The Bottom Line
- + In socket upgrade
- + Efficiency (Performance per Watt)
- + Price and value
- - No real gain in IPC
Should you buy it?AvoidConsiderShortlistBuy
Introduction and Pricing
We are just a few days away from having spent a year with Alder Lake; it really doesn't seem that long ago, but as they say, "time flies when you're having fun." For months now, we have entertained leaks of what the possibilities could be for Intel's 13th Gen Raptor Lake and where they would fall against the recently released Zen 4 portfolio.
When we ended our series of AMD Zen 4 processor reviews, Alder Lake was still holding its own in many cases against the newly released onslaught of AMD CPUs. Hence, all Raptor Lake needed was increased clocks, but Intel decided to deliver a bit more.
Specifications and Pricing
Intel is releasing several SKUs today, the top dog being the unit under review in this article; the Core i9-13900K. This is a 24-core part with a hybrid architecture keeping the eight P cores of the previous generation and pairing them with 16 E cores. Clock speed has increased on both sides; P cores can now boost to 5.8GHz, while E cores are allowed 4.3GHz. Cache has also increased across the board, with the 13900K now offering 36MB of L3 alongside 32MB of L2.
Intel UHD 770 makes a second appearance, getting a boost in its clocks while memory support has been modified and now supports 5200MHz DDR5 as its JEDEC rating, but we see kits upwards of 7200MHz+ aimed at 13th Gen CPUs. 128GB is still the peak memory capacity.
As for pricing, the Intel Core i9-13900K carries an MSRP of $589.
Core Architecture Updates, Test System, and the 13900K
The slide above pretty much explains the changes made going into RPL-S. Intel improved the P-Core cache architecture and then added more E-Cores. At the same time, the motherboard side will see increased chipset PCIe lanes and more connectivity.
Intel's 3rd generation SuperFin allows for a faster Raptor Cove core. Improvements here allowed for a larger boost up to 600MHz.
As mentioned previously, E cores have been doubled on some SKUs; the 13900K is one of those that also enjoy a slight boost in clocks and optimized prefetch.
Memory latency and fabric, too, have been improved.
Performance uptakes for Raptor Lake include 15% on single-threaded workloads and up to 41% on multi-threaded workloads.
Performance per watt is something Intel focused on with Raptor Lake, now showing a 25% reduction in power use at the same performance.
Intel Thread Director, introduced with Alder Lake, has recently undergone some updates and is a part of the 22H2 update to Windows 11.
- Motherboard: Z790 AORUS Master BIOS F1
- GPU: GeForce RTX 3090Ti
- RAM: Corsair Dominator RGB DDR5 6000 CL30
- Cooler: 3x140mm Custom Water
- OS Storage: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 2TB
- Power Supply: AORUS GP AP1200PM
- OS: Microsoft Windows 11
Core i9 13900K
The packaging provided to us was media packaging, so there were no retail boxes. Like last year's Alder Lake samples, the 13600K and 13600K were packed together.
Above, you can see the packaging unboxed, both CPUs on the right.
Starting with the 13900K, we have a small window to the CPU.
CPU unboxed, it's the same form factor as Alder Lake and does use the same LGA1700 socket.
Opposite AMDs design, Intel has a good amount of SMD on the bottom of the CPU. 1700 pads ready for power!
Cinebench, Crossmark and AIDA64
Cinebench R20 IPC & R23
Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and INTEL 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.
I'm starting first with Raptor Lake's IPC increase; as shown in the chart above, it's not a huge gain - I measured a touch over 1%.
Moving over to R23, single thread performance boosted above what we discovered with 12900KS, now a score of 2269.
With the added E cores, Intel took the top spot in multi-threaded R23, now scoring 40545 with the 13900K.
13900K also landed the top spot in CrossMark, scoring 2700 exactly.
Tasks using AES certainly benefit from Zen 4. Even the 13900K couldn't beat the 7950X in this workload, though it did take on the 7900X.
SHA3 landed the 13900K in second, scoring 9218. It was a good bit quicker than the 7900X.
Testing memory over the last few generations, it's very apparent that bandwidth really doesn't matter past a certain point if it's slow to react. Latency of 13900K with our kit of Dominators landed at 68ns using XMP settings.
WEBXPRT4 and UL Benchmarks
WebXPRT4, Procyon, and 3DMark
Getting into more real-world workloads, we ran the 13900K through WebXPRT4 alongside some of its closest competitors. It, by far, took the lead with a score of 343.
UL Procyon Suite
The UL Procyon Office Productivity Benchmark uses Microsoft Office apps to measure PC performance for office productivity work.
The Photo Editing benchmark uses AdobeÂ® LightroomÂ® to import, process, and modify a selection of images. In the second part of the test, multiple edits and layer effects are applied to a photograph in AdobeÂ® PhotoshopÂ®.
The Video editing benchmark uses AdobeÂ® PremiereÂ® Pro to export video project files to common formats. Each video project includes various edits, adjustments, and effects. The benchmark score is based on the time taken to export the videos.
Moving into Procyon, the 13900K once again takes over from 12900KS in Office scenarios scoring an additional 400 points.
Photo landed the 13900K second to the 7950X.
CPU Profile showed the 13900K doing well through 8 cores, after which the e-cores pick up the slack with a little less push. In a single thread, we start with a score of 1213 and end at 16, scoring 11247.
Our first "gaming" scenario is Timespy, landing us a score of 21286 overall.
Swapping out our GeForce RTX 3090 Ti for integrated graphics, the 13900K does get a boost here over 12th Gen. 14072 is the new score for UHD 770.
Gaming and Power Consumption
Diving into gaming, we added a few new games to our list, including AC Odyssey and Forza. We kept CyberPunk as we have been using it with our 12900KS on motherboard reviews, so we have a decent comparison.
Starting with Odyssey, the 13900K enjoyed 149 FPS at 1080p, reduced to 129 FPS at 1440p and 98 FPS at 4K.
FarCry landed at 205 FPS at 1080p and 185 FPS at 1440p. 4K was a few FPS quicker than 12900KS at 124 FPS.
Cyberpunk was the first we saw the 13900K dip under the Zen 4 CPUs, 180 FPS at 1080p and 149 FPS at 1440p.
Tomb Raider produced a huge 257 FPS, rivaling the 263 FPS pulled off by the 7950X.
Moving to Forza Horizon 5, the 13900K grabbed 195 FPS at 1080p and 134 FPS at 4K.
Power Consumption and Thermals
Intel has made huge strides in power with Raptor Lake, now only 20 watts higher at load than 7950X while having more actual CPU cores.
Value and Final Thoughts
Looking at performance per watt, the 13900K takes the crown by a fraction of a percent.
Looking at the performance across all gaming workloads, the 13900K lands third on our performance vs. price chart.
At the very least, the Core i9-13900K cements Intel's dominance in the CPU market, and while they may have taken a backseat to AMD for 10th and 11th Gen, they have come back extremely strong.
Starting with IPC, Raptor Lake doesn't show the huge gain we saw in the architecture change from 11th to 12th Gen CPUs, but rather it's the "Tock" to Alder Lakes' "Tick," a refinement of the Intel 7 process. That said, even with this small gain, it's hard to believe even Zen 5 would catch Raptor Lake with the same improvement we saw from Zen 3 to Zen 4. This really means AMD needs architecture revamp improvements to get the performance increases similar to what we saw going from Zen 2 to Zen 3 for them to be back in the driver's seat.
Running through our performance tests, we lean heavily on real-world workloads, first with CrossMark and UL Procyon, then to legit game testing all along the way to measure power at the CPU rather than the entire system. The 13900K is miles ahead of the closest Zen 4 part in these workloads. In CrossMark, we see a 225-point gap, and WebXPRT4 gave us our highest score ever at 343.
UL Procyon showed the edge to Intel with Office workloads, and Photoshop had the 7950X and 13900K neck and neck. Shifting into gaming workloads, CyberPunk was the worst showing for the 13900K, which was only 6 FPS behind the 7950X, the top CPU.
The biggest takeaway is how well Intel has optimized its Intel 7 process, enough that power numbers are significantly more efficient, now using 20 watts more than 7950X at the high-end, even with more cores. These improvements landed the 13900K at the top of the chart for Performance per Watt, and when we add in gaming performance, it's top 3 for best gaming CPU for the money.
Of course, that may change quickly as we load the test machine with the 13600K, so stay tuned!
The Bottom Line
Performance per watt or best bang for your buck, there is no CPU better than the Intel Core i9-13900K right now.