Core i9-13900K and i5-13600K in review: Intel’s first Raptor Lake CPUs

The best processors

Ryzen 9 7950X




AMD

Core i9-13900K


intel

AMD Ryzen 9 7900X


AMD

Ryzen 9 5950X


AMD

Core i9-12900K


intel

Ryzen 9 5900X


AMD

Ryzen 7 7700X


AMD

Core i7-12700KF


intel

Core i7-12700K


intel

Ryzen 5 7600X


AMD

Complete list: The best processors

Core i9-13900K, i5-13600K in the test: Ten nanometers

Intel manufactures the structures and circuits (transistors) in the new “Raptor Lake” CPUs as well as in the “Alder Lake” processors with ten nanometers. The manufacturer calls this process “Intel 7”. Behind the designation hides the last expansion stage of the ten-nanometer process: “10 nm Enhanced SuperFin”.

More cores for more speed

Intel also wants to produce “Raptor Lake” processors as usual for PCs, notebooks, Evo laptops and convertibles. Intel produces the “Raptor Lake” CPUs using proven manufacturing processes, the structure of the new processors is based on those of the “Alder Lake” processors. Depending on the performance class, the new CPUs also have different powerful cores. An example based on the top model for PCs tested here: The Core i9-13900K has eight powerful “Golden Cove” type computing units (P cores) – for example for performance-hungry applications such as Adobe Photoshop and Premiere. Another 16 energy-saving “Gracemont” computing units (E cores) handle simple office and Internet applications such as Word, Excel, Facebook, Instagram & Co.
Intel Core i9-13900K review

Core i9-13900K in the test: Intel’s current top model of the “Raptor Lake” series.

Core i9-13900K: Much stronger than the 12900K?

That’s right: The 13900K now gets 16 E cores instead of eight like the 12900K. Also new: A single P-core can now work at up to 5.8 gigahertz, with all eight P-cores the highest clock is a whopping 5.5 gigahertz. Intel has greatly expanded the buffer memory (cache) for fast swapping out of calculated data – in some models it has even more than doubled (see also the comparison with the “Alder Lake” processors in the overview above).

Core i5-13600K: 14 cores for the middle class

For the sake of completeness, the key data of the Core i5-13600K, which is also being tested here: It has six P-cores and eight E-arithmetic units, it can fool the Windows PC with up to 20 cores using hyperthreading technology for a better distribution of tasks. The basic clock is 2.6 gigahertz, individual P cores work at up to 5.1 gigahertz.

Intel Core i9-13900K and Core i5-13600K: speed comparison

Intel’s new top model Core i9-13900K just missed the crown of the fastest CPU. AMD’s Ryzen 9 7950 not only works a bit faster, but also much more efficiently.

Performance increases, energy demand decreases

And indeed: In the tests, the Core i9-13900K made a huge leap forward. It completed the tests with internet and office applications 16 percent faster, and with exhausting photo, video and 3D editing, the performance increase was even 25 percent. On average, the 13900K was around 21 percent faster than its predecessor, the 12900K. Remarkable: Despite the 21 percent increase in performance, the energy requirement was reduced by 6 percent.

Ryzen 9 7950X: 30 percent less energy consumption!

It all looks great at first glance. But AMD can do it all a bit better. Its current top model Ryzen 9 7950X completed the tests marginally 3 percent faster. In terms of speed, Intel is within striking distance, the difference is negligible. If you include the energy requirement, the huge advantage of the manufacturing process becomes apparent: AMD already manufactures its Ryzen 7000 processors with structures that are just 5 nanometers thin. This means: AMD can accommodate many more circuits (transistors) on the same chip area. Because they are closer together as a result, the switching paths are shorter, which reduces energy consumption – and not just on paper. The Ryzen 9 7950X consumed almost 30 percent less energy than Intel’s Core i9-13900K with about the same performance.

Core i5-13600K in the test: Not all cores involved

The new mid-range CPU Core i5-13600K did not run quite smoothly in the test: it did not use all cores in exhausting tests such as Cinebench. The editors then ordered a second copy from Intel, which showed the same symptoms. Yesterday (October 19th, 2022), Asus released a BIOS update for the ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming Wifi mainboard that was used, but that didn’t bring any improvement either. Overall, the Core i5-13600K was a touch faster than its immediate predecessor 12600K, but it could work much faster if it were to use all cores. The 13600K’s energy requirement, which has fallen by around 25 percent, was also positive.

  • High working pace
  • High gaming speed with separate graphics card
  • Built-in graphics chip too weak for complex games
  • Does not fully utilize all cores

PCI Express 5.0, DDR5 and DDR4

On the other hand, good: Like AMD’s Ryzen 7000 series and Intel’s older “Alder Lake” CPUs, the new “Raptor Lake” models support M.2 SSDs with PCI Express 5.0 – assuming a suitable mainboard with a compatible chipset. Production-ready SSDs should not appear until 2023. Good: According to Intel, “Raptor Lake” processors continue to work with DDR4 and newer and faster DDR5 memory – the new Intel CPUs digest modules of the latter type that clock at up to 5,600 megahertz. AMD relies exclusively on DDR5 RAM for its Ryzen 7000 processors.

  • Very high work pace
  • Very high gaming speed with separate graphics card
  • Built-in graphics chip too weak for complex games
  • Slightly high power consumption under full load

Core i9-13900K and Core i5-12600K in the test: conclusion

Well done, Intel: The top model of the “Raptor Lake” series worked on average 21 percent faster than the predecessor Core i7-12900K. Despite significantly more power, it left the church in the village when it came to power consumption – even consuming 6 percent less energy. But AMD can do all of this a bit better, so the Core i9-13900K is not enough for first place in the list of the best: AMD’s Ryzen 7 7950X worked around 3 percent faster in the tests and consumed significantly less energy. The Intel Core i5-13600K performed just a touch faster than its 12600K predecessor and immediate Ryzen 5 7600X competitor – but the 13600K could perform much faster if it were actually fully utilizing all cores. Intel needs to improve here.

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