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  • Soon Kai Hong

Intel 13th-Gen Raptor Lake Review: Core i5-13600K Is Downright Good!

Raptor Lake is here and it’s honestly pretty surprising. Intel might just be back in the game. We had the opportunity to check out the latest Intel Core i5-13600K and Intel Core i9-13900K and the results are pretty phenomenal. The new Core i5-13600K is going to go right up against the Ryzen 5 7600X and despite costing a little more, there might be a sizable performance advantage. And as for the Core i9-13900K against the Ryzen 9 7950X, it’s the other way around. It costs less yet performs equally as good.

In the world of PCs, there are basically two giants constantly competing. AMD has already shown their cards with their latest Ryzen 7000 series and despite a few hiccups here and there, it’s been a great experience. If you would like to check out that review, click on the link in the description or up here in the corner.

The Story

But today, let’s talk about Intel and as mentioned, we have both the Core i5-13600K as well the Core i9-13900K to take a look at. First thing to note and in which it came as quite the surprise is that Intel is now actually offering more cores SKU for SKU as compared to AMD. The tables have kind of flipped.

The Ryzen 5 7600X retains 6 cores and 12 threads as it was in the previous generation but the Core i5-13600K now actually offers a total of 14 cores and 20 threads. The same is true for the flagship products. The Ryzen 9 7950X still has 16 cores and 32 threads while the Core i9-13900K has a total of 24 cores and 32 threads.

Now obviously, Intel has the Performance and Efficiency core design to which AMD doesn’t but if it’s just on overall core count, Intel does actually offer more right now. Which is kind of ironic in a way.

But anyways, there’s quite a lot to cover today and honestly, far too much for us to cover all of them. So just like with our review of the Ryzen 7000 series, we’re mainly going to focus on performance, efficiency, thermals and ultimately value, especially if you’re a gamer or a content creator.

Once again, I do have to thank Zhi Cheng from the Tech Revolutionist here in Singapore for helping us out by providing some of the parts listed, especially with the test bench itself and the GPU. On that note, the rest of the parts have actually been provided by Asus and we’re talking some serious gear here.

The Setup

For the motherboard, it’s all the bells and whistles with the ROG Maximus Z790 Extreme and this is paired with the ROG Strix LC II 360 AiO, 32GB of Kingston Fury DDR5 RAM running at 6,000MT/s and we even have ROG’s very own NVMe Gen4x4 SSD with the ROG Strix SQ7. This is a pretty beefy setup and definitely a little overkill in some places. The average user definitely wouldn’t even think about getting this motherboard but we did want to have as fair a comparison with our Ryzen testing from before, thus our selection.

So here’s the entire list at a glance with our Intel setup as well as the Ryzen setup we had before. For all testing, they were all done on this very open air test bench in a room with an ambient temperature of about 24 degrees celsius and as for this Strix AiO, the Turbo profile was used via Armoury Crate which sets all three fans to 2,000 to 2,200RPM thereabouts and the pump running around just shy of 3,000RPM.

So with all that out of the way, let’s dive into the testing and performance metrics.

Creative Benchmarks

First up are the creative and synthetic benchmarks as usual, starting with Cinebench R20. For the Core i5-13600K, it managed a score of 9067 and 767 respectively. In comparison to the Ryzen 5 7600X, this is quite the performance uplift, almost 50% when it comes to multi-core performance. As for the Core i9-13900K, it managed a score of 15108 and 845 respectively, which does put it quite a fair bit ahead of the 7900X and even just slightly ahead of the Ryzen 9 7950X.

This is probably the start of a trend that you’re going to see and it’s worthy to take note of, but we will also touch on thermals and efficiency later on and that will give you a much better idea.

We move on to Cinebench R23 and the Core i5-13600K scored 23632 and 1996 in Multi-Core and Single-Core respectively. In comparison to the Ryzen 5 7600X yet again, Multi-Core performance is much better on Team Blue while Single-Core performance is pretty similar. As for the Core i9-13900K, it managed a score of 38866 and 2216 respectively, which is much faster than the Ryzen 9 7900X and extremely comparable to the Ryzen 9 7950X.

We then ran a couple of tests on Blender for both the BMW scene and the slightly more demanding Classroom scene. The Core i5-13600K managed to complete the BMW render in just about 1 minute and 38 seconds while the Classroom render took about 3 minutes and 54 seconds. Again, compared to the Ryzen 5 7600X, the Intel chip is way faster, at almost 1 minute faster for the BMW scene and almost 2 minutes faster for the Classroom scene. The 14 cores setup seems to really be helping out here against what might now be a mere 6 cores.

As for the Core i9-13900K, it managed to complete the BMW scene in just under a minute and the Classroom scene took 2 minutes and 17 seconds. Yet again, much faster as compared to the Ryzen 9 7900X and very comparable to the Ryzen 9 7950X.

Next up will be 3DMark FireStrike. The Core i5-13600K managed a score of 37194 while the Core i9-13900K managed a score of 36667. Now do take note that just like with our Ryzen testing, our scores aren’t necessarily the best achievable out there as we only have the Radeon RX 6800 available for testing. But this should still provide a good reference point as to where the chips stand, especially in comparison to the Ryzen 7000 series which perform pretty much equally.

Gaming Benchmarks

Now let’s talk gaming and just like the Ryzen 5 7600X, this is probably where the Core i5-13600K really shines and shows its true value. Now because we didn’t have the chance to experience the Ryzen 9 7950X for ourselves, those numbers aren’t present here so do keep that in mind.

In most scenarios, the Core i5-13600K performs comparably to the Ryzen 5 7600X and even to the Core i9-13900K or the Ryzen 9 7900X. And this holds true no matter the resolution, be it at 1080P, 1440P or even 4K. However there are two outliers and that is for CS:GO and Halo Infinite. In CS:GO, the Core i9-13900K achieves better frame rates on average as compared to the Core i5-13600K but surprisingly, it’s the way other way around for Halo Infinite, with the Core i5-13600K managing much higher frames as compared to the Core i9-13900K. We believe this is very likely due to the nature of the highest single core boost frequency of 5.8GHz for the Core i9 versus 5.1GHz for the Core i5 when it comes to CS:GO.

Though as for Halo Infinite, we aren’t really sure at the moment. We ran it numerous times on both chips and these were indeed the results. We definitely want to dive deeper and find out more. In any case however, gaming performance across the board no matter if you go with the Core i5-13600K or the Core i9-13900K is going to give you a fantastic experience.

So that’s pretty much all the performance testing in a nutshell. The Core i5-13600K is certainly the most interesting chip out of the bench, providing not only a great gaming experience, but surprisingly for creative and professional applications as well. In that regard, it actually puts the chip much closer to that of the Ryzen 9 7900X rather than the Ryzen 5 7600X. Pretty commendable to say the least and something we didn’t expect at all.

It's A Catch!

But of course, there’s a catch. There always is and it comes down to thermals and efficiency. The Intel chips definitely do suck up quite a lot more power.

For Intel, the chips have a Processor Base Power and a Turbo Boost Power and for both the Core i5-13600K and the Core i9-13900K, the Processor Base Power is rated for 125W. The difference lies in the Turbo Boost Power in which the Core i5 can hit up to 181W while the Core i9 can reach a staggering 253W. In comparison to AMD which are at 105W base and 142W boost for the Ryzen 5 7600X and 170W base and 230W boost for the Ryzen 9 7900X or Ryzen 9 7950X, this is quite the difference in power especially for the 9-series tier of chips.

Taking Cinebench R23 as an example scenario, the Core i5-13600K will sustain 4.6GHz on all cores, maintain a temperature of about 70C while consuming up to 150W of power. In contrast to the Ryzen 5 7600X, which will sustain 5.2GHz on all cores, maintain a temperature of about 88C while consuming just about 90W of power. While it does have quite a few more cores in comparison, Core i5-13600K is also really just drawing quite a lot more power.

On the other front, the Core i9-13900K will sustain 4.7GHz and maintain 88C while consuming 250W for the most part. But it is also interesting to note that for the first 3 minutes of almost any sustained workloads, the Core i9-13900K was actually able to draw up 300W of power, pushing nearly 5GHz while maintaining a temperature of about 97C.

But all that we’ve just shared are really only based on sustained workloads on professional applications. If we’re just strictly gaming, temperatures are well under control with little to no concern at all, so no worries on that front.

With all that said, it might not be that surprising that both the Intel chips are performing at least comparable, or better than their Team Red counterparts. Despite all that, we’ve to say that things are shaping up to be really interesting especially when you look at the industry at large. While Intel is still being, Intel, being power hungry and all, they are offering similar if not better performance for less as compared to AMD at the moment. And ironically, Intel is now the one that’s actually offering more cores SKU for SKU.

This, we probably have AMD to thank for.

Price & Comparison

At the top end, we have both the Core i9-13900K which will retail for US$589 while the Ryzen 9 7950X that’s already in the market will retail for US$699. Depending on your use case, it might be an easy or a tough decision. While the Core i9-13900K does perform comparably for much less, it does draw a lot more power. To put things into perspective, if you pair a Core i9-13900K with an RTX 4090 which can theoretically draw up to 600W of power, that’s 900W just for the CPU and GPU alone. You’ll probably need at least a 1200W PSU at that point to run things comfortably. While as for the Ryzen 9 7950X, not only will it consume less power but thanks to AMD’s innovative way for reducing SKUs by introducing Eco-Mode, you can get creative with various builds and possibilities while still getting really good performance.

But putting the flagships aside, the most common and widely researched comparison would be the Core i5-13600K and the Ryzen 5 7600X. These are the chips that are targeted towards a section of the market that is the most saturated. The bang for your buck.

So if we were to talk about pricing, the Core i5-13600K will retail for US$329 while the Ryzen 5 7600X is already retailing for US$299. This is the opposite relationship as compared to the flagships.

Our Opinion

In our opinion, it comes down to where you’re coming from. If you’re looking to build a new PC and you’re talking strictly about gaming, either of them is going to be fine but you do have to note that by going with Ryzen, you will have to get DDR5 RAM which may or may not offset the cost saving by going with it. On the other hand, if you’re upgrading from an old system, especially if you’re on Intel, we would say to get the Core i5-13600K.

A few reasons.

DDR4 will still be supported unlike on Ryzen, which means you get to reuse your RAM, saving you some bucks there and coolers will also still be 100% compatible, unlike with AM5 which is a hit or miss. But most importantly, current generation motherboards will also support the new 13th-gen which means you can save more as well if you’re on it, or you can just buy this generation while the new one launches and save yet more. As for creatives and professionals working with a tight budget, definitely go with Team Blue. The Core i5-13600K just offers that much more performance as compared to the Ryzen 5 7600X for not much more. This is a pretty straightforward decision in our opinion.

Regarding the flagships on the other hand, it might actually depend on what other kind of components you’re working with. Ultimately we would say this. If power and efficiency is of concern, go with the Ryzen 9 7950X and if it isn’t, the Core i9-13900K is going to be a powerful choice.

Overall though, we are actually far more impressed with what Intel has to offer ever since we took a look at what the other side was capable of. All we can say is that competition is always welcome because that means there will actually be innovation and that just makes it better for us as consumers.

Again, kind of funny to think that Intel is now the one to actually offer more cores.

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