Running on the latest AM5 socket, the AMD Ryzen 7000 series has gathered all the buzz around it. Now, on one hand, we have AMD’s second-most top-tier Ryzen 9 7900X, and on the other, we have Intel’s soon-to-be-old flagship Core i9-12900K. So, in this guide, we will do the ultimate Ryzen 9 7900X vs i9-12900K comparison and figure out which CPU comes out on top.

The i9-12900K has performed exceptionally well in terms of gaming and rendering performance. Paired with the right GPU, the chipset is nothing short of a beast. 4K gaming, DDR5 memory, PCIe Gen 5.0 on high-end motherboards, it’s got everything to support ultimate gaming.

But the latest Zen 4 Ryzen 9 7900X is definitely tempting enough that one might consider moving to Team Red. Even though it comes with four fewer cores than the i9-12900K, the chip has encapsulated all the bells and whistles of a powerful CPU along with the performance upgrades to make it a worthy competitor. In fact, after going through the benchmarks, the 7900X might just come on top. 

Since we have already put the i9-12900K to battle with the Ryzen 7-5800X3D and the Ryzen 9 5900X, it’s only fair to test it against the latest 7900X. However, before diving deep into the benchmark scores and the comparisons, it’s best to first go over the fundamentals of the two chipsets.

Comparison Table

Specifications

Apart from a few differences here and there, both 7900X and i9-12900K hold up quite well on paper.

AMD Ryzen 9 7900X Specifications

  • Cores: 12
  • Threads: 24
  • Base Clock Speed: 4.7GHz
  • Boost Clock Speed: 5.6GHz
  • L1 Cache: 64K (per core)
  • L2 Cache: 12MB (shared)
  • L3 Cache: 64MB (shared)
  • TDP: 170W
  • Max Temp: 95°C
  • Integrated Graphics: AMD Radeon™ Graphics
  • Max Memory Size: 128GB
  • Memory Support: DDR5
  • Memory Transfer Rates: 5200 MT/s
  • Number of Memory Channels: 2 (dual channel)
  • Maximum Number of PCI Express Lanes: 28

Intel i9-12900K Specifications

  • Cores: 16
  • Threads: 24
  • Base Clock Speed: 3.2GHz
  • Boost Clock Speed: 5.2GHz
  • L1 Cache: 64K (per core)
  • L2 Cache: 14MB (shared)
  • L3 Cache: 30MB (shared)
  • TDP : 125W
  • Max Temp: 100°C
  • Integrated Graphics: Intel® UHD Graphics 770
  • 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)
  • Maximum Number of PCI Express Lanes: 20

The Ryzen 9 7900X has 12 cores — 4 less than the Core i9-12900K, which has 8 performance and 8 efficiency cores, bringing the total to 16 cores. In terms of thread counts, both CPUs offer 24 threads, so you won’t run into any multithreading performance issues.

While the Ryzen 9 7900X stays behind the Core i9-12900K in terms of cores, it makes up for it with significant clock speed gains. The 7900X has a base clock speed of 4.7GHz and a boosted clock speed of 5.6GHz. On the other hand, the Core i9-12900K is 1.5GHz short in base clock speed at just 3.2GHz and 0.4GHz short in boosted clock speed at 5.2GHz.

The Ryzen 9 7900X did not achieve such high clock speed figures by staying power efficient. In fact, it has a TDP of a whopping 170W with a temperature limit of 95°C. Similarly, the Core i9-12900K has a much better 125W TDP figure with a 100°C maximum temperature limit.

Ryzen 9 7900X Vs i9-12900K: Architectures

Let’s go over the architectures of the two chipsets.

The Zen 4 Architecture

Ryzen 9 7900X vs i9-12900K
AMD Ryzen 9 7000 series

The Ryzen 9 7900X is part of AMD’s Zen 4 architecture which uses the new AM5 socket. The all-new 5nm architecture has allowed the 7900X to achieve huge performance gains at a base 170W TDP figure. 

The AM5 socket has finally brought support for DDR5 memory, which has been long-awaited since its inception in late 2020. DDR5 packs a bunch of upgrades over the old DDR4. For instance, a single DDR5 stick can support all the way up to 64GB of RAM, which was only 16GB for DDR4. DDR5 also runs at a significantly higher minimum frequency of 4800MHz, which was just 2133MHz in DDR4.

Other than that, the Zen 4 architecture has also included PCIe Gen 5.0 support for the Ryzen 9 7000 series. Even though at the moment, there is no need for PCIe Gen 5.0, it’s still nice to finally have the support for future upgrades.

Another new feature that Zen 4 architecture has brought to AMD chipsets is the support for integrated graphics in non-G series. The 2 cores of RDNA 2 architecture are definitely not built for gaming, but you can expect enough day-to-day performance from them.

The Alder Lake Architecture

Ryzen 9 7900X vs i9-12900K
Intel Core i9-12900K

In terms of innovation, the Alder Lake architecture is truly a game-changer. The new hybrid technology gave the 12th-generation CPUs significant performance and efficiency improvements. 

Intel included a mix of Performance (P) and Efficient (E) cores in its CPUs which set it apart from the competition. With this hybrid technology, Intel has incorporated a larger number of cores into their CPUs, which is also the case with the i9-12900K.

Even though the Alder Lake CPUs were released almost a year ago, they support pretty much all the bells and whistles that AMD has announced in their Zen 4 architecture, including PCIe Gen 5.0 and DDR5 memory.

The 12-generation Intel CPUs not only support DDR5 memory, but they are also backward-compatible with DDR4, meaning it’s not necessary to purchase expensive high-end RAMs. On the other hand, the Zen 4 architecture is restricted to DDR5 memory.

Key Differences

On paper, the Core i9-12900K has two significant advantages over the Ryzen 9 7900X.

  • First, it consumes up to 26% less power because it has a baseline TDP of 125W while the R9 7900X has a baseline TDP of 170W.
  • Second, it has 4 more physical cores.

Similarly, if you read the specifications, then you will see that the Ryzen 9 7900X has three significant advantages over the Core i9-12900K.

  • First, it has higher clock speeds (1.5GHz more base frequency and 0.4GHz more boosted frequency).
  • Second, the R9 7900X is built on 5nm architecture whereas the i9-12900K is built on 10nm.
  • Third, the R9 7900X has a larger L3 cache size (64MB vs 30MB).

Other than the core count, TDP, and clock speeds, an important key difference to note between the R9 7900X and the i9-12900K is that while the R9 7900X is only DDR5 compatible, it supports up to 5200 MT/s. On the other hand, the Core i9-12900K while supporting both DDR5 and DDR4 memories, can only transfer at a rate of up to 4800MT/s.

Even though this difference might not seem much at the moment, it will matter a lot in the future.

Gaming Performance

Now, let’s cover the gaming benchmarks, the most anticipated topic of our Ryzen 9 7900X vs i9-12900K guide. On paper, any CPU can dethrone the other, but the real battle happens between their performance capabilities. 

Luckily, Testing Games have put the two CPUs against each other by pairing them in the following rigs:

Rig For The Ryzen 9 7900X

  • CPU: Ryzen 9 7900X
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte X670E AORUS MASTER
  • RAM: G.SKILL Trident Z5 RGB 32GB DDR5 6000MHz CL36
  • GPU: GeForce RTX 3090 Ti 24 GB
  • Power Supply: Corsair RM850i 850W
  • Storage: Samsung 970 EVO M.2 2280 1TB x2
  • Resolution: 1080P

Rig For The Core i9-12900K

  • CPU: Core i9-12900K
  • Motherboard: MSI MPG Z690 Force
  • RAM: G.SKILL Trident Z5 RGB 32GB DDR5 6000MHz CL36
  • GPU: GeForce RTX 3090 Ti 24 GB
  • Power Supply: Corsair RM850i 850W
  • Storage: Samsung 970 EVO M.2 2280 1TB x2
  • Resolution: 1080P

Since both the Ryzen 9 7900X and the Core i9-12900K have different sockets, both rigs use different motherboards. 

Now that Zen 4 has finally brought support for DDR5 memory, both rigs are equipped with 32 GBs of RAM running at 6000MHz frequency.

The powerful 3090 TI 24GB is used to eliminate any CPU and GPU bottleneck. Other than that, both rigs are powered by the same 850W, which is more than enough. 

To iron out any storage-related issues, 2x 1TB of NVMe M.2 SSDs are used.

Hitman 3

AMD Ryzen 9 7900x vs Intel i9 12900k Hitman 3 Benchmarks
Hitman 3 benchmarks 

There’s no other game as good as Hitman 3 to start off our benchmarks with. Since both CPUs are equal in threads count, it is interesting to see how a game like Hitman 3, which relatively requires more threads.

Well, even though the R9 7900X has fewer cores, it runs with a solid 236 average FPS, leading the battle with 19 FPS against the i9-12900K, which is giving 217 average FPS. Overall, in Hitman 3 benchmarks, the crown goes to R9 7900X, which is ~8.7% faster than Core i9-12900K.

What’s interesting to note here is that usually, the Core i9-12900K is the one that runs hotter and consumes more power. However, in this case, the R9 7900X seems to be firing at all cylinders by running at 73°C while the i9-12900K is relatively cool at 62°C.

Consequently, the R9 7900X also consumes more power by running at 116W, while the i9-12900K is more efficient at 106W.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Ryzen 9 7900X vs i9-12900K
AC Valhalla benchmarks

Next up, we have Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Even though Ubisoft games are poorly optimized for PCs, so we can expect lower FPS, AC Valhalla has improved a lot in terms of CPU optimization. 

So, the game relies more on GPU as compared to CPU. Since both rigs are running the same high-end GeForce RTX 3090 Ti 24 GB, we can expect somewhat similar benchmark figures.

Just like with Hitman 3, the R9 7900X stays on top with 127 average FPS. But, this time, the difference between the two CPUs is just 2 FPS, with the Core i9-12900K at 125 average FPS. Even though the difference is negligible, the R9 7900X still performs ~1.6% better than the Core i9-12900K.

An important thing to notice here is that while the R9 7900X is about 1.6% faster, it also runs a whopping ~12.06% hotter at 65°C than the Core i9-12900K, which is running at 58°C.

It really puts into perspective how different the two CPUs are in terms of thermal efficiency. Because even though the R9 7900X runs hotter, it seems to be consuming slightly less power by running at 115W, whereas the Core i9-12900K is running at 118W.

Cyberpunk 2077

AMD Ryzen 9 7900x vs Intel i9 12900k Cyberpunk 2077 Benchmarks
Cyberpunk 2077 benchmarks with Intel i9-12900K vs AMD Ryzen 9 7900X

There is no doubt that Cyberpunk 2077 had a rocky start, but the game has finally managed to land on its feet. Especially since it reached an all-time Steam peak of 119,256 concurrent players since January 2021 because of the Netflix anime show Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

So far, Team Red has been in the lead in terms of better FPS. However, in Cyberpunk 2077, it looks like Team Blue has managed to snatch the more FPS title. The Core i9-12900K runs the game at an average of 164 FPS, while the R9 7900X manages to achieve 154 average FPS. This ~4.4% lead signifies that Core i9-12900K is still a worthy competitor and it will go down in history as one of the most powerful chips of its time.

Since the R9 7900X is running the game at relatively lower frames, one would expect it to win the thermals battle. But that’s not the case because it’s still blowing hot at 75°C, whereas the Core i9-12900K is ~5.6% cooler at 71°C.

Surprisingly, the R9 7900X managed to achieve such temperatures by consuming just 119W. On the other hand, the i9-12900K is pulling a solid 130W.

Forza Horizon 5

Ryzen 9 7900X vs i9-12900K
Forza Horizon 5 benchmarks with Intel i9-12900K vs AMD Ryzen 9 7900X

Racing gamers have always loved the Forza Horizon franchise. These games have a reputation for being visually pleasing with mind-blowing realism. The latest Forza Horizon 5 has undoubtedly exceeded expectations, and it is a great game to put rival components side by side.

Even though Forza Horizon 5 relies more on GPU as compared to the CPU, it is still interesting to see how the two CPUs hold up against each other. As expected, the Ryzen 9 7900X leads with an average of 214 FPS. However, the Core i9-12900K closes the gap quite a lot by staying just 5 FPS behind at 209 average FPS. Overall, the 7900X leads with just ~2.3% better FPS.

Since the Ryzen 9 7900X has run hotter in every game we’ve tested so far, there’s no surprise that it also maintains that title here by running at 68°C. On the other hand, the Core i9-12900K is running ~11.4% cooler at 61°C.

Similarly, the 7900X is less efficient as it consumes 113W, whereas the i9-12900K stays at 109W, a decrease of about 3.6%.

Death Stranding

AMD Ryzen 9 7900x vs Intel i9 12900k Death Stranding Benchmarks
Death Stranding benchmarks 

Released all the way back in 2019, Death Stranding has maintained its position as a gorgeous action game. Just like most high-end action games, Death Stranding is also a great game to test different CPUs and GPUs.

In our Ryzen 9 7900X vs i9-12900K battle, the AMD came on top with a solid 222 average FPS. Comparatively, the Core i9-12900K ran the game at 208 average FPS. While the ~6.7-% lead may not look too much, it is really impressive when you glance over the temps and wattage figures.

That’s because despite giving more FPS, the R9 7900X stays at about 68°C, which is actually ~4.4% cooler than the Core i9-12900K running at 71°C.

Not only that, but the Core i9-12900K is also consuming 141W, which is about 25.8% more than the Ryzen 9 7900X, as it stays at 112W. Overall, it looks like the 7900X leads in all aspects when running Death Stranding.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

CSGO benchmarks with Intel i9-12900K vs AMD Ryzen 9 7900X
CSGO benchmarks 

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a good old first-person FPS shooter game that is loved by all. Released over a decade ago, CSGO is still played by about 600,000 players every day. Consequently, CSGO also makes a good battleground to test the capabilities of different CPUs and GPUs, and in our case, it’s the Ryzen 9 7900X vs i9-12900K.

With no surprises, the Ryzen 9 7900X leads the FPS battle by running the game at a colossal 794 average FPS. Similarly, the Core i9-12900K does not stay much behind at 732 average FPS. Overall, the R9 stays ahead with an ~8.4% difference.

In terms of thermals, the crown goes to the i9-12900K as it manages to run at 58°C, which is ~8.6% cooler than the R9 7900X running at 63°C. From the looks of it, an ~8.4% difference in performance by staying ~8.6% cooler is not a bad deal. 

Even though an 8-9% difference might not seem much, a ~15.5% difference is definitely a lot, and that’s how much more power the R9 7900X consumes as it runs CSGO at 89W when compared to the i9-12900K taking 77W of power.

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Microsoft Flight Simulator Benchmarks with 7900x and i9 12900K
Microsoft Flight Simulator benchmarks with Intel i9-12900K vs AMD Ryzen 9 7900X

Released two years ago, Microsoft Flight Simulator won the hearts of aviation fans with its realistic graphics and truly huge world map. Consequently, the game is also quite demanding and needs high-end specs to run smoothly, making it a good way to test new components. 

Looking at the benchmarks, the Ryzen 9 7900X performs just a smidge better by running the game at 63 average FPS. On the other hand, the Core i9-12900K stays right behind its rival by running at 59 average FPS. Overall, the R9 7900X stays on top with ~6.7% more FPS.

As we have noticed in most of the above benchmarks, the Ryzen 9 7900X also runs about 7% hotter at 61°C, whereas the Core i9-12900K is running at 57°C. These benchmarks are quite similar to CSGO because the R9 7900X puts out ~6.7% more FPS at the cost of running ~7% hotter.

In terms of power efficiency, there are no surprises here regarding power efficiency because the cooler Core i9-12900K consumes 85W while the Ryzen 9 7900X consumes about 4.7% more at 89W.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

PUBG benchmarks with Intel i9-12900K vs AMD Ryzen 9 7900X
PUBG benchmarks with Intel i9-12900K vs AMD Ryzen 9 7900X

Last but not least, we have the infamous PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, known for being CPU-intensive, PUBG is the perfect game to test our two CPUs side-by-side. These benchmarks will really put into perspective how well the two chips perform next to each other.

Looking at the figures, it is clear as day that the Ryzen 9 7900X has won the FPS battle by putting out 18 more frames on average than its Intel rival. The R9 7900X runs the game at 218 average FPS whereas the i9-12900K runs it at 200 average FPS. This ~9% lead puts Team Red above Team Blue in terms of FPS.

However, when it comes to thermals, the R9 7900X does not perform as well as the i9-12900K because it is running at 64°C while the i9-12900K is running around 6°C cooler at 58°C. It comes as no surprise that the Intel chipset is running about 10.3% cooler than its AMD rival, as the R9 7900X seems to be running comparatively hotter in almost all of the games.

Similarly, the Ryzen 9 7900X is also pulling more wattage as it hovers at around 95W. On the other hand, the Core i9-12900k consumes a solid 80W power. The ~18.75% more wattage figure from the R9 7900X was expected as it also runs high in thermals.

Overall Gaming Performance

So far, we have tested the two CPUs in 8 different games, and the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X performed better than the Intel Core i9-12900K in 7 of them, with the only exception being Cyberpunk 2077, where the i9-12900K performed at about 4.4% better in terms of FPS.

Even though the R9 7900X has four fewer cores, it has managed to stay ahead of the i9-12900K due to its high clock speeds and better performance. Overall, if we take an average of all 8 gaming benchmarks, the Ryzen 9 7900X has performed ~4.8% better than the Core i9-12900K in terms of FPS. 

The Zen 4 architecture was specifically designed to give Intel chipsets a run for their money, especially since Intel introduced the hybrid architectural design, which lets them combine Performance (P) and Efficient (E) cores in their CPUs.

With that said, this ~4.8% lead does not mean a huge victory for R9 7900X. Meaning that the i9-12900K also ran the games at respectable frame rates, and the difference in FPS was next to negligible.

Power Consumption and Thermal Efficiency

Since the Ryzen 9 7900X has a baseline TDP of 170W, it comes as no surprise that it consumed relatively more power which in turn generated more heat when compared to the Core i9-12900K, which has a baseline TDP of 125W.

As expected, better performance with fewer cores and high clock speed comes with a cost, and in this case, the cost is running the CPU around 8.5% hotter. Yes, if we take an average of all 8 temperature figures, the R9 7900X ran ~8.5% hotter than the Core i9-12900K. 

Keep in mind that the i9-12900K was never known to be a thermally efficient CPU. In fact, it needs some beefy coolers to function properly. But, you should not be under the impression that the R9 7900X is a thermally efficient chipset. That’s because it also needs some high-end cooling systems to perform well, possibly 280mm or 360mm (All-In-One) Liquid Cooling Solutions in extreme cases. 

What’s interesting to note here is that even though the R9 7900X is rated for a 170W TDP, which is 36% more than i9-12900K, the average power consumption of all eight games showed that the R9 7900X consumed just ~1.7% more than the i9-12900K.

After all, the power consumption and thermal efficiency come down to which games you want to play. For instance, the Core i9-12900K consumed ~25.8% more power in Death Stranding. On the other hand, the R9 7900X consumed ~18.75% more power in PUBG.

Pricing and Availability

Both the Ryzen 9 7900X and the Core i9-12900K fall under the same price bracket. They are available on Amazon for $549 and $538, respectively.

Even though there is not much of a price difference between the two chipsets alone, if you begin to factor in the cost of the motherboard, high-end cooler, and a good PSU, then you will notice that the R9 7900X costs just a smidge more.

That’s because, comparatively, the AM5 socket being new, costs more than the 1700 socket. However, the difference will not be huge. In fact, it is highly unlikely that the overall pricing of the two CPUs will affect your purchase decision.

Ryzen 9 7900X vs i9-12900K: Which One Should You Go For?

Now that we have gone through both chipsets in detail, including their specifications, key differences, gaming benchmarks, and how well the two compare in terms of thermal and power efficiency, it’s time to figure out which one you should go for.

There is no doubt that the R9 7900X is the superior chipset; it performs better, costs almost the same, and consumes just a little bit more power. However, the margin is not that huge, so we can’t say that the R9 7900X is miles ahead of the i9-12900K.

So, for starters, if you have an older Ryzen CPU like Ryzen 9 5900X, you should definitely upgrade to the R9 7900X. It will give you the performance upgrade that you’ve been looking for, and you will not have to upgrade to another CPU for quite some time because of the DDR5 and PCIe Gen 5.0 support.

On the other hand, if you plan to purchase an Intel CPU, then it’s highly recommended that you wait for the 13th-generation Raptor Lake chipsets. The flagship Core i9-13900K will cost $589, which is not a lot seeing the current prices of i9-12900K and R9 7900X.

To top that off, the i9-13900K will also pack a lot more power when compared to the i9-12900K. For instance, it has 24 cores and 32 threads, so you can expect it to overthrow its predecessor completely.

Overall, even if you plan to purchase the i9-12900K instead of the latest Raptor Lake chipset, you will get a significantly better deal once the new CPUs hit the market. So, it’s best to put a hold on the 12900K for now.

FAQs

Is the Ryzen 9 7900X future-proof?

Definitely, the R9 7900X packs a bunch of power and features that make it a suitable processor in the long term. For instance, it has support for both DDR5 and PCIe Gen 5.0, which means that you will have no issues in pairing this chipset with the high-end latest RAMs and GPUs of the future.

Is the Core i9-12900K still a good processor?

Yes, going through the benchmarks, it is as clear as day that the Core i9-12900K is still undoubtedly a powerful CPU. In most of the games we tested, the i9-12900K was right behind its latest competition with just a small difference in FPS.

Is an 850W PSU enough to power the R9 7900X or i9-12900K?

Yes, as seen in the benchmarks, both the rigs were powered by the Corsair RM850i 850W. So, you should be good to go with a similar PSU.

Can I overclock Ryzen 9 7900X?

Yes, paired with a powerful cooler and good PSU, you will not run into any issues when overclocking the R9 7900X.

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Abdemanaf has been a creative writer since 2011. He first dwelled in the tech world in early 2015 and has since compared many product offerings by different companies. Abdemanaf started working for Tech4Gamers in February 2022 as a blog and comparison writer.