Test Bed and Setup: Updating Our Test Suite for 2023

As per our processor testing policy, we take a premium category motherboard suitable for the socket, and equip the system with a suitable amount of memory running at the manufacturer's highest officially-supported frequency. This is also typically run at JEDEC subtimings where possible. It is noted that some users are not keen on this policy, stating that sometimes the highest official frequency is quite low, or faster memory is available at a similar price, or that the JEDEC speeds can be prohibitive for performance.

While these comments make sense, ultimately very few users apply memory profiles (either XMP or other) as they require interaction with the BIOS, and most users will fall back on JEDEC-supported speeds - this includes home users as well as industry who might want to shave off a cent or two from the cost or stay within the margins set by the manufacturer. Where possible, we will extend out testing to include faster memory modules either at the same time as the review or a later date.

The Current CPU Test Suite

For our Intel Core i9-13900K and Core i5-13600K testing, we are using the following test system:

Intel 13th Gen Core System (DDR5)
CPU Core i9-13900K ($589)
24 Cores, 32 Threads
125 W TDP

Core i5-13600K ($319)
14 Cores, 20 Threads
125 W TDP
Motherboard MSI MPG Z790 Carbon WIFI (BIOS E7D89)
Memory SK Hynix
2x16 GB
DDR5-5600B CL46
Cooling EKWB EK-AIO Elite 360 D-RGB 360mm 
Storage SK Hynix Platinum P41 2TB PCIe 4.0 x4
Power Supply Corsair HX1000
GPUs AMD Radeon RX 6950 XT, 31.0.12019
Operating Systems Windows 11 22H2

As we are in a transitional period between our current CPU 2021 suite and data, and optimizing our CPU 2023 suite with different data comparisons required, we have included a varied selection of benchmarks for this review. This ranges from our traditional un-updatable Google Octane 2.0 web test, through a variety of rendering benchmarks such as CineBench R23 and Blender, to encoding, and all the way to our more scientific-related tests.

With our processor reviews, especially on a new generational product such as AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X, we also include SPEC2017 data to account for any increases (or decreases) to generational single-threaded and multi-threaded performance. It should be noted that per the terms of the SPEC license, because our benchmark results are not vetted directly by the SPEC consortium, it is officially classified as an ‘estimated’ score.

Our CPU 2023 Suite: What to Expect

Looking ahead to our updated CPU 2023 suite, we've updated some of our existing benchmarks to the latest and current release versions (as of Sept '22), such as Blender 3.3, C-Ray 1.1 rendering, as well as adding more scientific-based workloads such as SciMark 2.0 and Primesieve 1.9.0. We have also decided to add UL's latest Procyon suite which measures overall system performance when doing tasks such as office-based tasks, as well as video and photo editing.

Meanwhile we've also carried over some older (but still relevant/enlightening) benchmarks from our CPU 2021 suite. This includes benchmarks such as Dwarf Fortress, Factorio, and Dr. Ian Cutress's 3DPMv2 benchmark.

We have also updated our pool of games going forward into 2023 and beyond, including the latest F1 2022 racing game, the CPU-intensive RTS Total War: Warhammer 3, and the popular Hitman 3.

Our aim is to provide varying levels of data points across a variety of different workloads, instruction sets, and tasks. Going forward, we will keep our CPU 2023 suite updated as frequently as possible, and when we have a consistent and suitable number of data points, it will feature on our Bench database as we continue testing new and older CPUs for varying data points.

The CPU-focused tests featured specifically in this review are as follows:


  • Peak Power (y-Cruncher using AVX)

Office & Web

  • Octane 2.0: More comprehensive test (but also deprecated with no successor)
  • UL Procyon Office: Various office-based tasks using various Microsoft Office applications
  • UL Procyon Photo Editing: Covers a variety of different photo editing tasks such as batch processing


  • 3D Particle Movement v2.1 (Non-AVX + AVX2/AVX512)
  • y-Cruncher 0.78.9506 (Optimized Binary Splitting Compute for mathematical constants)
  • SciMark 2.0: Part of the Phoronix Suite, and measures across a variety of scientific-based workloads
  • Primesieve 1.9.0: This test generates prime numbers using an optimized sieve of Eratosthenes implementation


  • Dwarf Fortress 0.44.12: Fantasy world creation and time passage
  • Dolphin 5.0: Ray Tracing rendering test for Wii emulator
  • Factorio v1.1.26 Test: A game-based benchmark that is largely consistent for measuring overall CPU and memory performance
  • John The Ripper 1.9.0: A password cracker simulation that scales well with core and thread count, as well as IPC performance


  • Blender 3.3: Popular rendering program
  • Corona 1.1: Ray Tracing Benchmark
  • POV-Ray 3.7.1: Another Ray Tracing Test
  • V-Ray: Another popular renderer
  • CineBench R23: The fabled Cinema4D Rendering engine


  • x264: Encoding video files at 1080p and 4K resolutions
  • 7-Zip: Open-source compression software
  • WinRAR 5.90: Popular compression tool


  • CineBench R10
  • CineBench R11.5
  • CineBench R15
  • CineBench R20
  • Geekbench 5: Single and multi-threaded
  • Handbrake 1.32: Popular Transcoding tool

SPEC (Estimated)

  • SPEC2017 rate-1T
  • SPEC2017 rate-nT

We have also added new games to our games suite for 2023. Our current games in our CPU testing and those featured in this review are as follows:

  • Civilization VI: 480p, 1080p, 1440p and 4K (both avg and 95% percentile)
  • World of Tanks: 768p, 1080p, and 4K (both avg and 95% percentile)
  • Borderlands 3: 360p, 1080p, 1440p, and 4K (both avg and 95th percentile)
  • Grand Theft Auto V: 720p, 1080p, 1440p, and 4K (both avg and 95th percentile)
  • Red Dead Redemption 2: 384p, 1080p, 1440p, and 4K (both avg and 95th percentile)
  • Cyberpunk 2077: 720p, 1080p, 1440p, and 4K (both avg and 95th percentile)
  • F1 2022: 720p, 1080p, 1440p, and 4K (both avg and 95th percentile)
  • Hitman 3: 720p, 1080p, 1440p, and 4K (both avg and 95th percentile)
  • Total War Warhammer 3: 720p, 1080p, 1440p and 4K (only avg fps measured)

Out of all the games we test, we measure both the average frame rate at each resolution/preset using the default benchmarking option, eg Bahrain map on F1 2022 and Battle Mode in Total War: Warhammer 3. The only game we don't measure 95th percentile framerates (5% lows) is Total War Warhammer, as this currently doesn't allow third-party software to directly take framerate metrics.

Z790 Chipset: More I/O Than Z690, But Same Performance Core-to-Core Latency


View All Comments

  • Nero3000 - Thursday, October 20, 2022 - link

    Correction: the 12600k is 6P+4E - table on first page Reply
  • Hixbot - Thursday, October 20, 2022 - link

    I am hoping for an high frequency 8 core i5 with zero ecores and high cache. It's would be a gamer sweet spot, and could counter the inevitable 3d cache Zen 4. Reply
  • nandnandnand - Friday, October 21, 2022 - link

    big.LITTLE isn't going away. It's in a billion smartphones, and it will be in most of Intel's consumer CPUs going forward.

    Just grab your 7800X3D, before AMD does its own big/small implementation with Zen 5.
  • HarryVoyager - Friday, October 21, 2022 - link

    Honestly, I'm underwhelmed by Intel's current big.LITTLE setup. As near as I can tell, under load the E cores are considerably less efficient than the P cores are, and currently just seem to be there so Intel can claim multi-threading victories with less die space.

    And with the CPU's heat limits, it just seems to be pushing the chip into thermal throttling even faster.

    Hopefully future big.LITTLE implementations are better.
  • nandnandnand - Friday, October 21, 2022 - link

    Meteor Lake will bring Redwood Cove to replace Golden/Raptor Cove, and Crestmont to replace Gracemont. Gracemont in Raptor Lake is the same as in Alder Lake except for more cache, IIRC. All of this will be on "Intel 4" instead of "Intel 7", and the core count might be 8+16 again.

    Put it all together and it should have a lot of breathing room compared to the 13900K(S).

    8+32 will be the ultimate test of small cores, but they're already migrating on down to the cheaper chips like the 13400/13500.
  • Hixbot - Saturday, October 22, 2022 - link

    Yes it does seem backwards that the more efficient architecture is in the P core. Reducing power consumption for light tasks seems better to keep it on the P core and downclock. I don't see the point of the "e" cores as effiency, but rather academic multithreaded benchmark war. Which isn't serving the consumer at all. Reply
  • deil - Monday, October 24, 2022 - link

    E is still useful, as you get 8/8 cores in space where you could cram 2/4. I agree E for efficiency should be B as background to make it clearer what's the point. They are good for consumers as they offer all the high speed cores for main process, so OS and other things dont slow down.
    I am not sure if you followed, but intel cpu's literally doubled in power since they appeared, and at ~25% utilization, cpu's halved power usage. What you should complain about is bad software support, as this is not something that happens in the background.
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Monday, October 24, 2022 - link

    I don't think you are fully grasping the results of the benchmarks. Compute/Rendering scores prove that e-cores can tackle heavy work loads. Often trading blows with AMD's all P-Core 7950X, and costing less at the same time. AMD needs to lower all prices immediately. Reply
  • haoyangw - Monday, October 24, 2022 - link

    That's an oversimplification actually, P-cores and E-cores are both efficient, just for different tasks. The main efficiency gain of P-cores is it's much much faster than E-cores for larger tasks. Between 3 and 4GHz, P-cores are so fast they finish tasks much earlier than e-cores so total energy drawn is lower. But E-cores are efficient too, just for simple tasks(at low clockspeeds). Below 3GHz and above 1GHz, e-cores are much more efficient, beating P-cores in performance while drawing less power.

    Source: https://chipsandcheese.com/2022/01/28/alder-lakes-...
  • Great_Scott - Friday, November 25, 2022 - link

    Big.LITTLE is hard to do, and ARM took ages and a lot of optimization before phone CPUs got much benefit from it.

    The problem of the LITTLE cores not adding anything in the way of power efficiency is well-known.

    I'm saddened that Intel is dropping their own winning formula of "race-to-sleep" that they've successfully used for decades for aping something objectivly worse because they're a little behind in die shrinking.

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