Intel Core i9-12900K is already showing seriously impressive overclocking potential

Intel Core i9-12900K being overclocked with liquid nitrogen
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware / Intel)

Intel’s Core i9-12900K has only just been unveiled, and it’s already breaking world records on the performance front.

As Tom’s Hardware reports, the freshly revealed Alder Lake flagship processor managed to set three new records when pushed hard by Tom’s resident overclocking expert Allen ‘Splave’ Golibersuch – and that’s just for starters, no doubt.

Splave overclocked the Core i9-12900K to 6.8GHz on its performance cores (up from 5.2GHz), and 5.3GHz (up from 3.9GHz) on the efficiency cores (yes, they can be ramped up too), using liquid nitrogen to keep the CPU cool while running benchmarks on Geekbench (and also Intel’s Extreme Tuning Utility or XTU).

The 12900K set new world records on both Geekbench 4 and Geekbench 5 for single-core, with tallies of 11,669 and 2,740 respectively, and also for multi-core (in the 16-core category) with results of 93,232 and 26,649 respectively. As Tom’s points out, in Geekbench 5, those scores beat out the previous single-core leader – Intel’s predecessor flagship, the 11900K – by 19%, and the old multi-core top dog – AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X – by an even more impressive 27%.

With XTU 2.0, Splave had to drop the overclock on the performance cores a notch to 6.7GHz to keep the CPU stable enough to run the full benchmark, where the 12900K scored 12,765, another new record as mentioned.

If you’re curious about the PC used for this batch of benchmarks, the Core i9-12900K was nestling in an ASRock Z690 Aqua OC Edition motherboard, and paired with Klevv’s DDR5-4800 system RAM (overclocked to 6200MHz), with an EVGA Supernova 1600W PSU providing the juice for all this.

Analysis: Alder Lake looks promising for overclocking enthusiasts

It’s no surprise to see world records being broken, as every time a new range of processors emerges, overclockers can’t wait to get their teeth into jacking them up to incredible clock speeds with exotic cooling, and the results are predictably impressive. That said, this happened very quickly indeed, with Splave running the chip through its initial overclocked paces while Intel’s livestreamed Alder Lake launch was still going on.

This is clearly a positive indication that Alder Lake’s performance will likely ensure that 12th-gen chips will appear on our list of the best processors, and it’s a first glimpse that the overclocking potential is also strong here for those enthusiasts who want to get even more out of their shiny new CPU.

Notably, Intel has already promised that there’ll be a good deal more overclocking headroom with Alder Lake (compared to Rocket Lake), as PC Gamer spotted, so maybe it’s time to start getting excited about what these new hybrid processors will be able to achieve even with more run-of-the-mill cooling methods.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).