The Intel 13th-generation CPUs released during Q4 2022 is the latest entry into Intel’s desktop CPU line-up and will serve as the swan song for the monolithic die era of processors manufactured by Intel. Intel’s 12th-gen CPU’s saw the debut of hybrid CPU cores, mixing both large cores and smaller cores to create a powerful CPU when needed but also have an efficient CPU for daily tasks.
In this review we’ll take a look at the launch stack from this generation featuring the three top SKUs from their respective line: the flagship Intel Core i9-13900K, the Core i7-13700K and the Core i5-13600K. All of which gain significant bumps from their 12th-gen counterpart both in increase E-core counts as well as IPC improvements.
That said, we’ll start our review series for these CPUs with gaming performance primarily featuring the current fastest graphics card on the market, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 as well as Intel’s own Arc A750 and AMD’s Radeon 6900XT. To see which card scales the best for each card. We’ll touch on both esports as well AAA gaming in our revised gaming benchmarks to see which is the best card not just in outright performance, but overall framerate consistency and latency.
We’ll cap it all off with power draw during gaming as well gaming temperature. I an outright making this disctintion known already at this point because if you’re not comfortable with CPUs reaching 90*C, then turn away now as both AMD and Intel have made it clear they’re not letting thermal expectations limit their performance this generation.
We’ll cover all of those as well workstation performance in another article but for now, this is a gaming site after all so will focus on that. Read on to find out more!
Intel 13th-Gen Launch Line-up
Intel is also bumping up clock speeds with P-cores on the 13th-gen Intel Core i9-13900K going from 3.Ghz to 5.8Ghz while the i7-13700K and i5-13600K go from 3.4Ghz to 5.4Ghz and 3.5Ghz to 5.1Ghz turbo respectively. This generation will also see core clock bumps for these three CPUs with the 13900K reaching thread count parity with its AMD counterpart as it hits 32 total threads with a hybrid core count of 8 P-cores with Hyperthreading and 16 E-cores. This goes the same for the Core i7-13700K which now matches the previous-gen i9 as the i7-13700K receives 8 P-cores and 16 E-cores while the Core i5-13600K receives a increase in E-cores by 2 from last year’s 6P+4E to a generous 6P+8E configuration.
|Cores/Threads||Base Clock||Max Boost Clocks||TDP||Architecture||Node||MSRP||Philippine Ref. Price|
|Core i9-13900K||8P+16E/32||3.0/2.2Ghz||5.8/4.3Ghz||125W||Raptor Lake||10nm||$599||PHP36,995|
|Core i7-13700K||8P+8E/16||3.4/2.5Ghz||5.4/4.2Ghz||125W||Raptor Lake||10nm||$419||PHP27,995|
|Core i5-13600K||6P+8E/14||3.5/2.6Ghz||5.1/3.5Ghz||125W||Raptor Lake||10nm||$329||PHP20,995|
|Core i9-12900K||8P+8E/16||3.2 /2.4Ghz||5.2/3.9Ghz||125W||Alder Lake||10nm||$658||PHP36,495|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7950X||16/32||4.5Ghz||5.7Ghz||170W||Zen 4||5nm||$700||PHP46,000|
Intel Z790 Chipset
Together with the Intel 13th-gen CPU is the arrival of the 700-series chipset namely the Z790 which is a subtle upgrade from the previous Z690. Featuring compatibility improvements as well as an increase in Gen4 lanes, this will see more slot configurations from board makers. Both DDR5 and DDR4 are supported by motherboard makers as well as USB4 becoming more prevalent in launch models.
Z790 motherboards are still on LGA1700 and will support all Intel 12th-gen and 13th-gen CPU out of the box.
Test Setup and Methodology
Processor: Intel 13th-gen Core CPUs, Intel Core i9-12900K, AMD Ryzen 7950X
Motherboard: ROG MAXIMUS Z790 HERO
Memory: Kingston FURY Renegade RGB DDR5-6400 32GB
Storage: Kingston FURY Renegade 2TB SSD
PSU: FSP Hydro G Pro 1000W
Cooling: ROG Ryujin II 360 AIO Cooler
Monitor: ROG PG27UQ 4K 144hz HDR1000
VGA: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090
For a full-hardware workout, visit https://benchmarks.ul.com for our system warm-up and stress test of choice.
For benchmarking methodology please see our game benchmark method guide.
We take the average performance result from all our games and summarize them in section. You may find detailed performance results in their dedicated pages. We split the results into games overall and esports titles. While AAA games will tax the GPU mostly, they can still also challenge the CPU. So can esports games and their high FPS throughput especially when paired with a high-performance GPU.
Games Overall – 9 Games total
In this section we summarize the performance score relative to the flagship CPU in our test.
Relative Performance – Esports
Here’s a general summary of the performance for each game. We include 720p resolution to simulate a situation wherein a CPU becomes the bottleneck rather than the GPU in gaming due to pure throughput that is coming from the GPU that could prove challenging to the CPU.
Gaming Power Draw and Temperature
Intel’s new 13th-gen CPUs offer some of the highest clocks we’ve seen on any modern CPUs but that goes the same for AMD as well. Traditionally though, Intel has been more adept in turning their CPUs to adjust to workloads and in games primarily, we will rarely see any of the K-series SKUs we’re testing breach past 90% usage. This allows the CPU to dynamically swing in its clock speeds. In the chart above we show the CPU clock over time with Cyberpunk 2077 running. These are the P-cores average, by the way and are recorded under load. By itself, the AMD Ryzen looks impressive but despite running at 5.35Ghz, it fails to even beat the Core i5-13600K running at 4.6Ghz by an average of 10FPS.
Intel claimed that the Intel 13600K will be on par with the Core i9-12900K and our results does definitely show it does live up to that claim especially in gaming. This is an impressive feat as the 6-core Core i5-13600K draws 20W less power than the 12900K. Meanwhile on the upper of the spectrum, with their larger core configurations the Core i9-13900K and Core i7-13700K utilize more definitely plenty more power than the i5 and while this may be the direction that Intel, NVIDIA and AMD are all heading towards, I do pray we find a shift in efficiency that sees our CPUs go back to a lower TDP trajectory yet retain their performance uplift.
System latency of PC latency is the combined total time it takes for an input to be rendered on screen. Some refer to it as click-to-photon or input-to-pixel-response but ultimately it follows a chain wherein the input goes from your peripheral to your system (GPU, CPU, RAM, SSD combined) to be rendered on your monitor. We covered this topic in depth in our system latency analysis article as well as our review of Reflex and LDAT.
System latency is most important in FPS games where winning is measured in miliseconds. The CPU plays a big role in the system latency pipeline as it has to manage all the frames currently in queue and it holds up a significant amount of frame, even without showing a CPU bottleneck, it will cause a measurable impact in system latency. We measure this in Valorant and Overwatch to see if our CPU impacts our results, 1080p should be the most important result here and I’ve highlighted that in the charts.
Intel’s 13th-generation CPU line-up provides a compelling performance jump from the previous 12th-gen by offering a significant leap in performance. This is more evident thanks to the release of GPUs like NVIDIA’s RTX 4090 which demands a performant CPU to compliment its pure performance. In this review, we’ve taken a look at gaming performance with the RTX 4090 and we’ve seen that the 13th-gen Intel Core CPUs can easily handle even this monster of a graphics card. Even the Core i5-13600K comes quite close to the flagship Core i9-13900K in some games and if you’re gaming mostly AAA at 1440p, you can definitely squeeze a lot out of your GPUs capabilities.
Intel was ready put up a fight for their gaming crown with the advant of AMD’s Zen 4 CPU but curiously enough, the true contention wasn’t even with AMD’s new CPU as they were never able to handily beat gaming crown holder of last-generation. And we’re not talking about the Intel Core i9-12900K but rather the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D. Coming in at Q2 2022, it absolutely gave the 12900K a run for its money but with workstation tasks being functionally the same, the 5800X3D was relegated as a purely gaming-only CPU in most coverage. Given the fact that AMD was already quiet about AM4’s future and Zen 4 already announced, the 5800X3D’s true value was only cemented when the Ryzen 7000 CPUs were released and AMD failed to capture the gaming performance crown with their new CPUs.
This was Intel’s true challenge with the 13900K. To combat its vertical 3D cache advantage that gives it its winning gaming performance but still create a product that can handle multithreeaded tasks for both workstation and gaming usage. The Core i9-13900K’s large core count puts it odds with the 7950X on a thread count level despite 16 of those cores being little E-cores that barely run past 4Ghz. The Core i7-13700K provides a nice midpoint for those that want a gaming CPUs primarily but also want a core count advantage for modern tasks,. The Core i7-13700K practically inherits the position of the Core i9-12900K but with IPC uplift and clock speed bumps, it gives more performance for less. Last-up is the Core i5-13600K which outperforms the Core i9-12900K in gaming.
The results are quite definititive but let’s talk about the platform. One of the key advantages that Intel has over AMD is its support for DDR4 on both the 600-series and 700-series motherboards. This allowed users to painlessly jump from older platforms to the new 12th-gen CPUs when they came out especially when DDR5 was very scarce back then. With 13th-gen, Intel still uses the LGA1700 socket supporting both 12th-gen and 13th-gen Core CPUs out of the box on the latest Z790 motherboarrds or via a BIOS update on those that received updates from manufacturers that have Z690, B660 or H610 motherboards boards upgrade to support Intel 13th-gen. It opened up the majority of the market to pursue Intel 12th-gen builds especially on the mainstream with more conservative builds eschewing DDR5 for DDR4 up to this day. For the Z790 motherboards, manufacturers are still olffering DDR4 equipped models allowing users who want to prolong their high-performance parts to still keep on kicking on 13th-gen.
We’ll discuss IO in another article but to sum it all up, USB4 Thunderbolt is present on select motherboards and some models will have up to 5 or possibly more M.2 slots for maximum storage. This is on top of a richer USB configuration along with built-in WIFI6. This will ultimately be depending on your motherboard of choice but you can also opt to keep on using your older 600-series motherboard with your 13th-gen CPU.
Its not all sunny for Intel though. While the 13th-gen Core CPUs offer great performance and broken the 5Ghz barrier, this does come at the cost of power draw. Gaming alone sees these CPUs go past 100W with the i9-13900K breaching >180W. Intel’s definition of TDP has changed over the years and they have definitely moved on from TDP to PBP or processor base power as well as max turbo to define their power ratings. While we do have see modest power draws with the Core i5-13600K, the Core i7-13700K and Core i9-13900K are both drawing fairly high power draws. On some motherboards, CPUs will be limited to Intel’s default limit and set the CPU at default PBP but most gaming and enthusiast motherboards will remove these limits and keep the CPU running at an unrestrained power limit effectively ensuring higher performance at the cost of power. The 13900K is rated to consume as much as 250W and will reflect almost 400W on the 12v line and that leads us to our second concern which is temperature.
Thermals are a sore point for any CPU but none more so than the Core i9-13900K and the i7-13700K. This is not something high-end cooling can solve as I’ve already extensively tested my personal 13900K on various cooling solutions short of a naked die cooling and EKWB’s TEC to really see how far the CPU will go on ample cooling. But alas, putting a 200W TEC to cool at 250W CPU drives up the power draw which is also a sore point as we’ve already discussed above. With both AMD and Intel looking like their poised to go this direction at the meantime and with NVIDIA also looking to pursue the same, again, I pray we hope the industry sees this as a challenge they should overcome first.
Intel will be making a giant leap in its desIgn by way of Meteor Lake come next-generation but nothing official has been made on that product. This means that if you’re holding up your upgrade for something new, take note that you’re beta testing Intel’s chiplet CPU with next-gen so if you’re not comfortable being a first adopter, the 13th-gen Intel Core CPUs prove their quite dependable in terms of performance. We’ll be taking a look at workstation performance in a separate article but if you’re looking at this from a gaming perspective, the 13th-gen Intel Core line-up are good choice and provide a great deal as they displace their last-gen counterpart but offer excelelnt performance. To close things off, if you want bleeding edge performance right now for both work and games, the Intel Core i9-13900K is definitely the CPU to go for. The Core i7-13700K provides a more accessible option for prosumers while the Core i5-13600K is a decent gaming CPU that can offer previous-gen performance for far less.
If you’re in the market right now for a CPU from Intel, the 13th-gen CPUs are a no-brainer: they displace their last-gen counterparts and offer more performance and the platform cost remains roughly the same with the flexibility of having either DDR4 and DDR5 options for upgraders to jump from their previous rig. In closing, Intel’s 13th-gen CPU K-series CPU line-up definitely cement their positions as top CPU offerings in their respective tiers, and while the competition struggles both to compete with their last-gen product as well as availability, upgraders will be pleased to know they can gracefully upgrade to a newer Intel platform with DDR4 support from both current and previous-gen motherboards.