Update 3/28: Following Newegg’s flub on Friday, Intel today is now (finally) officially announcing the Core i9-12900KS. The company’s new flagship consumer desktop chip will be going on sale next Tuesday, April 5th, with a recommended price of $739.

In terms of specifications, Newegg’s posting has turned out to be spot-on, with a maximum turbo clock of 5.5GHz and an all-core turbo clock of 5.2GHz. As were the 150 Watt base TDP and 241 Watt turbo TDP. All of which stands to make this Intel’s fastest consumer desktop chip yet, and one of the more power hungry.

It should be noted that Intel typically lists their chip prices in quantities of 1000 units. So while Intel’s official $739 price tag is lower than the $799 price in Newegg’s initial listing, it’s very likely that the retail price for the chip will land near or at $799 anyhow – though we’ll know for sure come April 5th.

Finally, availability for the i9-12900KS should be better than past Intel special edition chips (e.g. 9900KS). In our conversations with the company, we’ve learned that the goal of the 12900KS is to be more available than previous editions. It’s still a super small part of Intel’s overall Alder Lake offering (we’re hearing it’s a sub 1% of all chips can achieve Intel’s metrics for it), but the internal goal at least is to make sure it’s on more shelves this time.

The rest of the original story, updated with final figures and prices, follows below.

March 25th

Long expected from Intel, the Core i9-12900KS is now out of the bag thanks to an apparently accidental listing from Newegg. The major PC parts retailer listed the unannounced Intel chip for sale and began taking orders earlier this morning. pulling it a couple of hours later. But with the scale and popularity of Newegg – as well as having the complete specifications posted – the cat is now irreversibly out of the bag.

The Core i9-12900KS, where the S stands for Special Edition, pushes the standard 12900K to new frequency highs. The processor is in an 8P+8E configuration, with the key data points being the 5.5 GHz Turbo frequency across two cores, and 5.2 GHz Turbo frequency across all cores – and like the other K parts, with sufficient cooling this chip has an unlimited turbo period. Given the extreme clockspeeds, this is going to be a ‘thin-bin’ part, which means that Intel is going to need to do extra binning to bring these processors to market in sufficient quantities with the characteristics determined by the bin.

Intel 12th Gen Core, Alder Lake
AnandTech Cores
iGPU Base
i9-12900KS 8+8/24 2500 4000 3400 5500 770 150 241 $739
i9-12900K 8+8/24 2400 3900 3200 5200 770 125 241 $589
i9-12900KF 8+8/24 2400 3900 3200 5200 - 125 241 $564
i7-12700K 8+4/20 2700 3800 3600 5000 770 125 190 $409
i7-12700KF 8+4/20 2700 3800 3600 5000 - 125 190 $384
i5-12600K 6+4/16 2800 3600 3700 4900 770 125 150 $289
i5-12600KF 6+4/16 2800 3600 3700 4900 - 125 150 $264

Compared to the regular Core i9-12900K, this new processor adds +100 MHz on the E-core and P-core all-core turbo frequencies, but +300 MHz on the top turbo. Meanwhile base clockspeeds are going up slightly as well, to 2.5Ghz for the E-cores and 3.4GHz on the P-cores – though given the high-end nature of the chip, the 12900KS is unlikely to spend much (if any) time not deep into turbo.

TDPs have also gone up slightly to support the higher clockspeeds; while Turbo power remains at 241 W, base power is now 150 W, up from 125W for the normal 12900K. Rounding out the package is support for DDR4-3200 and DDR5-4800, and integrated UHD 770 graphics.

Intel has launched ‘Special Edition’ models before. The most recent was the Core i9-9900KS, an updated version of the i9-9900K. The KS was the first model to have 5.0 GHz across all eight cores, however supply was limited and it was hard to get hold of. Though in our conversations with the company, we’ve learned that the goal of the 12900KS is to be more available than previous editions. It’s still a super small part of Intel’s overall Alder Lake offering (we’re hearing it’s a sub 1% of all chips can achieve Intel’s metrics for it), but the internal goal at least is to make sure it’s on more shelves this time.

Some of the 12900KS details were leaked even before today's quasi-launch, with some commentary about how this extra frequency is readily available on the standard 12900K with a little overclocking. The difference here is the guarantee of that frequency without needing to overclock – the same argument as it was before with the 9900KS vs 9900K. To a number of users, that’s a useful guarantee to have, especially with pre-built systems and system integrators.

Intel’s main competition comes in the form of two AMD processors. For overall multithreaded throughput, the existing 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X remains AMD's top chip. Meanwhile on the gaming front, competition comes from AMD’s forthcoming Ryzen 7 5800X3D, which is an 8 core processor with an extra 64 MB of L3 cache to help with gaming. AMD is claiming +15% gaming performance over the Ryzen 9 5900X, and 0.98x to 1.2x over the 12900K at 1080p High settings, so it will be interesting to see how they compare. Neither Intel nor AMD have access to each other’s chips right now, so a direct comparison using both sets of data is likely to be inconclusive right now.

Top Tier Processor Options
AnandTech Cores
i9-12900KS 8+8 3400 5500 30 150 241 $739
R9 5950X 16+0 3400 4900 64 105 142 $590
i9-12900K 8+8 3200 5200 30 125 241 $610
R9 5900X 12+0 3700 4800 64 105 142 $450
R7 5800X3D 8+0 3400 4500 96 105 142 $449
i7-12700K 8+4 3600 5000 25 125 190 $385

With street pricing on Intel's existing i9-12900K already running at about $610, Intel has upped the ante even further on pricing for the new special edition chip. Officially, Intel is listing the i9-12900KS at $739, and this is almost certainly the company's usual 1000 unit bulk price. Newegg's early listing, on the other hand, was for $799. And while pricing is subject to change (with high-end products it's often decided at the last minute), Newegg's initial price is likely to be at or near the final retail price of the chip once it is released.

Assuming for the moment that Newegg's price is accurate, the $799 price tag represents a further $189 premium for the higher-clocked chip. Suffice it to say, Intel isn't intending this to be a bargain chip, but rather is charging an additional premium for the chart-topping clockspeeds.

What is interesting for gamers is that while Intel has decided to turbo-charge its high-end processor, AMD beefed up one of its mid-range instead. Which means there's a pretty significant price disparity here, reflecting the fact that Intel's top gaming chip is also their top chip for overall multithreaded processing. So depending how performance plays out, Intel may pull off a win here in gaming, but it probably won't do much to move the market share (or dissuade 5800X3D buyers).

It should be pointed out that based on our research, the 12900KS is not a reactionary measure to the AMD chip. AnandTech has seen documents showing that the KS was part of the processor list during Alder Lake development, but has required extra time to mature and finalize – so much so that we wrote up a version of today's article months in advance, expecting an earlier announcement/release date. So Intel's plans up to now have been in flux, and while the company is certainly not above raining on AMD's parade, they also have other ambitions with their 16 core heterogeneous processor.

At the time of writing it's not clear when the i9-12900KS will be formally released. Newegg's early posting had a "first available" date of March 10th, so it may be someone was off by a month there (Update: Intel has announced an April 5th launch date). But we can’t wait to get these chips in for testing.

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  • bwj - Friday, March 25, 2022 - link

    It would take a miracle for this thing to actually hit that speed, right? You'd need to have only 1 core active and the CPU stone cold.

    My 12700K rarely records hitting 5GHz even when I hit it with a sudden single-threaded workload.
  • Bluecobra - Friday, March 25, 2022 - link

    I think that Task Manager is inaccurate when it comes to these CPUs, have you tried HWMonitor? I have an i9-12900K running at stock settings and I see cores #4 and #6 jumping to 5.2Ghz all the time with normal use in Windows 10.
  • Alistair - Friday, March 25, 2022 - link

    I have the same chip. It is called a manual OC. The only thing that would actually matter is if you can run it at 5.4ghz/5.7ghz easily.
  • Oxford Guy - Friday, March 25, 2022 - link

    Intel no longer offers an overclocking warranty.

    (We’ll ignore that the company has the nerve, though, to trot out one of its staff as being the ambassador of Intel overclocking.)
  • coburn_c - Friday, March 25, 2022 - link

    Wow! Such Amazing! Get the 12700k
  • Oxford Guy - Friday, March 25, 2022 - link

    ‘Given the extreme clockspeeds, this is going to be a ‘thin-bin’ part, which means that Intel is going to need to do extra binning to bring these processors to market in sufficient quantities with the characteristics determined by the bin.’

    The overclocker known as ‘The Stilt’ claimed that AMD’s 9590 CPU was the opposite of what people commonly believe binning means. He said parts needing less voltage aren’t necessarily better. Instead, they are higher leakage which means less power-efficient (less voltage but higher current). They hit the thermal limit faster than lower-leakage chips needing higher voltage for the same clock.

    Most consumers believe that a chip that requires less voltage is a better-quality more-efficient bin but he said it’s the opposite — that AMD had to downgrade the AM3+ specification to accommodate the desperate exploitative (my words) 9000-series release. He said AMD would have had to send the chips to the crusher.

    He also said that with conventional cooling (air and non-chilled water), a lower-leakage rather than lower-voltage part is better for performance. When trying to break records via nitrogen, then higher-leakage chips are preferred. The exception to the general rule is the very low-leakage design — where the very low leakage impairs its ability to reach high clocks even with conventional cooling.

    What he claimed is the complete opposite of everything I have seen written about in consumer/enthusiast journalism. Is he correct?

    If so, this part may be a bin that’s worse than the others in terms of efficiency. The higher leakage, though, can help (with lots of cooling) guarantee frequencies at stock beyond the typical range.

    This site’s coverage of Fermi (GTX 480) said Nvidia (claimed) higher-leakage transistors were used in parts of the design to increase performance at the cost of higher temps/power. That appears to the exactly the logic ‘The Stilt’ presented. So, again... why does everyone (outside of that Fermi coverage) equate lower-voltage chip bins with higher clocks (and efficiency/quality)?

    If both pieces of logic are correct, it’s more a matter of chasing inefficiency to obtain diminished returns (where nitrogen cooling is the most obvious end game).
  • Sunrise089 - Friday, March 25, 2022 - link

    Interesting comment. This isn’t my wheelhouse to reply with any authority, but seems like an interesting question to have raised.
  • The Von Matrices - Tuesday, March 29, 2022 - link

    It would all depend on the limiting factor in the chip's design. If clock speed cannot be raised regardless of the voltage, then leakier transistors would make sense. But if the limit is power, with the chip (and VRM) overheating before voltage becomes the issue, then you would want less leaky transistors to achieve a higher clock speed.
  • croc - Friday, March 25, 2022 - link

    Please wake me when Intel releases an HEDT part with at least 36, preferably 40, pcie lanes from the CPU. The W parts are getting old, rare, and thus higher-than-kite priced. Not to mention low clocks speeds. AND for the AMD fanbois... No new threadripper part for almost two years now. Pro parts don't count for me, as they are currently unavailable to anyone not Lenovo. And, if they are ever released to the public at large, they will be as rare as hens' teeth. AMD is still not performing at the 7mm node well enough to service its EPYC backlog, and these parts come from those wafers.

    HEDT segment is getting the shit end of the stick these days.
  • Khanan - Sunday, March 27, 2022 - link

    AMD isn’t building processors, TSMC is. So if you wanna blame anyone for not enough options that would be TSMC as they have a limited amount of production or wafers. And AMD chose to build the more expensive Pro line with those. That said, Threadripper Pro will probably leak to the market in a few months or be officially buyable, so with the right money anyone can buy it for a self made WS. Upside is, those have octa channel and more lanes.

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