Update 3/28: Following Newegg’s flub on Friday, Intel today is now (finally) officially announcing the Core i9-12900KS. The company’s new flagship consumer desktop chip will be going on sale next Tuesday, April 5th, with a recommended price of $739.

In terms of specifications, Newegg’s posting has turned out to be spot-on, with a maximum turbo clock of 5.5GHz and an all-core turbo clock of 5.2GHz. As were the 150 Watt base TDP and 241 Watt turbo TDP. All of which stands to make this Intel’s fastest consumer desktop chip yet, and one of the more power hungry.

It should be noted that Intel typically lists their chip prices in quantities of 1000 units. So while Intel’s official $739 price tag is lower than the $799 price in Newegg’s initial listing, it’s very likely that the retail price for the chip will land near or at $799 anyhow – though we’ll know for sure come April 5th.

Finally, availability for the i9-12900KS should be better than past Intel special edition chips (e.g. 9900KS). In our conversations with the company, we’ve learned that the goal of the 12900KS is to be more available than previous editions. It’s still a super small part of Intel’s overall Alder Lake offering (we’re hearing it’s a sub 1% of all chips can achieve Intel’s metrics for it), but the internal goal at least is to make sure it’s on more shelves this time.

The rest of the original story, updated with final figures and prices, follows below.


March 25th

Long expected from Intel, the Core i9-12900KS is now out of the bag thanks to an apparently accidental listing from Newegg. The major PC parts retailer listed the unannounced Intel chip for sale and began taking orders earlier this morning. pulling it a couple of hours later. But with the scale and popularity of Newegg – as well as having the complete specifications posted – the cat is now irreversibly out of the bag.

The Core i9-12900KS, where the S stands for Special Edition, pushes the standard 12900K to new frequency highs. The processor is in an 8P+8E configuration, with the key data points being the 5.5 GHz Turbo frequency across two cores, and 5.2 GHz Turbo frequency across all cores – and like the other K parts, with sufficient cooling this chip has an unlimited turbo period. Given the extreme clockspeeds, this is going to be a ‘thin-bin’ part, which means that Intel is going to need to do extra binning to bring these processors to market in sufficient quantities with the characteristics determined by the bin.

Intel 12th Gen Core, Alder Lake
AnandTech Cores
P+E/T
E-Core
Base
E-Core
Turbo
P-Core
Base
P-Core
Turbo
iGPU Base
W
Turbo
W
Price
$1ku
i9-12900KS 8+8/24 2500 4000 3400 5500 770 150 241 $739
i9-12900K 8+8/24 2400 3900 3200 5200 770 125 241 $589
i9-12900KF 8+8/24 2400 3900 3200 5200 - 125 241 $564
i7-12700K 8+4/20 2700 3800 3600 5000 770 125 190 $409
i7-12700KF 8+4/20 2700 3800 3600 5000 - 125 190 $384
i5-12600K 6+4/16 2800 3600 3700 4900 770 125 150 $289
i5-12600KF 6+4/16 2800 3600 3700 4900 - 125 150 $264

Compared to the regular Core i9-12900K, this new processor adds +100 MHz on the E-core and P-core all-core turbo frequencies, but +300 MHz on the top turbo. Meanwhile base clockspeeds are going up slightly as well, to 2.5Ghz for the E-cores and 3.4GHz on the P-cores – though given the high-end nature of the chip, the 12900KS is unlikely to spend much (if any) time not deep into turbo.

TDPs have also gone up slightly to support the higher clockspeeds; while Turbo power remains at 241 W, base power is now 150 W, up from 125W for the normal 12900K. Rounding out the package is support for DDR4-3200 and DDR5-4800, and integrated UHD 770 graphics.

Intel has launched ‘Special Edition’ models before. The most recent was the Core i9-9900KS, an updated version of the i9-9900K. The KS was the first model to have 5.0 GHz across all eight cores, however supply was limited and it was hard to get hold of. Though in our conversations with the company, we’ve learned that the goal of the 12900KS is to be more available than previous editions. It’s still a super small part of Intel’s overall Alder Lake offering (we’re hearing it’s a sub 1% of all chips can achieve Intel’s metrics for it), but the internal goal at least is to make sure it’s on more shelves this time.

Some of the 12900KS details were leaked even before today's quasi-launch, with some commentary about how this extra frequency is readily available on the standard 12900K with a little overclocking. The difference here is the guarantee of that frequency without needing to overclock – the same argument as it was before with the 9900KS vs 9900K. To a number of users, that’s a useful guarantee to have, especially with pre-built systems and system integrators.

Intel’s main competition comes in the form of two AMD processors. For overall multithreaded throughput, the existing 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X remains AMD's top chip. Meanwhile on the gaming front, competition comes from AMD’s forthcoming Ryzen 7 5800X3D, which is an 8 core processor with an extra 64 MB of L3 cache to help with gaming. AMD is claiming +15% gaming performance over the Ryzen 9 5900X, and 0.98x to 1.2x over the 12900K at 1080p High settings, so it will be interesting to see how they compare. Neither Intel nor AMD have access to each other’s chips right now, so a direct comparison using both sets of data is likely to be inconclusive right now.

Top Tier Processor Options
AnandTech Cores
P+E
P-Core
Base
P-Core
Turbo
L3
MB
Base
W
Turbo
W
Street
Price
i9-12900KS 8+8 3400 5500 30 150 241 $739
R9 5950X 16+0 3400 4900 64 105 142 $590
i9-12900K 8+8 3200 5200 30 125 241 $610
R9 5900X 12+0 3700 4800 64 105 142 $450
R7 5800X3D 8+0 3400 4500 96 105 142 $449
i7-12700K 8+4 3600 5000 25 125 190 $385

With street pricing on Intel's existing i9-12900K already running at about $610, Intel has upped the ante even further on pricing for the new special edition chip. Officially, Intel is listing the i9-12900KS at $739, and this is almost certainly the company's usual 1000 unit bulk price. Newegg's early listing, on the other hand, was for $799. And while pricing is subject to change (with high-end products it's often decided at the last minute), Newegg's initial price is likely to be at or near the final retail price of the chip once it is released.

Assuming for the moment that Newegg's price is accurate, the $799 price tag represents a further $189 premium for the higher-clocked chip. Suffice it to say, Intel isn't intending this to be a bargain chip, but rather is charging an additional premium for the chart-topping clockspeeds.

What is interesting for gamers is that while Intel has decided to turbo-charge its high-end processor, AMD beefed up one of its mid-range instead. Which means there's a pretty significant price disparity here, reflecting the fact that Intel's top gaming chip is also their top chip for overall multithreaded processing. So depending how performance plays out, Intel may pull off a win here in gaming, but it probably won't do much to move the market share (or dissuade 5800X3D buyers).

It should be pointed out that based on our research, the 12900KS is not a reactionary measure to the AMD chip. AnandTech has seen documents showing that the KS was part of the processor list during Alder Lake development, but has required extra time to mature and finalize – so much so that we wrote up a version of today's article months in advance, expecting an earlier announcement/release date. So Intel's plans up to now have been in flux, and while the company is certainly not above raining on AMD's parade, they also have other ambitions with their 16 core heterogeneous processor.

At the time of writing it's not clear when the i9-12900KS will be formally released. Newegg's early posting had a "first available" date of March 10th, so it may be someone was off by a month there (Update: Intel has announced an April 5th launch date). But we can’t wait to get these chips in for testing.

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  • Oxford Guy - Friday, March 25, 2022 - link

    That was only partially a self-inflicted wound on AMD’s part. There is an entire sector of enthusiasts involved in using XMP profiles — which is why they’re standard for RAM sticks and motherboards.

    This site routinely used unsafe voltages and unstable results in its CPU overclocking articles and then moved to claiming that anything requiring a user to enter BIOS (i.e. switching on XMP) is so esoteric and demanding on terms of knowledge and skill that covering anything involving that isn’t worthwhile.

    Despite that, motherboard articles talk about overclocking favorably (more difficult than entering BIOS and switching on XMP) and the site just posted an article featuring Intel’s overclocking ambassador (without a word, as usual, about how Intel dropped its overclocking warrantee — unless I missed that bit which I very greatly doubt). I’ve not seen a warning in motherboard articles showing off fancy VRMs that, since things like entering BIOS are too esoteric, such VRMs are irrelevant (so long as one doesn’t buy a junk board that can’t handle its stock support list). I also didn’t see this site dismiss Intel’s overclocking promoter with the line about how no one can be expected to enter BIOS so overclocking is too complicated to be part of our coverage.

    The platform where using XMP was tricky was Zen 1. That’s basically it. My relative’s Zen 1 chip required a change from 3200 CL16 to 2933. After that switch to the other XMP profile, it worked and has for years. He likely could have tuned the settings to achieve 3200 CL16 but 2933 was a good-enough quick solution. That’s Zen 1 — by far the touchiest platform for XMP in affordable RAM. Even novices, though, gained significant performance easily via XMP due to the infinity fabric speed linkage. In short, even for a novice it was worth entering BIOS twice for XMP. I advised against trying to overclock the CPU with the stock cooler. Yet, CPU overclocking has long been a staple of this site.
    Reply
  • Khanan - Sunday, March 27, 2022 - link

    Using Jedec Ram speeds is a artform, it’s hard to find these terrible ram sticks that use the lowest speeds and anyone who buys 3200 RAM should know how and want to run it on their proper speeds. There’s no excuse to use anything lower than 3200 these days other than if the processor simply can’t do it. Reply
  • ikjadoon - Friday, March 25, 2022 - link

    Would absolutely love this. Alder Lake has had a few microcode + BIOS updates, as well.

    However, I do think waiting on the next Spectre patch against Intel mostly, but also AMD would be helpful. I don't think Microsoft has released it, though the Linux kernel has.
    Reply
  • Silver5urfer - Saturday, March 26, 2022 - link

    Why would anyone want to run that Windows 11 disaster ? It has horrendous downgrades from Explorer.exe itself to Shell32 of core Windows OS. And they made stupid changes like VBS on the CPU side of things. Plus more extra nonsense for AMD parts. Moreover that OS is designed like a Tablet OS rather than a PC centric one.

    But yeah the name checks out lol, 12900K for gaming is absolutely stupid. A 12700K with PL1 and PL2 unlocked with a modest OS would get every single game and a 3090 / 6900XT run around any game. This CPU is not for gaming and 5800XD is a garbage processor. Cannot OC, and priced just because of gaming. A 5900X is the best AM4 processor. For gaming and MT workloads both. With reduced price it's even no-brainer.
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Saturday, March 26, 2022 - link

    'Why would anyone want to run that Windows 11 disaster?'

    Anyone wanting/needing to use Windows (unless air gapped) will have no choice. That's the way 'upgrades' work.
    Reply
  • Kangal - Sunday, March 27, 2022 - link

    You're right, it's not ideal to think about those edge-case processors. When looking at the Mainstream PCs, I think a good way of looking at progression roughly is:
    2010 Core i7-920 (4c/8t), 8GB-1600, HD 6970
    2012 Core i7-2600k (4c/8t), 8GB-2133, GTX 680
    2015 Core i7-6700k (4c/8t), 16GB-3000, GTX 980
    2017 Core i7-8700k (6c/12t), 16GB-3000, GTX 1080
    2018 Core i9-9900k (8c/16t), 32GB-3600, GTX 1080Ti
    2020 AMD r9-3900x (12c/24t), 32GB-3600, RTX 2070-Super
    2022 AMD r9-5950x (16c/32t), 64GB-4000, RTX 3090Ti
    Reply
  • Flying Aardvark - Thursday, March 31, 2022 - link

    Not everyone is worried about saving the dollars that you are. AMD Poverty Gaming may be for you, but others are running 3090s and will run 4090s after that without batting an eye. Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Saturday, April 2, 2022 - link

    I agree. I was fortunate to be born with two extra kidneys so I was able to sell the surplus and pay a scalper — no, sorry, an OEM — for a GPU Nvidia wouldn’t sell directly to me for a fair price. Reply
  • Karandar_ - Tuesday, April 5, 2022 - link

    +1 to this idea. A lot of work I know, but I would love to see how they all compete given mature drivers and the recent security mitigations. I think the current numbers would be different enough to offer readers great value. Reply
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, April 5, 2022 - link

    Well, I think that's the idea behind:

    https://www.anandtech.com/Bench/

    ...except, they seem to be a couple years out of date.
    Reply

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