Intel Core i7-12700K vs AMD Ryzen 9 5900X and 5800X Face Off: Intel Rising

The Intel Core i7-12700K vs AMD Ryzen 9 5900X and Ryzen 7 5800X battle is yet another example of Intel’s new bare-knuckle approach to pricing with its Alder Lake processors. Intel’s pricing places the 12700K against mid-range Ryzen 5000 models, but today we’re putting the $408 Core i7-12700K up against the decidedly more expensive $549 Ryzen 9 5900X as well as the ~$390 Ryzen 7 5800X. That’s because Intel’s Alder Lake chips are surprisingly powerful, already earning key upsets against higher-priced Ryzen chips on our list of Best CPUs for gaming and CPU Benchmark hierarchy.

As seen in our previous Intel Core i9-12900K vs Ryzen 9 5900X and 5950X and Intel Core i5-12600K vs AMD Ryzen 5 5600X and 5800X faceoffs, Intel’s hybrid x86 Alder Lake design represents the company’s most disruptive architectural shift in a decade. As a result, Intel upsets AMD’s highest-end mainstream chips, particularly in price-to-performance metrics.

However, Alder Lake does have an Achilles heel: Intel launched the chips without the B- and H-series motherboards that tend to be the affordable favorites for mainstream gamers. That means you’ll have to buy a pricey Z690 motherboard, but at least you get cutting-edge connectivity as part of your purchase — Intel baked in leading-edge exclusive options like the DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0 interfaces that outstrip AMD’s venerable AM4 platform. You can also opt for DDR4 models, which is good given that DDR5 is hardly available and selling for scalper pricing.

While Intel’s new hybrid design is a game-changer, it also has a few early performance teething pains in Windows 10. This means the AMD vs Intel rivalry is anything but the clear-cut victory it appears to be on the benchmark charts. Below we’ve put the Core i7-12700K vs Ryzen 9 5900X and Ryzen 7 5800X through a six-round faceoff to see which chip takes the crown in our gaming and application benchmarks, along with other key criteria like power consumption and pricing. Let’s see how the chips stack up.  

Features and Specifications: Intel Core i7-12700K vs Ryzen 9 5900X and Ryzen 7 5800X

U.S. Price Cores | Threads P-Core Base/Boost E-Core Base/Boost TDP / PBP / MTP DDR4-3200 L3 Cache
Ryzen 9 5900X $549 12P | 24 threads 3.7 / 4.8 GHz 105W DDR4-3200 32MB (1×32)
Core i7-12700K / KF $409 (K) – $384 (KF) 8P + 4E | 12 Cores / 20 threads 3.6 / 5.0 GHz 2.7 / 3.8 GHz 125W / 190W DDR4-3200 / DDR5-4800 25MB
Ryzen 7 5800X $449 (typ. $390) 8P | 16 threads 3.8 / 4.7 GHz 105W DDR4-3200 32MB

Alder Lake combines big and fast Performance cores (P-cores) for latency-sensitive work with small and powerful Efficiency cores (E-cores) for background and multi-threaded workloads. As a result, Intel’s hybrid architecture brings what we would normally consider ‘odd’ thread arrangements. That’s because the P-cores are hyper-threaded, while the E-cores only have a single thread.

The Core i7-12700K lands with the same $409 pricing as the previous-gen Core i7-11700K, but it comes with 33% more threads. The Core i7-12700K has eight P-cores and four E-cores, for a total of 20 threads. The P-cores run at a 3.6 / 5.0 GHz base/boost, while the E-cores weigh in at 2.7 / 3.8 GHz. The chip is fed by 25MB of L3 cache and 12MB of L2.

The 12700K comes with the integrated UHD Graphics 770 engine with 32 EUs that run at a 300 MHz base and boost to 1,500 MHz, an advantage over the graphics-less Ryzen 9 5900X and 5800X. That means Intel wins by default if you don’t have a discrete graphics card. For a more direct comparison, you can look at Intel’s own Core i7-12700KF, an identical chip that lacks the in-built GPU, for $384. That $25 price reduction is tempting if you plan to use this chip for a gaming rig that doesn’t need integrated graphics — you’ll end up paying $65 less than the graphics-less Ryzen 7 5800X. None of these chips in the faceoff come with a bundled cooler, and the 12700K comes with 125W PBP (base) and 190W MTP (peak) power ratings.

The 12700K goes toe-to-toe with the 6-core, 12-thread Ryzen 5 5600X that has long been the favorite for enthusiasts because of its incredible blend of pricing and performance. These chips come with 65W and 105W TDP ratings, respectively, 32MB of L3 cache, and have only high-performance cores. Both chips support DDR4-3200 memory and the PCIe 4.0 interface.

All Alder Lake chips support DDR4-3200 or up to DDR5-4800 memory (odd DDR5 population rules apply). Alder Lake chips also expose up to 16 lanes of PCIe 5.0 and an additional four lanes of PCIe 4.0 from the chip for M.2 storage. Intel also added 12 lanes of PCIe 4.0 to its chipset (in addition to its 16 lanes of PCIe 3.0), and now offers a total of 28 lanes. Intel has also widened the DMI connection between the chip and the chipset, which now serves up twice the throughput. The increased DMI throughput is also beneficial for Z690’s bolstered connectivity options, like the new second USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 20 Gbps connection (other new features are listed here).

These new technologies add cost to the Z690 motherboards that house the chips, and DDR5 memory is largely unavailable. However, there are DDR4-powered Z690 options available. Intel hasn’t launched the value-centric B- and H-series chipsets yet, so platform pricing will be high for now. It is noteworthy that there is quite a pricing spread between the flagship and bottom-of-the-barrel Z690 options, but, as expected, prices are generally high this close to the launch.

Winner: Intel