Intel Core i9-12900K vs AMD Ryzen 9 5950X: Which is Better for Your PC?

The latest and greatest from Intel

Intel Core i9-12900 K

AMD Strength

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X SE

The Intel Core i9-12900K processor refocuses Team Blue for anyone who wants superior performance for intense gaming and specialized work. It offers support for PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 RAM, although it requires a new motherboard for the new LGA 1700 socket.

$620 at Best Buy

Positives

  • exceptional performance
  • 125W TDP IN STOCK
  • PCIe 5.0 . support
  • DDR5 RAM support
  • competitive price

Negatives

  • No assembled coolant
  • Requires a new motherboard
  • Runs hot when loaded / overclocked

The Ryzen 9 5950X can still keep up with (and in some cases surpass) the Core i9-12900K, although it costs more overall. You don’t need a new motherboard since it still uses the AM4 socket, but you don’t get DDR5 RAM support and PCIe outperforms 4.0. If you need a high-performance CPU for heavy workloads or games, this is still the best option.

$745 at Amazon

Positives

  • 105W TDP IN STOCK
  • PCIe 4.0 . support
  • The performance is still amazing
  • 16 cores, 32 threads

Negatives

  • Generally it costs more
  • No assembled coolant
  • Does not support DDR5 RAM
  • Highest level in PCIe 4.0

These two flagship chipsets are among the best processors available today, and either of them will ultimately provide a huge amount of power to anyone with high goals in gaming, design or development. The Core i9-12900K is new to the market with an “Intel 7” (10nm) manufacturing process, a new “big.LITTLE” hybrid design, support for DDR5 RAM, and PCIe 5.0.

Ryzen 9 5950X has been around for about a year, but it’s still the best choice for high-performance architectures. It’s built using a 7nm manufacturing process, has 16 overall cores and 32 pins, and offers PCIe 4.0 support. It still uses the AM4 socket, which means the old motherboard should work with the chip.

Let’s take a more look at these two processors by breaking down the features and performance.

Core i9-12900K vs. Ryzen 9 5950X: Features and Performance

Intel Core i9-12900 K

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central
Intel’s new large hybrid design that comes with the Alder Lake generation is one we’ve seen in CPUs from ARM and Apple. It mainly mixes energy-saving single-threaded cores (electronic cores) with high-performance multi-threaded cores (P cores) in the same package.

E cores take care of low priority tasks, while P cores are free to handle heavy loads. This is why you may notice in the chart below that the thread count is off a bit; There are eight multi-threaded P cores (which means 16 threads) and eight single-threaded cores. That’s a total of 24 threads, down from 32 threads for Ryzen 9.

Intel Core i9-12900 K AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
nuclei 16
(8P, 8E)
16
threads 24 32
TDP 125 watts 105 W
base clock P: 3.2GHz
E: 2.4GHz
3.4 GHz
Strengthen P: 5.1 GHz
E: 3.9GHz
4.9 GHz
Turbo Boost Max 3.0 5.2 GHz Nobody
overclockable yes yes
L3 cache 30 megabytes 32 MB
manufacturing knot 10 nm 7 nm
memory DDR4-3200
DDR5-4800
up to 128 GB
DDR4-3200
up to 128 GB
Integrated graphics Intel UHD 770 Nobody
Plug LGA 1700 AM4

The Core i9-12900K also offers support for DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0. While these two technologies aren’t mature enough to make much of a difference right now—the best 12th-generation DDR5 RAM Intel CPUs sell everywhere—they do prepare you well for future upgrades. These new chips are quite future-proof, but you will need to invest in a new motherboard due to the 12th generation Intel processors with a new LGA 1700 socket.

Upgrading to the Ryzen 9 5950X doesn’t require a huge amount of upgrading, as it’s still compatible with the same AM4 socket that AMD has been using for years. However, it is always recommended to use a modern motherboard to get the most out of your CPU. Our selection of the best motherboards has plenty of options if you’re wondering where to start. The Ryzen 9 5950X does not have integrated graphics, although this is not a huge problem as these chipsets are usually paired with one of the best graphics cards available.

ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central
In terms of performance, these two processors are completely identical. The Ryzen 9 5950X has 16 standard multi-threaded cores with a base clock of 3.4GHz and a boost of up to 4.9GHz. It’s overclockable, and has a baseline 105W TDP. That’s slightly lower than the base TDP of the Core i9-12900K at 125W.

Intel P cores feature a base capacity of 3.2 GHz and a boost clock of 5.1 GHz. Its E cores feature a base clock of 2.4GHz and a boost clock of 3.9GHz. There’s also Intel’s Turbo Boost Max 3.0 technology, which pushes the clock to 5.2GHz on some cores for single-threaded tasks.

Clock speeds and other stats look great on paper, but how do these CPUs perform in benchmarks? We tested both to see how they compare.

As you can see in the charts above, the Core i9-12900K and Ryzen 9 5950X swap out across the benchmarks. The AMD processor is still the master of heavy multi-core tasks, although Intel isn’t far behind in this department either. And when it comes to single-core performance, Intel reigns supreme.

The bottom line here is that both treatments provide an incredible amount of energy. Their specific features differ in a few ways, but both are modern strengths ready to take on a heavy life of gaming or specialized work. The Core i9-12900K costs less than the Ryzen 9 5950X, but you have to consider the price of adding a new motherboard for the new socket, as well as new RAM if you decide to opt for a DDR5 board. If you instead go with AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X and already have an AMD architecture, you can probably save money overall by reusing your motherboard and other components.

Prepare for the future

Intel’s Core i9-12900K delivers exceptional performance, as well as future support for DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0. If you’re looking for a completely new architecture, this is definitely a compelling option that should worry AMD a bit.

The latest and greatest from Intel

Intel Core i9-12900 K

Intel Core i9-12900 K

Intel is now back in the game with the launch of Alder Lake processors. Core i9-12900K is the main chip that packs a lot of cores and threads, as well as ample performance for intense tasks and games.

Undeniable multi-core performance

AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X is a processor beast, capable of outperforming the Core i9-12900K in a range of multi-core benchmarks. It may not be future proof due to DDR4 and PCIe 4.0 support, but it’s easier to use to upgrade existing AMD systems.

AMD Strength

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X SE

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

In the end, the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X processor delivers exceptional performance with its 16-core setup. It will handle everything you need, but its cost makes it difficult to recommend new system architectures.

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