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Is the Core i9-13900K CPU Good for Gaming?

Find out if Intel's Core i9 13900K processor is good for gaming.

13900K Good for Gaming Chuck Fortner / Unsplash

Last Updated: August 30, 2022

Written by Kevin Jones

When selecting a CPU for gaming, the most important characteristics are the frequency (clock speed), core/thread count, cache size, and supported memory type. Additional considerations, such as integrated graphics and overclocking needs, may also influence your selection.

In addition to discussing how good the 13900K is for gaming, this article will discuss our recommended:

Check another CPU:

Core i9 13900K

Is the 13900K Good for Gaming?

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When using Intel's Core i9 13900K 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.

Check out our Recommended LGA 1700 Coolers below.

This performance assessment is based on the following characteristics of the CPU and their relevance to the latest graphics-intense games:

  • 36 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance
  • 8 Performance cores allow for excellent performance
  • 3.00 GHz base frequency
  • 5.80 GHz single-core max turbo boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)
  • 5.40 GHz max turbo boost frequency of the Performance cores are excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)
  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 5600 MHz can be excellent for performance
  • Overclocking support can be excellent for performance (requires a high-end cooler)
  • PCIe 5.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)
  • The 13900K has integrated graphics support, but this performance assessment assumes you will use a graphics card. Integrated graphics support is mediocre or worse with the latest graphics-intense games.
Check out these Intel Core CPUs that are Good or Excellent for gaming:
Recommended Motherboards for the Core i9 13900K:
Best Motherboard
Runner-Up Motherboard

Is the Cache Size of the 13900K Good for Gaming?

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A CPU's cache is a small amount of memory, close to the CPU cores, containing recently used data.

Games performance can improve as cache size increases, as it will reduce delays when retrieving commonly used game assets from memory.

An L3 cache capacity of at least 20 MB is ideal for game performance.

The Intel Core i9-13900K has an L3 cache capacity of 36 MB.

The 13900K's impressive 36 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games.

Is the Core Count of the 13900K Good for Gaming?

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Increased core counts can improve the performance of games that use them, but most modern games don't benefit from having more than 6–8 cores. Remember that cache sizes often increase along with core counts, so if you want to increase your L3 cache, you may need to get a CPU with more cores.

Intel's Core i9-13900K CPUs have 8 Performance (P) cores and 16 Efficiency (E) cores for a total of 24 cores.

The P cores are comparable to previous generation cores. Running a game will primarily use P 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.

The 13900K's 8 Performance cores allow for excellent performance with the latest graphics-intense games.

Is the Clock Speed of the 13900K Good for Gaming?

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Single-core performance is essential for some games, as many don't take full advantage of multiple cores.

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

When using a high-end cooler, the 13900K CPU's support for overclocking can be excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games.

The 8 Performance cores have a 3.00 GHz base frequency and support a 5.40 GHz max turbo frequency.

The 13900K has a 3.00 GHz base frequency, which is the speed before boosting. You can reach these base frequencies even without a high-end cooler.

With a high-end cooler, the 13900K's 5.80 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.

With a high-end cooler, the 13900K's 5.40 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.

Check out my article, Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for Intel's Core i9-13900K, for recommended coolers that can maintain these boost frequencies.

Is the DDR Support of the 13900K Good for Gaming?

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The 13900K CPU's support for DDR5 with a max stock speed of 5600 MHz can be excellent for performance with the latest graphics-intense games.

Faster PC memory can improve game performance and frame rates, but using the fastest 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 13900K in Choosing the Best RAM for Intel's Core i9-13900K CPU.

What Does the K Suffix in 13900K Mean?

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Processor Name SuffixMeaning
K"K" means it's an unlocked CPU. Unlocked CPUs have configurable frequencies and thus support overclocking. Your "motherboard" must support overclocking to overclock unlocked CPUs. Motherboards with Z-series chipsets typically support overclocking. Learn more about what each chipset supports in my article Which Chipsets Work With Intel's Core i9-13900K CPU?.

The 13900K model name doesn't have an F suffix. Non-F CPUs contain integrated graphics, and a separate graphics card isn't required if your motherboard includes video-output connectors (e.g., HDMI).

The 13900K model name has a K suffix. K-suffixed CPUs can be overclocked with a compatible motherboard.

Motherboards with a Z-series chipset typically support overclocking. For example, motherboards with the Z690 or Z790 chipset usually support overclocking Intel's 12th and 13th Gen Core CPUs. Learn more about what each chipset supports in my article Which Chipsets Work With Intel's Core i9-13900K CPU?.

Intel Core i9-13900K Intel Core i9-13900K Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Cooling the 13900K

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A CPU cooler's TDP (Thermal Design Power) rating indicates how much heat it can dissipate in watts. If the cooler can't keep your CPU cool enough, your CPU may throttle (slow down), and your cooler will constantly run at full speed.

Intel CPU specifications indicate this power dissipation number as "Processor Base Power" and "Maximum Turbo Power."

The Core i9-13900K has a base TDP of 125 watts and a max turbo TDP of 253 watts.

A CPU cooler can still work with a lower TDP rating than the TDP of a CPU. However, the CPU will eventually throttle itself to a lower frequency to allow itself to cool.

The CPU may not achieve or maintain maximum turbo speeds without adequate cooling.

Learn more in Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for Intel's Core i9-13900K.

The distance between heatsink screw holes for the LGA 1700 socket increased to 78x78 mm from the 75x75 mm spacing typical of recent sockets. This new spacing means you'll need a new cooler/heatsink or upgrade kit that supports the new configuration.

Motherboard Requirements for Core i9-13900K Processors

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For Intel's 13th generation Core i9 13900K processor, you'll need a motherboard with an LGA 1700 socket and a compatible 700-series or 600-series chipset. However, 600-series chipsets were designed for the 12th generations Core processors and may limit the capabilities of your system.

Motherboards for Intel processors are made with chipsets provided by Intel. Each chipset offers a unique set of capabilities. However, motherboards must explicitly support features and capabilities for you to use them. Verify that a motherboard supports the features and capabilities you desire.

The "K" in the model name 13900K means it's an unlocked processor that supports overclocking. You will need a motherboard with overclocking support to overclock this CPU. Motherboards with the Z690 or Z790 chipsets typically support CPU overclocking. If you don't want to use the overclocking functionality at this time, you can use a motherboard with Intel's other 700-series or 600-series desktop chipsets (e.g., H670, B660, H610).

The W680 and Q670 chipsets are intended for workstation and business use cases; their availability in stand-alone motherboards is limited.

To use 13th Gen Intel Core CPUs with the 600-series chipsets, you'll need an updated BIOS. You either need to purchase one with an updated BIOS, perform the update with a 12th Gen CPU installed, or use the USB BIOS Flashback feature (if available).

Products that ship with a compatible BIOS are typically marked as "Ready" for 13th Gen Intel processors.

For a detailed comparison of these chipsets, check out my article Which Chipsets Work With Intel's Core i9-13900K CPU?.

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Best Feature Motherboard

  • Our recommended feature-rich motherboard to pair with the Core i9-13900K: ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero 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)!
    • 2.5 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 5.3 is great for streaming music to Bluetooth headphones.
    • Five x4 NVMe M.2 slots, which is fantastic! One of these supports PCIe 5.0 speeds, and the rest run at PCIe 4.0 speeds.
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
    • Check the latest price of the ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Hero on Amazon (affiliate link).

Runner-Up Motherboard

  • Our recommended runner-up motherboard to pair with the Core i9-13900K: ASUS Prime Z790-P WiFi ASUS Prime Z790-P WiFi 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)!
    • 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port is faster than any home Internet speed available with tons of room to spare for file transfers.
    • Wi-Fi 6 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.
    • Three x4 NVMe M.2 slots, which is fantastic! These slots all support PCIe 4.0 speeds.
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
    • Check the latest price of the ASUS Prime Z790-P WiFi on Amazon (affiliate link).
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Check out my article, Choosing the Best CPU Cooler for Intel's Core i9-13900K, for more info about how to choose the best CPU cooler.

The LGA 1700 socket will require a CPU cooler that supports the new socket size. Some manufacturers are releasing upgrade kits for LGA 1200 heatsinks to support the new size.

Best AIO Liquid Cooler: Enermax Liqmax III 360

Best Dual-Fan Air CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15

  • Dual 140 mm fans provide 220-watt TDP (183 NSPR) of cooling capability.
  • Supports a variety of CPU sockets, including Intel LGA 1700, 1200, 1156, 1155, 1151, 1150, 2011, 2066 and AMD AM4, AM3, AM3+, AM2, AM2+, FM2, FM2+.
  • Quiet operation at 24.6 dBA. Noctua NH-D15, Premium CPU Cooler Noctua NH-D15, Premium CPU Cooler Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

Runner-Up - Dual-Fan Air CPU Cooler: Thermaltake TOUGHAIR 510

  • This CPU cooler doesn't have any fancy LED lights, but the dual 120 mm fans do a great job of cooling LGA 1700 CPUs.
  • Suppose you think this cooler will take up too much space. In that case, Thermaltake has a few single-fan TOUGHAIR variants which use different orientations.
  • This CPU cooler has a 2000 RPM max speed for optimal cooling.
  • 180-watt TDP (Thermal Design Power). Thermaltake TOUGHAIR 510 Thermaltake TOUGHAIR 510 Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link
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Before purchasing memory, review your motherboard specification to verify which speeds are supported. For example, if a DDR4 motherboard stated that it supports "DDR4 3400(O.C.) / 3333(O.C.) / 3300(O.C.) / 3200 / 3000," that would mean that it could support DDR4-3400, DDR4-3333, and DDR4-3300 with memory overclocking, and DDR4-3200 and DDR4-3000 at stock speeds. Motherboard specifications also indicate the maximum capacity per stick of RAM (DIMM) and across all slots.

Learn More About the Intel Core i9-13900K

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You can find detailed 13900K specifications on Intel's site.

Other Considerations When Building a PC

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Want to brush up on other new technologies to consider when building a computer? Check out these articles: