The AMD 5000 series processors’ launch looked like a game end for Intel as those processors immediately gained attention and buyer response due to their outstanding performances and benchmarks. However, Intel responded with their 12th generation processor lineup launch under the name “Alder Lake” on the 4th of November 2021. You might be here for i9-12900k vs i7-12700k, but don’t worry; we will get to that after introduction, and these basic differences.
Last update on 2023-12-01
What’s new in Intel 12th Generation Alder Lake
Intel Alder Lake 12th generation is equipped with the x86 hybrid architecture, a combination of larger high-performance cores utilizing ‘Golden Cove‘ cores and smaller high-efficiency cores based on ‘Gracemont’ microarchitecture based on Intel 7 (the new name for 10 nm Enhanced SuperFin process) process node. These Golden Cove cores or P-cores (Performance cores) are Intel’s most powerful CPU cores and have architectural benefits on maximizing single-thread performance and an increase in response time on highly computational tasks such as gaming and 3D design.
On the other hand, Gracemont cores or E-cores (Efficient cores) are configured to scale highly threaded workloads. They have been enhanced to minimize interference from the background task management module for better multitasking support. Also, they improve multi-threading performance for parallel running tasks.
Alder Lake has improved Intel’s ‘Intel 7’ Enhanced SuperFin 10nm process. In addition to it, they have introduced a new hardware technology called ‘Intel Thread Director‘ for improved coherence with the operating system. This technology, built right into the cores, is an intelligent workload distributer that improves efficiency by utilizing the cores at the optimal state and prioritizing the workload to an optimized thread. This feature ensures the assignment of P-cores and E-cores in an optimized way and is dynamic. Microsoft has added the support for Intel Thread Director in its latest OS, Windows 11.
The 12th generation of processors is loaded with many technologies this time. One of those is Intel Gaussian and Neural Accelerator 3.0. We often hear the term AI or Artificial Intelligence in our daily lives. For that purpose, Intel has introduced a low-power neural coprocessor that assists in AI applications of speech and audio like neural noise cancellation, etc. The cherry on top is the Intel Deep Learning Boost (Intel DL Boost). It is a feature set developed for their CPUs to optimize AI workloads. While you are, you also might be interested in Core i7-12700k vs Core i5-12600k.
Intel 12th Generation Alder Lake Specs Overview
- Socket: LGA 1700
- Architecture Type: Hybrid
- Instruction Set: x86-64
- CPU Cores Info: Combination of Golden Cove P-cores and Gracemont E-Cores.
- RAM Support: DDR4 and DDR5
- PCIe Support: PCIe 5.0
- Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 6E
- I/O: Thunderbolt 4 support.
- Support for noise suppression, auto-framing, and bandwidth enhancement.
Difference between Intel Core i7 and Intel Core i9
Before we jump into i9-12900k vs i7-12700k benchmarks and performance, let’s go through basics. Firstly, a Core is a part of a processor that acts as the brain of a CPU. It gets instructions from the user via threads, processes them, and provides output accordingly. A CPU/processor contains multiple cores that work coherently. Each core can work on its independent set of instructions, and in multiple core cases, parallel processing can be performed on the cache.
Intel Core is a series of efficient processors introduced around January 2006 by the Intel Corporation. These consisted of CPUs for midrange users of PCs and Workstations. They started from the Pentium series and then the lineup containing Core i3, Core i7, and Core i9.
Generally, i7 and i9 have more cores and greater power consumption than their predecessor series; the primary difference is the more significant cores, higher clock speed, and more cache. Let’s look at further details.
Intel Core i7
Core i7 was introduced by Intel Corporation in 2008, containing 64-bit x86 processors with up to 8 cores. They were one of the most powerful of the ‘Core i’ lineup until the introduction of the i9 series of processors back in 2017.
During its hype, i7 was the processor series you will find in High-end performing PCs. Their scalability with their performance back then made them sell like hotcakes. If you needed top-tier gaming performance and low-tier to mid-tier content creation capabilities, the i7 lineup was your immediate choice.
Intel Core i7 had a unique technology called Hyperthreading, which allows each core to be used twice concurrently, providing a sensation of doubling the number of cores. It creates two processing threads for each physical core to achieve that. Intel i7 also had support for multi-threading, opening doors for multitasking and reaching top-tier gaming performances. Intel Core i7 processors also have Turbo Boost technology that increases the performance per core, drawing in more power.
Intel Core i9
The Core i9 was introduced by the Intel Corporation in 2017, containing 64-bit x86 microprocessors having high performance and high core count. It is now the latest and most powerful Core i’ lineup. They use Skylake microarchitecture that uses a 14nm process. i9 processors also supported up to 128GB of DDR4 RAMs in quad-channel besides 44 lanes of PCI Express (i7 had 28 PCI Express channels).
These CPUs contain cores from 6 to 18 at max with two threads/core if Hyperthreading is active. Its Base Speed range from 2.9 GHz to 3.6 GHz, which boosts up to 5.0 GHz with the assistance of Turbo Boost. It’s known best for its multi-threading capabilities in comparison to power efficiencies. Core i9 supports Hyperthreading, which takes multi-threading to a new level along with its increased stats and better performance. That’s why it provides ample processing speed for heavy tasks such as gaming.
Intel i9 processors are unlocked CPUs, which allow them to be overclockable. Overclocking is the process in which a component’s clock rate increases such that it performs at very high speeds it wasn’t designed to reach. It helps the CPU perform more operations/sec at the cost of more heat dissipation.
Intel Core i9 CPUs also support Intel Optane memory for better speeds. It is an intelligent technology that individualizes and enhances the computing experience by learning the most frequently used files, keeping them handy for quick access. It, in return, boosts up boot times and speeds up system performance significantly.
Core i9-12900k vs Core i7-12700k
Both Processors are based on Alder Lake architecture are the most powerful processors in their series. In the AMD-Intel fight for market dominance, AMD had gained the market share with the release of their new 5000 series CPUs, but Intel has reclaimed the throne after the launch of the 12th generation. Intel’s multitasking and gaming performances have shown some improvements across their lineup in the benchmarks, with very few wins from AMD. Let’s have an in-depth look at both these CPUs and make the decision easier for you.
i9-12900k and i7-12700k both belong to the Intel Alder Lake-S series of processors. They have a hybrid x86 architecture soldered on a 10nm process and have different core/thread counts. Both CPUs support HyperThreading, Overclocking and also use Turbo Boost Max 3.0.
Intel Core i9-12900k has a total of 16 cores with 8 P-cores (Performance Cores) and 4 E-cores (Efficient Cores). As for i7-12700k, it has a total of 12 cores. Core i9 has the same P-cores as the latter but has four more E-cores than the i7-12700k, which sums up to 8 E-cores. The i7-12700k has 20 threads, whereas i9-12900k has 24 threads. So i9 has an advantage of core and thread count compared to i7, whereas thread count isn’t that significant.
Our i7 contender has a Max Turbo Frequency of 5.00 GHz, whereas the i9 CPU has a Max Turbo Frequency of 5.20 GHz. The same is the frequency of both CPUs for Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 Frequency. For i7-12700k, P-core Base Frequency is 3.60 GHz, whereas its Max Turbo Frequency is 4.90 GHz. Whereas i9-12900k P-Core Base Frequency is 3.20 GHz and Max Turbo Frequency is 5.10 GHz. On the analysis of E-core frequencies, i7-12700k E-core Base Frequency is 2.70 GHz, and its Max Turbo Frequency is 3.80 GHz. Whereas i9-12900k E-Core Base Frequency is 2.40 GHz and Max Turbo Frequency is 3.90 GHz. You won’t find a massive difference in performance from the real-world usage aspect, such as gaming. However, if you do something that requires a lot of background processing, then those four cores in i9-12900k might benefit you (depends on usage).
Intel i7-12700k has an L2 Cache of 12MB and an L3 Cache of 25MB. Intel i9-12900k has an L2 Cache of 14MB and an L3 Cache of 30MB. This increase in L3 cache will boost the instruction processing and system performance for both the systems equipped with these CPUs. Both CPUs use a Base Power (TDP) of 125W. However, for Maximum Turbo Power, i7-12700k consumes 190W power, and i9-12900k has a power consumption of 241W. Both processors have integrated UHD Graphics 770, having its basis on Xe Architecture with a base frequency of 300MHz.
Intel Core i7-12700k CPU Specs
Here are some high-level CPU specifications for i7-12700k clearly laid out, showing essential stats such as cores, threads, number of P-cores, and others.
- Cores: 12
- Threads: 20
- Number of Performance Cores (P-cores): 8
- Number of Efficient Cores (E-cores): 4
- P-core Base Frequency: 3.60 GHz
- P-core Max Turbo Frequency: 4.90 GHz
- E-core Base Frequency: 2.70 GHz
- E-core Max Turbo Frequency: 3.80 GHz
- Max Turbo Frequency: 5.00 GHz
- Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 Frequency: 5.00 GHz
- L3-Cache: 25MB
- TDP: 125W
- Maximum Turbo Power: 190W
Intel Core i9-12900k CPU Specs
Below are some on-paper stats provided for better clarification and helping you reach a decision based on facts and figures.
- Cores: 16
- Threads: 24
- Number of Performance Cores (P-cores): 8
- Number of Efficient Cores (E-cores): 8
- P-core Base Frequency: 3.20 GHz
- P-core Max Turbo Frequency: 5.10 GHz
- E-core Base Frequency: 2.40 GHz
- E-core Max Turbo Frequency: 3.90 GHz
- Max Turbo Frequency: 5.20 GHz
- Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 Frequency: 5.20 GHz
- L3-Cache: 30MB
- TDP: 125W
- Maximum Turbo Power: 241W
An important aspect of i9-12900k vs i7-12700k is the price point of our comparison. Intel Core i9-12900k launched at $589.99, but at this moment in time, you can get it for a whopping price of $610 – $650. On the other hand, the Intel Core i7-12700k MSRP price was $409, but you can avail of it at the price of $400 – $450.
Memory Specifications and Expansion Options
Intel Core i7-12700k and Intel i9-12900k can support 128GB Max Memory Size (depending on memory type). Intel Core i7-12700k supports dual channel DDR4 to 3200MT/s (MegaTransfers per second) and DDR5 to 4800MT/s. Intel Core i9-12900k also supports dual-channel DDR4 to 3200MT/s and DDR5 to 4800MT/s. i7-12700k and i9-12900k both have a Maximum Memory Bandwidth of 76.8GB/s.
Along with its 12th generation processors, Intel also released its Z690 Chipset equipped with LGA 1700 socket, which is compatible with all 12th generation processors. For this generation, unfortunately, your old chipsets and motherboards won’t be compatible with these 12th generation CPUs due to this new Z690 chipset and LGA 1700 socket type.
Intel Core i7-12700k and Intel Core i9-12900k support PCIe 4.0 and 5.0, enabling both these processors to use their PC GPUs and SSDs at their full potential. These CPUs support up to four PCIe 4.0 and sixteen PCIe 5.0 lanes, making it 20 lanes for an excellent data throughput with compatible devices. For PCI Express 5.0, there will be a massive bandwidth of 64GB/s over 16 lanes. It implies that any devices designed for PCIe 5.0 will have faster storage speeds and graphics in applications like video processing, gaming, and 3D rendering, decreasing loading times.
Both the CPUs also come with an upgraded version of DMI (interface between CPU and Chipset) to DMI 4.0 with 8 DMI Lanes. These processors use the new socket version FCLGA1700 (LGA 1700), which is relatively more significant in size than its predecessor LGA 1200. This increase in socket size automatically reflects that the cooling mechanics will also change. There might be a chance that the previous cooling solution doesn’t work exactly. However, major players in the game like Noctua, etc., have already started developing upgrade kits for their existing products, enabling them to be used for LGA 1700 socket motherboards. Due to the increased TDP for both the processors, you might need an excellent cooling solution to get the full potential out of these soldered semiconductors and avoid thermal throttling.
On a serious note, the performance of these CPUs will be highly dependent on the motherboard you will be using. i7 and i9 processors both will require a stable power input. As DDR5 RAM technology isn’t that common right now, the memory type for each motherboard will also play a significant role in the performance of your setup. Due to the inclusion of new technologies of a new chipset Z690, a new socket LGA 1700, and processors support for PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 memory types will make the motherboards relatively pricier.
There will be many options available in the market depending on the design, memory, inclusion of Wi-Fi, Overclocking support, and VRM efficiency. There’s no proper consumer-available PCIe 5.0 device in the market right now that can properly utilize this additional functionality but choosing it will be a future-proof step.
Intel Core i7-12700k and Core i9-12900k Memory and Expansion Specs:
- Max Memory Size: 128 GB
- Memory Support: DDR4 and DDR5
- Memory Transfer Rates: DDR5-4800MT/s, DDR4-3200MT/s
- Number of Memory Channels: 2 (dual channel)
- DMI (Direct Media Interface) Version: 4.0
- Maximum Number of DMI Lanes: 8
- PCI Express Revision: 4.0 and 5.0
- PCI Express Configurations: Up to 1×16+4, 2×8+4
- Maximum Number of PCI Express Lanes: 20
Without a doubt, Intel Core i9-12900k and i7-12700k are very powerful and efficient processors on the market and pose a threat to the AMD lineup right on. For an intensive performance check, gaming could be pretty handy to judge who takes the lead in performance. Both processors are pretty capable, and their gaming performance doesn’t have that many huge differences, but some statistics will reflect more on the long-run performances. Let’s see some benchmarks for different games. The tester tested the CPUs with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, MSI MPG Z690 CARBON motherboard, and Corsair Dominator Platinum 4800 CL 36 (DDR4) RAM.
When it comes to gaming, the 12900k is undoubtedly superior to the i7-12700k; however, the 12700k’s performance does come close in a lot of the titles. This is especially obvious in GPU-intensive games such as Cyberpunk 2077, where we only saw a 3 fps increase in the average fps when going from the i7 12700k to the i9-12900k.
The biggest difference was seen in Microsoft flight simulator, with the Core i9-12900k taking a 9 fps lead over the i7-12700k. One percent lows also show a similar pattern, with the i7-12700k falling slightly behind the 12900k in most games.
While both of these processors are overkill for gaming, the i9-12900k is the better-performing processor between the two.
- CPU: Intel Core i9-12900K, Intel Core i7-12700K
- Motherboard: MSI MPG Z690 CARBON
- GPU: MSI NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
- RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum 4800 CL 36 (DDR4)
- Storage: SSD Samsung EVO 970 500GB
- Power Supply: Super Flower Leadex Platinum 1000W
- OS: Windows 10
CS:GO’s performance was benchmarked on 1080p Resolution with High Settings. For this configuration, we get the following stats mentioned below in i7-12700k vs i9-12900k.
As it can be seen, our big champ, i9-12900k, has a usage of 29% at 63°C Temperature with an average of 645 FPS. In contrast, the i7-12700k usage is 21% at 58°C Temperature and is pulling out an average of 629 FPS. Another thing to notice is that the i9 CPU is at 5000 MHz clock speed with a TDP of almost 93W. We can say that i9 is getting hotter than our i7 contender, having a TDP of 71.4W and sitting at a clock speed of 4700 MHz. This change reflects the temperature difference between both CPUs with almost 5°C difference, which counts!
Cyberpunk 2077’s performance was benchmarked on 1080p Resolution with High Settings, and Ray Tracing turned off. The results are mentioned below.
Cyberpunk 2077 is indeed a resource-hungry game, and stats show that. i9-12900k usage of 59% at 75°C Temperature with an average FPS of 115. On the other hand, i7-12700k utilizes 61% of CPU resources at 67°C Temperature and gives an average of 112 FPS. We can again see that i9-12900k is at approximately 5000 MHz clock speed with a TDP of almost 153.1W. i9 is spiking at the higher tier of its clock speed and drawing in more power compared to i7 having a TDP of 126.9W and a clock speed of 4700 MHz. We can also notice a temperature difference of almost 8°C. These stats imply that i9-12900k is processing and consuming more power, providing just the same results as i7-12700k. Our next games will help us reach a better conclusion.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2)
It will be unjust not to include RDR2 in i9-12900k vs i7-12700k Benchmarks scenario as it is a beautiful game and grapples the system resources. RDR2 benchmarked at 1080p High Settings. Let’s have a look at how our Alder Lake competitors hold out.
For RDR, i9-12900k uses 26% of the processor at a 60°C Temp with an average FPS of 145. For i7-12700k, we observe the usage of 34% at 56°C Temperature and giving an average of 138 FPS. Our i9 opponent has a TDP of 115.3W compared to i7’s TDP of 85.1W. Yet again, we are getting almost the same performance from both processors despite the i9 having a core/thread count advantage. Intel Core i9 might also spike clock speed and expend more power due to a bottleneck. A bottleneck is a scenario that happens when a component is unable to use some resources to its fullest due to some hardware handicap and causes a component’s inability to perform to its best abilities.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (MSFS 2020)
It’s scarce that while we set up a mid-tier to top-tier gaming rig and don’t get to play Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 on it. It provides an immersive experience of a flight simulator where you get a chance to roam around the world sitting in front of your Desktop PC! We tested our i7 and i9 challengers on MSFS 2020 ON 1080p High Settings. Let’s see what the stats have to say.
It looks like MSFS 2020 isn’t that CPU-hungry game! On i9-12900k, we observed usage of 22% at a 62°C Temp with an average FPS of 167. For i7-12700k, we saw CPU usage of 18% at 53°C Temperature and giving an average of 158 FPS. We can see again that we are getting a similar performance from the i9-12900k and i7-12700k for MSFS 2020. We can observe that i7-12700k has less CPU temperature, TDP, CPU Usage, and Clock Speed than i9-12900k exhibiting almost similar performance for both processors.
Well, concluding the i7-12700k vs i9-12900k benchmarks, we can easily say that we are getting almost the same performance from Intel Core i9-12900k and i7-12700k, although our i9 processor is ingesting quite a lot of power and has more temperature too. Nevertheless, the i9 CPU does have more core/thread count. That also produces more heat, but it doesn’t contribute hugely to the performance metrics observed in the stats. That doesn’t make sense using better resources when you can have the same performance as the last generation! Anyway, this will not be the case for each game as it matters differently for each use case. Also, your other system components will decide how your PC is performing.
i9-12900k vs i7-12700k – Which One is Better?
Comparing both of these microprocessors, side by side, wasn’t an easy task as both of the 12th generation rivals surprised us at numerous moments. They both are powerful, efficient, and provide top-in-class performance. They do come with the disadvantage of a new Z690 Chipset and the LGA 1700 socket, as they both will require a new motherboard as a starter. Secondly, there will be a need to upgrade cooling as previous setups won’t be working here until the brands release their upgrade kits. However, we can lay out the roadmap for your purchase, making it an easy decision. Head right on!
Without any doubt, Intel Core i9-12900k is the most powerful of the bunch. With performance/efficiency in mind, Intel does have developed a masterpiece integrated with new technologies leading the market. Anyhow, it falls into the enthusiast space. At the moment, they’re excessive for some PC rigs which can’t utilize their full power. Nevertheless, if you want to future-proof yourself or if you want it for productivity purposes, it’s an option to look for. Still, we won’t recommend it for gaming purposes only as you can achieve the same performance from its i7 counterpart. Also, it’s priced well compared to its AMD equivalents. It dissipates a lot of heat, so an excellent cooling setup is also necessary. One thing to consider is that its performance might rely a lot on the Z690 Motherboard you are choosing. It won’t provide its proper juice on a budget Z690 motherboard.
As for Intel Core i7-12700k, it’s also a beast performer. It has the same gaming performance as its bigger brother, i9, with appealing power efficiency. It performs exceptionally well within its hardware bounds with a little less core/thread count and less power utilization. The best part is that it beats all its AMD rivals, making it the go-to choice for gamers looking for a bang for the buck deal. In price/performance ratio, it also beats the Ryzen 5800X and Ryzen 5900X chips.
Summarizing the whole conversation, if gaming is your priority, go for the i7-12700k and try investing a little bit more into your Motherboard and Cooling Solution as they will make it all sparkle. If you are into gaming and editing/rendering and want to be ahead of all to utilize resources that extract total efficiency out of an i9-12900k, then there’s nothing better than that for you. But if you are a gamer in need of an upgrade, i9-12900k is not worth spending an extra $200 for almost the same performance as i7-12700k.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
Intel Core i9-12900k has a core/thread count of 16/24 whereas i7-12700k has a count of 12/20.
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Abdemanaf is a skilled creative writer who has been honing his craft since 2011. While initially working in different fields, he found a passion for technology and has been exploring the tech world since early 2015. Over the years, he has developed an in-depth knowledge of the latest tech trends and product offerings by various companies.
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