Intel Core i9-12900K vs. AMD Ryzen 9 5950X: Which Top-Finish CPU Is Tops in 2021?

Ryzen, Ryzen, Ryzen! With apologies to The Brady Bunch: For quite a lot of years now, all over you glance, AMD has been dominating the content-creator marketplace for desktop CPUs. Via a couple of generations of the Zen structure, beginning in 2017, AMD has outlined new limits of cores-for-the-money, revolutionizing the type of desktop continual to be had for media-minded programs. Skilled ingenious customers and prosumers alike could not be happier with the fad.

It took till past due 2021, however chip massive Intel in any case has a reputable reaction to that marching line of Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9 chips treading throughout its conventional garden. Take its new desktop-CPU flagship: Its first genuine contender in relatively a while is the Core i9-12900K, a part of a six-CPU release for twelfth Technology Core processors (dubbed the “Alder Lake” circle of relatives) that establishes the groundwork for a way Intel Core chips at the desktop will glance and paintings for future years.

This new flagship Core i9 chip provides up beef up for probably the most processing threads now we have observed on a Core i9 processor that isn’t categorised as a high-end-desktop (HEDT), cut-down server chip just like the Core i9-10980XE Excessive Version. (That separate HEDT category of processors, certainly, has been unnoticed on Intel’s roadmap lately, and its long term is unsure.) However is that thread-count build up on my own sufficient to unseat AMD from its multi-year profitable streak in multi-threaded content-creation efficiency? AMD’s present king is the Ryzen 9 5950X, a 16-core beast that debuted in past due 2020 and has an inventory payment somewhat greater than $150 upper than the Core i9-12900K’s (regardless that real-world side road costs are an entire different, risky subject). Let’s fall into the main points and to find out.

Core i9-12900K vs. AMD Ryzen 9 5950X: Specifications and Structure

To start out off our comparability of those two top-end chips, let’s take a peek on the base specifications of AMD’s and Intel’s mainstream flagships…

P-cores? E-cores? As you’ll be able to see above, placing those two chips head-to-head items a subject: We have now some new varieties of cores to speak about.

With Alder Lake, Intel is in any case shifting past the elderly lithography of the “Rocket Lake” eleventh Technology Core line, which was once a final hurrah of types for Intel’s 14nm procedure generation at the desktop. Its new Intel 7 Procedure (at its center, a 10nm production procedure) underpins, within the Core i9-12900K, what the corporate is asking its “Efficiency cores” (P-cores) and “Potency cores” (E-cores).

The P-cores and E-cores are on the center of twelfth Technology Core’s new “giant.LITTLE”-style structure. This method to chip design employs high-power and low-power processing cores. On this explicit chip, the design pairs 8 P-cores with 8 E-cores, and divides the calls for of your PC throughout them from second to second, relying at the process handy. Best the 8 P-cores are Hyper-Threaded on this new chip design, for 2 threads according to core; that is why the collection of supported threads is not the standard double the collection of cores.

Intel Cores explained

For instance, if you are enjoying a PC recreation whilst speaking in your buddies on Discord, the burden of the sport can be treated by way of the P-cores, whilst the process of processing Discord is shipped to the E-cores. That is all performed thru clever scheduling in Home windows 11, by the use of a provider that Intel is asking Thread Director. The corporate says it plans to make this generation to be had just for that working gadget. No Home windows 10-based Thread Director is about for unlock.

Intel Core i9-12900K box

(Photograph: Chris Stobing)

At the different facet of the aisle, you might have AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X. Set aside the corporate’s HEDT-class Ryzen Threadripper chips, and the 5950X is AMD’s desktop flagship. It debuted as a part of the corporate’s “Zen 3” desktop CPU release past due in 2020, representing the highest canine in AMD’s client chip stack: 16 cores, with beef up for as much as 32 concurrent processing threads. The chip is constructed off the similar 7nm procedure from TSMC as its predecessor, the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X, which introduced as part of the “Zen 2” category in 2019, with the similar core and thread rely because the 5950X.

The Ryzen 9 5950X has 8 extra general addressable threads than what is on be offering from the Intel Core i9-12900K, however as we will see in our trying out underneath, that outright benefit does not all the time upload as much as an outright win. (Extra on that during a minute.)

WINNER: AMD Ryzen 9 5950X on procedure generation and addressable thread rely

Core i9-12900K vs. AMD Ryzen 9 5950X: Platforms and Compatibility

Let’s glance subsequent at platform compatibility. Our explainer at the Intel Z690 platform (it debuted with Alder Lake) is a must-read if you have not observed it. It will get down and grimy with the main points of the motherboard and chipset tech supporting the Alder Lake line. However for individuals who simply need the fundamentals, let’s run thru a handy guide a rough hit record.

Intel’s new twelfth Technology chips include a transformation to but any other new motherboard socket, this time LGA 1700, in addition to the Z690 chipset (the primary and most effective chipset to this point for the platform), enabling a refreshed providing of motherboards. That is an improve from the Z590 chipset that was once the most productive on be offering with eleventh Technology Core (in large part regarded as a dead-end platform by way of this level), and it brings with it an entire host of enhancements that can or might not be related to you, relying on what you do together with your PC.

Asus Z690

(Photograph: Michael Sexton)

The important thing upgrades between the 2 platforms come with extra PCI Specific (PCIe) lanes, in addition to lanes being upgraded from the PCIe 4.0 spec as much as PCIe 5.0. (PCIe 5.0 is not helpful but; as an example, PCIe 5.0 SSDs are most effective prototypes like this Kioxia style at this time.) The brand new forums additionally carry with them beef up for DDR5 RAM (regardless that some beef up old-style DDR4 as a substitute), in addition to XMP 3.0 (Intel’s Excessive Reminiscence Profiler provider for overclockers), and Dynamic Reminiscence Spice up Generation, which ramps reminiscence accelerates and down in keeping with gadget calls for.

The typical gamer or content material writer may not get a lot from those applied sciences. If you are a major overclocker or tweaker, regardless that, this host of latest techniques to regulate how your chip plays underneath drive, particularly when driven to its limits, can be welcome.

In the meantime, the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X is well matched with maximum AMD Socket AM4-ready motherboards, regardless that you could have to test one of the vital lower-end forums for whether or not the Ryzen 9 5950X and its excessive continual draw are in particular supported. This compatibility offers the Ryzen 9 5950X a far greater pool of motherboard choices to make a choice amongst, which means you can most probably to find an AM4 board that matches proper inside of your funds and function necessities. That is adverse to Z690, which begins at $179.99 for the least-expensive board on cabinets at this time. (See our rundown of the primary Z690 motherboards.)

TIE: Intel Core i9-12900K wins on new options and added flexibility, AMD Ryzen 9 5950X wins on charge of adoption

Core i9-12900K vs. AMD Ryzen 9 5950X: Productiveness Efficiency

Ok, time to transport on to a few benchmarks! So, with 8 extra processing threads to paintings with, it must be a very easy blowout for the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X on content material introduction duties, proper? No longer so rapid…

(Notice: All of those check runs above have been carried out on their respective AMD and Intel testbeds underneath Home windows 10.)

General, there is little contest to be proven right here; overwhelmingly, the Intel Core i9-12900K, with its 16 to be had cores and 24 to be had threads, was once ready to overcome out the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X’s 32 threads in virtually each and every content-creation process we threw its means. And that’s the reason with out Thread Director in play.

Then again, as you’ll be able to see, there are nonetheless a couple of kinks that Intel has but to determine when trying out in Home windows 10, comparable to in our POV-Ray run. It must be famous, regardless that, that the ones don’t seem to be right down to outright decreased efficiency up to they’re the idiosyncrasies that include the use of an Intel Core i9-12900K on a Home windows 10 gadget.

Even with that minor downside, the Core i9-12900K nonetheless comes out a lot additional forward than we anticipated going into the benchmark trying out, given its lesser thread rely towards the Ryzen 9 5950X. In very lightly-threaded runs like our 7-Zip benchmark, the Ryzen 9 5950X notched up a win, however in a different way it is a close to blowout for Intel when the working gadget odds are stacked calmly (Home windows 10 as opposed to Home windows 10).

However how did issues trade after we moved over to the Thread Director-assisted check construct in Home windows 11?

Right here we will see that the impact of Home windows 11 and Thread Director at the Intel Core i9-12900K’s benchmark effects. In some circumstances it was once throughout the margin of error, but it surely did additionally proper for the problems we noticed in HandBrake and POV-Ray right through the Home windows 10 check set. Transferring to Home windows 11 additionally provides a not-insignificant spice up to the Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere check runs (the use of the Puget Methods(Opens in a brand new window) PugetBench check utilities), which showcases utilization eventualities extra alongside the strains of what Intel says Thread Director was once made to maintain.

For instance, outright thread-punisher checks like Cinebench R23 or 7-Zip will merely max out each and every useful resource passed to them, Thread Director or now not. This is the reason we see such equivalent effects between the 2 whether or not they are run on Home windows 10 or 11, as a result of Thread Director cannot be of a lot assist when the one path at the board is “Give ‘er the entirety she’s were given.”

In the meantime, the Photoshop and Premiere Professional benchmarks designed by way of Puget Methods contain many alternative process varieties—record retrieval, garage, symbol rendering, modifying operations, and the like—which can be run in series. This provides Thread Director “one thing to do,” because it have been, sidelining assets when the burden of the run is lighter, after which redistributing them when it is time to render or edit. The result’s a transparent growth within the total rating, and at face worth, it means that you want to save an affordable period of time operating in an Adobe program on a Home windows 11-based Intel Core i9-12900K system, as opposed to on an AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, or on a Core i9-12900K working on Home windows 10.

Is that the OS-seller that Microsoft was once hoping for? No longer but, in all probability, but it surely does display promise for the Alder Lake/Home windows 11 marriage. The features lets see from Thread Director as Home windows 11 matures, and the tech is customized to a much broader vary of programs, might be giant for content material creators and function hounds. They are positive now not unhealthy as of late.

TIE: Intel Core i9-12900K wins for Home windows 11 customers, AMD Ryzen 9 5950X wins for cost-conscious content material creators

Core i9-12900K vs. AMD Ryzen 9 5950X: Gaming Efficiency

Ultimate however now not least, we arrive at gaming efficiency for the Core i9-12900K as opposed to the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, the previous of which Intel has dubbed the “Global’s Absolute best Gaming Processor.” How did the ones claims endure out in trying out? Let’s glance…

We examined the CPUs right here on their respective platforms in Home windows 10 the use of a GeForce RTX 3080 Ti card. As you’ll be able to see from our gaming runs above, issues are in fact relatively shut between the 2 processors, regardless of twelfth Gen’s ostensible platform and newness benefit. Between the 2, the variation falls just about throughout the margin of error for all checks excluding 3DMark, and that rating is person who extra appropriately displays the gadget benefit as an entire, relatively than simply the efficiency of the chip by itself.

If you are having a troublesome time selecting between those two alternatives for PC gaming on my own (regardless that they are each somewhat overkill, when you ask us), the platform-adoption charge of twelfth Technology Intel is also the deciding issue. The efficiency distinction is simple sufficient to stay AMD neatly sufficient within the working, particularly whilst you believe that we ran our twelfth Gen checks on a brand spanking new package with DDR5 reminiscence put in.

We additionally want to shut out this phase with a caveat: Intel’s twelfth Gen processors would possibly not paintings on each and every unmarried recreation, irrespective of your working gadget. All through our trying out, we discovered that our Murderer’s Creed: Valhalla benchmark identify would not boot in. Best after consulting with Intel did we discover out that is because of a subject with the DRM provider Denuvo, which will confuse the 2 core kinds of twelfth Gen as two separate techniques as duties shift out and in of the cores. You’ll learn all about the problem, in addition to glance thru an inventory of the affected titles and their timetables for an implemented repair, in our complete breakdown right here.

WINNER: AMD Ryzen 9 5950X remains aggressive on charge of adoption and recreation compatibility

The Verdict: Benchmark Wins by way of Inning Are not the Complete Ballgame

Through lots of the measures now we have amassed right here as of late, it is transparent that the transfer to 10nm and Intel 7 Procedure has performed wonders for Intel’s competitiveness at the desktop in mainstream content material introduction on chips just like the Core i9-12900K as opposed to earlier generations. However the ones wins come at a value.

Let’s ruin issues down a little bit additional in response to charge of adoption…

WINNER: AMD on price-per-thread

From the chart above, you’ll be able to see that whilst the variation in charge of adoption would possibly not glance too critical for what you get (particularly DDR5 compatibility with Z690 motherboards), on price-per-thread the equation skews in AMD’s choose due to entry-level forums like this $59.99 Asrock style(Opens in a brand new window). (Whether or not you wish to have to run a 5950X on a low-end motherboard is any other subject, then again.) If you wish to even way the similar roughly Intel efficiency now we have posted within the effects above, paying that distinction can be a minimal, and that’s the reason now not even counting the boosts we were given from the use of the probably the greatest {hardware} that was once despatched to us by way of Intel’s board and reminiscence companions for evaluation.

Till we see extra Alder Lake-compatible motherboards out of doors of the Z690 chipset circle of relatives being launched, possession of Intel twelfth Gen chips will come at the next charge in comparison to getting an AM4 gadget off the bottom.

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

(Photograph: Zlata Ivleva)

If charge isn’t any factor, Intel has in any case taken the total productiveness efficiency crown again from AMD, and remains simply forward of the curve on gaming in addition. Then again, if you are like many people, the place charge is the primary limiter when development a brand new PC, then the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X stays unchallenged by way of Intel on price-per-thread. With charge of adoption factored into the maths (a determine you will have to chunk the bullet directly to undertake the Z690 platform), the Intel Core i9-12900K is slightly below 65% dearer per-thread than the Ryzen 9 5950X, and most effective beats it in productiveness efficiency speeds by way of a median of 10% to twenty%, relying at the working gadget and the applying.

AMD’s “chiplet”-based structure, and its endured beef up of Socket AM4, stay two of the corporate’s most powerful belongings towards Intel in desktop CPUs, making it imaginable to aggressively payment its highest-end chips for content-creation pageant towards all comers. Intel’s Core i9-12900K racks some spectacular wins in flat-out benchmarks, to make sure, however the adoption charge means that budget-focused consumers watch for midrange Intel 600-series motherboards to release within the new 12 months (and for DDR5 reminiscence modules to drop in payment) earlier than taking the plunge.

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