Alder Lake vs Zen 3: Which to choose?


Recently, a few CPUs have been mentioned a lot. The Intel Core i9-12900K, and AMD’s Ryzen 9 5900X as well as 5950X. The Intel Alder Lake series of CPUs and AMD’s Zen 3 are both competing for similar market share. In this article, we will be covering the specs, as well as a head to head benchmark test sourced using tests conducted by Tom’s Hardware.

Alder Lake Specs

Intel’s 12-Gen CPUs introduce a hybrid architecture. It employs high-performance cores as well as high-efficiency ones, designed to use less power. The processors support DDR4-3200, and DDR5-4800. The i9-12900K offers 8 performance and 8 efficiency cores, at 3.2 GHz and 2.4GHz base, and 5.2GHz and 3.9GHz boost respectively. The i7-12700K has 8 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores, at 3.6GHz and 2.7GHz base, and 4.9 and 3.8GHz respectively. The i5-12600K has 6 performance and 4 efficiency cores, at 3.7GHz and 2.8GHz base, and 4.9 and 3.6 GHz boost.

The price for the i9-12900K is set at $580 for the K model and $564 for the KF. The i7-12700K is set at $409 for the K model and $384 for the KF. The i5-12900K is set for $289 for the K model and $264 for the KF. These new chips also bring features such as PCIe 5.0. This connectivity is ahead of AMD’s integrations. In a way this architecture take after Apple’s ARM, where those chips also feature a hybrid design.

Zen 3 Specs

Zen 3 is AMD’s CPU microarchitecture released in Q4 of 2020. These chips broke multiple barriers for the company, such as having options available above 5GHz. This generation’s desktop models range from $299 for the Ryzen 5 5600X, to $799 for the Ryzen 9 5950X. As with all computer components for some time, these chips were extremely hard to get when they were originally released.

The Ryzen 9 5950X is available for $799 and has 16 cores and 32 threads, and 3.4GHz base as well as 4.9GHz boost. The Ryzen 9 5900X is available for $549, and has 12 cores as well as 24 threads. It has a 3.7GHz base and 4.8GHz boost. The Ryzen 7 5800X is available for $449, and has 8 cores and 16 threads. It has a 3.8GHz base and 4.7GHz boost. The Ryzen 5 5600X is available for $299, and has 6 cores and 12 threads. It has a 3.7GHz base and 4.6GHz boost.


In this comparison, we will be analyzing benchmarks for the Intel Core i9012900K vs the Ryzen 9 5950X and Ryzen 9 5900X. For average FPS on the game Geomean at 1080p on Windows 11, Intel’s model came out 8.7% faster. At 1440p the difference between the chips dwindles, as the graphics card becomes the bottleneck.

In a single-threaded performance ranking, focusing on Windows 11 application test results, Intel’s 19-12900K once again outperformed its competitors. The 12900K outperforms the AMD chips in encoding tasks such as Handbrake as well. Both chips performed well under overclocking conditions, with Intel’s Alder Lake chips being impacted by heat slightly more in this study. Results may vary for heat based on chip quality.


While Intel comes out on top for this set of benchmarks performed by Tom’s Hardware, the price to performance ratio is certainly something to take a look at. The 5900X from AMD is available for $549, while the 12-900K is available for $580 or $549 depending on if you choose the K or KF model from Intel. For a slight increase in price, you can see a performance upgrade for your system. If you are an AMD user already, however, the Zen 3 chips are still a great value for their money.

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