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Ctrl+Alt+Delete: Intel’s finally delivered “the ultimate gaming CPU”

It’s no secret, for the last few years, Intel’s not exactly been on its A-game when it comes to desktop CPUs.

Despite crowing about making “the best CPU for gaming” with each new release, its chips have gradually been losing ground, with AMD’s Ryzen becoming increasingly competitive, not just in multi-core, but gaming performance as well.

This trend peaked last year when the firm released the Intel Core i9-11900K. Despite costing a fortune, being pitched as “the ultimate chip for gaming” and having impressive clock speeds on paper, once we got in our lab the reality was it was overpriced and only delivered marginal gains. It also ran hot and couldn’t match its Ryzen rival in multi-core tests. This is why it is one of the lowest scoring Intel chips to ever pass through Trusted Labs, carrying a disappointing 3/5 rating.

It’s also why, when the firm made the same marketing claim about the new Intel Core i9-12900K during its Alder Lake Architecture event earlier this year, I took the boast with a very hefty pinch of salt.

But, hands in the air, I like to say when I’m wrong and I am delighted to see Intel has managed to deliver what it promised with the i9-12900K. In our testing this has proved to be the best chip for any serious PC gamer and the step up on Core i9-11900K every enthusiast dreamed of.

You can get a detailed breakdown of the performance differences between the two in our Intel Core i9-12900K vs Intel Core i9-11900K guide. But, in short, the chip not only offers superior gaming frame rates, plus PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 support – which lets it work with newer, faster SSDs and RAM than the older chip – but it offers better multi-threading performance.

Jump on over to our Intel Core i9-12900K review and you’ll see, for the first time ever, the chip not only absolutely smokes its predecessor in multi-core performance, it actually comes close to challenging AMD Ryzen – which has been the undisputed leader in this metric since its first-gen chips launched many moons ago.

This is a key step for Intel which, as I argued in last week’s column, has had a belligerent focus on clock speeds being the most important thing people need to worry about. This has changed with Alder Lake which adopts a much more balanced approach that uses the architecture’s improved multithreading to intelligently split workloads between performance and efficiency cores. This lets it share the load rather than try and force everything through one fast lane. The results from our benchmarks speak for themselves about how much better this approach works.

Here’s hoping Intel continues down this path as it’s clearly working.

Ctrl+Alt+Delete is our weekly computing-focussed opinion column where we delve deeper into the world of computers, laptops, components, peripherals and more. Find it on Trusted Reviews every Saturday afternoon. 

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