HAVING an amazing GPU and a solid Motherboard are two of the important elements of a top-tier gaming rig, but to really tie it all together you need an excellent CPU – and Intel’s latest offering certainly fits that bill.
The Intel i9-13900KS is a 24-core LGA 1700 “Raptor Lake” socket CPU, with performance core base clock speed of 3.20 GHz and a max clock speed of 6GHz.
As the name suggests, it’s a 13th generation “K” series i9 chipset, with the “KS” suffix indicating extra performance over the “regular” version (the full tech specs are in the hyperlink in the previous paragraph).
The main difference between the i9-13900K and the KS is that the KS has a slighter higher boost clock speed (6GHz vs the 5.8GHz of the K unit), and a slightly higher power draw – the KS draws 150W rather than 125 of the K model.
Installation (in this case on an Asus TUF Z790-Plus Wifi D4) was straightforward – exactly like installing any other CPU – and I though
Intel have been very upfront about the fact this is an enthusiast’s chip designed for people looking to squeeze as much performance as they can out of their CPU
The Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) allows for simple, one-click tuning, which is the only tweaking I’ve done to this CPU. I’m not an overclocker, so a simple plug-and-play with first-party tuning/config software is exactly what I’m after and Intel have delivered it here.
The benchmark results were a marked improvement over anything I’ve ever used before – 3DMark’s CPU processor test scored a result of 16,576 while Intel’s XTU benchmark returned a score of 12,664 marks which seemed about right given the motherboard, DDR4 ram, CPU settings, GPU, case airflow and cooling system in my rig.
On that note, one thing I noticed was that my twin-fan Corsair AIO cooler wasn’t quite enough to stop the CPU thermal throttling under max loads. Temperatures were not an issue for any of the gaming I did – even with all the settings maxed out – but under benchmarking and stress testing it hit 100c very quickly, at which point the thermal throttling kicked in.
While having a kettle that can heat to 100c is fantastic, it’s not nearly as desirable in a CPU – although, like I said, for the majority of gaming things you’re likely to be doing, the CPU isn’t likely to be running at max temperatures for sustained periods of time; and I noticed it dropped back to “standard” temperatures as soon as the load eased off from benchmarking/stress testing.
This is an important thing to note with testing CPUs – there’s a lot of different factors that go into determining benchmark scores and performance, and everything from the motherboard in the system to the cooling system to what sort of RAM you have installed plays a part. In other words, your results may vary, depending on your components and how your system is cooled and configured.
I’m not going to bore you by telling you how well all the games I tested with it played – they were uniformly fantastic, performance-wise, as you can read in my review of the Nvidia GeForce RTX4080 GPU that’s also installed in my gaming rig.
It’s certainly miles better than any CPU I’ve ever had in any PC of mine before and I have absolutely no doubt it’s one of the major reasons the system performs so well with everything I’ve thrown at it (the other major reason being the RTX 4080, of course).
It’s worth mentioning that with great performance comes an associate price tag, and in this case you’re looking at around AUD$1200. Not cheap, but for the enthusiast gamer who wants top-quality components (and the associated bragging rights), it’s going to be money well spent.
There’s absolutely no doubt this is the best Intel CPU for gaming on the market right now, and if you’re an overclocker or performance gaming enthusiast looking for bleeding-edge performance and with the budget to spend on it, then this is the CPU for you.