Core i9 12900K vs. Core i9 12900KS: Should you spend the extra for gaming?

The Intel Core i9 12900KS special edition processor (Image via Intel)
The Intel Core i9 12900KS special edition processor (Image via Intel)

The Core i9 12900KS is a special edition of the massively popular Team Blue flagship, the Core i9 12900K. The updated edition of the 12th gen Core i9 seeks to deliver flagship performance, putting Intel in a comfortable lead over Team Red's offerings.

However, it's almost identical to the 12900K in terms of specs. The former's base clock is 300 MHz faster, which allows the chips to extract maximum performance out of the current-gen Alder Lake architecture.

It is worth noting that Intel used to launch special edition counterparts for their high-end desktop processors till the 7th generation Kaby Lake lineup. With the 12th generation lineup, the company reignited the tradition. However, the -KS variant is not nearly as impressive as the -X variants from the past.

The Intel Core i9 12900KS: Better performance at a tremendous cost


The Core i9 12900K was launched as the flagship Alder Lake chip back in November 2021, priced at $589. However, considering the unstable market conditions, users can expect to pay northwards of $600 for this chip.

For a slightly improved special edition, the Core i9 12900KS is priced at $739, with market situations pushing it to almost $800. Thus, users looking to get the best performing chip will have to spend a chunk of money.

However, the price tag is supposed to go down as the processor ages. Recently, a Newegg listing for the special edition chip was spotted for $734.99, which is $5 below its MSRP. By the time Raptor Lake launches, users can expect to buy the processor for or below $700.

To add to the stupendously high pricing, the special edition Core i9 has a few more problems, one of them being that the 12900KS is the same chip as the older 12900K.

Intel bins out the best performing models among the manufactured chips. The power requirements increase as these chips can natively clock in much higher than Intel's expected numbers. These are then factory overclocked and the result is a slightly faster special edition processor.

The result of these modifications is a much higher power draw and higher temperatures. The Intel Core i9 12900KS, thus, requires hefty cooling to stay below the rated maximum temperatures; a 360 mm liquid cooler is the minimum.

The new Intel Core logo (Image via Intel)
The new Intel Core logo (Image via Intel)

The 12900KS is not a power-efficient design either. The chip can pull up to 241W under a full load with the power limit enabled — almost 30W higher than the 12900K. The improved processor consistently stays around 85 degrees during full load.

In other words, the 12900KS is an overclocked 12900K. Thus, the performance difference, as compared to the original 12th gen Core i9 chip, is almost negligible. Users can expect the special edition chip to be only 2% faster. The extra $100 to $150 this chip asks for is, thus, not justified.

If gaming is what users are after, it is better to save some money on the chip and opt for a better graphics card. This will offer them better performance metrics for modern AAA titles.

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Edited by Abu Amjad Khan
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