Top-end processors have always been of great interest to the most demanding desktop users. Flagship models allow you to navigate the capabilities of the current generation platforms, compare them with your needs, and generally evaluate the power of the fastest CPUs. At the beginning of this year, Intel (the official distributor in Ukraine is ASBIS-Ukraine) has introduced the Core i9-13900KS chip, which is the first in the 13th generation Core desktop lineup (Raptor Lake-S). The peculiarity of this model is that it is the first CPU in the industry that reaches a symbolic frequency of 6 GHz in normal operation. We had the opportunity to test the capabilities of the Core i9-13900KS platform, so we are ready to share our impressions of the “charged” system.
Intel Core i9-13900KS processor
Before considering the system’s features, let’s say a few words about the Core i9-13900KS. The history of this model is quite interesting. First of all, we should note that this is the flagship of the LGA1700 desktop chip line. The processor has a hybrid layout and includes 8 productive cores (P-Cores) with Raptor Cove architecture and support for Hyper-Threading technology, as well as 16 energy-efficient Gracemont cores (E-Cores). That is, we have a 24-core chip that can simultaneously process up to 32 data streams.
The appearance of the “special edition” processor had several meanings. Firstly, the developers probably wanted to achieve a significant frequency milestone by offering the first processor with regular frequencies of up to 6 GHz. And this is indeed a remarkable achievement, given that the CPU chip is manufactured using the Intel 7 process, which is actually a 10-nanometer technology. Intel has managed to polish the production of silicon wafers to such a degree that it allows setting frequency records. Secondly, the existing competitive struggle forces to take desperate steps even in cases where the advantage over alternative solutions may be insignificant, but very fundamental. This is the case when even fractions of a percent are crucial.
The Core i9-13900KS has a frequency formula of 3.2/6.0 GHz for high-performance cores and 2.2/4.3 GHz for energy-efficient cores. The processor is equipped with 36 MB of third-level cache, and the total L2 cache capacity of all computing units is 32 MB. If we compare the technical characteristics of the flagship with those of the previous model in the line – Core i9-13900K, the differences are not so significant. As you can see in the table, it is primarily about the ability to accelerate up to 6000 MHz under one or two cores, while the nominally younger version raises frequencies up to 5800 MHz. In addition, in both cases, we are talking about reaching these frequencies if the cooling system allows it.
It should also be noted that the manufacturer has nominally increased the basic level of power consumption (Processor Base Power) for Core i9-13900KS from 125 to 150 watts. At the same time, the Maximum Turbo Power limit has remained at the same level – 253 watts. However, the top-of-the-line model also has an additional Extreme Power Delivery Profile, which provides for the possibility of increasing power consumption up to 320W during maximum CPU acceleration.
The flagship of the line has 16 PCI-E 5.0 lines and 4 PCI-E 4.0 lines for connecting drives. It comes with standard support for DDR5-5600/DDR4-3200 RAM modules. Like the Core i9-13900K, the Core i9-13900KS model also has integrated Intel UHD Graphics 770 with 32 executive modules and a peak frequency of 1.65 GHz.
Детальніше архітектурні особливості чипів Raptor Lake-S ми розглядали в огляді процесора Core i9-13900F. If you are interested, you can refer to the relevant material.
Returning to the features of Core i9-13900KS, it should be noted that the chips of this model undergo additional rigorous selection (binning) at the stage of manufacturing the processors. The test determines the performance of the crystals at a certain frequency with specified parameters (supply voltage, power consumption, heating). Accordingly, the best chips that operate at 6000+ MHz will be primarily used for Core i9-13900KS. So potentially, this is not only a guaranteed “six” from the manufacturer, but also the most promising CPUs for further overclocking. For this reason, Core i9-13900KS is priced at $699, while the recommended price of Core i9-13900K for the US market is $589.
In Ukraine, the current price of the top-of-the-line Core i9-13900KS model is about UAH 33,000 (~$850).
The processor is offered exclusively in the retail version. The “special edition” of the chip comes in a special package. The cardboard box looks quite familiar, but the internal additional damper is designed in the form of a round silver box symbolizing a silicon wafer. It’s a small thing, but as you can see, the Special Edition starts with the packaging.
Outwardly, of course, the Core i9-13900KS chip itself is not much different from the regular 13th-generation Intel Core models for the LGA1700 platform. Well, of course, except for the appropriate labeling.
Before testing the platform on the top-end chip, let us briefly describe the components of the system. Let’s start with the motherboard. According to the specification, models based on Intel 600/700 series chipsets are suitable for the Core i9-13900KS. Given the power requirements of the CPU, a board with a sufficiently powerful power supply regulator (VRM) is required to keep the CPU running at maximum performance. ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 HERO was used for the test system. A representative of an enthusiastic line that has a long history.
The Intel Z790-based model is equipped with a 21-phase power subsystem with powerful MOSFETs (up to 90A) and a pair of EPS12V connectors for connecting additional power. Other interesting features of the board include support for PCI-E 5.0 x16 and the ability to connect an M.2 PCI-E 5.0 drive with the optional ROG Hyper M.2 expansion card, which is a rather non-trivial task for the LGA1700 platform.
The interface panel boasts a pair of Thunderbolt 4 (Type-C) connectors at once, and gadget enthusiasts will like the ability to bring USB Type-C with Quick Charge 4+ (up to 60 W) to the front of the case. The board will also please those with ears to hear – the model uses the ROG SupremeFX ALC4082 sound codec with an additional ESS ES9218 DAC. In general, the developers have put a lot of effort into additionally decorating ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 HERO so that the potential owner can accept the price tag of this high-tech product.
As with all Intel enthusiast chips, the Core i9-13900KS model comes without a standard cooling system. That is, it is initially assumed that the owner of the CPU will choose a suitable cooler on his own. In the case of the flagship of the line, this issue should be given maximum attention. Considering the energy appetite of the chip under multi-threaded load, it will not be a mistake to choose from the most efficient liquid cooling systems.
In our case, we used a brand new three-section Corsair iCUE H150i ELITE LCD XT. It is a model with a powerful pump and a large water block with three 120 mm fans (550-2100 rpm) equipped with RGB-backlighting. The 450 mm long hoses allow the SRO to be used in large enclosures. A special feature of the model is a 2.1-inch LCD screen with extensive customization options (system information, custom images and animations).
However, finishes and personalization options take a backseat in the case of the 13900KS. The top priority is given to cooling efficiency. We will return to this issue during practical experiments.
Of course, the system needs RAM. The motherboard supports DDR5 RAM, so modules of this type were used for the current platform. For top-class desktop systems, 32 GB is already considered the minimum amount of RAM. More – if necessary. The test system was equipped with a dual-channel Corsair VENGEANCE RGB DDR5-6000 2×16 GB kit (CMH32GX5M2B6000C40W). A fairly affordable set with spectacular RGB backlighting. The delay formula of CL40-40-40-77 is not the most aggressive, but the platform allows you to use faster kits if you wish.
The GeForce RTX 4080 16GB graphics card will help maintain the reputation of a powerful gaming platform. In the current case, we used the ASUS TUF-RTX4080-O16G-GAMING model with a large cooler equipped with three fans and additional factory GPU acceleration. It is in the context of a gaming system that the importance of a graphics adapter can hardly be overestimated, so such equipment requires considerable costs. Of course, if there are no price restrictions, then the GeForce RTX 4090 24GB will be the ultimate option.
A 2 TB Corsair MP600 PRO drive was used for data storage. The model is one of the highest-performing SSDs in the M.2 PCI-E x4 NVMe class. The drive is based on the Phison E18 controller and uses 128-layer Micron 3D TLC chips. The maximum declared transfers are 7000/6550 MB/s, and the SSD has quite high guaranteed write values (TBW 1400 TB for the 2 TB model) and a 5-year manufacturer’s warranty. In addition, the Corsair MP600 PRO line features a built-in cooler that improves the temperature of the SSD and will surely be more efficient than most standard M.2 radiators on motherboards.
The Corsair RM850 PSU was responsible for the stable power supply of the platform. A proven model with a modular power cable layout and 80 PLUS Gold certification. Among the features, we note the operation of the unit in Zero RPM mode, which implies functioning in passive mode with the fan stopping to a certain load level. In the case of CORSAIR RM850 it is 340 W. As for the total power, it is customary to start from the recommendations of video card manufacturers. For systems based on GeForce RTX 4080, NVIDIA indicates the need for a 750W unit. Given the use of the top-end Core i9-13900KS in the platform, it makes sense to increase this figure. So in this case, 850 watts is the rational minimum for a system of this class.
The Corsair RM850 does not support the ATX 3.0 standard with a 12VHPWR connector, so an adapter with three 8-pin connectors was used to connect additional power to the video card. Such clusters of connectors do not look very attractive aesthetically. Not surprisingly, manufacturers are trying to solve this issue.
For a desktop system, the choice of chassis largely depends on your own preferences. For a seriously charged platform with an ATX motherboard, we used the spacious Corsair 5000D AIRFLOW Tempered Glass White. The case has zoning, a sophisticated cable management system, multiple fan slots, and a tempered glass side panel. The model is available in black and white colors, and in the latter version the graphite frame along the contour of the front panel perfectly emphasizes the overall texture of the system unit.
Initially, the case comes with a pair of 120mm fans mounted on the front and rear walls. To improve ventilation, as well as add some dramatic lighting, an optional Corsair LL120 RGB set of three fans was also used to provide airflow behind the front panel. Given the mesh design of the front wall, the additional backlighting added a certain charm to the overall look of the system unit.
It’s hard to imagine a powerful gaming system without additional peripherals, and here tastes and personal preferences can play an even bigger role than in the case of the case. You only have to look at the latter on a daily basis, while the mouse is an extension of the cyberwarrior’s arm, and the keyboard should at least clearly work out sometimes confusing combinations of button presses and not annoy you with the sound of switches. A gaming surface and a headset are also usually mandatory accompanying elements of a gaming platform. In our case, the peripheral set included devices from Corsair.
The Corsair IRONCLAW RGB WIRELESS wireless mouse is a fairly large full-size model with an ergonomic body shape, PixArt PMW3391 optical sensor (18,000 dpi) and Omron switches. In addition, the mouse has additional programmable buttons and three RGB backlight zones.
A Corsair MM200 PRO XL mat with dimensions of 400×450 mm and increased thickness to 6 mm was used as a gaming surface. For reliable grip on the table, a textured rubber base is used, and the top is a fabric with an additional water-repellent coating.
The system was also equipped with a Corsair K63 keyboard. Compact gaming model without an additional digital unit with mechanical switches Cherry MX Red. It has additional multimedia buttons and a space bar with additional corrugation. The keyboard has red backlighting with a separate LED for each key.
The peripherals are complemented by a wired USB headset Corsair HS80 RGB USB with a fairly comfortable headband, decent sound, and a high-quality microphone. Fabric plush ear cushion covers allow you to withstand long gaming sessions without additional discomfort. RGB fans will be grateful for the logo illumination on the cups. Of course, it is customizable. More useful features include a volume wheel and a microphone mute button.
Well, it’s time to summarize the preliminary financial results by determining the estimated cost of building such a platform.
|CPU||Intel Core i9-13900KS||33 000 грн|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG MAXIMUS Z790 HERO||27 000 UAH|
|Cooling||Corsair iCUE H150i ELITE LCD XT||15 000 UAH|
|Additional fans||Corsair LL120 RGB (3 Fan Pack)||4000 UAH|
|Memory||Corsair VENGEANCE RGB DDR5-6000 32GB (CMH32GX5M2B6000C40W 2×16 ГБ)||4800 UAH|
|Video card||ASUS TUF GAMING GeForce RTX 4080 OC 16 ГБ (TUF-RTX4080-O16G-GAMING)||58 000 UAH|
|Drive||Corsair MP600 PRO 2TB||6400 UAH|
|PSU||Corsair RM850 (850W 80 PLUS Gold, CP-9020232)||6700 UAH|
|Body||Corsair 5000D AIRFLOW Tempered Glass White (CC-9011211-WW)||7500 UAH|
|Keyboard||Corsair K63||3900 UAH|
|Mouse||Corsair IRONCLAW RGB WIRELESS||2600 UAH|
|Playing surface||Corsair MM200 PRO XL||800 UAH|
|Headset||Corsair HS80 RGB USB||3600 UAH|
|Total:||173 300 UAH|
In the works
We start the practical part with a first check of the processor’s capabilities. As we have already mentioned, Core i9-13900KS is a 24-core 32-thread chip with a base TDP of 150 watts. This is what the CPU-Z service utility tells us.
The chip includes 8 productive cores and 16 additional energy-efficient cores, which are also used to process background tasks and help with multi-threaded tasks. First of all, we had to evaluate the frequency limits of Core i9-13900KS for such cases when all the computing resources of the CPU are maximally utilized. To generate such conditions, it is convenient to use the popular Cinebench R23 benchmark, which uses all processor cores during the multithreaded stage of scene rendering.
As you can see on the screenshot, the system scored about 40,000 points in multi-threaded mode and about 2150 in single-threaded mode. We also monitored the frequency parameters of the Core i9-13900KS during the benchmarks.
It turned out that at maximum load, the frequency of productive cores is steadily maintained at 5600 MHz, and energy-efficient cores at 4300 MHz. With the restrictions removed, the CPU can operate for a long time in this mode, providing the maximum result.
However, it should be noted that initially with the default BIOS settings, the chip consumed about 350 watts in this mode. The ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 HERO firmware has quite aggressive settings and is “charged” for additional overclocking. Therefore, you need to rely on the efficiency of the cooling system, or even better, optimize the CPU. We used a simple but effective way to reduce the CPU supply voltage.
Using the -0.07 V offset method, we managed to get absolutely stable operation of the chip with the same frequency performance. At the same time, the peak power consumption of the processor was already 310-320 watts. This is also quite a challenge for any cooling system, even when it comes to a powerful SRO. In our case, the Corsair iCUE H150i ELITE LCD XT kept the processor temperature under maximum multi-threaded load at 95-100C, and there was no thermal trotting effect.
High performance requires making certain compromises, and you need to be prepared for that. However, we note that these are actually the maximum values. In games, the heating and power consumption of the processor is much lower. The temperature is in the range of 50-70C, and taco consumption is highly dependent on the specific project. From 60-70 watts in simple games to ~160-180 watts in Cyberpunk 2077.
If you get carried away with additional optimizations, it is important not to cross the line when another decrease in the supply voltage of the computing cores leads to instability of the CPU. It should also be borne in mind that this indicator is individual for each individual instance of the processor, so the threshold is determined exclusively by experimentation.
As for single-threaded mode, the processor reaches the announced 6000 MHz at its peak. So everything is fair, the coveted “six” right out of the box. Of course, the processor reaches such frequencies only when loaded on one or two cores. However, the symbolic milestone has been reached.
The tests in the list of synthetic stages demonstrate very good performance of the platform. The powerful processor delivers excellent results on the benchmarks where the CPU’s computing capabilities are crucial. Of course, on the system-wide benchmarks, there is the influence of the high-speed drive and the very powerful graphics card.
It should be noted that the system used a dual-channel DDR5-6000 RAM kit. The default set does not have a very aggressive timing formula, so the overall bandwidth and especially latency indicators are not exceptional.
However, transfers at 82-93 GB/s and latency at 75 ns are not unimpressive either. Here you can already act on the principle of rational sufficiency. This is in any case better than the situation with DDR4, which, by the way, Core i9-13900KS also supports. However, the LGA1700 platform will get an additional performance boost when using kits faster than DDR5-6000, but they are more expensive.
According to CrystalDiskMark, the Corsair MP600 PRO 2TB drive not only achieved the claimed 7000/6550 MB/s transfer rate on the test platform, but also exceeded the write speed target.
In more extensive benchmarks that generate a load on the drive that is similar to realistic in a variety of applications, the SSD demonstrates decent performance. The values are not record-breaking, but in general, the Corsair MP600 PRO is able to join the group of the fastest models in the M.2 PCI-E 4.0 x4 class.
The standard cooler that is initially attached to the SSD adds solidity to the appearance and allows you to keep the drive’s heat under control. However, the presence of such an element can sometimes lead to unexpected curious situations. One of them happened during the assembly of the test system.
The fact is that the ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 HERO motherboard has an additional cooler for the first M.2 port with PCI-E processor lines as standard. And in this case, it’s two radiators – for the elements on both sides of the SSD. It’s a great idea, but not for models that are already equipped with their own cooler.
Otherwise, it would not have been a problem to dismantle the heatsinks on the board and install an SSD with its own module. But here the situation turned out to be special: the basic mounting of the cooler on the board is designed for 22110 models (to increase the size and dissipation area), but the additional stand for mounting standard M.2 2280 models is mounted directly on the bottom plate of the radiator, not on the PCB. In such circumstances, we would either have to abandon the native Corsair MP600 PRO cooler or install the SSD in one of the additional M.2 ports provided by the chipset. choosing the latter option, as you can see, there was no loss of performance.
During the practical experiments, we also paid attention to the implementation of the sound subsystem, which is qualitatively different from the usual integrated solutions. An improved codec, a separate DAC, and the overall equipment of the module are making a difference.
The sound is high quality and well balanced. “The highs are clear and detailed, the midrange sounds natural, the mid-range does not have signs of “sounding like a barrel”, and the bass is powerful and clear at the same time. The only thing that can be noted is that users who are accustomed to moderate “soft” sound may feel a little exaggerated and harsh upper frequencies on some compositions. But this is subject to adjustment.
One of the interesting and useful features is that Corsair offers iCUE software package for its products – a convenient package for debugging, setting parameters and highlighting the manufacturer’s devices. For certain elements, it even provides parameter monitoring.
ASUS TUF-RTX4080-O16G-GAMING has an improved frequency formula compared to the reference model GeForce RTX 4080 16 GB. The additional acceleration of the GPU is +90 MHz, so this will add a certain number of frames per second.
In general, the capabilities of the front-end graphics card in the modern NVIDIA lineup are already quite familiar, so of course the performance of the boosted adapter is pleasantly surprising. Of course, for an ultimatum configuration with Core i9-13900KS, the flagship GeForce RTX 4090 24GB would be very appropriate, but the total budget in this case would have to be increased by ~20,000 UAH.
Performance in games
In our conditions, we propose to evaluate how effective the Core i9-13900KS + GeForce RTX 4080 16 GB combination will be in real games.
Such a platform will probably not be used for gaming in Full HD mode. The configuration is too powerful and expensive for 1920×1080, so let’s consider the situation with the more likely mode of 1440p. As you can see in the general chart, the PC delivers excellent performance in this mode. Even in frankly heavy (or poorly ported) projects, we have over 100 fps. To summarize the results, the average number of frames per second in the proposed list of games is 182 fps, and the average minimum is 133 fps. Of course, such an “average hospital temperature” is not a completely correct estimate, but the actual performance of the 14 projects presented is very good.
If you use a screen with a resolution of 2560×1440, then a monitor with a higher refresh rate is a must-have for this configuration. Moreover, it makes sense to consider the highest-speed 240+ Hz models, as massive displays with 144/165 Hz refresh rates will already be a bit of a limitation.
What about the desire to play with activated high-quality ray tracing? We’ve tested this feature in several projects, and we can say that it’s quite decent. With the exception of Cyberpunk 2077 RT Overdrive, where we tried to enable the most burdensome Path Tracing mode. In this case, even despite the presence of a 16 GB GeForce RTX 4080, we have performance at 23/30 fps. Our gaming life did not prepare us for this. Fortunately, there are modes with intelligent scaling for such cases. After activating DLSS, the performance in all projects increased significantly, and with DLSS 3 support, the issue of monitors with higher refresh rates becomes relevant again.
In general, the combination of the Core i9-13900KS with a 16 GB GeForce RTX 4080 graphics card in 1440p mode is surprisingly efficient and “combat-ready” as expected. Good. What about 4K? This question will surely arise from the owner of such a configuration, who spent a tidy sum on its purchase.
We have an overall average of 109 fps and a minimum of 82 frames per second, which is good for this mode. Although here, of course, you need to select the most resource-intensive projects. Remnant II and Cyberpunk 2077 are almost on the verge of comfortable performance values when using the settings with maximum picture quality. At the same time, even when switching to 3840×2160 mode, new hit projects like Baldur’s Gate 3 and
The mode with high-quality ray tracing in 4K is quite a challenge, even for an ultra-modern platform. This is confirmed by our experiments. While in Returnal activating RT still allows you to do without AI scaling, it is rather a pleasant exception. Even in Dying Light 2 and Metro Exodus EE, which are no longer “heavyweights,” at 3840×2160 resolution, calculating lighting with rays significantly reduces performance. Fortunately, DLSS is very helpful here. For example, in some cases, using DLSS of the Balance level, we managed to almost double the initial performance. At the same time, you have to carefully look for the difference in picture quality on the same screenshots.
If projects support DLSS 3, this allows you to further improve performance, significantly improving both average and minimum fps.
The situation with Cyberpunk 2077 RT Overdrive deserves special attention. In Path Tracing mode, even with RTX 4080, this is not a spectacle for the faint of heart. Great picture and rendering speed at 11/13 fps. In such conditions, even the use of the flagship GeForce RTX 4090 24 GB will not fundamentally change the situation. But the DLSS connection gives results. The mode with DLSS 2 Balance almost tripled the initial performance, but we managed to get comfortable 60 fps only after activating DLSS 3.
Well, even in very difficult conditions, the Core i9-13900KS and 16GB GeForce RTX 4080 platform manages to solve performance issues. It may seem strange that they arise at all for the owner of such a configuration, but let’s not forget that games are one of the most difficult tasks for current platforms. And there have always been projects that have become real challenges for any configuration of their time. Drivers of technical progress or catalysts for another expensive upgrade? There is no clear answer, but both factors are not mutually exclusive.
The platform based on the Core i9-13900KS processor and 16GB GeForce RTX 4080 graphics card is a desirable system for both the most demanding gamers and professionals with special needs in PC computing performance. According to numerous benchmarks, the “special edition” of Intel’s 24-core processor in many cases actually turns out to be the most powerful solution for desktop systems. Of course, maximum performance and a record-breaking 6 GHz don’t come easy in terms of power consumption, but a suitable cooling system can handle the CPU’s considerable power appetite.
As for the general impressions of the system, there are no particular reasons to complain. It is certainly a pleasure to use a powerful system. Only replacing the video card with a GeForce RTX 4090 24 GB and doubling the RAM capacity will put the current configuration in the category of ultimatums. Given the total cost of the system, such a step can be quite expected.
When building the most powerful PC possible, in addition to the priority components that determine system performance, we recommend that you also pay attention to the peripheral “harness”. Such devices do not affect the number of fps or the scene rendering speed, but they significantly affect the overall comfort of working with the system.
The editors would like to thank ASBIS-Ukraine, the official distributor of Intel in Ukraine, for their assistance in preparing this material.