If there’s one thing Intel has been good at over the past few years, it’s an improvement in processor architecture. In 2015-2020, production problems prompted Intel to release not one, not two, but bake processor generations based on the 6th generation Skylake core iterations, while increasing clock speed and number of cores enough to stay competitive for much of this period.
This is an approach that Intel is returning to with its 13th Gen Core processors, the first of which were officially announced today. Intel codenamed Raptor Lake claims to have made some improvements to Intel 7’s CPU architecture and manufacturing process, but the strategy to improve their performance is both time-tested and easy to understand: add more cores and make them run at a higher clock speed speed.
Intel today announces three new processors, each with and without integrated graphics (usually models without a GPU have the letter “F” at the end): Core i9-13900K, Core i7-13700K and Core i5-13600K will be released on October 20 with new chipsets and Z790 motherboards. They will also work on all current generation 600 series motherboards as long as the motherboard manufacturer has provided a BIOS update and will continue to support DDR4 and DDR5 memory.
Raptor Lake uses the hybrid architecture that Intel introduced last year with its 12th Generation Alder Lake chips – a combination of high-performance cores (P cores) that keep games and other performance-sensitive applications running fast, as well as clusters of lower-performance cores (E-cores) which use less power – although in our tests on laptops and desktops it is clear that “performance” relates more to the number of cores that can fit in a given area on the CPU die, and less to the overall lower system power consumption.
There are a few other additions as well. The amount of L2 cache per core has almost doubled, from 1.25MB to 2MB per P core and 2MB to 4MB per E-core cluster (E cores always come in clusters of four). The processors will officially support DDR5-5600 RAM, compared to the current DDR5-4800 maximum, although the DDR5-4800 maximum can be easily surpassed with XMP memory kits on 12th generation motherboards.
The maximum officially supported speed of DDR4 RAM remains DDR4-3200, although the XMP caveat also applies there.
Regarding the number and frequency of cores, the Core i5 and Core i7 processors each get one additional cluster of e-cores, going from four to eight cores. Core i9 gets two new E-core clusters, increasing the number of cores from eight to 16. All E cores have a maximum boost clock which is 400 MHz higher than before. The number of P cores remains the same across the line, but the maximum boost clock speed has been increased by 600MHz, 400MHz, and 200MHz for the Core i9, i7, and i5 respectively. Like the K-series chips, they are all unlocked for overclocking when used with Z690 or Z790 motherboards.
Launch prices are up $ 30 for the Core i5 models, but remain flat for the other two. As usual, Intel does not include any CPU coolers with K or KF series chips. Here’s how each CPU stacks up to its predecessor:
|processor||Run suggested retail price||P / E colors||Clocks (Base / Boost)||Total Cache (L2 + L3)||Basic / maximum power|
|Core i9-13900K||$ 589
564 USD (F)
|8P / 16E||3.0 / 5.8 GHz (P)
2.2 / 4.3 GHz (E)
|68 MB (32 + 36)||125/253 W|
|Core i9-12900K||$ 589
564 USD (F)
|8P / 8E||3.2 / 5.2 GHz (P)
2.4 / 3.9 GHz (E)
|34 MB (14 + 30)||125/241 W|
|Core i7-13700K||PLN 409
384 USD (F)
|8P / 8E||3.4 / 5.4 GHz (P)
2.5 / 4.2 GHz (E)
|54 MB (24 + 30)||125/253 W|
|Core i7-12700K||$ 490
384 USD (F)
|8P / 4E||3.6 / 5.0 GHz (P)
2.7 / 3.8 GHz (E)
|37 MB (12 + 25)||125/190 W|
|Core i5-13600K||PLN 319
294 USD (F)
|6P / 8E||3.5 / 5.1 GHz (P)
2.6 / 3.9 GHz (E)
|44 MB (24 + 20)||125/181 W|
264 USD (F)
|6P / 4E||3.7 / 4.9 GHz (P)
2.8 / 3.6 GHz (E)
|29.5 MB (9.5 + 20)||125 / 150W|
Together, according to Intel, all of these changes will increase the performance of the i9-13900K single-threaded processor by about 15 percent, with most of the improvement being attributed to the increase in clock speed on the P-core. That’s less than the 29 percent of AMD AMD has achieved across the line with Zen 4 chips, and will be lower on the i7 and i5. But that’s pretty decent for the year-over-year growth. Multithreading performance is the area where you’ll see the most gains, with additional cache, increased clock speeds, and increased E-core cores all together improving the i9-13900K performance by 41 percent compared to the i9-12900K (although, again, this figure may be less impressive for the i7 and i5).
Since the manufacturing process only improves slightly at best, the price you will pay for the extra clock speed and number of cores is higher power consumption. Intel keeps the base power of these 13th generation processors unchanged at 125W, but the maximum turbo power figures have increased significantly – the 253W Core i9-13900K maximum is the maximum power officially supported by the LGA1700 socket, although it’s possible that some high-end motherboards may let it go even higher.
But that doesn’t mean Intel is throwing energy efficiency out of the window entirely. When limited to 65W base power, Intel says improvements to Raptor Lake will allow chips to handle multi-threaded loads as quickly as the Core i9-12900K running at 241W. provide high performance with high energy consumption, but users can stop them if they wish.
As for the included Z790 chipset, it has a few improvements over the previous generation Z690, but it’s probably not worth upgrading if you’re already using a 600 series motherboard you like. The chipset now has a total of 20 PCIe 4.0 lanes for SSDs and other accessories, and eight PCIe 8.0 lanes – the Z690 has 12 PCIe 4.0 lanes and 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes, so Intel is clearly shifting the balance towards faster connectivity. The Z790 also supports one additional USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 20Gbps port, for a total of five, and completely removes support for primary USB 2.0 ports. The PCIe 5.0 platform lanes for next-generation GPUs and SSDs are still built into the CPU, not the chipset itself.
Intel has not announced any other 13th generation processor models today, but teased that there will be a standard range of chips in the coming months – lower wattage, cheaper desktop parts, as well as laptop processors designed for everything from thin and light from ultrabooks to bulky gaming laptops with LEDs. Intel says we can expect other desktop processors to get more E cores as well, as previous rumors have already suggested. We expect to find out more about these chips at CES in January.