One thing that became apparent as I saw some results that slightly favored running with a power limit, vs. without any limits: it is possible that our Core i9-13900K, when running without any limits and often peaking above 300 W, was thermally limited. Shocking, I know. I use a 360 mm AiO with the fans and pump at 100% at all times, but I think custom cooling would be required to eliminate possible thermal performance limitations.
I came to this rather obvious conclusion when considering that, if it is indeed possible to achieve higher performance in anything by lowering the power limit, there must be some thermal throttling at play – or at least less opportunistic boosting given the available thermal headroom in a given moment.
I think it’s safe to say that, other than the slower all-core performance when power limited, there seems to be little reason to run at unlimited power all the time. A power limit of 125 W provided the same gaming performance with a powerful GPU, and taking things up to 241 W restored all but a few percentage points of the unlimited performance level in multi-core workloads.
Intel was very successful with the Core i9-13900K launch, with charts all over YouTube and websites like this showcasing Intel’s return to the top of the charts in many instances. But after the benchmarking is done, and especially if you just want to play games, I think it’s ok to turn down the power. You probably won’t even notice – other than, you know, lower temps and a cheaper power bill next month.