Skip to main content

Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Review: Retaking the Gaming Crown

Alder vs Zen, Fight!

Intel Alder Lake
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Intel Alder Lake Core i9-12900K and i5-12600K Power Consumption, Efficiency, and Thermals

Image 1 of 11

Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Power Consumption

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 2 of 11

Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Power Consumption

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 3 of 11

Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Power Consumption

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 4 of 11

Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Power Consumption

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 5 of 11

Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Power Consumption

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 6 of 11

Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Power Consumption

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 7 of 11

Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Power Consumption

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 8 of 11

Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Power Consumption

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 9 of 11

Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Power Consumption

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 10 of 11

Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Power Consumption

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 11 of 11

Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Power Consumption

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Yes, Alder Lake still sucks more power than AMD's Ryzen 5000 series chips, but the arrival of the Intel 7 process does mark a big improvement. As we can see, the Alder Lake chips consume far less power than the Rocket Lake chips — we measured a peak of 238W with the 12900K, while the previous-gen 11900K drew nearly 100W more during the same Blender workload. 

Overall, Intel has reduced its power consumption from meme-worthy to an acceptable level. Besides, Alder Lake is much faster than its predecessor, earning it some leeway.

For instance, as you can see in our renders-per-day measurements, the Core i9-12900K and 12600K are both twice as efficient as their predecessors, which is commendable. This lower power consumption results in lower cooling requirements, too. 

Image 1 of 4

Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Power Efficiency

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 2 of 4

Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Power Efficiency

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 3 of 4

Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Power Efficiency

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 4 of 4

Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Power Efficiency

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Here we take a slightly different look at power consumption by calculating the cumulative amount of energy required to perform Blender and x264 and x265 HandBrake workloads, respectively. We plot this 'task energy' value in Kilojoules on the left side of the chart. 

These workloads are comprised of a fixed amount of work, so we can plot the task energy against the time required to finish the job (bottom axis), thus generating a really useful power chart. 

Bear in mind that faster compute times, and lower task energy requirements, are ideal. That means processors that fall the closest to the bottom left corner of the chart are best. 

As you can see, Intel's chips have descended from the undesirable upper right of the chart down to the lower left hand, nearly matching AMD's chips in power consumption while actually being faster. That's an outstanding improvement after six years of power-guzzling 14nm chips. 

Paul Alcorn

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.