Intel's 13th-Gen Raptor Lake processors deliver explosive generational performance increases that beat AMD's similarly-priced Ryzen chips in gaming, single- and multi-threaded work at every price point.
Below, we have the geometric mean of our gaming test suite at 1080p and 1440p and a cumulative measure of performance in single- and multi-threaded applications. We conducted our gaming tests with an Nvidia RTX 4090, so performance deltas will shrink with lesser cards and higher resolution and fidelity settings.
The $589 Core i9-13900K beat the reigning gaming champ, the Ryzen 7 5800X3D, by 4% in our 1080p benchmarks. We have to remember that the 5800X3D's ranking could change based on the games tested, and we used an RTX 4090 for our tests. Most gamers won't have access to such a powerful GPU, so the differences could be slight in the real world. In either case, the 13900K is also 14% faster than AMD's fastest standard chip for gaming, the $549 Ryzen 7 7900X.
However, if you're looking for the best value on a high-performance chip for gaming, the 13900K is overshadowed by its sibling, the $409 Core i7-13700K. This chip delivers 95% of the 13900K's performance in gaming, but for $180 less.
The Core i5-13600K is the best value for most gamers, though, at least until the non-K Core i5s arrive next year. For $319, or $294 for the graphics-less variant, the 13600K is slightly faster than all the Ryzen 7000 chips at gaming, and tapping the incredible overclocking potential propels it into 5800X3D territory.
The Core i9-13900K is best suited for productivity workloads, and here it offers nearly the same threaded horsepower as the Ryzen 9 7950X, but for $100 less. It also beats the 7950X in single-threaded applications. At their respective price points, the Core i7-13700K and Core i5-13600K deliver Ryzen 7000-beating performance in both single- and multi-threaded applications.
Overall, the Raptor Lake lineup offers a balanced performance profile with no clear weaknesses in specific types of workloads, making them agile all-rounder chips for productivity work.
Intel preserved support for DDR4 memory, providing a pathway to significantly lower memory and motherboard costs than you'll currently find with AMD's AM5 ecosystem, which requires DDR5 memory. If you're interested in DDR5, Raptor Lake has incredible overclocking headroom, and pre-certified XMP DDR5-8000 kits are already headed to market. Intel also says you won't lose any performance by going with a previous-gen 600-series motherboard if it has adequate power delivery, opening another pathway for value seekers.
Speaking of power, the 13th-Gen chips are more efficient but are power hungry due to heavy tuning for extreme performance. You'll need to top the Core i9-13900K with a beefy cooler because insufficient cooling will hamstring performance. Cooling requirements for the downstream models aren't quite as stringent, but the Core i5 and i7 models have expanded power budgets that require more capable coolers than we're accustomed to using with lower-end chips.
AMD's chips consume less power and are more efficient, but like the Raptor Lake chips, they also operate at elevated temperatures (95C is expected) and now stretch up to 230W, so the differences aren't quite as pronounced as they used to be. It's important to remember that both Intel and AMD's chips are designed to operate at such temperatures: For instance, Intel's Adaptive Boost Technology is designed to extract the full performance available within the spec'd temperature range, which spans up to 100C. This doesn't harm your chip and it remains fully warrantied, but it means that the quality of your cooler will impact performance.
The Raptor Lake processors provide the highest overclocking ceilings we've ever seen at 5.6 GHz. All three chips we tested reached incredible clock speeds with little effort (ceilings in the 5.5 to 5.7 GHz range with beefy ambient cooling are said to be common). Raptor's overclockability is far more useful in the Core i7 and i5 models, as most of the headroom (and more) is already exposed in the Core i9-13900K right out of the box.
AMD has a Zen 4D chip slated for release later this year, while Intel has a 6 GHz special edition Raptor Lake waiting in the wings. We even recently spotted an unannounced 34-core Raptor Lake at a tradeshow, suggesting that Intel might create a new HEDT platform.
These events will take place as the year progresses, but AMD will need to reduce pricing on its Ryzen 7000 models now to stay competitive with Raptor Lake.
For now, the Core i9-13900K reigns as the fastest gaming chip on the market, albeit by a slim margin, and offers impressive performance in all manner of productivity workloads. Meanwhile, despite a $30 price increase, the Core i5-13600K is equally impressive with class-leading performance at its price point, slotting in as the best value chip for gaming. It also happens to be a great all-rounder and a fun overclocker, too.