Intel Core i9-13900K Desktop Processor Review: It’s neck and neck again

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Intel 13th Gen Raptor Lake desktop processors have their work cut out for themselves. The 12th Gen Intel Alder Lake processors had finally brought Intel back to the front after lagging behind AMD processors for some time, only to lose out the top spot to the recently launched AMD Zen 4 Raphael processors. So the 13th Gen processors have to outdo the Zen processors and that’s no easy task. 13th Gen Intel processors feature the same hybrid microarchitecture that the 12th Gen processors have but with a lot more E-Cores than before. The process node is the same Intel 7 process node or as it was previously known as Intel 10nm Enhanced Super Fin process but Intel claims to have made huge strides in performance to become much more power-efficient.

The Z690 platform that had launched with Intel 12th Gen processors will be compatible with the Intel 13th Gen processors but Intel has unveiled the new Z790 platform for performance enthusiasts. The key differences being that the nativer DDR5 performance goes up to 5600 MT/s and a lot more PCIe Gen 4 lanes for the PCH. Z690 had 12 Gen 4 PCIe lanes and 16 Gen 3 PCIe Lanes. Z790 makes that into 20 Gen 4 and 8 Gen 3 PCIe lanes. So motherboard manufacturers get to be a lot more creative with the kind of interfaces and storage options that they can provide. 

Intel 13th Gen Core Raptor Lake processor specifications

Just like the previous gen, even the 13th Gen launch lineup will only have six processors at launch. There will be two SKUs under each performance tier – Core i9, Core i7 and Core i5. The Core i3 processors might launch later or may not. We have no word about that. The 12th Gen Core i3 processors launched after a significant amount of time after the initial launch period. However, considering that the Core i3 tier is more focused on budget processors, this is quite common even with AMD’s budget tiers. 

The six processors launching today are the K and KF processors. The KF processors are simply the K processors without the integrated GPU. Speaking of which, the integrated GPU is the same Intel UHD 770 graphics but the clock speeds have been bumped up by 100 MHz. So there will be a little bit of extra gaming performance for folks relying on the iGPU until they can get a decent discrete graphics card.

The bulk of the change with the 13th Gen Intel Raptor Lake processors is the doubling of the E-Cores. The 12th Gen processors had 8 E-Cores whereas the 13th Gen processors will be shipping with 16 E-Cores. The total thread count of the flagship Intel Core i9-13900K becomes 32 considering that all the P-Cores have hyperthreading whereas the E-Cores don’t. 

Intel Core i9-13900K and Core i5-13600K Performance

Don’t be taken in by the presence of efficient E-Cores on Intel 12th Gen Alder Lake processors. The Core i9-12900K has a max turbo power of 241 watts and motherboard manufacturers tend to ignore such limits to boost performance. So expect the high-end processors to guzzle power like there’s no tomorrow. We tested both, the top of the line Core i9-12900K and the mid-range Core i5-12600K.

The units were reviewed on the following configuration:

Intel 13th Gen Test Rig

CPU: Intel Core i9-13900K and Core i5-13600K


GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080

SSD: 2x WD Black SN850 1TB 

HDD: Seagate FireCuda 2 TB ST2000DX002

RAM: Corsair DOMINATOR PLATINUM RGB DDR5 32GB (2 x 16GB) @5200 MHz

Cooler: Corsair H150i Elite LCD

PSU: Cooler Master V1200

Cinebench R23

As always, we begin with Cinebench R23 to see how the processor fares in single threaded and multithreaded performance. Cinebench is often used by both Intel and AMD to showcase the impact of IPC improvements across generations. It renders a 3D scene and is based on Maxon’s Cinema4D, an animation, VFX and motion design software.

In the single-threaded benchmark, the Intel Core i9-13900K scores 2264 which is a decent gain over the newly released AMD Ryzen 9 7950X which scores 1997. The Intel Core i9-12900K had scored 1971. However, in the multi-threaded run we see the AMD processor retains the lead with just 40 points. 


V-Ray is a 3D modelling software by Chaos that is very popular across multiple industries. The benchmark can focus on just the CPU and the GPU separately. The benchmark gives you a score on the basis of the number of ray tracings done in one minute.


Yet again, the Intel Core i9-13900K certainly beats the 12900K but the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X continues to lead with a score of 29280. The 13900K scored 25332 and the 12900K had scored 17649.


Blender is a fairly well known open-source rendering software used by movie studios as well as by game developers. There are standard benchmarking scenes on Blender and we use multiple iterations of the Classroom, Monster and Junkshop scenes for our tests.


Here, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X takes the lead yet again. The Intel Core i9-13900K does outperform the Intel Core i9-12900K by a significant margin.


7-Zip is an open-source archiving software with really good and frequently updated algorithms that perform compression and decompression. It’s the frequent updates that make 7-Zip a good benchmark. It also scales well with higher core-counts so there’s an added advantage with 7-Zip over other archiving software.


7-Zip shows the Intel Core i9-13900K gaining a significant lead over the 12900K but is yet again bested by the Ryzen 9 7950X.  

Mozilla Kraken

Mozilla Kraken is a browser-based JavaScript benchmark that executes several real-world scenarios that everyone comes across while normally browsing the Internet. It includes a host of different use cases such as searching, audio processing, image filtering, cryptography and JSON parsing.

Intel usually excels at Mozilla Kraken and even Octane Javascript benchmark. Intel continues to maintain that lead across both benchmarks over the AMD processor. 

Office Productivity

Office productivity hinges upon some popular office applications along with browsing. Microsoft’s Office suite is the mos popular of them all the the following benchmark by UL is focused purely on that.


Over here, the Intel Core i9-13900K is a clear winner beating it’s predecessor and the Zen 4 flagship with a decent margin.


Gaming is where Intel has traditionally held the top spot. In our benchmarks we see the 13900K and the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X be neck and neck.


The Intel Core i9-13900K has done something very significant in outperforming the 12th Gen 12900K by a significant margin within just one generation. However, across a lot of benchmarks, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X maintains a lead over the 13900K. In a lot of benchmarks, the difference isn’t much. So for enthusiasts, there are now two very competitive high-end desktop processors to choose from. That’s a good place to be in.

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