Intel Core i7 9700K vs i5 12600K – Which is the Best Mid-range CPU?

The mid-range CPU unit is something that is not spoken about often. It looks like the gamers and users are more into the under $200 range or the top-end CPU units. This leaves the mid-range CPU units high & dry.

To dispel away your doubts and queries on that range, we decided to compare two mid-range CPU models from Intel. The manufacturer has been making CPUs for several decades now. There is no doubt that they can produce sublime products.

But are they good enough for the user today in 2023? The year 2022 saw some ups & downs in the profits of Intel. But they managed to salvage pride and profits too. They got their crown back from AMD, which took it away from them for quite some time now.

Today, we will be looking at the Intel Core i7 9700K vs Intel Core i5 12600K CPU models in the market. The Core i7 and the Core i5 are almost the same in performance, but there can be some minor differences between them.

The Intel Core i7 9700K processor belongs to the Coffee Lake CPU unit. Our tester found it to be a stable model that has a strong appeal towards new PC designers. When you want to design a proficient PC using a reasonably priced CPU unit, then it is this model.

We have heard a lot about this CPU model and decided to do some tests on it and on the other model as well. Gamers have mentioned about the CPU unit’s incredible capability to do things efficiently.

Besides, we also liked the flexibility that it offers you with. The Intel Core i5 12600K CPU model belongs to Intel’s Alder Lake architecture. That is because it has got the maker’s units into the market.

We can now say that they can compete amicably with AMD models efficiently. Moreover, several users are making note of that. Usually, the mid-range CPU processors from Intel are the Core i5 units.

This model has 10 cores and 16 threads. You will be amazed to find out that it can reach operating speeds of up to 4.9GHz. It is the ideal choice when you want a CPU unit that provides you with excellent gaming performance.

When you are looking for a model that can handle everything that is thrown at it, and you want to spend less cash to design an exorbitant PC. Read on and find out whether the Intel Core i7 9700K or the Intel Core i5 12600K CPU model would be the best unit you should buy for your new gaming PC.

We have given the winner at the end of the post.

Intel Core i7 9700KIntel Core i5 12600K
Intel Core i7 9700KIntel Core i5 12600K
The classic design of the model.

It has a good single-core performance.

Handles demanding 3D graphics well.

Maintains high frame rates.

Is an ideal gaming CPU processor.
High-speed turbo boost speed (4.9 GHz).

Support for PCI Express 5.0.

Can work with both DDR5 and DDR4 memory.

The best gaming processor.

Good price for a processor of its class.
No hyper-threading support.It has a high-power consumption.

Pricing & availability

The Intel Core i7 9700K processor is priced under $480. It comes with solid features and some specifications for you. You would be glad to know that the model can have a significant impact on your gaming performance when you play games at 1080p or lower.

If you play games or see videos at 4K resolution, then you would be delighted to know that the GPU model’s abilities far surpass other models. However, it can be an issue when you expect it to perform more on a high-refresh-rate monitor with higher capabilities.

The Intel Core i5 12600K processor is priced under $290. It is almost the same as the specifications provided in the Intel Core i5 11600K. If you have heard about the model, then you may know that the i5 12600K CPU unit is a smashing model as well.

It has 6-threaded P-cores that operate at 3.7 / 4.9 GHz and has a total of 16 threads. It also comes with similar abilities as the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X CPU unit. The model also represents the low range of the Alder Lake family from the makers of Intel.

SpecificationsIntel Core i7 9700KIntel Core i5 12600K
Processors TypeDesktopDesktop
SeriesCore i7 9th GenCore i5 12th Gen
NameCore i7-9700KCore i5-12600K
CPU Socket TypeLGA 1151 (300 Series)LGA 1700
Core NameCoffee LakeAlder Lake
of Cores8-Core10-Core (6P+4E)
of Threads816
Operating Frequency3.6 GHzP-core Base Frequency: 3.7 GHz
E-core Base Frequency: 2.8 GHz
Max Turbo Frequency4.9 GHzSingle P-core Turbo Frequency: Up to 4.9 GHz
Single E-core Turbo Frequency: Up to 3.6 GHz
Bus Speed8 GT/s
L3 Cache12MB20MB
Manufacturing Tech14nmIntel 7
64-Bit SupportYesYes
Hyper-Threading SupportNoYes
Memory TypesDDR4 2666DDR4 3200 / DDR5 4800
Memory Channel22
Virtualization Technology SupportYesYes
Integrated GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 630Intel UHD Graphics 770
Graphics Base Frequency350 MHz300 MHz
Graphics Max Dynamic Frequency1.2 GHz1.45 GHz
PCI Express Revision3.05.0
Max Number of PCI Express Lanes16Up to 1×16+4, 2×8+4
Thermal Design Power95WProcessor Base Power: 125W
Maximum Turbo Power: 150W
Cooling DeviceCooling device not included – Processor OnlyCooling device not included – Processor Only
Windows 11SupportedSupported

Architecture & Specifications

The architecture & specifications of the CPU unit are one of the most crucial elements. The Intel Core i7 9700K CPU model has an efficient architecture. It is due to the 8-core model having the ability to provide you with a phenomenal single-core performance.

It was released into the market in 2018, replacing the Intel Core i7 8700K. The Core i7 8700K CPU unit was a very capable model and came with stupendous features & specifications, and so on.

This Intel Core i7 9700K CPU unit comes with a base clock frequency of 3.6GHz, which is almost 100MHz slower than its earlier model. However, the maximum boost clock speed of 4.9GHz is 200MHz better.

Sadly, it is behind the main competitor, the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X CPU unit. Of course, this is strictly speaking from a gaming aspect of things. You will need to pair this CPU unit with a strong video card for it to shine well.

We can still see some slight improvements in the CPU models from generation to generation. Our tester was not surprised to notice that in this case (the base speed here). But it did come with efficient architecture.

The 14-nanometer (14nm) production process is mainly used by Intel on most of its PC models for the past several years. The AMD Ryzen 7 3700X CPU model was designed on the 7nm process which is also known as the Zen 2.

The Intel Core i5 12600K CPU model has splendid architecture & specifications. We were quite satisfied with the packaging of Intel’s 12th-generation processors, including this CPU model. You may not find all the technical listings in there, except for the CPU being unlocked.

That is because it makes use of an LGA1700 socket. We are delighted that they have provided you with a small booklet. It is the mid-range choice of the Alder Lake from Intel and comes with 10 cores, 16 threads, 20MB of Intel Smart Cache, and an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 770.

The 6-cores have the capability to run at a base clock of 3.7 GHz. We also found that it has a turbo boost of around 4.9 GHz. We noticed that the P-core can manage tough tasks like the gaming and visual aspects of things.

However, the E-cores can do the regular work that you want them to like to be reading, writing, and browsing. Perhaps, some mild gaming as well. You will also want to note that the performance cores have hyper-threading in them.

Unfortunately, you may want to beware of the fact that this CPU model requires you to work on the Windows 11 OS. Of course, you can operate it on a lower version as well. But when you want the best performance out of this CPU unit, then that would be ideal.

It is a known fact that the Alder Lake processors require Windows 11 to give the best. It can work on the Linux operating system but may not do as well on the Windows 10 OS. That is because this operating system can handle different performance and efficiency cores.

Performance & overclocking

The performance & overclocking are also quite important for any CPU unit and users would want to verify them before purchasing them. The Intel Core i7 9700K CPU model comes with tremendous performance & overclocking.

We were astounded by that. It has a thermal design power (TDP) of 95 watts, which is similar to that of the earlier CPU model. It has 16 PCI Express lanes, enabling you to manage several add-in cards and your primary GPU unit.

The CPU is compatible with most Z390 motherboards that use the LGA 1151 socket. There is no PCI Express 4.0 support, however. The good news is that the 4th generation PCIe provides several times a potential peak for those of you who insist on getting a PCIe 4.0 storage drive.

Since this CPU unit comes with more total cache, it immensely enhances the performance of a few apps that are present on the gaming PC. It benefits through quicker memory access that is compared with clock speed and core count.

Sadly, for the pricing, there is no cooling fan and heatsink provided with the CPU model, which was really weird. We felt that the maker has given some room for a flaw here. To make matters worse, there is no PCI Express 4.0 support, which is again quite poor on the maker’s part.

This CPU unit is a proficient mainstream CPU model that is a superb choice for professional gamers. Does the CPU unit come with any rival alternative? Yes, it does. Based on our research, we found the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X provides better value and exceptional performance for doing several computing tasks.

The Intel Core i5 12600K CPU model comes with decent performance & overclocking capabilities. Though not on par with the Core i7 9700K CPU unit, it does have some firepower. The 10 cores and 16 threads offer excellent multi-thread performance.

The CPU model can support 128GB of DDR4 or DDR5 RAM. You will want to choose the unit, depending on the kind of motherboard you own. However, there are no mainboards, which can fit both memory types.

It also supports both revisions 5.0 and 4.0. There are 20 PCIe lanes that can be split between the graphics card (x16) and the NVMe solid-state drive (x4). Since the maker does not make use of the TDP (Thermal Design Power) measurements, it uses the Processor Base Power and Maximum Turbo Power values.

Here it is 125 Watts, in the CPU-Z’s Multi-Thread benchmark, it got a score of 7005 points. We also checked for the performance it had doing common activities like browsing, reading, writing, and some office work.

In the 3DMark CPU Profile, which is for measuring the game’s performance, we got a decent score as well. When you play games that come with multi-thread, compared to all-core results. Though it is weak against other CPU models, it provides you with good results for the processor to be an exceptional option for playing games.

Sadly, this CPU unit consumes more power when compared to the alternative from AMD. Moreover, we also noticed that the manufacturer has not given a cooler with this CPU. We can recommend it to all our readers, as it’s one of the best desktop CPUs on the market.

Intel Core i7 9700K vs i5 12600K Benchmark

Single-Core Performance

Single-Core Performance

Power Efficiency

Power Efficiency

Cinebench R23 (Single-Core)

Cinebench R23 (Single-Core)

Cinebench R23 (Multi-Core)

Cinebench R23 (Multi-Core)

Passmark CPU (Single-Core)

Passmark CPU (Single-Core)

Passmark CPU (Multi-Core)

Passmark CPU (Multi-Core)

Geekbench 5 (Single-Core)

Geekbench 5 (Single-Core)

Geekbench 5 (Multi-Core)

Geekbench 5 (Multi-Core)

Average Score (Pts)

Average Score (Pts)

Overclocked Score(Pts)

Overclocked Score(Pts)

Final thoughts

Our winner in this comparison review between the Intel Core i7 9700K vs Intel Core i5 12600K processors is the Intel Core i7 9700K CPU unit. It came with just much firepower that was too hot to handle for the Intel Core i5 12600K CPU unit.

However, that does not mean the Core i5 12600K CPU model is not that effective or unworthy of a place in your new gaming PC system. Our tester felt that the Core i7 9700K model is kind of a puzzle because it has more cores and fewer threads than its earlier unit.

Sadly, it is not on par with the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X CPU model, its chief competitor for being able to do content creation works. The Intel Core i7 9700K processor comes with the ability to make up for its shortcomings.

That is possible due to its enhanced single-core performance and edge in many AAA games at 1080p when paired with a robust video card. When you want to design a gaming PC or device for high-performance 3D games that have been present in the market, then this model is an attractive choice.

Moreover, if you are somebody looking for a complete turnover, then this unit can do the needful. The Intel Core i5-12600K CPU model is definitely the mainstream gaming PC processor for now.

The benchmark scores are exceptional for the quote. It does perform much better than most of the other AMD models in the same range. When you are producing a new gaming PC now, then the model is an excellent option.

The Intel Core i5 12600K processor has a faster CPU speed, a higher RAM speed, and more CPU threads. Besides, you can find a 4nm smaller semiconductor size, a bigger L2 cache, a higher turbo clock speed, and a higher PassMark result.

Additionally, it also comes with a bigger L3 cache. At the end of the day, it is going to be your call. You need to choose a CPU model that can meet your requirements and preferences. Of course, the budget aspect also notwithstanding.

When you want a stable CPU unit that can perform high-performance tasks today, then the Intel Core i7 9700K CPU unit is a good choice. As long as you pair it with a powerful graphics card, it can handle any game easily without you having to break your bank balance for it.

What were your thoughts about these two CPU units? Do you plan on buying one for your new gaming PC? Do write to us in the comments section.


Is Intel Core i7-9700K good for gaming?

The Intel Core i7 9700K CPU model comes with a top-end cooler and a 4.90 GHz single-core max turbo boost frequency that is required for phenomenal gaming performance. When you use it with a stunning graphics card, then it is good for gaming.

Is Intel i7 9700K still good at the end of 2022?

The Intel Core i7 9700K processor is definitely a good choice for use today at the end of 2022. When you can find a model that has stupendous features and capability, then you can use it for regular activities besides gaming as well.

Is an Intel Core i5-12600K good for gaming?

Yes, the Intel Core i5 12600K CPU model is a good choice for gaming. Though it is just slightly lower than the Core i7 discussed here, it has the capability to do much better. It comes with a 3.70 GHz base frequency, without using a good cooler, the single-core max turbo boost frequency is good for gaming.

Is the Core i5-12600K worth it?

We noted that the benchmark scores of the Intel Core i5 12600K processor are definitely worth using. Moreover, the performance per price ratio is opulent compared to the other models. When you are designing a new gaming computer, the unit is an excellent choice.

Does the i5-12600K get hot?

Like most CPU models, when put under tremendous pressure it does get a little hot. We noticed that the maximum temperature is around 50 degrees Celsius to 86 degrees Celsius. Moreover, the thermal performance is good under 80 degrees Celsius for content creation and gaming.

James Smith has always been intrigued by electronic products since his childhood. After his post graduation in electronics from a popular university, he decided to pursue a career in the electronics sector. But his calling for writing about these marvellous pieces of work got the better of him. That is how UBG was started. With a writing career spanning more than 12 years, James has worked on several hundred product reviews. During his free time, he like to spend time with his pet dog and relax in the swimming pool.