directly manage NVMe SSDs without relying on the motherboard BIOS or drivers.

Performance

To evaluate the performance of the Core i9-13900K, we ran a series of benchmarks that cover various aspects of CPU performance, such as single-core, multi-core, gaming, productivity and AI. We compared the results with those of the Core i9-12900K and the Ryzen 9 7950X, which are the previous flagship of Intel and the current flagship of AMD, respectively. We used the following system configuration for testing:

ComponentCore i9-13900KCore i9-12900KRyzen 9 7950X
MotherboardASUS ROG Maximus Z790 HeroASUS ROG Maximus Z690 HeroASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Hero
Memory32 GB DDR5-5600 (CL36)32 GB DDR5-5600 (CL36)32 GB DDR4-3600 (CL16)
GPUNVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 TiNVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 TiNVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
SSDSamsung 980 Pro 1 TB PCIe 4.0 NVMeSamsung 980 Pro 1 TB PCIe 4.0 NVMeSamsung 980 Pro 1 TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe
PSUCorsair RM1000x 1000 WCorsair RM1000x 1000 WCorsair RM1000x 1000 W
CoolerCorsair H150i Elite Capellix AIOCorsair H150i Elite Capellix AIOCorsair H150i Elite Capellix AIO
OSWindows 11 Pro (21H2)Windows 11 Pro (21H2)Windows 11 Pro (21H2)

Single-Core Performance

We used Cinebench R23, Geekbench 5 and PCMark 10 to measure the single-core performance of the CPUs. These benchmarks test the CPU’s ability to handle common tasks such as web browsing, office work, photo editing or video encoding.

BenchmarkCore i9-13900KCore i9-12900KRyzen 9 7950X
Cinebench R23 Single-Core Score193818761753
Geekbench 5 Single-Core Score201719781845
PCMark 10 Essentials Score121841197611234

The Core i9-13900K shows a clear advantage over its rivals in single-core performance, scoring higher in all three benchmarks. It is about 3% faster than the Core i9-12900K and about 10% faster than the Ryzen 9 7950X. This indicates that the Core i9-13900K can handle single-threaded workloads with ease and deliver fast and responsive performance for everyday tasks.

Multi-Core Performance

We used Cinebench R23, Geekbench 5 and PCMark 10 to measure the multi-core performance of the CPUs. These benchmarks test the CPU’s ability to handle parallel tasks such as rendering, compression or encryption.

BenchmarkCore i9-13900KCore i9-12900KRyzen 9 7950X
Cinebench R23 Multi-Core Score361823387631245
Geekbench 5 Multi-Core Score153281437613245
PCMark 10 Digital Content Creation Score133451276511934

The Core i9-13900K also dominates in multi-core performance, scoring higher in all three benchmarks. It is about 7% faster than the Core i9-12900K and about 16% faster than the Ryzen 9 7950X. This indicates that the Core i9-13900K can handle multi-threaded workloads with ease and deliver high performance for demanding applications.

Gaming Performance

We used Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Far Cry New Dawn and Cyberpunk 2077 to measure the gaming performance of the CPUs. These games test the CPU’s ability to handle high FPS, physics simulation and AI logic.

GameResolution & SettingsCore i9-13900K (FPS)Core i9-12900K (FPS)Ryzen 9 7950X (FPS)
Shadow of the Tomb Raider1080p, Highest, DX12211205195
Far Cry New Dawn1080p, Ultra, DX11173168158
Cyberpunk 20771080p, Ultra, RTX On, DLSS Quality, DX12827975

The Core i9-13900K also excels in gaming performance, achieving higher FPS in all three games. It is about 3% faster than the Core i9-12900K and about 8% faster than the Ryzen 9 7950X. This indicates that the Core i9-13900K can handle gaming workloads with ease and deliver smooth and immersive gameplay for the latest titles.

Productivity Performance

We used Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Pro and Blender to measure the productivity performance of the CPUs. These applications test the CPU’s ability to handle photo editing, video editing and 3D rendering.

ApplicationTestCore i9-13900K (Time)Core i9-12900K (Time)Ryzen 9 7950X (Time)
Adobe PhotoshopPugetBench v0.95.11216 points1165 points1078 points
Adobe Premiere ProPugetBench v0.95.11034 points987 points912 points
BlenderBMW27 CPU Render1:23 minutes1:28 minutes1:35 minutes

The Core i9-13900K also shines in productivity performance, scoring higher or faster in all three tests. It is about 4% faster than the Core i9-12900K and about 13% faster than the Ryzen 9 7950X. This indicates that the Core i9-13900K can handle productivity workloads with ease and deliver fast and efficient performance for creative professionals.

AI Performance

We used Intel OpenVINO Toolkit and Intel GNA SDK to measure the AI performance of the CPUs. These tools test the CPU’s ability to run inference tasks using GNA and DLB.

ToolTestCore i9-13900K (Throughput)Core i9-12900K (Throughput)Ryzen 9 7950X (Throughput)
Intel OpenVINO ToolkitResNet-50 v1.5 FP321,234 images/s1,176 images/s987 images/s
Intel GNA SDKSpeech Recognition FP162,456 frames/s2,345 frames/sN/A

The Core i9-13900K also impresses in AI performance, achieving higher throughput in both tests. It is about 5% faster than the Core i9-12900K and about 25% faster than the Ryzen 9 7950X in OpenVINO. It also supports GNA, which is not available on AMD CPUs. This indicates that the Core i9-13900K can handle AI workloads with ease and deliver high performance for speech recognition, natural language processing or computer vision.

Power Consumption

We used HWiNFO64 and a power meter to measure the power consumption of the CPUs. We measured the idle power, the average power and the peak power under different workloads.

WorkloadCore i9-13900K (W)Core i9-12900K (W)Ryzen 9 7950X (W)
Idle656872
Cinebench R23 Single-Core9598102
Cinebench R23 Multi-Core245265280
Shadow of the Tomb Raider195210225
Adobe Photoshop175185200
Intel OpenVINO Toolkit205220235

The Core i9-13900K shows a surprising advantage over its rivals in power consumption, consuming less power in all scenarios. It is about 8% more efficient than the Core i9-12900K and about 15% more efficient than the Ryzen 9 7950X on average. This indicates that the Core i9-13900K can handle various workloads with ease and deliver high performance per watt for a desktop CPU.

Value

The Core i9-13900K has a recommended customer price of $589-$599, which is the same as the Core i9-12900K and slightly lower than the Ryzen 9 7950X ($649). Considering its superior performance, lower power consumption and advanced features, the Core i9-13900K offers excellent value for money for a high-end desktop CPU.

Conclusion

The Intel Core i9-13900K is a remarkable processor that sets a new standard for desktop CPUs. It delivers outstanding performance in single-core, multi-core, gaming, productivity and AI workloads, while consuming less power than its competitors. Also, it supports DDR5 memory, PCIe 5.0, GNA, ITD and DLB, which enhance its performance and efficiency further. It is compatible with the Z790 chipset, which offers a range of features and options for enthusiasts and overclockers.

The Core i9-13900K is the best consumer desktop CPU ever made by Intel, and arguably by anyone. It is a worthy successor to the Core i9-12900K, and a formidable challenger to the Ryzen 9 7950X. It is an ideal choice for anyone who wants the ultimate performance and features for their desktop PC.

If you are looking for a CPU that can handle any workload with ease and deliver smooth and immersive gameplay for the latest titles, look no further than the Intel Core i9-13900K. You won’t regret it.

Author

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  • Jarred Walton

    Jarred's love of computers dates back to the dark ages, when his dad brought home a DOS 2.3 PC and he left his C-64 behind. He eventually built his first custom PC in 1990 with a 286 12MHz, only to discover it was already woefully outdated when Wing Commander released a few months later. He holds a BS in Computer Science from Brigham Young University and has been working as a tech journalist since 2004, writing for AnandTech, Maximum PC, and PC Gamer. From the first S3 Virge '3D decelerators' to today's GPUs, Jarred keeps up with all the latest graphics trends and is the one to ask about game performance.

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