GuidesComparisonsi9-12900K Vs i7-12700K: Should You Upgrade?

i9-12900K Vs i7-12700K: Should You Upgrade?

We compared two Alder Lake CPUs, Intel Core i9-12900k vs Intel Core i7-12700k, based on benchmarks, price, specs, architecture, and value.

Expert Verified By

Intel Core i9 12900K

Rated: 8/10

Intel Core i7 12700K

Rated: 9/10


Pros & Cons

GPUProsCons
Core i7 12700K✅Almsot equivalent performance to the 12900K
✅Lower price tag
✅Significantly better thermal performance
❌Lower core/thread count
Core i9 12900K✅Significantly higher performance
✅More cores/threads
❌Much higher price tag

Key Takeaways
  • In our gaming tests at 1080p, the Core i9 12900K was only 3% faster than the Core i7 12700K, which is an unnoticeable difference for even the most avid gamers.
  • Temperatures of the higher-end processor were around 11% higher than that of the i7 12700K, though both operated well within the same limits.
  • As of late January 2024, the price of the Core i9 12900K is around 38% higher than that of the Core i7 12700K.
  • The price increase of the Core i9 12900K does not correspond to its improvements in performance over the Core i7 12700.

Why Trust Tech4Gamers
  • Manaf is our comparison expert who has been benchmarking graphics cards, and processors.
  • 100+ components tested and reviewed by our team of hardware experts (Tech4Gamers Team).
  • 100+ hours spent testing different components for our comparisons.
  • Objective testing criteria (See how we compare PC hardware).

At Tech4Gamers, ensuring you get reliable information is our priority. That’s why every hardware round-up undergoes a meticulous review process by our team of experts and editors. Each review is carefully examined against our strict editorial guidelines, guaranteeing you trustworthy insights you can depend on.

Comparison Table

SpecificationsCore i9-12900KCore i7-12700K
Cores & Threads16 Cores | 24 Threads12 Cores | 20 Threads
Hybrid CoresP-Cores: 8 | E-Cores: 8P-Cores: 8 | E-Cores: 4
Base FrequencyP Core: 3.2 GHz | E-Core: 2.4 GHzP Core: 3.6 GHz | E-Core: 2.7 GHz
Boost Clock SpeedsP Core: 5.2 GHz | E-Core: 3.9 GHzP Core: 4.9 GHz | E-Core: 3.8 GHz
Release DateNov 4th, 2021Nov 4th, 2021
Current Price$389$289
Best CPU CoolersBest CPU Coolers For Core i9-12900KBest CPU Coolers For Core i7-12700K
Best MotherboardsBest Motherboards For Core i9-12900KBest Motherboards For Core i7-12700K
Best MemoryBest RAM For Core i9-12900KBest Memory For Core i7-12700K

Architectural Differences

  1. Process Node: Intel uses the same 10nm processing node for both the Core i9 12900K and 12700K, as it does with all its Alder Lake, Raptor Lake, and Raptor Lake Refresh chips.
  2. Core Count: The i9 14900K uses 8 performance cores in conjunction with 8 efficiency cores for a total of 24 threads, while the Core i7 bumps this down a bit with 8 performance cores and 6 efficiency cores for a total of 20 threads.
  3. Core Clocks: The performance cores of the Core i9 12900K have a base frequency of 3.2GHz with a boost of up to 5.2GHz, while the Core i7 12700K has a base clock of 3.6GHz with a boost of up to 5GHz.
  4. Memory: Intel was the first player to introduce DDR5 memory to the mainstream, and we see this with these processors supporting both DDR4 and DDR5 memory at up to 3200MHz and 4800MHz, respectively.
  5. Socket: Both processors use the LGA 1700 socket, which Intel has kept consistent for the last few years in all its processors.
  6. TDP: Both the processors have a PL1 TDP of 125 watts, though the extra cores and higher core clocks of the Core i9 can make it draw significantly more power than its little brother.

Intel’s Alder Lake processors served to push the envelope forward with their performance, but how do the processors from this generation stack up against one another? Follow along with the Core i9 12900K vs Core i7 12700K comparison to find out!


Gaming Benchmarks – 1080p

To get an idea of the in-game performance of these processors, we have used an intricate test bench that allows both processors to be used to their full capabilities. You can take a look at the specifications of this test bench below:

Test Rig

CS: GO

CSGO
CS:GO @1080p (Image By Tech4Gamers)
  • Both processors had excellent performance in CS: GO, as we expected. The 12900K had an average framerate of 645 FPS, while the 12700K bumped this down a little to 629 FPS. Our comparison kicks off with a 2.5% lead to the i9.
  • The 1% lows were also very close between the two chips, with the 12900K getting lows of around 153 FPS while the 12700K had lows closer to 149 FPS.

Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 @1080p (Image By Tech4Gamers)
  • The average framerates were only 2.6% apart in Cyberpunk 2077, with the Core i9 getting around 115 FPS, while the 12700K got around 112 FPS. Once again, the difference would go largely unnoticed by anyone playing on either processor.
  • The 1% lows hovered around 77 FPS on the 12900K, while the 12700K had lows of around 81 FPS, flipping our expectations and giving the i7 its first win of our testing.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 @1080p (Image Bytech4Gamers)
  • Both Alder Lake processors once again perform similarly in Red Dead Redemption 2, with the i9 getting an average framerate of 145 FPS, while the 12700K had an average framerate of around 138 FPS, which comes out to a 5% advantage for the higher-tier processor.
  • The 1% lows were once again higher on the i7, around 75 FPS, while the i9 was a few frames behind with minimums of 72 FPS.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 @1080p (Image By Tech4Gamers)
  • MS Flight Sim ran substantially better on the higher-end processor at around 167 FPS on average, while the Core i7 12700K had an average framerate of around 158 FPS. The difference here accumulated to around 5.6%.
  • The 1% lows were around 112 FPS on the Core i9, while the i7 had lows closer to 109 FPS.

Overall Gaming Performance

Average FPS
Average FPS @1080p (Image By Tech4Gamers)

To better understand the performance of the Core i9 12900K vs Core i7 12700K, we will discuss the average performance of these chips in the subsequent sections of this comparison.

Average Framerate

Both processors had very similar performance in our testing. The average framerate of the Core i9 12900K reached around 268 FPS in our tests, while the Core i7 12700K was around 3.4% slower, with an average of around 259 FPS. This was a rather negligible difference, especially at the high framerates we experienced with both of our chips.

1% Lows

The two processors got within spitting distance of 1% lows, with the i9 being only 1.4% faster than the i7. The higher-end processor averaged minimums of around 104 FPS, while the 12700K’s average approached 103 FPS. 

All in all, these processors were neck and neck against each other in terms of overall performance.

Winner: Intel's Core i9 12900K

Temperatures

GameCore i9 12900K(°C)Core i7 12700K (°C)
CS: GO6358
Cyberpunk 20777567
Red Dead Redemption 26056
MS Flight Sim 20206253
Average Gaming Temperature6558.5
Winner: Intel's Core i7 12700K

The Core i9 ran around 11% hotter in our testing than the Core i7 12700K, though the temperature range of this processor was still perfectly reasonable. Unless you mess up your cooling solutions a lot, neither processor should pose a threat of thermal throttling.


Price And Availability

ProcessorMSRPCurrent Price
Core i7 12700K💲409💲272
Core i9 12900K💲589💲375
Difference44%38%

As of mid-January 2024, the price of getting a new i9 12900K on Amazon is around 38% greater than getting a new i7 12700K, as seen in the table above. The availability of these processors might be dwindling in the new market, though the market for used chips is flooded with these processors. 

As for the value proposition, the 3.5% higher performance of the i9 is very hard to justify with this high price tag. 


Editor`s Note
Image

If you want these processors for a better price, getting a used CPU would suit you nicely. As of writing this article, eBay has the Core i9 12900K listed for under $200, which offers a much better price-to-performance ratio compared to the price of this processor on Amazon.

– Abde Manaf


What We Recommend

After detailing the metrics of the Core i9 12900K vs Core i7 12700K, it has become evident that both processors share much of the same DNA.

Core i7 12700K: The i7 12700K is a robust performer with gaming capabilities matching its higher-end sibling, the i9. Its impressive gaming performance makes it a recommended choice, especially when considering the value it offers compared to its i9 counterpart. For users prioritizing gaming, the i7 12700K is a solid choice, with the additional suggestion to invest in a quality motherboard and cooling solution to optimize its potential.

Core i9 12900K: On the other hand, the Intel Core i9 12900K emerges as the powerhouse of the 12th generation, showcasing unparalleled performance and efficiency. Positioned for enthusiasts and productivity-focused tasks, the i9 12900K’s cutting-edge technologies lead the market. While its capabilities may be excessive for some PC configurations, it becomes an attractive option for those seeking future-proofing or requiring enhanced productivity.

The i9 12900K is the go-to choice for users seeking top-tier gaming and content creation performance. At the same time, the i7 12700K caters to gamers looking for a cost-effective upgrade with an excellent price/performance ratio.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will my previous motherboard work with Intel Core i7-12700k?

If your motherboard doesn’t have a Z690 Chipset along with the LGA 1700 socket, you can’t use the i7-12700k processor. LGA 1700 has a different size than its predecessor’s socket, so your CPU won’t fit in. There is also a probability that your old cooling stuff doesn’t fit here, too. If you are out in the market for a new motherboard, do check out our guide for Best Z690 Motherboards.

Is i9-12900k an immediate choice for the best gaming experience?

Well, it depends. If you’re eager to upgrade your system to the best of Intel i9-12900k’s ability, then yes. It provides the best gaming experience, without a doubt. But if you are short on budget and require a similar performance, then you fit right in the i7-12700k bracket. Try spending a little more on your motherboard, and you will be good to go.

What’s the core/thread count of i9-12900k and i7-12700k?

Intel Core i9-12900k has a core/thread count of 16/24 whereas i7-12700k has a count of 12/20.


More From Core i9-12900K

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