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Intel Core i9-12900K vs Intel Core i9-11900K: What’s the difference?

Intel has launched its new 12th generation of desktop processors, with the Intel Core i9-12900K being the star of the show. But how does it compare to the 11th generation Intel Core i9-11900K?

Alder Lake is finally here, and we’ve had the chance to test the latest 12th generation processor, which is Intel Core i9-12900K, which is the most powerful chip in the range.

Intel is claiming that this is the “world’s best gaming processor,” so how does it fare against its predecessor, the Intel Core i9-11900K?

Price

The Alder Lake processor turned out to be slightly cheaper than previous rumours suggested, which was around $669.99, with Intel setting the recommended customer price between $589 to $599.

You can buy the Intel Core i9-12900K from various third-party sellers, with the processor costing £579 over on CCL Computers and £589.99 on Overclockers.

This also isn’t a huge price jump from the Intel Core i9-11900K, which launched with a $539 price tag. Looking at the prices now compared to before the 12th gen launch, it seems that the 11th generation processor has gone down in price, as this week it costs £499.99 to buy from Overclockers, but last week it sat at £529.99 from the same retailer.

Specs 

Intel’s new 12th gen chips use a 10nm Enhanced SuperFin process. The company is referring to this new node as ‘Intel 7’. The 11th Gen chips use a larger 14nm process, which means it can’t fit quite as many transistors as its newest siblings. 

Intel Alder Lake also uses a new ‘performance hybrid’ architecture, which means Intel is able to use different kinds of cores on a single chip. This isn’t too dissimilar to Apple’s own processors, as Intel can use both P-cores (performance cores) and E-Core (efficiency cores) that allow Intel to find the perfect balance between performance and power consumption. 

Intel Core i9-12900KIntel Core i9-11900K
ArchitectureAlder LakeRocket Lake
Node10nm14nm
Cores / Threads16 / 248 / 16
Max turbo boost frequency5.2Ghz5.3GHz
Processor base power125W125W

The Intel Core i9-12900K features 16 cores and 24 threads. Those 16 cores are made up of 8 P-Cores and 8 E-Cores. 

The Intel Core i9-11900K only has 8 cores and 16 threads. Unlike 12th Gen, those cores are all the same, so you’re not getting any hybrid architecture here, which will result in an overall slower performance in comparison.

Intel Core i9-12900K also has a max turbo boost frequency of 5.2Ghz, which is slightly less than the max 5.3GHz max speeds of the Intel Core i9-11900K. But with the improved architecture and the additional number of cores, you can still expect a beefy performance jump for 12th Gen.

Both processors look to have similar power consumption, sharing a Processor Base Power of 125W. 

It’s also worth mentioning that the new Intel Core i9-12900K processor supports DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0, while the Intel Core i9-11900K is limited to DDR4 and PCIe 4.0. 

Performance

As previously stated, the Intel Core i9-12900K processor has been labelled as the world’s best gaming processor by Intel. Since we’ve been able to bring in the Alder Lake processor for testing, we can confirm that the next generation from Intel is powerful in terms of performance.

Looking at our tests, Alder Lake performed better than the Intel Core i9-11900K; the Geekbench 5 single-core score was 1899 for i9-12900K, and 1749 for the i9-11900K. Similarly, in the Geekbench 5 multi-core testing, the 12th generation scored 16810, while the 11th generation scored only 9823.

Intel was also claiming that the i9-12900K was seeing frame rates in specific games; our test showed improvements, with the 12th gen processor scoring 117 for Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate in Full HD, while the 11th gen scored 99 on the same test.

It’s important to note that the performance here was not always consistent; the 11th gen processor scored higher in the Borderlands 3 frame rate in Full HD, at 120, while Alder Lake only scored 104.

Despite a few inconsistencies, it appears that the 12th generation processor has a stronger overall performance, which isn’t surprising considering the hybrid architecture, which allows the i9-12900K to better handle multitasking, especially when it comes to streaming a game while playing it.

You can check out the difference in specs in the table just below.

USA RRP
Manufacturer
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Power Consumption
Boosted Clock Speed
Architecture
Base Clock Speed
Number of Cores
Number of Threads
Motherboard Chipset
Manufactoring Process
Graphics

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