As we wrote this review, the Core i9-13900K’s usurper as Intel’s mainstream flagship had just arrived, with the Core i9-13900KS being able to hit 6GHz out of the box. However, this new CPU is also likely to be very hot and power-hungry, and it also demands a hefty premium.
If you’re in the market for a powerful CPU that costs under $600, though, the Core i9-13900K we’re reviewing here is an ideal contender. What’s more, the Core i9-13900K has had a price cut from around $700 all the way down to $600, allowing it to sit level with the mighty Ryzen 9 7950X.
At Custom PC, we’ve been reviewing the latest CPUs since 2003, and we’ve tested and overclocked hundreds of CPUs, going right back to the Pentium 4 and Athlon XP era. We’ve developed an expert testing methodology that covers all the key areas of performance, including single-threaded and multi-threaded performance, as well as gaming.
Our benchmarks include our very own RealBench suite, which had a GIMP image editing test that stresses single-threaded performance, and a Handbrake H.264 video encoding test to gauge multi-threaded performance, as well as multi-tasking tests.
We also use the single and multi-threaded tests in Cinebench, Far Cry 6 and Watch Dogs: Legion. For our game tests, we record the 99th percentile and average frame rates, and finally, we also measure the idle and load total system power consumption at the wall, while running Prime95’s smallest FFT test with AVX disabled.
The Core i9-13900K and Ryzen 9 7950X couldn’t be more different. With the Intel chip, it’s all about power, cores and frequency. Its eight P-Cores can hit a 5.8GHz peak boost in lightly-threaded software, and we saw up to 5.5GHz across all eight of its P-Cores in multi-threaded workloads.
Those are some big numbers, which means the Ryzen 9 7950X has its work cut out. The AMD chip has fewer cores in total than the Intel one, thanks to the Core i9-13900K practically breeding E-Cores under its heatspreader, with 16 in total, giving a final sum of 24 cores.
These are backed up by 36 MB of L3 cache and 32 MB of L2 cache, and if you were pondering what kind of power this requires, well, the maximum turbo power sits at a whopping 253W, which is double that of the Core i5-12600K.
Core i9-13900K application performance
At stock speed, as you’d expect, the Core i9-13900K was never far from the top of the graphs. The Ryzen 9 7950X was quicker in our image-editing and multi-tasking tests, but the Intel CPU had the upper hand in our heavily multi-threaded video encoding test and a sizeable lead in Cinebench’s multi-threaded test too, with the two chips within spitting distance in the overall RealBench system score.
Core i9-13900K gaming performance
The Core i9-13900K is an amazing gaming CPU, thanks to that high clock speed – only the Ryzen 7 5800X3D came close to matching it in Far Cry 6, although AMD’s Ryzen 7000-series CPUs were mostly a match in Watch Dogs: Legion. That said, there’s still little benefit of using this chip over the Core i5-13600K and Core i7-13700K in games – it’s the heavy multi-threading power that you’re really buying.
Core i9-13900K power draw
Unsurprisingly, the Core i9-13900K draws a lot of power. The total system power draw was huge at 546W with the 13900K installed, but even applying a manual 1.4V vcore and pushing the P-Cores up to 5.7 GHz saw this figure fall to 525W, with temperatures falling a few degrees too. This was lower than the peak boost, so some benchmarks were slower, but Cinebench’s multi-threaded score rose from 40,444 to 41,015.
Core i9-13900K pros and cons
- Blisteringly fast in multi-threaded workloads
- Excellent lightly-threaded performance
- Great in games
- Cheaper CPUs are just as fast in most games
- Very high power consumption at default settings
- Limited overclocking headroom
Core i9-13900K specs
The Intel Core i9-13900K specs list is:
|Base frequency:||P-Core 3.5GHz, E-Core 2.6GHz|
|Max boost frequency:||P-Core 5.8GHz, E-Core 4.3GHz|
|Manufacturing process:||10nm (Intel 7)|
|Number of P-Cores:||8|
|Number of E-Cores:||16|
|Number of threads:||32|
|L2 cache:||32 MB|
|L3 cache:||36 MB|
|Memory controller:||Dual-channel DDR4 and DDR5|
|Thermal design power (TDP):||253W|
|Features:||Thermal Velocity Boost, Turbo Boost Max Technology 3, Turbo Boost 2, FMA3, F16C, SHA, BMI / BMI1 + BMI2, AVX2, AVX, AES, SSE4a, SSE4, SSSE3, SSE3, SSE2, SSE, MMX|
Core i9-13900K price
The 13900K demands a high price, but it offers a massive count of 24 cores so it represents decent value for money on a per-core basis.
Price: Expect to pay $600 USD / £590 GBP
Core i9-13900K review conclusion
Flagship CPUs usually come with compromises, and in this case they’re temperatures, power consumption and price. It’s cheaper than it was at launch, though, and $600 for a 24-core powerhouse of a CPU is certainly a lot less than you’d have paid when Intel’s HEDT platforms were around.
Thankfully, it does offer the speed to match, with monstrous multi-threaded performance that’s a match for anything other than AMD’s Threadripper CPUs, plus it’s one of the fastest CPUs available in games too. If you want the fastest CPU for pretty much everything and have the cash, the Core i9-13900K is the current king of the castle. This monstrous level of power rightfully earns the Core i9-13900K a place on our best CPU for gaming list.
Intel Core i9-13900K rating
AMD has better power efficiency, but there’s no denying this is one seriously powerful CPU for just about any task you can throw at it.