The latest Intel processors for enthusiasts are here, and according to early reviews, lIntel Core i9-12900K processors and also Intel Core i5-12600K processors are amazing processors that are ranked higher than the competition.

If you want to upgrade to these new Intel processors, you will also need to upgrade your motherboard and other aspects of your computer. This guide not only looks at exactly where you might need to invest, but also how far we were able to push the Intel Core i9 12900K processor with certain overclocking tips.

While the upcoming full review of these processors is going to go into much more detail about the updates Intel has made to the platform, you should be aware of the new 12th generation processors and the new Intel Z690 chipset is the first platform to offer. Support for PCI-express five and DDR5 memory.

NVME graphics cards and drives with PCIe 0 technology may not be free until the second half of 5, but DDRXNUMX memory is here to add to your list of components that potentially require an upgrade.

Although Intel 12th generation processors can work with DDR4 memory and there are motherboards that support DDR4, a DDR5 solution is a better investment. You are about to buy a new processor and motherboard; You might as well bite the bullet and also buy DDR5 memory, which will be much more useful for future upgrades.


These are the three new components we used for this guide:

  • Intel Core i9 12900K Processor
  • MSI MEG Z690 Unify motherboard
  • Corsair Dominator DDR5 5200Mhz (Kit 2 x 32Go CL38)

    (Image credit: Avenir)

    Let's overclock the Intel Core i9-12900K, here's how far we went 1

Corsair DDR5

(Image credit: Avenir)

The only other component that might need to be updated would be your CPU cooler. Since the size of these new processors is different, the mounting location for your cooler is slightly different as well. To prevent this from happening, some motherboard manufacturers such as ASUS have drilled two sets of holes to allow the old plugs to fit the new motherboard. But if that's not the case with the motherboard you get, then you need to contact your cooler manufacturer to see if they can send you new backplates.

If you're lucky, your backplate on the cooler can be adjustable, as was the case with the Corsair iCUE H150i Elite Capellix liquid processor cooler that we used. Here are the rest of the components we use

  • Zotac RTX 3070 Ti graphics card (PCI 4.0)
  • Samsung 980 Pro SSD (PCI 4.0)
  • Corsair HX750i 750-watt power supply

With the hardware in place, we were able to enlist the help of Tarek Hamdy, the renowned overclocking expert in the Middle East who holds overclocking records around the world.

MSI MEG Z690 Unifier

(Image credit: Avenir)

Before we get started on overclocking, just a quick note on the motherboard and RAM we used for this guide. The MSI MEG Z690 Unify motherboard we use was sent to us by MSI with a focus on overclocking capabilities. It supports Gen 5 in the first PCI-E slot with a transfer bandwidth of up to 128 Gb / s and has five M.2 slots, four of which support PCIe 4.0 speeds. It also has four RAM slots that support DDR5 memory up to 6666MHz.

One of the best things about the MSI MEG Z690 Unify motherboard is that the LED displaying diagnostic trouble codes during boot changes to a CPU temperature monitor after boot, allowing you to know the temperature of your CPU.

The RAM was sent to us by Corsair and is the Dominator Platinum RGB series. It was a 64GB kit with two 5GB DDR32 modules clocked at 5200MHz. DDR5 is a great upgrade from DDR4 that offers a massive increase in bandwidth and performance.


The new 12th generation Intel processors have two sets of cores: performance cores and efficiency cores. In the Core i9 12900K, you get eight performance cores and eight efficiency cores. These performance cores, by default, have voltages between 0.85 V and one275 V and speeds between 3.2 GHz and 5.1 GHz. The exception to this are two specific cores that can go a bit higher at 5.2 GHz in our case. These cores are called gold cores.

The first thing we did was update the Unify motherboard BIOS to the latest version available. Since this article is more about testing CPU performance, we primarily tested on Cinebench and AIDA 64, rather than PC gaming benchmarks that focused more on GPU performance.

MSI MEG Z690 Unifier

(Image credit: Avenir)

We start with the original speeds and voltages in the processor and memory by loading the "Optimized Defaults" into the BIOS, which sets the following parameters. At stock speed, we got a score of 25,319 on Cinebench.

Before overclocking the processor, we wanted to look at the temperatures in it that our AIO cooler could handle. We did this by setting the processor voltage to 1.32V and running CineBench. Unsurprisingly, the processor started to slow down when we hit 100 ° C.

After playing around with the voltages a bit more, we settled on 1.27V which was the sweet spot for the 12900K. This voltage level is also something an AIO cooler can handle.

MSI MEG Z690 Unifier

(Image credit: Avenir)

Our next step was to increase the processor multiplier to 52, effectively running the P cores at 5200 MHz. However, the processor did not boot and we took a step down to 5.1GHz which showed and managed to run a full ten minutes of Cinebench test. We tried the same method on the E cores and after disabling Intel SpeedStep from BIOS we ended up with a multiplier of 40.

With this setting, the processor temperature reaches 95 ° C under load when running Cinebench, which is just below the 100 ° C mark where the processor starts to choke. This resulted in our Cinebench R23 score of 27,596 points, which is roughly 10% higher than the 25,319 points we got at the default voltage and speeds.

Corsair DDR5 Results

(Image credit: Avenir)

Next, we wanted to test DDR5 overclocking, which is a bit more delicate than DDR4. Our main goal was to achieve the highest speeds in the AIDA64 read / write / copy / latency tests. We returned the processor to the default speeds and voltage and selected the XMP profile for the RAM which was 5200Mhz @ 38-38-38-82-2T VDD / VDDQ running at 1.25v. We kept an eye on DDR5 temperatures during testing, which reached a little over 40 ° C; there was no cooling mounted or directed at the RAM modules.


Considering we're dealing with Micron chips in RAM, we weren't expecting a huge jump in speed and the max we hit was 5400Mhz with decent CL settings. They are only 200Mhz in the XMP profile.

Corsair DDR5

(Image credit: Avenir)

To achieve these speeds, we increased the voltage to 1.435v on both VDD / VDDQ and started driving the RAM from 5200Mhz to 5600Mhz in very lazy times. The PC refused to start at 5600Mhz, but dropping it down to 5400Mhz worked fine. Then we started to adjust the clocks on the table, and after many different combinations, crashes, and restarts, we ended up with 36-39-29-74-2T. For some reason this MSI motherboard would not change the Post Pre time - whatever we select would give 39. These are the results from AIDA64.


In short, we were able to achieve a decent 10% increase in overclocked CPU performance. We recommend using at least a good AIO cooler if you plan to overclock, but a custom kit will definitely give you better results. If you go the AIO route, you need to underwrite the processor a bit to control temperatures.

There wasn't much leeway with DDR5 overclocking; maybe because our modules used Micron chips. If you are lucky enough to get Hynix or Samsung, you may get better results.

We also believe that the BIOS optimization updates on the Z690 motherboard will help and we hope that MSI will fix Tras's problem. However, it still achieves considerably higher performance in DDR5 compared to DDR4.


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