Intel Core i9-12900KS "Alder Lake" CPU Review

Intel further refines its Alder Lake Core i9 processor with the 12900KS in an effort to hold its performance lead over AMD.

@TylerBernath
Published Wed, Apr 20 2022 1:40 PM CDT
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: Intel (12900KS)

Introduction and Pricing

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 06 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 23 IMAGES

We are almost six months into Alder Lake, and Intel has resumed its KS series, the last time being with 9th Gen Core processors with the 9900KS. This serves to further enhance the performance of its Alder Lake architecture at the cost of increased TDP as base power has been upgraded to 150W from the 125W of the 12900K, but the maximum turbo power has stuck; both the K and KS showing 241W.

We still have the hybrid architecture using "Golden Cove" high-performance P-Cores and "Gracemont" Efficient E-Cores. The 12900KS is the new flagship offering with an 8+8 design with added HT on the P-Cores, essentially the same design as 12900K.

The increased TDP also allows Intel to offer higher performance by bumping up the clocks of the CPU. The base clock for the P cores has been nudged 200MHz to 3.4GHz, while the E cores took an extra 100MHz. Turbo frequencies have also been altered, 100MHz to E cores and P cores, while Turbo Boost Max gains 300MHz from 5.2GHz to 5.5GHz.

The MSRP of the Intel Core i9 12900KS comes in at $749.99.

Buy at Amazon

Intel Core i9-12900KS "Alder Lake" CPU

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$734.98$749.99$749.99
* Prices last scanned on 6/25/2022 at 7:17 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Packaging and Test System

Intel Core i9-12900KS

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 05 | TweakTown.com

The KS was delivered in retail packaging, darker in appearance than the 12900K box but still includes the gold wafer.

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 08 | TweakTown.com

The 12900KS is tucked away inside the wafer above, reading material included.

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 07 | TweakTown.com

The CPU is an LGA1700 design, with branding and core markings on the IHS.

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 10 | TweakTown.com

Above, we have the default clocks and settings for the 12900KS in XTU. You will notice that 5.5GHz is reserved for two cores while all other scenarios have the P-Cores at 5.2GHz and E-Cores always at 4GHz.

We have adjusted our test platforms since the initial Alder Lake reviews in late 2021. This includes new motherboards for AMD and Intel CPU reviews alongside a switch in GPUs and Power Delivery/Cooling.

Because of this, we have retested all Alder Lake CPU samples alongside AMD Ryzen 5900X and 5800X. We have used the latest drivers as of 4/4/22 with Windows 11.

TweakTown Intel Test System

TweakTown AMD Test System

Cinebench R23,CrossMark and AIDA64

Cinebench

Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and AMD to showcase their newest platforms during unveils. The benchmark has two tests, a single-core workload that will utilize one thread or 1T. There is also a multi-threaded test that uses all threads or nT of a tested CPU.

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 20 | TweakTown.com

Out of the box, 12900K was impressive, but KS takes this even further with a slightly higher 1T score of 2128 and multi-thread reaching just over 28K.

CrossMark

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 21 | TweakTown.com

In CrossMark, the KS offered a near 200-point advantage over the 12900K.

AIDA64

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 22 | TweakTown.com

AES grabbed a near 8000-point bump over the 12900K.

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 23 | TweakTown.com

SHA3 came in at 6356, about 300 points higher than K.

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 24 | TweakTown.com

Memory Throughput was identical: 93K read, 83K write, and 84K copy.

UL Benchmarks

3DMark

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 25 | TweakTown.com

CPU Profile shows a sizable gin with 12900KS. At peak, we see a score of 11177 at 16 threads, compared to 10519 for the 12900K and 8233 for the 5900X.

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 26 | TweakTown.com

Timespy gives us our first glimpse at a gaming workload. 12900KS doesn't appear to gain anything over 12900K, losing about 50 points to the K.

UL Procyon

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 27 | TweakTown.com

In Procyon, the KS SKU enjoyed a solid performance bump over the 12900K. In the Office workload, the gain was 500 points, Photo was close to 600 points, and video editing showed 200 points.

1080p Gaming Performance

Gaming Performance

Shadow of the Tomb Raider has become a staple of game performance benchmarking, but I try to test multiple game engines, so I have added Horizon and Cyberpunk 2077 to our testing. Additionally, we picked up a few Microsoft titles in Gears 5 and Forza Horizon. The GPU in use for both platforms is the Sapphire 6800XT Nitro+.

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 28 | TweakTown.comIntel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 29 | TweakTown.com

The KS picked up around 6FPS testing at low settings 1080p. This gives the most accurate results of CPU performance as it's not bound by the GPU at all. At higher quality settings, the GPU becomes more of a factor, as is the case with our testing, seen above, as Ultra settings shows 226FPS for the KS, 4FPS over the K.

Horizon showed near-identical results. Though closer overall, the KS does gain 4FPS over the K at low settings and 6FPS at Ultra.

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 30 | TweakTown.comIntel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 31 | TweakTown.com

Cyberpunk kept things very close at low settings, but the KS does gain 3FPS. High Settings showed no real gain between the KS and K or even the 12700K, for that matter.

Gears 5 showed the 12900K ahead of the KS by 7 FPS at low settings. Ultra-flipped the two CPUs, the KS grabbing a 3FPS advantage.

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 32 | TweakTown.com

With Forza Horizon 5, FPS topped at 293 for the 12900KS and 287 for the K at low settings. In Ultra settings, everything tightened up, a 4FPS advantage going to the 12900KS.

Power, Pricing and Final Thoughts

Power and Pricing

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 33 | TweakTown.com

The power draw for the 12900KS was in line with the increase in TDP. I saw 524 watts at peak for our entire system. This compares to the 12900K at 502 and 12700K at 405.

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 34 | TweakTown.com

Taking the performance from multi-threaded Cinebench R23 and crossing it with peak power draw in R23, we come away with our own performance per watt chart, seen above. In this scenario, for those who care about power, the 5900X offers a near 10 percent advantage over the closest Intel CPU.

Intel Core i9-12900KS Alder Lake CPU Review 35 | TweakTown.com

Using R23 once again, we take the MSRP and current market price as of today and cross it with the multi-threaded performance of each CPU. In this scenario, the 12600K comes out on top for MSRP and Market, while the 12900K and KS flank the 5900X. In market pricing, the 5900X does take the third spot due to recent price drops.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line for the 12900KS is it's a slightly higher performing variant of an Alder Lake Core i9. It outpaces the 12900K in almost every scenario, just as expected.

On the flip, I'm going to say most 12900K processors can or can get very close to running 12900KS clocks. Our media sample of the 12900K, received back in November, will run the clocks on several boards tested but running your CPU outside of Intel spec does void the warranty. So be warned, this is yet another reason for the KS SKU.

That said, this CPU will be for consumers who want the best CPU currently available on the best platform available. Comparing the 12900KS to AMD's current best offering in the 5900X, you will gain roughly 40 FPS in Tomb Raider, 30 FPS in Horizon, and 40 FPS in Cyberpunk. Gears 5 showed 30 FPS, and Forza too showed 30 FPS.

Buy at Amazon

Performance

95%

Quality

95%

Features

95%

Value

85%

Overall

93%

The Bottom Line

It comes at a price, but the Intel Core i9-12900KS "Alder Lake" processor is the best CPU currently available on Intel's 600 series platform.

TweakTown award
93%

Intel Core i9-12900KS "Alder Lake" CPU

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$734.98$749.99$749.99
* Prices last scanned on 6/25/2022 at 7:17 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Tyler joined the TweakTown team in 2013 and has since reviewed 100s of new techy items. Growing up in a small farm town, tech wasn't around, unless it was in a tractor. At an early age, Tyler's parents brought home their first PC. Tyler was hooked and learned what it meant to format a HDD, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95. Tyler's love and enthusiast nature always kept his PC nearby. Eager to get deeper into tech, he started reviewing.

Newsletter Subscription
We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.
Newsletter Subscription
Latest News
View More News
Latest Reviews
View More Reviews
Latest Articles
View More Articles