Words & Conclusion
The launch of the Raptor Lake refresh processors offers enhanced platform capabilities and superior performance. Changes to motherboards are minimal; however, aside from BIOS tweaks, the primary selling point is Wi-Fi 7 compatibility, which indeed is a significant feature, but is it enough to upgrade? No, we doubt that very much. In fact price wise you might even be better off sticking to Z690 with WIFI6(E). None the less if you haven't updated for many years, that's where the picture is painted differently.
For this review, we utilized a DDR5 6400 MHz kit. As mentioned, the performance is impressive. While there might be minor variations in performance, possibly a few percentage points at best, such differences are likely imperceptible in real-world usage. This advanced kit also boasts WIFI6 and 7 and a 2.5 Gbps capability. Additionally, the Tomahawk is equipped with a sophisticated 16+1 phase power arrangement. Regarding PCIe 5.0, our perspective is that, currently, it's not essential for graphics cards. Although PCIe Gen 5 SSDs might seem appealing, our tests show that beyond sustained performance, there isn't a significant difference. As of now, we don't consider it a major selling point.
The Core i9-13900K is a processor with a notable maximum TDP (PL2) of 253 Watts. While it doesn't operate at this wattage constantly, it can reach that level during short bursts when necessary. Although the temperatures can spike momentarily, they tend to be transient. In comparison, the performance metrics show an advantage over what AMD's 7950X offers. While a premium heatpipe-based cooler can be used to cool this processor, we recommend a high-quality LCS kit. Our testing indicated that the processor momentarily hit 96°C and stabilized between 80°C to 85°C under a full 32-threaded load.
For those in the market for a new motherboard or an upgrade, the MSI Z790 MAX Tomahawk offers a really proper DDR5 variant. The MSI Z790 Tomahawk motherboard is priced at $329. While it provides stable performance and straightforward setup procedures, such as enabling the XMP profile for DDR5 memory up-to 7800 MHz. The motherboard is equipped to support four M2 NVMe SSDs under heatsinks and offers additional sweet features like WIFI7, a 2.5 Gbps ethernet port, and 16+1 power phase stages supported by 90A power stages. The motherboard eschews flashy RGB elements in favor of a sleek black design. Definitely recommended if you are due for an upgrade.