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Intel Core i9-13900K & i5-13600K Review : Fast, But Only Partially Faster | Tech Reviews

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Intel Core i9-13900K & i5-13600K Review : Fast, But Only Partially Faster | Tech Reviews



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With the Alder Lake processors, Intel has done everything new and opted for a hybrid design with performance and efficiency cores. The successor Raptor-Lake-S is more of everything and significantly improved. Nevertheless, there are limitations that we were able to highlight in our test of the CPUs in direct comparison with the predecessor and AMD Ryzen 7000.

While the notebook variant of Intel’s 12th generation (Alder-Lake) is only now slowly picking up speed and can be found in more and more devices, the 13th generation is already starting in desktop PCs. The (cool) code name here is: Raptor-Lake-S.

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There is good news right away: the predatory dinosaur uses the same socket as its predecessor, the Alder Lake S. In addition, DDR4 and DDR5 memory is still supported. So if you want to upgrade from Alder Lake, you can keep your current motherboard.

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Nevertheless, there are new chipsets. Among them the Z790 chipset, which now comes with improved performance for PCIe 4.0 and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20 Gbps). PCIe Gen 5.0 is even supported with up to 16 lanes.

Architecture: Not a revolution, more of an evolution

With the new processor generation, Intel is consistently improving the hybrid architecture of strong performance and energy-saving efficiency cores.

The new “Raptor Cove” cores now offer up to 600 MHz more clock and Intel’s SuperFin manufacturing process has also been slightly improved. There are also more E-cores per CPU, up to 16 E-cores are now possible. At the same time, L2 and L3 buffers (cache) have been expanded. 2MB for each P-Core and 4MB for each E-Cluster.

Due to the improved manufacturing process, Raptor-Lake-S should work much more efficiently than the last generation. The Core i9-12900K is used as a comparison.

At 65 watts, the performance should still be identical, but at 115 watts the multi-core performance increases by 21 percent and at 241 watts by a whole 37 percent. In short: Especially with high power consumption, Raptor-Lake-S should now deliver significantly more performance and thus also be more efficient under load.

At the same time, work was also done on working with fast DDR5 RAM. This should make up to 5,600 MT/s (1 DPC) and 4,400 MT/s (2 DPC) possible. For comparison, DDR4 can reach a maximum of 3,200 MT/s.

The graphics unit within the processors remains the same with Intel’s UHD 770 in the i5 to i9 models. The iGPU based on the Xe architecture is already sufficient for everyday work and some video playback.

Last but not least, the “software background” for Raptor Lake-S has been improved: Intel’s thread director (which assigns tasks to the P and E cores) now works a little better. The new Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2) also assigns background tasks more intelligently. You can find out what new features the update brings here.

Overview: These processors are available at launch

Raptor Lake S comes in three “weight classes”: 35, 65, and 125 watts TDP. But only the models with 125 watts and K and KF models make the start. The K versions can be overclocked and the graphics unit is deactivated in the KF processors. The “normal” and more energy-efficient models will follow at a later date.

If you haven’t been able to get hold of a graphics card yet, the models with the K ending have an integrated Intel UHD Graphics. It is based on the Xe architecture and is similar to the UHD 770 of the predecessor. Even without a dedicated GPU, simple gaming should be possible again.

Intel benchmarks: Plenty of multi-core performance – with increased energy requirements

But enough of the overview and the hard facts – at least on the data sheet. As always, Intel supports the advertised increase in performance with its own benchmarks. As expected, these are designed to be rather flattering for Intel CPUs and were created under ideal conditions.

The new flagship model is the first in our test. The Intel Core i9-13900K comes with 24 cores (8P and 16E) with 32 threads, the P cores can clock up to 5.8 GHz, plus there is a generous 32MB L2 and 36MB L3 cache. The TDP is specified as 125 watts, but PL-1 and PL-2 are again significantly higher.

According to Intel, it should increase by 15 percent in single-core and a whopping 41 percent in multi-core applications compared to the Core i9-12900K.

But the other models are also making strong strides forward: The Core i5-13600K, which we also tested, now has 14 cores and the P-cores can clock at up to 5.1 GHz.

The Core i7-13700K now offers 16 cores, 4 cores more than its predecessor, and a turbo of 5.4 GHz. Raptor Lake-S also features Adaptive Boost Technology and Thermal Velocity Boost. The better the processor is cooled, the higher it can clock.

Even with the older generation Alder Lake you are still doing very well and should not worry too much about an upgrade.

Intel Raptor Lake Cyberpunk 2077

Due to a new patch (1.6), the benchmark values ​​from Intel Alder Lake are no longer meaningful here

An amazing result was only in the FPS classic Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Here, 13900K and 13600K failed to match the high scores of Ryzen 7000. However, since we don’t have any 800Hz monitors yet, the result here is quite meaningful, but hardly relevant in practice.

In general, the new processor series from Intel beats its predecessor, but AMD Ryzen 7000 is just as fast or slightly faster, depending on the game. The results are sometimes so narrow that they can also fall below the measurement tolerance. To cut a long story short: None of the current CPUs become a bottleneck when it comes to gaming.

Alder Lake-S was more economical: Relatively economical in everyday use, 340W high consumption under full load

Now we know the performance, but what about the efficiency? This shows the close relationship to Alder Lake-S. Because under load, the Raptor Lake-S treats itself to almost exorbitant wattage. In Cinebench, the Intel Core i9-13900K draws a whopping 344 watts from the socket. This puts it another good third above the already very high wattage of Alder Lake – and puts the 30% increase in performance achieved in Cinebench into perspective with an equally higher power consumption. The Core i5-13600K, on ​​the other hand, also has a high (but not exorbitant) 177 watts.


But on this point you can give the all-clear again: The energy consumption is significantly lower in normal operation and also when gaming – unfortunately it is still higher than Alder Lake-S. In Cyberpunk, the Core i9 produces an average of around 120W – the predecessor still averaged almost 80W here (albeit with eight E-Cores less). The Core i5, on the other hand, confirms the trend of the predecessor. It comes to a maximum of 60W in Cyberpunk and is therefore exactly on target.

The comparatively high value of the Core i9 could be due to the fact that it always tries to unnecessarily clock all P cores to at least 5,500 MHz. We can very likely also expect a BIOS update that will make the CPUs a little more economical.

In the end, you also have to ask the question of how often you really want to operate a CPU at its limit. Because on average – and that’s usually more important for the electricity bill – the consumption of the Raptor Lake architecture remains okay.

While Raptor Lake gains significantly on the same platform
The Core i5, on the other hand, moves in lower areas.

In addition, however, you are also offered new performance reserves that are unparalleled in applications. There are also future-proof features. You can’t really use PCIe 5.0 at the moment, but the high bandwidth of the interface means that more PCIe 4.0 SSDs (and GPUs) can be used – definitely a nice touch.

DDR5 RAM is also likely to become more important in the future. However, an existing problem with the Intel platform LGA1700 is the still high purchase price. Fully equipped top mainboards start at 180 euros *. Entry-level boards, which, however, have to do without many features, start at just under 70 euros .

A system with the relatively well-priced CPUs still remains a little below the highly priced Ryzen 7000 CPUs – here the new AM5 mainboards only start from €230 .

Intel Raptor Lake-S with higher temperatures

In one thing, Intel is clearly ahead of AMD: With Raptor Lake, you are once again offered countless overclocking options. Although the CPUs with a maximum package consumption of 344W are not exactly economical (for comparison: AMD Ryzen 7000 has a maximum of 230W), but with good cooling there is even more in it: This is how overclocking professionals managed to get up to 6.2 GHz Getting the Raptor Lake-S out – with standard AIO water cooling .

However, we were not able to reconstruct this result in our test. Because with a large-sized air cooler ( be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 ) we reached very high boost temperatures of up to 100 degrees Celsius, not Fahrenheit , in a (also well-ventilated) fractal design torrent .

However, the value settled at a good 32 degrees in idle mode. The predecessor Alder Lake stayed significantly cooler in the same test system and consumed less energy to achieve almost identical gaming values. However, we still hope for an update on the boost behavior of the P-Cores.

Temperatures and consumption: Intel Core i9-13900K vs AMD Ryzen 9 7900X
High P core temperatures in the AIDA64 stress test

So we currently* definitely recommend water cooling for the top model i9-13900K , which should offer at least 360W cooling capacity.

As expected, the i5-13600K is much more frugal. But here, too, gaming is boosted, which in turn has negative effects on consumption and temperatures. 80 degrees were reached at the top.

Conclusion: Intel is growing again – and yet we are already looking forward to the successor

With the Raptor Lake-S, Intel has improved the predecessor and squeezed even more performance out of the manufacturing process. However, this is mainly achieved through more e-cores and increased clock rates. This goes hand in hand with even higher wattage under full load. So once again, Team Blue used the crowbar rather than the scalpel to put on a performance crown.

But you have to concede to Intel as a rescue: The average power consumption is still solid. So if you don’t run the CPUs constantly at the limit (rendering & benchmarks), then the energy consumption should be very limited.

This also has to do (again) with the unorthodox big.LITTLE structure of the processor architecture. Two different core types ensure that the performance cores are primarily used in games, while the e-cores ensure a decent performance boost, especially in applications. Many games continue to rely on a maximum of 16 threads (thanks, consoles) – and the maximum of eight P-Cores can do that.

The only problem in the test was that the P cores all overclocked in games – even if that probably wasn’t necessary. This greatly increased consumption. Hopefully a BIOS update will improve this.

Compared to Ryzen 7000, however, Intel has lost some feathers. AMD has caught up again with the new Zen 4 architecture and thus achieves almost the same multi- and single-core performance – with less or the same consumption. But AMD’s CPUs are priced a little higher for this. For 32 threads you currently pay almost 100 euros more with Team Red than with Intel – and that applies to almost all comparable models. The new AM5 sockets are also relatively expensive and only start at just under 230 euros* .

Intel has thus succeeded in making the price-performance recommendation – if it is supposed to be a completely new CPU.

Intel’s efficiency should only come to the fore again with the successor Meteor Lake. Then we can expect a new manufacturing process and a completely overhauled architecture, including new mainboards.

If you still want future security with PCIe 5.0 and many connections, then it is also worth taking a look at the predecessor Alder Lake (Intel 12th generation) . This is sometimes much cheaper and can also be used on new Z790 boards.

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A full time tech enthusiast with a passion for writing. Religiously follow everything new happening in the tech world and share my two cents with my audience here.

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