If the AMD fans in the crowd are looking for something to crow
about, this is it — both raw power draw and performance-per-watt
for Intel are still much worse than on competing AMD designs. The
higher core count in Alder Lake translates to a higher power draw
as well — nearly back up to Intel 10th-generation levels, and
well north of either the Ryzen 9 5900X or 5950X.
We saw more than a 300W system power draw at the wall for the
i9-12900K — that’s over 100 watts higher than our Ryzen 9 5950X
at full tilt. About 230W of that draw is accounted for by the
i9-12900K’s CPU package itself, as reported by its own sensors to
hwinfo64. Power efficiency is a somewhat different story:
although the i9-12900K guzzles more power than the i9-11900K did,
it offers stunningly higher performance — about a 50 percent net
gain. (Though it’s still nearly as far behind the Ryzen 9 5950X as
it is ahead of its own older sibling, unfortunately.)
The lack of overall efficiency here is somewhat surprising given
Alder Lake’s hybrid big.little design, which we expected would
give it an edge over AMD’s traditional all-performance-core setup.
We suspect the culprit is Intel’s 10nm process — the company
claims that it’s basically similar in density to the 7nm TSMC
process Zen 3 enjoys, but something has to account for the
Intel is seemingly only capable of operating at the extremes: very fast “performance at all costs” chips that consume inordinate power, and power-efficient chips that run very slow. The sweet spot is clearly a proper balance in the middle.