Intel 13th Generation Core i9 13900K and Core i5 13600K Review (DDR5 and DDR4 included)

Intel’s 13th Generation Processors, codenamed Raptor Lake, have just landed with high clocks and even higher expectations. We are going to take a look at the i9 13900K and the i5 13600K utilizing the CPU’s ability to accept either DDR5 or DDR4 to compare it against all the latest microprocessors on the market including AMD’s Ryzen 7000 and Intel’s 12th Generation Core processor lines. Let’s see if Raptor Lake lives up to the hype.

Video version of the review can be found here.

The retail CPU box will look more like that of the 12900K or 12600K box, but in this case Intel sent us a review kit made specifically for evaluation of the new 13th Generation Core CPUs.

Inside we found an encased die shot of the new microprocessor along with two smaller boxes that include just the CPU. We expect the retail CPU to come with the CPU in an ESD blister pack, a case badge, and a warranty guide.

The two 13th Gen. Raptor Lake CPUs look much like their 12th Gen. Alder Lake counterparts. Intel’s 12th generation and 13th generation CPUs are cross compatible in both directions when it comes to chipsets. That means that both 13th and 12th generation CPUs can work in either Z690 or Z790 motherboards without issue. However, you might need a BIOS that supports 13th generation CPUs on Z690, Z790 will have that compatibility on day 1, but most Z690 motherboards will need an update.

The CPUs sit in the LGA1700 socket, just like Intel’s 12th Generation processors. They support DDR4 or DDR5 (not both at the same time), and PCI-E 5.0 for the Graphics or storage.

There are three major changes going from 12th generation to 13th generation. The first is the addition of more E-cores, second is changes to L2 and L3 cache, and higher clock speeds.

Default DDR5 speeds have also increased from 12th to 13th generation as has the ring frequency. L2 and L3 caches have been made larger and smarter.

Here we can see where the changes came from. The Intel 7 process is now on its 3rd generation SuperFin and Intel has shifted the voltage frequency curve to boost clock speeds and performance.

Here is the lineup, and as you can see the 13600K and the 13900K both got a boost in E core count, cache bumps, and frequency boosts. Maximum Turbo Power is pretty high, and we will see that in action in the power consumption section later in the review.

Test Setup:

We have both the 12th and 13th generation Intel CPUs tested with both DDR4 and DDR5.

Processors: Core i9 13900K, i5 13600K, 12th Generation CPUs, 7000-series CPUs

Motherboards: GIGABYTE Z790 AERO G (DDR5), MSI Z790 TOMAHAWK WIFI (DDR4), MSI MEG X670E ACE, GIGABYTE X670 Aorus Elite AX, GIGABYTE Z690 Aorus Master, GIGABYTE X570 Aorus Ultra, and ASUS Maximus XIII Hero (WIFI)

DRAM: G.Skill TridentZ5 DDR5 6000MHzC30 32GB (16GBx2), G.Skill Trident Z RGB DDR4 3600MHz C16 RGB 16GB (8GBx2)

Corsair 1TB MP600 PCI-E 4.0 M.2 SSD

NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti Graphics Card

Corsair H150i Pro RGB All-in-One liquid cooler

Thermaltake RGB 850W PSU

Windows 11 Updated to 2022/09

CPU Performance Benchmarks:

CINEBENCH isn’t exactly a real world benchmark, but the 13900K dominates it with ease. While the 7000 series came close to the 12th generation in single core performance, Intel’s 13th generation CPUs takes that single threaded performance crown back with a vengeance.

The new 13th generation CPUs are closing the Blender performance gap between Intel and AMD that was created when 7000 series Ryzen Zen 4 chips hit the market.

wPrime results indicate strong multi-core performance.

AMD really put pressure on Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs with its recent launch, but Raptor Lake swoops in and not only regains any edge that was lost, but totally dominates even Alder Lake CPUs.

AMD had a slight lead in HandBrake here, but Intel wasn’t having any of it and just unleashed the Raptors.

Not going to lie, the 13th generation CPUs scared me a bit when I first tested them. I mean, we all expected gains, but we didn’t realize how far those gains could go. Intel’s floating point performance has somehow bumped into competitive ranges while integer performance just shot up. Historically AMD has had a lock down on FLOPs.

No surprises here, the higher clock rates help memory bandwidth numbers slightly.

Not too much of a latency difference generation to generation, but as expected DDR4 latency is better than DDR5 latency.

Not too much to see here, so we will mention at this point that while it is nice to see DDR4 as an option, a performance hit is present going from DDR5 to DDR4.

In single thread performance benchmarks the 13th generation raptors take the crown.

Gaming Performance Benchmarks:

While Intel has closed the deficit gap that the AMD 7000-series created, it still isn’t completely winning in UNIGINE at 720P. However, a higher resolution can change that.

At 1080P, the 13th generation raptors take the crown, and even with DDR4 they are still very competitive.

Looking at overall scores, the new 13th generation CPUs beat out everything else by a slim margin.

There are remarkable spikes in Physx scores for both 13th Generation Intel CPUs in the charts.

Nothing to see here, just the Raptor Cove cores dominating everything else. Here we can also see that 13th generation utilizing DDR4 performs similarly to 12th generation on DDR5.

Raptor Lake takes back the crown here, but not by a huge margin.

It is almost as if Raptor Lake and AOS:E were built for each other. The game benefits from every enhancement 13th generation Core processors offer over 12th generation Core processors.

Performance is strong. If you play a lot of GTA:V, then you wont notice much off a difference going with DDR4 compared to DDR5.

Power Consumption and Overclocking:

Here is what really scared me. The power draw of the platform is significantly higher with Raptor Lake. Many people thought that the Ryzen 7950X and 7900X were power hungry and run hot, but Intel outdid AMD on that front as well.

The new Intel XTU is a neat way to overclock. You can try that 1 click overclock thing, but we didn’t notice much in regards to gains. The biggest issue you will face is the same issue people complained about last month with AMD’s 7000 series chips; these CPUs hit 95-100C with ease at stock with a heavy AVX load.

Everyone wants that 6GHz clock on all core, but is it possible? Yes. But running four instances of CPU-Z is about as much as it can handle. If you apply any load the CPU will throttle under ambient cooling solutions. If there ever was a need for sub-ambient phase change units, the time would be now.

While the 13900K doesn’t have much thermal or power headroom to overclock with top of the line AIO water coolers or air coolers, the 13600K does have some headroom.

Conclusion:

We can make a million Jurassic Park references but at this point they are overused, so we will just say the CPU is perfectly named. The CPU is also well named if you think about the F22 Raptor fighter jet; it is well equipped to dominate and extremely powerful, but also extremely costly. We aren’t even talking up front costs, we think Intel priced both CPUs just fine. We are referring to its power draw and temperatures. It was almost as if AMD was like, “hey look at how I do when I unlock my power and frequency limits”, users replied, “that is way too hot!”, and Intel just said, “hold my beer”.

The 13900K is a total beast of a CPU; Intel has tuned out almost every MHz of performance out of it, and while it can easily clock higher, you will need to have very good cooling to maintain it (maybe with a hint of sub ambient cooling). At default speeds with turbo on full unlock there isn’t much need to push the CPU too far, it dominates almost everything. You can get a higher all core clock out of both CPUs and slightly higher single core clocks, you just have to be ready to increase your PSU budget a bit. High performance comes at a cost, and in this case we don’t mind it since we really like high-performance products.

We are going to give the Core i9 13900K and 13600K the Best Performance and Editor’s Choice awards. While the 13600K is great for most people and it is very fast compared to the 12900K, it is also really affordable. The 13900K gets the performance award because it simply has some of the best performance we have ever seen. It even leaves its predecessor in the dust; Intel pulled out all the tricks, and we find it impressive. The 13600K is great for your average user, offering up versatility and the ability to knock in a reasonable overclock. The 13900K is perfect if you like untamed beasts that will rip through anything you throw at it, but you better invest in cooling gear.

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