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

Alder vs Zen, Fight!

Intel Alder Lake
Editor's Choice
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Windows 10: Core i9-12900K and i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks — The TLDR

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Alder Lake Benchmarks

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Alder Lake Benchmarks

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Alder Lake Benchmarks

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Alder Lake Benchmarks

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Bear in mind that we're using different game titles in Windows 10 than we did in Windows 11, but it's clear that the race between Intel and AMD certainly narrows when we test the Alder Lake chips on the older operating system. We also must caution that we noticed much more variability in our Alder Lake test runs on Windows 10 than we see with other types of chips, so Intel's warnings that you can experience performance variability from poor thread scheduling in Windows 10 are warranted.

Naturally, unoptimized thread scheduling can lead to latency-sensitive threads running on the E-cores, but this occurs unpredictably and seems to increase during multi-tasking. That means you could see far more or far less of an impact in different types of gaming scenarios, like streaming while gaming or using chat clients. Due to time constraints and the sporadic nature of the variations, we haven't fully quantified the increased deviation yet, but we'll continue to look into this issue. Also, it's worth noting that we only see these variations in our detailed test outputs — we didn't notice any outwardly-visible signs of rough gameplay.

You'll also notice right away that the DDR5 configurations lose some steam in Windows 10 compared to the DDR4-equipped setup. This isn't ideal, as the DDR5-equipped motherboard we used for testing was much more handsomely equipped than the low-end DDR4 board. However, after a bit of follow-up, we're told that this isn't an entirely unexpected result.

The 12900K with DDR4 is 7% faster at 1080p, which naturally impacts its competitive footing. With DDR5, the 12900K is 2.4% faster than the Ryzen 9 5900X, which expands to a 9.5% advantage with DDR4 memory. That isn't the best result given the expected eye-watering pricing for DDR5.

The 12600K is also roughly 8% faster with DDR4 than with DDR5, which is the difference between beating the Ryzen 5 5600X or losing to it.

Once again, flipping to the 1440p results finds slimmer deltas between the chips, but the reduced gaming performance with DDR5 in Windows 10 is an undeniable trend here, at least in our test environment.

Again, remember that our cumulative results above are impacted by some sizeable Intel leads in specific titles, which we'll cover below, so be sure to check out the individual results.

Borderlands 3 on Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Far Cry 5 on Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Hitman 2 on Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Project CARS 3 on Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Red Dead Redemption 2 on Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Shadow of the Tomb Raider on Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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Intel Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Gaming Benchmarks

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