5.5 GHz Core i9-12900KS is Intel’s fastest—and most power-hungry—desktop CPU
Squeezing a bit more out of Alder Lake at the expense of higher power use.
Not to be outdone by the upcoming release of AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X3D, Intel is placing one more Alder Lake desktop CPU at the top of its 12th-generation Core desktop lineup. The Core i9-12900KS (the “S” is for “special edition”) is a 16-core, 24-thread chip (eight P-cores and eight E-cores) with a rated top speed of 5.5 GHz, 300 MHz faster than the existing i9-12900K.
But as with many of the high-end Alder Lake chips, Intel is bumping up power usage in the interest of wringing a bit more performance out of its processors. The chip’s base power—roughly the amount of power it will consume when running at full tilt with Intel’s stock limits in place—is 150 W, up from 125 W for the i9-12900K.
We’ve explored this issue in some depth in our reviews of the Core i7-12700 and Apple’s Mac Studio. All the P- and E-cores in Intel’s CPUs are great at handling labor-intensive rendering and video encoding tests that use all your cores at once, but to get their best performance, you need to let them consume a lot more power (and generate more heat) than competitors from AMD or Apple. And for tasks like gaming, where single-threaded CPU performance is more important, it’s cheaper and more efficient to go for a chip with fewer cores, like Intel’s own Core i5-12400 or the Ryzen 7 5800X3D.
The i9-12900KS launches on April 5 for $739. Existing motherboards may need a BIOS update to support the new chip.