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Intel Core i9 12900KS CPU Review Roundup

Written on April 5, 2022 by Matt Bach
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Introduction

When Intel launched their 12th Gen Intel Core desktop processors (code-named "Alder Lake") in November of 2021, they showed a terrific performance improvement over previous generations. They also made some significant changes to how their CPUs fundamentally worked, primarily through their hybrid architecture which utilizes a mix of Performance and Efficient-cores.

Since then, the wider availability of DDR5 memory and improvements in thread scheduling have allowed them to expand their performance lead over AMD in a number of workflows. And today, Intel is launching yet another model to their 12th Intel Core lineup: the Intel Core i9 12900KS.

On paper, the 12900KS appears to simply be a higher binned version of the Core i9 12900K. It has the same number of cores and the same cache, but the frequency is slightly higher. The exact amount depends on which kind of core is being used as well as what type of Turbo, but at most we are looking at about a 6% increase in Turbo frequency.

To handle the higher frequency, the 12900KS has a slightly higher base power draw of 150W versus the 125W of the 12900K. Interestingly, the maximum Turbo power is the same at 241W, which means that it may not actually run much hotter under heavy load situations.

The last difference is, of course, the price. With an MSRP of $739, the 12900KS is $140 more expensive than the 12900K. This is still a bit below the $799 MSRP of the AMD Ryzen 5950X, but it certainly brings Intel and AMD closer in terms of pricing at the top of their consumer CPU lines.

Processor MSRP
Intel Core i5 12600K 6P+4E Core $289
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 6 Core $299
Intel Core i7 12700K 8P+4E Core $409
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X 8 Core $449
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X 12 Core $549
Intel Core i9 12900K 8P+8E Core $589
Intel Core i9 12900KS 8P+8E Core $739
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16 Core $799

In this post, we will be summarizing the results of all our testing comparing the new Intel Core i9 12900KS to the 12900K, as well as the AMD Ryzen 5900X and 5950X. These are all just summaries, however, and we highly recommend checking out the full article for any results that interest you.

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Adobe Photoshop

Read the full article: Adobe Photoshop: Intel Core i9 12900KS Performance

Summary: Intel already holds a strong lead over AMD in terms of Photoshop performance, and the new Core i9 12900KS only furthers their lead. Compared to the i9 12900K, the new i9 12900KS is 6% faster in Photoshop, which puts it a solid 23% faster than any of the AMD Ryzen CPUs.

For many users, Photoshop isn't a terribly taxing application, but for power users working with huge canvases and hundreds of layers, the Core i9 12900KS is a very attractive processor. The MSRP of $739 is certainly higher than any other Intel consumer CPU currently on the market, but in the grand scheme of things, spending an extra couple hundred dollars on a faster CPU isn't all that much if you are able to take advantage of the higher performance offered by the 12900KS

Adobe Photoshop Intel Core i9 12900KS vs Core i9 12900K

Adobe Lightroom Classic

Read the full article: Adobe Lightroom Classic: Intel Core i9 12900KS Performance

Summary: Intel already holds a firm lead over AMD in terms of Lightroom Classic performance, and the new Core i9 12900KS does further it by a small amount. Compared to the i9 12900K, the new i9 12900KS is 3% faster in Lightroom Classic, which puts it a solid 16% faster than any of the AMD Ryzen CPUs.

For most users, this small increase in performance probably isn't worth the $140 higher MSRP price tag over the 12900K. Intel is still likely the way to go for Lightroom Classic, but anything less than 5% is going to be extremely hard to notice in the real world. There certainly are users who are willing to spend an extra few hundred dollars to get the best possible performance, but the return on investment for the Core i9 12900KS is very slim for Lightroom Classic.

Adobe Lightroom Classic Intel Core i9 12900KS vs Core i9 12900K

Adobe After Effects

Read the full article: Adobe After Effects: Intel Core i9 12900KS Performance

Summary: For most users looking for a consumer-level processor, Intel holds a firm lead over AMD for After Effects performance, which the new Core i9 12900KS only furthers. Compared to the i9 12900K, the new i9 12900KS is 5% faster in After Effects, which makes it a solid 23% faster than any of the AMD Ryzen CPUs.

There are some instances where the AMD Ryzen 5950X manages to edge out over the 12900K and 12900KS, but that is primarily only in extremely heavy compositions. If your work includes these types of projects, however, you would likely want to jump up to either an AMD Threadripper (Pro) or Intel Xeon W platform. Having enough RAM is critical for applications like After Effects, and since the consumer Intel Core and AMD Ryzen platforms only support up to 128GB of RAM, they often are not the right choice for that level of project.

Adobe After Effects Intel Core i9 12900KS vs Core i9 12900K

Adobe Premiere Pro

Read the full article: Adobe Premiere Pro: Intel Core i9 12900KS Performance

Summary: In most cases, we found that the new Intel Core i9 12900K was only a few percent faster than the i9 12900K in Premiere Pro. There were a few instances - such as 4K/8K RED playback - where the 12900KS showed a larger ~10% performance gain, but overall, the two CPUs performed within 2% of each other.

Even without a significant performance increase, however, Intel still holds a solid overall performance lead over the AMD's Ryzen line; primarily due to the inclusion of Intel Quick Sync. The AMD Ryzen 5950X can be the faster option for some RAW codecs like RED, but the massive 2-3x advantage when working with many H.264/HEVC codecs is tough to pass up.

Adobe Premiere Pro Intel Core i9 12900KS vs Core i9 12900K

DaVinci Resolve Studio

Read the full article: DaVinci Resolve Studio: Intel Core i9 12900KS Performance

Summary: While the new Intel Core i9 12900KS does have a slight performance lead over the Core i9 12900K, the difference in our tests averaged out to just 2%. That is going to be almost impossible to notice for most users, and likely means that you would be better off investing the cost difference in upgrades to some other aspect of your system.

Intel definitely still holds an edge in DaVinci Resolve compared to AMD's Ryzen line, but the Core i9 12900KS doesn't do much to expand on it. There were some tests where the 12900KS did show a performance advantage of up to 8% over the i9 12900K, but those were intermixed with other tests that showed no difference, which drug the average down to just 2%.

DaVinci Resolve Studio Intel Core i9 12900KS vs Core i9 12900K

Unreal Engine

Read the full article: Unreal Engine: Intel Core i9 12900KS Performance

Summary: The new 12900KS only offers a few percent faster performance than the 12900K for roughly 20% more cost. The main consideration is what is your primary concern? If it is shader compile times, then the base 12900K offers the same performance. If it is code compile or light baking, then AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X is faster.

If you are looking for the absolute best CPU for Unreal Engine development work, the undisputed leader is AMD's Threadripper.

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Unreal Engine Intel 12th Gen Performance

Cinema 4D

Read the full article: Cinema 4D: Intel Core i9 12900KS Performance

Summary: Intel’s new Core i9 12900KS is roughly 5% faster than the existing i9 12900K for both multi-core and single-core workloads. This takes the already enticing 12900K, and squeezes just a bit more performance out of it. The trade-off is a higher price tag. It delivers roughly 5% more performance for 23% more money. That may be difficult for many users to justify. On the other hand, the only next step up for CPU rendering performance is AMD’s Threadripper platform, which costs significantly more.

Cinema 4D Intel 12900KS Performance

V-Ray CPU Rendering

Read the full article: V-Ray: Intel Core i9 12900KS Performance

Summary: Intel’s new Core i9 12900KS provides no improvement to rendering in V-Ray over the existing i9 12900K. For most 3d artists looking for this grade of hardware, rendering performance is almost secondary to their general 3d application performance. The 12900KS still provides the amazing single-threaded performance needed for modeling and many simulation tasks. In practice, opting for the less expensive 12900k will get you identical results, or spending just a little more for AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X will give better rendering performance.

V-Ray Intel 12900KS Performance

How well does the Intel Core i9 12900KS perform overall for content creation?

Despite its $140 higher MSRP, the new Intel Core i9 12900KS provides very little in the way of tangible performance benefits over the Core i9 12900K. Consolidating all our test results, the 12900KS averaged just 3% faster than the 12900K. There is almost always going to be diminishing returns as you go up a hardware stack, but 3% isn't a terribly great return on investment.

However, there are certain applications where the i9 12900KS was able to see a larger performance advantage. Adobe Photoshop and After Effects both showed a 5-6% performance gain with the 12900KS, as did CineBench. For the Adobe applications in particular, that is actually about in line with what you would see upgrading from an i7 12700K to a 12900K. So, if those applications are ones you use as a part of your workflow, the Core i9 12900KS may well be worth the cost depending on your needs.

Overall, the Core i9 12900KS is a fine product if you want to eke out every last percent of performance, but don't have the budget to go up to something like AMD Threadripper (Pro) or Intel Xeon W. For most users, however, it probably isn't worth the investment over the standard Intel Core i9 12900K.

Because of the mixed results, you likely won't see the Core i9 12900KS show up on all of our Intel Core-based workstations. We prefer to only list the CPUs that make sense for a particular workflow, but you can visit our solutions page to view our recommended workstations for various software packages - some of which may include the Core i9 12900KS once it completes our full internal qualification process. You can also view our custom configuration page, or contact one of our technology consultants for help configuring a workstation that meets the specific needs of your unique workflow.

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Tags: Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, Lightroom CLassic, DaVinci Resolve, Unreal Engine, Cinebench, V-Ray, Intel vs AMD, Intel 12th Gen, i9 12900K, i9 12900KS
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