The Intel Core i5-12600K vs AMD Ryzen 5 5600X and Ryzen 7 5800X rivalry is a pitched battle for dominance right in the heart of the gaming desktop PC market — the $275 to $300 price point. That might make it seem odd to throw the decidedly more expensive ~$390 Ryzen 7 5800X into the pit with the $289 Core i5-12600K and $299 Ryzen 5 5600X, but make no mistake, Intel’s Alder Lake chips punch far above their pricing weight class. That’s allowed them to score key upsets against higher-priced Ryzen 5000 chips in the suddenly more competitive AMD vs Intel battle.
AMD’s Ryzen chips have absolutely dominated our list of Best CPUs for gaming and our CPU Benchmark hierarchy for the last year, but Intel’s new design philosophy is a game-changer. As seen in our previous Intel Core i9-12900K vs Ryzen 9 5900X and 5950X faceoff, Intel’s hybrid x86 Alder Lake design represents the company’s most disruptive architectural shift in a decade, upsetting AMD’s highest-end mainstream chips.
However, this same design is even more disruptive in the mid-range and value segments, too. Alder Lake combines big and fast Performance cores (P-cores) for latency-sensitive work with a smattering of small and powerful Efficiency cores (E-cores) that chew through background and multi-threaded workloads. Intel also baked in new next-gen connectivity tech like the DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0 interfaces that outstrip AMD’s venerable AM4 platform.
Intel is on the pricing attack with Alder Lake, perhaps looking to smash AMD’s Ryzen once and for all. The $289 Core i5-12600K is $10 less than AMD’s mainstream champion, the $299 Ryzen 5 5600X, and $210 less than the suggested $449 pricing for the Ryzen 7 5800X, though we often see the 5800X on sale for ~$390.
Even though Intel’s chip pricing game is strong, it made a few decisions that impact overall pricing, like launching the Core i5-12600K without the affordable B- and H-series motherboards that tend to be the favorite for mainstream gamers. That means you’ll have to pony up for a pricey Z690 motherboard for a mainstream chip, and DDR5 pricing continues to be a sore spot — if you can even find it in stock. The new hybrid design also has a few early performance teething pains in Windows 10.
This means the rivalry is anything but the clear-cut victory it appears to be on the benchmark charts. Below we’ve put the Core i5-12600K vs Ryzen 5 5600X and Ryzen 7 5800X in a six-round faceoff to see which chip takes the crown in our gaming and application benchmarks, along with other key criteria like power consumption and pricing. Let’s see how the chips stack up.
Features and Specifications: Intel Core i5-12600K vs Ryzen 5 5600X and Ryzen 7 5800X
|U.S. Price||Cores | Threads||P-Core Base/Boost||E-Core Base/Boost||TDP / PBP / MTP||DDR4-3200||L3 Cache|
|Ryzen 7 5800X||$449||8P | 16 threads||3.8 / 4.7 GHz||–||105W||DDR4-3200||32MB|
|Core i5-12600K / KF||$289 (K) – $264 (KF)||6P + 4E | 10 Cores / 16 threads||3.7 / 4.9 GHz||2.8 / 3.6 GHz||125W / 150W||DDR4-3200 / DDR5-4800||16MB|
|Ryzen 5 5600X||$299||6P | 12 threads||3.7 / 4.6 GHz||–||65W||DDR4-3200||32MB|
Intel’s hybrid architecture brings what we would normally consider ‘odd’ thread arrangements. That’s because the P-cores are hyper-threaded, while the E-cores only have a single thread.
As a result, the $289 10-core 12600K comes with six threaded P-cores that operate at 3.7 / 4.9 GHz and four E-cores that run at 2.8 / 3.6 GHz, for a total of 16 threads. That’s a 33% increase in the number of threads over the Core i5-11600K. The chip also has 20MB of L3 and 9.5MB of L2 cache.
The 12600K comes with the integrated UHD Graphics 770 engine with 32 EUs that run at a 300 MHz base and boost to 1,450 MHz. That’s a big advantage over the graphics-less 5600X and 5800X. If you don’t plan to use a discrete GPU, Intel wins by default. Intel also has the Core i9-12600KF, an identical chip that lacks the integrated graphics engine, for $264. That might not sound like much of a discount, but a $25 price reduction is tempting if you plan to use this chip for a gaming rig that doesn’t need integrated graphics — you’ll end up paying $35 less than you would for the similarly graphics-less Ryzen 5 5600X.
Intel has replaced its old TDP rating and now uses a Processor Base Power (PBP) value (PL1) in place of TDP and a secondary Maximum Turbo Power (MTP) value that represents the highest power level during boost activity (PL2). You can read more about that change here.
The 12900K comes with 125W PBP (base) and 150W MTP (peak) power ratings, but be aware that Intel changed its default boost duration for all K-series chips to an unlimited value. This means the 12600K can always operate at the 150W MTP when under load, but actual power consumption will vary by application.
The 12600K goes toe-to-toe with the 6-core, 12-thread Ryzen 5 5600X that has long been the favorite for enthusiasts because of its incredible blend of pricing and performance. The 12600K also rivals the 8-core 16-thread Ryzen 7 5800X that has been a tough sell in the face of its closely-priced Ryzen 5000 siblings. These chips come with 65W and 105W TDP ratings, respectively, 32MB of L3 cache, and have only high-performance cores. Both chips support DDR4-3200 memory and the PCIe 4.0 interface.
Like the rest of the Alder Lake chips, the Core i5-12600K has the most cutting-edge connectivity options that money can buy. All Alder Lake chips support DDR4-3200 or up to DDR5-4800 memory (odd DDR5 population rules apply). Alder Lake chips also expose up to 16 lanes of PCIe 5.0 and an additional four lanes of PCIe 4.0 from the chip for M.2 storage. These new technologies add cost to the Z690 motherboards that house the chips, and the current pricing for DDR5 memory is eyewatering. However, Intel’s Z690 supports DDR4, too, but it appears that you’ll only find DDR4 support on lower-end Z690 boards. Intel hasn’t launched the value-centric B- and H-series chipsets yet, so platform pricing will be high for now. That’s particularly painful down at the 12600K’s price point, but it is noteworthy that there is quite a pricing spread between the flagship and bottom-of-the-barrel Z690 options.
Intel also added 12 lanes of PCIe 4.0 to its chipset (in addition to its 16 lanes of PCIe 3.0), and now offers a total of 28 lanes. Intel has also widened the DMI connection between the chip and the chipset, which now serves up twice the throughput. The increased DMI throughput is also beneficial for Z690’s bolstered connectivity options, like the new second USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 20 Gbps connection (other new features are listed here).
The 5600X comes with a bundled Wraith Stealth cooler that will serve basic needs, while the Core i5-12600K comes without a cooler. The 12600K comes with graphics, or as a graphics-less variant that’s $35 less than the 5600X, helping offset that cost delta.
AMD’s AM4 platform has soldiered on for five long years (and counting), earning the company plenty of cachet with enthusiasts because they didn’t have to upgrade motherboards with every new chip generation. However, even though we did see the move from PCIe 3.0 to 4.0 a few years ago, the AM4 platform has restricted forward progress on the connectivity front — there’s only so much you can do with a fixed number of pins.
As such, Intel’s Z690 platform has a clear connectivity advantage: With DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 on the menu, AMD’s aging AM4 platform finds itself simply outclassed. Intel’s new features do make for more expensive motherboards, though, and the lack of B- and H-series boards at launch stings. Fortunately, there are options for DDR4 variants to save you at least some coin.
Given its new hybrid architecture with two types of cores, Intel’s core counts aren’t directly comparable to AMD’s due to their different capabilities. Our performance results will dictate the value of the overall designs.
The Core i6-12600K comes with integrated graphics by default, though you can sacrifice those for a lower price point. Meanwhile, You’ll have to look to AMD’s Ryzen 7 5700G APUs if you want integrated graphics.