• Welcome to TechPowerUp Forums, Guest! Please check out our forum guidelines for info related to our community.

Intel Core i9-12900K Alder Lake Tested at Power Limits between 50 W and 241 W

W1zzard

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
May 14, 2004
Messages
24,041 (3.65/day)
Processor Core i7-8700K
Memory 32 GB
Video Card(s) RTX 3080
Display(s) 30" 2560x1600 + 19" 1280x1024
Software Windows 10 64-bit
We test Intel's Core i9-12900K at various TDP levels all the way down to 50 W to determine how much efficiency is really in the new Alder Lake core, and how these power limits affect performance. Competing with the efficiency of AMD's Zen 3 Ryzen lineup is just two settings changes away.

Show full review
 

Vecix6

New Member
Joined
May 21, 2020
Messages
28 (0.04/day)
Interesting info... But difficult to compare against Zen 3 without manual power adjust...

Mmm... Probably a typo at page 9, 4th paragraph:

Had they used the classic PL1=241, PL2=125 setting, then Core i9-12900K would end up significantly slower in reviews.

It would be PL1=125, PL2=241, no?

Sorry if there is another easier way to summit this kind of mistakes.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 14, 2019
Messages
2,407 (1.97/day)
Location
Midlands, UK
System Name Nebulon-B Mk. 3
Processor Intel Core i7-11700 @ ASUS Optimized (200 W)
Motherboard ASUS TUF Gaming B560M-Plus (WiFi)
Cooling be quiet! Silent Loop 2 280 mm
Memory 2x 16 GB Kinston Fury Beast RGB 3200 MHz
Video Card(s) EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 Black 8 GB @ 200 W
Storage 1 TB Crucial P5, 1 TB Crucial P5 Plus
Display(s) Samsung C24F390, 7" Waveshare touchscreen
Case Corsair Crystal 280X black
Audio Device(s) Genius SP-HF160, AKG Y50
Power Supply Seasonic Prime Ultra Platinum 550W
Mouse Cherry MW 8 Advanced
Keyboard MagicForce 68
Software Windows 10 Pro
Benchmark Scores Cinebench R23 multi core: 13,800, single core: 1,500. Superposition 1080p Extreme: 5,250.
Awesome test, thank you! :respect:

It shows exactly my point when I straight away dismiss claims saying "Intel is inefficient and runs hot". With custom PL settings, it's as efficient as the user wants it do be. Dropping PL values to reasonable levels gives the user a barely noticeable difference in observable performance, but a huge gain in efficiency and heat output. Reading reviewers that only test at maxed out power limits gives a one-sided and unrealistic picture.
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2021
Messages
665 (1.33/day)
Location
Slovenia
Processor i5-6600K
Motherboard Asus Z170A
Cooling some cheap Cooler Master
Memory 16GB DDR4-2400
Video Card(s) IGP
Storage Samsung 850 EVO 250GB
Display(s) 2x Oldell 24" 1920x1200
Case Bitfenix Nova white windowless
Audio Device(s) E-mu 1212m PCI
Power Supply Seasonic G-360
Mouse Logitech Marble trackball, never had a mouse
Keyboard Key Tronic KT2000, no Win key because 1994
Software Oldwin
The effect of setting the lowest power limit of 50W is actually similar to what you get when you enable E-cores only.

Does the CPU become more inclined to put load on E-cores when it's squeezed by a low power limit?
 
Joined
May 8, 2018
Messages
1,289 (0.88/day)
Location
London, UK
Incredible tests, the 12900k 100w mode is pretty good however in all tests 5900x was better overall with the same 100w. These tests showed that AMD 5900x at 100w is better than Intel 12900k at 100w.
 
Joined
Feb 19, 2009
Messages
1,139 (0.24/day)
Location
I live in Norway
System Name 4 sys spec seperated by "|"
Processor R9 5800x3d | R7 3900X | 4800H | 2x Xeon gold 6142
Motherboard Asrock X570M | AB350M Pro 4 | Asus Tuf A15
Cooling Air | Air | duh laptop
Memory 64gb G.skill SniperX @3600 CL16 | 128gb | 32GB | 192gb
Video Card(s) XFX RX 6800 Speedster |Quadro P5000 | RTX2060M
Storage Many drives
Display(s) M32Q,AOC 27" 144hz something.
Case Phanteks EvolvX M-Atx
Power Supply Corsair RM850
Mouse g502 Lightspeed
Keyboard G913 tkl
Software win10,unraid,Manjaro, proxmox
Benchmark Scores 33000FS, 16300 TS. Lappy, 7000 TS.
If they did 190 or 215 W or so, it would be so much better looking.
Just stupidity, makes the 12700K look so much more attractive.
 
Joined
May 3, 2018
Messages
684 (0.46/day)
I'd probably run something like a PL1 = 175W, PL2 = 225W split and you be probably at 98% of PL1=PL2=241W and a tad faster than the 190/190 split.

Any way great test and I'm really looking forward to Rocket Lake which will see significant improvements in power efficiency, IPC uplifts and up to 2x the Gracemont cores. Zen 4 and Zen 4c (Bergamo) though will provide much stiffer competition than Zen 3 or Zen 3+.
 
Joined
Jun 16, 2013
Messages
905 (0.28/day)
Location
Australia
System Name Current gaming rig + others...
Processor Core i7-11700K@5.0GHz all core / R5-2600X@stock / FX-8350@stock
Motherboard MSI Z590 Unify / MSI B450 Gaming pro carbon AC / Asus Sabertooth 990FX R2.0
Cooling Cryorig R1 Ultimate+2xCorsair ML140 / AMD stock cooler / Thermaltake NiC F4
Memory 32GB kit NeoForza@4600 CL19 / Teamgroup 16GB kit @ 2933 / 8GB kit Patriot viper 7 @ 2000Mhz
Video Card(s) MSI RX 5700 XT Evoke OC edition / Sapphire R9 Nano / 2 x Sapphire HD7870 GHz edition
Storage M.2 NVME - WD 750 black & Corsair MP510 / Lots of SSDs...
Display(s) Samsung 32" Odyssey G5 / Numerous Philips LCD panels...
Case Nanoxia Deep Silence 5 Rev.B / Lots of nice cheap cases!
Audio Device(s) Asus Xonar AE 7.1, Razer Tiamat 7.1/ Onboard for the rest of them...
Power Supply Corsair RM750x / Silverstone ST60F-Ti / Silverstone SST-ST55F-G
Mouse MSI Interceptor DS300 + Lots of optical mice!
Keyboard Razer Blackwidow Ultimate Stealth
Software Win10 64bit x 3
Benchmark Scores PCMark10 because its best benchmark ALL of system. https://www.3dmark.com/pcm10b/1336
Isn't the i9-12900k stock settings with its IMC only officially support DDR5-4800? Curiously, why did the test setup go with DDR5-6000? This was also the case with i9-12900k review.
I know this is a review about power consumption, but just pointing that out as I think the benchmark results will be influenced by this.
 
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
665 (0.19/day)
Location
Australia
System Name ATHENA
Processor AMD 5950X
Motherboard Aorus X570 Xtreme
Cooling Noctua NH-U12A, 3xNoctua IndustrialPPC 120mm 2000RPM PWM, 2xSilverstone AP 180mm 1200RPM
Memory 4x32GB Trident-Z 4000Mhz
Video Card(s) EVGA 3090 FTW Ultra Gaming
Storage 3 x Western Digital SN850 2TB
Display(s) Alienware AW3821DW, Wacom Cintiq Pro 15
Case Silverstone FT05
Audio Device(s) Topping A90/D90 MQA, Fluid FPX7 Fader Pro, Beyerdynamic T1 G2, Beyerdynamic MMX300
Power Supply Seasonic Prime Ultra Titanium 1000W
Mouse Xtrfy MZ1 - Zy' Rail, Logitech MX Vertical, Logitech MX Master 3
Keyboard Logitech G915 TKL
VR HMD HP Reverb G2
Software Windows 11 + OpenSUSE Tumbleweed
BRB, setting P states to 125w and moving on with my life.
 
Joined
Feb 15, 2019
Messages
929 (0.78/day)
Nice article as usual.

Some might even say Intel switched to PL1=PL2=241 W only to beat AMD's Zen 3 Ryzen processors in Cinebench.

That pretty much matches the reality.
 
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
901 (0.22/day)
System Name Better than before
Processor 10400
Motherboard B460 Pro4
Cooling Id-Cooling 224
Memory 16 GB
Video Card(s) 1650 Super
Storage Swordfish 500 GB
Display(s) AOC G2
Case Coolermaster Ammo 533
Audio Device(s) ALC1200
Power Supply Pure Power 11
Mouse G403
Keyboard Sidewinder x4
Software Windows 10 (ugh)
It's interesting seeing the efficiency chart show a sweet spot of 75-100w. Surprised to see 50w rated worse.
 
Joined
Dec 19, 2008
Messages
250 (0.05/day)
Location
WA, USA
System Name Desktop
Processor AMD Ryzen 3700X
Motherboard ASUS Strix B450-I
Cooling Noctua L9a
Memory 32GB DDR4 3200
Video Card(s) AMD RX 6800
Storage 480GB MyDigitalSSD NVME
Display(s) AOC CU34G2X
Case Salvo Studios S402
Power Supply 700w
Mouse Razer Deathadder Chroma
Keyboard Steelseries Apex 5
Crazy to see it never matches 5950X efficiency, even at 50-75W.
 

KaitouX

New Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2020
Messages
13 (0.02/day)
Awesome test, thank you! :respect:

It shows exactly my point when I straight away dismiss claims saying "Intel is inefficient and runs hot". With custom PL settings, it's as efficient as the user wants it do be. Dropping PL values to reasonable levels gives the user a barely noticeable difference in observable performance, but a huge gain in efficiency and heat output. Reading reviewers that only test at maxed out power limits gives a one-sided and unrealistic picture.
But you can also drop the PL with Ryzen CPUs, which would make at least the "Intel is inefficient" part continue to be true when compared to current AMD offerings. Testing at maxed out power limits isn't unrealistic when it's the default behavior in many cases, by using your argument, you could argue that the 5800X reviews were unrealistic as you could activate the Eco mode and show a much cooler and efficient CPU, but that isn't the default performance and neither is what most buyers are going to do with it. While I would love to see more reviews caring more about efficiency tweaks over overclocking, most people don't care about it.


Based on ComputerBase testing of the Eco mode on the 5900X and 5800X, they can achieve ~25%+ lower power consumption(150W at eco, 200 at stock, both measured at the wall) with ~8% performance loss, while the 5950X with the eco mode performed the same as a stock 5900X, losing 20% performance compared to stock, making it only slightly more efficient than the 5900X in Eco mode. The 5600X barely changes anything, only lowers the power consumption by 10W while performing basically the same as stock.
Would be interesting to see similar tests with other CPUs, maybe the i7 would benefit more from it, just like the 5900X and 5800X benefit more from the eco mode?
 
Joined
Mar 28, 2020
Messages
1,242 (1.59/day)
I think this review concludes that Intel threw power efficiency out of the window in their quest to take back their single core performance crown. The Golden Cove is actually a very good step up when it comes to IPC improvements, but because they are pushed so hard in terms of clock speed, they are burning through too much power to get there. Therefore, if anyone wants to get an Alder Lake, I think it makes sense to avoid i9 12900 series. The bulk of the processing power comes from the P-Cores, so I don't see why I want to spend so much for an extra 4 E-Cores, and a chip that guzzles power for a couple of hundred Mhz more.

Awesome test, thank you! :respect:

It shows exactly my point when I straight away dismiss claims saying "Intel is inefficient and runs hot". With custom PL settings, it's as efficient as the user wants it do be. Dropping PL values to reasonable levels gives the user a barely noticeable difference in observable performance, but a huge gain in efficiency and heat output. Reading reviewers that only test at maxed out power limits gives a one-sided and unrealistic picture.
Reviewers tend to test the product as is, i.e. recommended/ out of the box settings for the product. If Intel have changed the way the PL1 and 2 works, then it makes sense that it is tested as is, i.e. running at PL2 indefinitely as long as the cooler can maintain the temps below the threshold. And out of the box, the i9 12900K is factually a very power hungry product. So I don't think there is anything wrong with the testing. Only power users will go in and tweak the settings to make it more power efficient, and how many % of people buying an Intel Alder Lake CPU will be going into the BIOS to tweak it? In OEM machines, that option to tweak power limit may not even be available. So I don't think the general consensus from review sites paints an unrealistic picture.
 
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
978 (1.50/day)
Location
::1
no, the power efficiency is quite irrelevant for 1T, they threw out power efficiency for their (failed) attempt on nT perf ... (also why E-cores exist but yea)
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2019
Messages
700 (0.58/day)
Location
UK, Leicester
System Name Main PC
Processor 9900k@4.8ghz 1.25v
Motherboard Asrock Fatality K6 Z370
Cooling Noctua NH-D15S
Memory 32 Gig 3200CL14
Video Card(s) 3080 RTX FE
Storage 980 PRO 1TB (OS, others not listed)
Display(s) LG 27GL850
Case Fractal Define R4
Audio Device(s) Asus Xonar D2X
Power Supply Antec HCG 750
125w the sweet spot then.

above that the efficiency collapses.
 

Mussels

Freshwater Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 6, 2004
Messages
53,483 (8.31/day)
Location
Oystralia
System Name Rainbow Sparkles
Processor Ryzen R7 5800X (PBO tweaked, 4.4-5.05GHz)
Motherboard Asus x570 Gaming-F
Cooling EK Quantum Velocity AM4 + EK Quantum ARGB 3090 w/ active backplate. Dual rad.
Memory 2x32GB DDR4 3600 Corsair Vengeance RGB @3800 C18-22-22-22-42 TRFC704 (1.4V, SoC 1.15V Hynix MJR)
Video Card(s) Galax RTX 3090 SG 24GB: Often underclocked to 1500Mhz 0.737v
Storage 2TB WD SN850 NVME + 1TB Sasmsung 970 Pro NVME + WD AN1500 1TB + 1TB Intel 6000P NVME USB 3.2
Display(s) Gigabyte G32QC (4k80Hz, 1440p 165Hz) + Phillips 328m6fjrmb (4K 60Hz, 1440p 144Hz)
Case Fractal Design R6
Audio Device(s) Logitech G560 |Razer Leviathan | Corsair Void pro RGB |Blue Yeti mic
Power Supply Corsair HX 750i (Platinum, fan off til 300W)
Mouse Logitech G Pro wireless + Steelseries Prisma XL
Keyboard Razer Huntsman TE (custom white and steel keycaps)
VR HMD Oculus Rift S
Software Windows 11 pro x64 (Yes, it's genuinely a good OS)
Benchmark Scores I don't quite know how i managed to get such a top tier PC, I am not rich.
This reminds me so much of what AMD did with the 5800x - gave it a PPT of 142W, and let it burn at 90C to win cinebench runs.
Cap it to ~120W and suddenly you're 30C lower for 1-2% less performance


125W seems to be the best middle ground to me as well, maybe 150W (which was not tested) would give the best of everything (And in that case, using very similar wattages to the high end ryzens eliminating the complaints about higher cooling needs)
 
Joined
Jun 22, 2012
Messages
125 (0.03/day)
Processor Intel i7-12700K
Motherboard MSI PRO Z690-A WIFI
Cooling Noctua D15S
Memory Corsair Vengeance 2x16 GB DDR4-3600 C18
Video Card(s) Sapphire RX480 Nitro+
Storage Samsung 980 Pro, Crucial MX500 500GB
Case Fractal Define C
Power Supply Seasonic Focus GX-550
Thanks for this test, very illuminating. To be honest, I thought the 12900K would have had even better overall processing efficiency at lower power limits, but the result was not as good as I imagined it would be.

To reach or beat the 5950X in this regard, Alder Lake will likely also need 16 cores / 32 threads clocked at relatively low speeds (in multithread) and probably good binning.
 
Joined
Mar 21, 2016
Messages
1,430 (0.64/day)
I'd like to see if 60w PL1/PL2 would improve the efficiency results over the 75W PL1/PL2. It might be a better sweet spot a nudge higher due to some vdroop though I'm not sure speculation really. Is the 50W results a case of PL1/PL2 falling below nominal voltage!?

no, that's definitely not true. Intel's efficiency curve doesn't plummet until like 150-180W.
Far as I can tell it's about 120W to 180W PL2 where it really nose dives hard on efficiency in exchange for minor performance for maximum turbo power while 60W to 120W is ideal sweet spot range for the PL1 base power. Basically about 1/4 between min/max of the nominal which is 120W however with two processors and a base and turbo PL it's a little complex. That's my take away at least based on what I see of the results to glee from. It would be a bit easier to get a stronger idea certain with a little more testing to see if it holds true more or less.

This pretty much falls closely in line with what I felt all along with big LITTLE when Intel first announced they'd be taking such a chip approach and people were like whoa no little oh hell no I want more big cores that consume 8000W for 2% performance gains.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Nov 5, 2019
Messages
98 (0.11/day)
Location
Romania
System Name HELL->o!
Processor Ryzen 7 5800X3D
Motherboard MSI MEG X570S Ace Max
Cooling NH-D15 Chromax Black
Memory 2x16GB G.Skill RipjawsV 3600CL14 [14-14-14-34]@1.45V
Video Card(s) 6800 XT Red Devil
Storage 3x M.2; 3x Sata SSD
Display(s) MSI Optix MAG274QRF-QD&Asus VG248QE
Case Fractal Design Torrent
Audio Device(s) Edifier R2750DB; Edifier G7
Power Supply Seasonic Prime TX-1000
Mouse Redragon M711 FPS
Keyboard ReDragon Broadsword
Software Win10 Pro 64
Benchmark Scores No
Thank you so much for this test!
In my ignorance i had no idea that as a user you were given control of PL1 and PL2;
but in my defense who expected Intel to ever do that?
Ahhh! I LOVE THE COMPETITION!!!!!!
 
Joined
Jun 22, 2012
Messages
125 (0.03/day)
Processor Intel i7-12700K
Motherboard MSI PRO Z690-A WIFI
Cooling Noctua D15S
Memory Corsair Vengeance 2x16 GB DDR4-3600 C18
Video Card(s) Sapphire RX480 Nitro+
Storage Samsung 980 Pro, Crucial MX500 500GB
Case Fractal Define C
Power Supply Seasonic Focus GX-550
I'd like to see if 60w PL1/PL2 would improve the efficiency results over the 75W PL1/PL2. It might be a better sweet spot a nudge higher due to some vdroop though I'm not sure speculation really. Is the 50W results a case of PL1/PL2 falling below nominal voltage!?

I think efficiency can improve as long as the frequency can be decreased, but by default the CPU won't normally try to decrease frequency below the "base clock" to obey the PL1 setting. The base clock should be configurable in BIOS, however.

By the way: on Rocket Lake strange throttling behavior can occur if PL1=PL2, and both are set to a low level which would make frequency decrease below the base clock. At least this is what I observed on my i9-11900 (non-k).
 
Last edited:

W1zzard

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
May 14, 2004
Messages
24,041 (3.65/day)
Processor Core i7-8700K
Memory 32 GB
Video Card(s) RTX 3080
Display(s) 30" 2560x1600 + 19" 1280x1024
Software Windows 10 64-bit
It would be PL1=125, PL2=241, no?

Sorry if there is another easier way to summit this kind of mistakes.
Fixed, this is the easiest way and perfectly fine. You may also contact me through any other means

Reading reviewers that only test at maxed out power limits gives a one-sided and unrealistic picture.
Intel made it clear several times that this is the way the product is intended to be used.

Does the CPU become more inclined to put load on E-cores when it's squeezed by a low power limit?
Doubt it, but will test to verify

Isn't the i9-12900k stock settings with its IMC only officially support DDR5-4800? Curiously, why did the test setup go with DDR5-6000? This was also the case with i9-12900k review.
The official memory spec is always too low. Intel supports DDR4 at 3200, which nobody who's serious runs at, so I try to pick a reasonable config that people like us run (DDR4-3600 CL16 1T). In hindsight I have to admit DDR5-6000 is a bit high, but it was the kit GSKILL offered when not much was known about DDR5 choices, options and supply.

I think this review concludes that Intel threw power efficiency out of the window in their quest to take back their single core performance crown.
Multi-core, not single-core. Check SuperPi or MP3, no difference between power limits there

that as a user you were given control of PL1 and PL2;
That's the most important dial nowadays, especially on non-K models. Your cooler can't handle the heat? Just dial down the power limit a bit--no need to manually change the clocks. It will boost as high as it can, always 100% stable, and once it hits the power limit it will reduce clocks to stay within that limit. Thanks to Throttlestop this works on every system, including laptops and OEM boxes
 
Top