Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.

How Does AMD's 7950X Compare With Intel's 12900K?

Compare AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X with Intel's Core i9 12900K. Which CPU is better for gaming, general apps, and professional tools?

7950X versus 12900K Timur Garifov / Unsplash

Last Updated: November 26, 2022

Written by Kevin Jones

Ryzen 9 7950X
Core i9 12900K


This article compares AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X with Intel's Core i9 12900K desktop CPUs, exploring which is better for the use cases listed below. We compare each CPU's attributes rather than benchmarks to help you determine which features are most important when selecting a CPU.

  • Gaming - the latest graphics-intense games
  • General Apps - web browsing, streaming, and office applications
  • Professional Tools - 2D and 3D graphics tools, video editors, compilers, and engineering tools

Gaming on the Ryzen 9 7950X vs. Core i9 12900K

Section Link

Ryzen 9 7950X for Gaming

When using AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X CPU for gaming, you can expect excellent game performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

Recommended Motherboard for the Ryzen 9 7950X:
Best Feature Motherboard

Core i9 12900K for Gaming

When using Intel's Core i9 12900K CPU for gaming, you can expect excellent game performance with a high-performance CPU cooler or good game performance with a basic or stock CPU cooler.

Recommended Motherboards for the Core i9 12900K:
Best Feature Motherboard
Best Value Motherboard

Gaming Considerations

While a good GPU is critical for gaming performance, your CPU will also have a significant impact. If the CPU is too slow, it can be a bottleneck for your GPU, which can reduce your framerate or cause stuttering. The most important CPU capabilities for gaming are single-core max boost frequency and the number of cores. A high base frequency is also critical for inadequately cooled CPUs.

Depending on the game, the CPU will often handle tasks including scene management, gameplay logic, physics calculations, and asset loading.

Having multiple CPU cores can improve performance with games that utilize them. However, developers cannot split up every task to take advantage of a growing number of cores. Most modern games don't benefit from having more than 6–8 cores. Game performance will experience diminishing returns as you add more CPU cores.

Cores

7950X: The 7950X's 16 cores allow for excellent performance with the latest graphics-intense games.

12900K: The 12900K's 8 Performance cores allow for excellent performance with the latest graphics-intense games.

Learn more about Core Counts below.

Base Frequency

7950X: The 7950X has a 4.5 GHz base frequency, which is the speed before boosting. You can reach these base frequencies even without a high-end cooler.

12900K: The 12900K has a 3.20 GHz base frequency, which is the speed before boosting. You can reach these base frequencies even without a high-end cooler.

Learn more about CPU Clock Speeds below.

Single-Core Boost

7950X: With a high-end cooler, the 7950X's 5.7 GHz single-core max boost frequency is excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games. You can maintain these frequencies with a high-end cooler.

12900K: With a high-end cooler, the 12900K's 5.20 GHz single-core max turbo boost frequency is excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games. You can maintain these frequencies with a high-end cooler.

Learn more about CPU Clock Speeds below.

P-Core Boost

7950X: The 7950X does not have Performance cores.

12900K: With a high-end cooler, the 12900K's 5.10 GHz max turbo boost frequency of the Performance cores are excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games. P core turbo boost frequencies can be maintained with a high-end cooler.

Learn more about CPU Clock Speeds below.

Overclocking Support

7950X: When using a high-end cooler, the 7950X CPU's support for overclocking can be excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games.

12900K: When using a high-end cooler, the 12900K CPU's support for overclocking can be excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games.

Learn more about Overclocking below.

DDR Support

7950X: The 7950X CPU's support for DDR5 with a max stock speed of 5200 MHz can be excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games.

12900K: The 12900K CPU's support for DDR5 with a max stock speed of 4800 MHz can be excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games.

Learn more about DDR Support below.

PCIe

7950X: The 7950X CPU's support for PCIe 5.0 can be excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games, when using the fastest SSDs and graphics cards.

12900K: The 12900K CPU's support for PCIe 5.0 can be excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games, when using the fastest SSDs and graphics cards.

L3 Cache

7950X: The 7950X's impressive 64 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games.

12900K: The 12900K's impressive 30 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games.

Learn more about Cache Sizes below.

General Apps on the Ryzen 9 7950X vs. Core i9 12900K

Section Link

Ryzen 9 7950X
Core i9 12900K

Ryzen 9 7950X for General Apps

When using AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

Core i9 12900K for General Apps

When using Intel's Core i9 12900K CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

General App Considerations

If you're only planning to stream shows, use office apps, or browse the internet, you won't need a top-end CPU to get good performance. The most important CPU capability for general app usage is the single-core max boost frequency. A high base frequency is also helpful for inadequately cooled CPUs.

Browsers depend on your CPU to quickly load pages and video content and manage multiple browser tabs. Higher single-core boost frequencies can speed up page load times.

Office and web applications are typically single-threaded, so running a single application won't take advantage of a many-core CPU.

The more cores a CPU has, the more applications you can run simultaneously without noticing a performance impact.

Office and web applications rarely max out the CPU for long periods. These applications can use boost speeds when a burst of processing power is needed, returning to the more efficient base frequencies afterward.

Cores

7950X: The 7950X's 16 cores allow for excellent performance with modern apps.

12900K: The 12900K's 8 Performance cores allow for excellent performance with modern apps.

Learn more about Core Counts below.

Single-Core Boost

7950X: With a high-end cooler, the 7950X's 5.7 GHz single-core max boost frequency is excellent for performance with modern apps. You can maintain these frequencies with a high-end cooler.

12900K: With a high-end cooler, the 12900K's 5.20 GHz single-core max turbo boost frequency is excellent for performance with modern apps. You can maintain these frequencies with a high-end cooler.

Learn more about CPU Clock Speeds below.

P-Core Boost

7950X: The 7950X does not have Performance cores.

12900K: With a high-end cooler, the 12900K's 5.10 GHz max turbo boost frequency of the Performance cores are excellent for performance with modern apps. P core turbo boost frequencies can be maintained with a high-end cooler.

Learn more about CPU Clock Speeds below.

DDR Support

7950X: The 7950X CPU's support for DDR5 with a max stock speed of 5200 MHz can be excellent for performance with modern apps.

12900K: The 12900K CPU's support for DDR5 with a max stock speed of 4800 MHz can be excellent for performance with modern apps.

Learn more about DDR Support below.

Professional Tools on the Ryzen 9 7950X vs. Core i9 12900K

Section Link

Ryzen 9 7950X
Core i9 12900K

Ryzen 9 7950X for Professional Tools

When using AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X CPU for professional tools, you can expect excellent tool performance with either a high-performance CPU cooler or a stock CPU cooler.

Core i9 12900K for Professional Tools

When using Intel's Core i9 12900K CPU for professional tools, you can expect excellent tool performance with a high-performance CPU cooler or good tool performance with a basic or stock CPU cooler.

Professional Tool Considerations

Video editors, 2D and 3D graphics tools, software compilers, and engineering tools require high-performing CPUs.

Professional tools are often well optimized to use many cores. CPU cores allow tools to parallelize processing tasks. Increasing the number of cores can divide the time required to process a task if the tool has good multi-threading support.

To maximize performance with professional tools, you'll want to use a CPU with a high boost frequency and many CPU cores. Good heat dissipation is needed to maintain boost frequencies for extended periods.

While graphics applications use your GPU for some rendering tasks, most calculations and data operations are still dependent on your CPU.

Cores

7950X: The 7950X's 16 cores allow for excellent performance with professional tools.

12900K: The 12900K's 8 Performance cores allow for excellent performance with professional tools.

Learn more about Core Counts below.

Base Frequency

7950X: The 7950X has a 4.5 GHz base frequency, which is the speed before boosting. You can reach these base frequencies even without a high-end cooler.

12900K: The 12900K has a 3.20 GHz base frequency, which is the speed before boosting. You can reach these base frequencies even without a high-end cooler.

Learn more about CPU Clock Speeds below.

Single-Core Boost

7950X: With a high-end cooler, the 7950X's 5.7 GHz single-core max boost frequency is excellent for performance with professional tools. You can maintain these frequencies with a high-end cooler.

12900K: With a high-end cooler, the 12900K's 5.20 GHz single-core max turbo boost frequency is excellent for performance with professional tools. You can maintain these frequencies with a high-end cooler.

Learn more about CPU Clock Speeds below.

P-Core Boost

7950X: The 7950X does not have Performance cores.

12900K: With a high-end cooler, the 12900K's 5.10 GHz max turbo boost frequency of the Performance cores are excellent for performance with professional tools. P core turbo boost frequencies can be maintained with a high-end cooler.

Learn more about CPU Clock Speeds below.

Overclocking Support

7950X: When using a high-end cooler, the 7950X CPU's support for overclocking can be excellent for performance with professional tools.

12900K: When using a high-end cooler, the 12900K CPU's support for overclocking can be excellent for performance with professional tools.

Learn more about Overclocking below.

DDR Support

7950X: The 7950X CPU's support for DDR5 with a max stock speed of 5200 MHz can be excellent for performance with professional tools.

12900K: The 12900K CPU's support for DDR5 with a max stock speed of 4800 MHz can be excellent for performance with professional tools.

Learn more about DDR Support below.

PCIe

7950X: The 7950X CPU's support for PCIe 5.0 can be excellent for performance with professional tools, when using the fastest SSDs and graphics cards.

12900K: The 12900K CPU's support for PCIe 5.0 can be excellent for performance with professional tools, when using the fastest SSDs and graphics cards.

L3 Cache

7950X: The 7950X's impressive 64 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance with professional tools.

12900K: The 12900K's impressive 30 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance with professional tools.

Learn more about Cache Sizes below.

Considerations When Choosing a CPU

Section Link

Core Count

AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X CPUs have 16 cores.

Intel's Core i9-12900K CPUs have 8 Performance (P) cores and 8 Efficiency (E) cores for a total of 16 cores.

Increased core counts can improve the performance of games and professional tools that use them. Most modern games don't benefit from having more than 6–8 cores. Even general apps can benefit from many cores when numerous applications are open simultaneously. Web browsers don't significantly take advantage of multiple cores when loading a single page. However, more CPU cores can improve performance when running demanding web apps in multiple windows.

Intel's 12th generation and newer CPUs have performance (P) cores and efficiency (E) cores. The P cores are comparable to previous generation cores. E cores are focused on adding additional threads in an energy-efficient manner. They take up much less room on the CPU and generate less heat. However, their smaller cache and minimal interconnect capabilities make them more appropriate for offloading background tasks.

CPU Clock Speeds

The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X has a 4.5 GHz base frequency and supports a 5.7 GHz single-core max boost frequency.

The Intel Core i9-12900K's 8 Performance cores have a 3.20 GHz base frequency and support a 5.10 GHz max turbo boost frequency.

Single-core performance is essential for some games, as many don't take full advantage of multiple cores. Professional tools depend on high single and multi-core boost frequencies to maximize their processing speed.

Boost frequencies are only achieved under ideal circumstances. The safest strategy for consistent gaming performance with a basic cooler is to get a processor with a higher base clock speed. However, with adequate cooling, you may be able to maintain speeds near the max boost frequency.

Check out my article, Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X, for recommended coolers that can maintain these boost frequencies on the 7950X.

Check out my article, Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for Intel's Core i9-12900K, for recommended coolers that can maintain these boost frequencies on the 12900K.

DDR Support

The 7950X CPU's fastest supported DDR memory type is DDR5, with a max stock speed of 5200 MHz.

The 12900K CPU's fastest supported DDR memory type is DDR5, with a max stock speed of 4800 MHz.

You can exceed these stock speeds officially supported by CPUs when overclocking memory, such as with an XMP profile. Motherboard specifications will indicate their supported overclocked-memory speeds. To be able to overclock DDR memory, your motherboard chipset needs to support memory overclocking.

Faster PC memory can improve game and professional tool performance by reducing the time it takes to perform calculations and data operations.

Using the quickest RAM may not have as much of an impact as upgrading your CPU and graphics card or adding more RAM.

Learn more about DDR in DDR4 vs. DDR5? Which You Should Buy.

Learn about our recommended RAM for the 7950X in Choosing the Best RAM for AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X CPU.

Learn about our recommended RAM for the 12900K in Choosing the Best RAM for Intel's Core i9-12900K CPU.

Cache Size

The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X has an L3 cache capacity of 64 MB.

The Intel Core i9-12900K has an L3 cache capacity of 30 MB.

A CPU's cache is a small amount of memory, close to the CPU cores, containing recently used data. An L3 cache capacity of at least 20 MB is ideal for games and professional tool performance.

Games and professional tool performance can improve as cache size increases, as it can reduce delays when retrieving commonly used assets from memory. While nearly any task will use a CPU's cache, a large cache becomes less impactful for general PC usage, such as browsing webpages.

Remember that cache sizes often increase with core counts, so if you want to increase your L3 cache, you may need to get a CPU with more cores.

Overclocking

The 7950X supports overclocking.

The 12900K supports overclocking.

Overclocking is mainly relevant for PC gamers who want to maximize their game framerates. CPU overclocking increases frequencies past their default limits. Excellent heat dissipation via fans or another solution is required to maintain system stability while overclocking.

Professional tools can benefit from overclocked frequencies. However, overclocking may introduce some possibility of system instability, which may be less acceptable in business scenarios.

Section Link

Best Feature Motherboard

Runner-Up Motherboard

Best Value Motherboard

Section Link

DDR5 Motherboard: Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master

  • Our recommended DDR5 motherboard to pair with the Core i9-12900K is Gigabyte's Z690 AORUS Master: GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Master GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Master Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link
    • PCIe 5.0 support
    • It supports up to 128GB of DDR5 memory (DDR5 provides the fastest memory speeds)!
    • 10 Gbps Ethernet port is faster than any home Internet speed available with tons of room to spare for file transfers.
    • Wi-Fi 6E makes it easy to reach the fastest speeds and future-proof your Wi-Fi system.
    • Bluetooth 5.2 is great for streaming music to Bluetooth headphones.
    • Four x4 NVMe M.2 slots, which is fantastic! Three of these run at PCIe 4.0 speeds, and one at PCIe 3.0 speeds.
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
    • Check the latest price of the GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Master on Amazon (affiliate link).

DDR4 Motherboard: Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4

  • Our recommended DDR4 motherboard to pair with the Core i9-12900K is Gigabyte's Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4: GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4 GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link
    • PCIe 5.0 support
    • It supports up to 128GB of DDR4 memory!
    • 2.5 Gb Ethernet port is faster than most home Internet speeds with room to spare for file transfers.
    • Wi-Fi 6
    • Bluetooth 5.2 is great for streaming music to Bluetooth headphones.
    • Four x4 NVMe M.2 slots, which is fantastic! All four of these run at PCIe 4.0 speeds.
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
    • Check the latest price of the GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4 on Amazon (affiliate link).

Learn More About the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X

Section Link

Learn More About the Intel Core i9 12900K

Section Link

You can find detailed 12900K specifications on Intel's site.