Intel Unleashes 6GHz Core i9-13900KS Track Beast Raptor Lake CPU At A Surprising Price

Render of an Intel Core i9-13900KS retail box at an angle in front of a blue background.
Intel has been teasing the launch of a desktop processor capable of running at up to 6GHz right out of the box for at least the past four months, and that chip is now official. As expected, it carries the Core i9-13900KS branding. The 'Special Edition' SKU supplants the Core i9-13900K (non-S) as the flagship consumer offering within Intel's 13th Gen Raptor Lake family, and it also has the distinction of being the world's first (stock) 6GHz CPU.

While perhaps not as monumental as the race to 1GHz was way back in the day, this is still very much a notable and significant milestone. Clock speed gains have not been quite as thrilling or fast paced as in much earlier days. Both Intel and AMD have prioritized multi-core designs, more cache, and various architectural optimizations to keep the performance pedal pressed firmly to the metal.

As you might imagine, Intel is clearly stoked about reaching the 6GHz threshold, and rightfully so.

"The Core i9-13900KS continues our 13th Gen Intel Core desktop processor family excellence, showcasing the new performance heights made possible by our performance hybrid architecture. Extreme gamers and enthusiasts can now push their everyday performance further than ever before with the first desktop processor in the PC industry to provide 6.0GHz speeds at stock," Marcus Kennedy, Intel Client Computing Group manager, Gaming and Channel, said in a statement.

To be clear, that 6GHz clock is achieved via Thermal Velocity Boost. Intel introduced TVB in 2018 as a means of squeezing extra performance out of its processors when temps and power budgets allow. The better your cooling, the more likely you are to hit the advertised TVB speed, and for longer periods of time. You can think of it as sort of a nitro boost for your hot rod PC.

Here's a sneak peek of the chip in action, which Intel shared just before officially confirming the processor's model designation...

Compared to the Core i9-13900K, Intel's newly minted Core i9-13900KS sports the same 24-core/32-thread config comprised of 8 Performance cores (P-cores) and 16 Efficiency cores (E-cores). They also both wield 36MB of L3 cache, and the same clocks for the E-cores (2.2GHz base and 4.3GHz boost).

Where they differ is in the P-cores and power envelope. The P-cores on the Core i9-13900KS have a 3.2GHz base clock, which is actually 100MHz slower than the Core i9-13900K, but can crank up to 6GHz, a 200MHz gain over the regular SKU. It also increases the base power from 125W to 150W, and the turbo wattage from 253W to 300W.

So in essence, these are specially binned chips that are validated to handle more power. The trade-off, of course, is that even more importance is placed on cooling to take full advantage of the turbocharged Raptor Lake CPU.

Despite achieving a celebratory milestone with this release, Intel avoided the temptation to jack up the price compared to the previous generation Core i9-12900KS, which debuted at $739. Intel's recommended customer pricing on the Core i9-13900KS is $699, so it's actually cheaper (not cheap) this time around. Good stuff.

Bear in mind that recommended customer pricing is based on bulk orders—typically trays of 1,000 units. Retail pricing is often times higher. With that in mind, Newegg has the Core i9-13900KS listed for $729.99. It's not showing up on Amazon at the time of this writing, but we imagine it will be before the day is up.