Intel Core i9-9900K Review - Overclockers

Again within the day, a brand new CPU, be it a refresh or model new structure, customers have come to anticipate a rise in each clock speeds, in addition to some type of IPC improve. Immediately, within the period of what I wish to name ‘core wars’ AMD has began going vast and including extra cores and threads to their CPUs whereas Intel was behind in core rely and pricing, however excelled in single threaded efficiency in addition to masses that didn’t surpass the core/thread rely. In an effort to reply the competitors on this platform, Intel has launched the Core i9-9900Okay Processor sporting eight cores and 16 threads with base clocks at three.6 GHz and Increase clocks hitting the magic 5 GHz mark. This can be a core rely improve from the i7-8700Okay which had 6c/12t setup utilizing a quicker base clock of three.7 GHz however slower increase clock of four.7 GHz.

This assessment will put these CPUs towards one another and see who comes out a winner in our testing suite. We may even speak concerning the worth proposition of this CPU versus others that exist out there together with Intel’s personal, in addition to AMD’s 2700X (8c/16t) processor. Learn on to see the small print and see how the product shapes up in our testing suite.


Specs and Options

Intel’s newest line of desktop processors consists of a number of modifications which, on paper, ought to make the facility consumer and overclocker smile. The brand new CPU brings with it as much as eight cores and 16 threads utilizing larger frequencies, built-in hardware safety updates for Spectre and Meltdown, in addition to utilizing the STIM which ought to yield higher thermal conductivity. The opposite aspect of the coin is the processor is costlier, and it truly makes use of extra energy (regardless if the TDP is identical at 95W).

There are a complete of three new CPUs which were launched, the 5 GHz 8c/16t Core i9-9900Okay (first mainstream processor to hold the i9 designation), an 8c/8t i7-9700Okay, and the ultimate mannequin a 6c/6t Core i5-9600Okay (the i7 and i5 should not have Hyperthreading). All three SKUs are of the Okay selection and use an unlocked multiplier for straightforward overclocking. On this newest launch, Intel appears to be shifting away from Hyperthreading which can slim down the product stack and helps forestall the CPUs efficiency/worth from tripping on one another.

The cache construction has additionally modified a bit on these CPUs, notably the L3 cache. Prior to now, Core i7 processors had 2 MB of L3 cache for every core, the i5 with 1.5 MB, and the i3 chips had both 2 MB or 1.5 MB. For the 9 collection CPUs, Intel solely permits the complete cache allotment on the Core i9 elements with the i7 dropping right down to 1.5 MB of L3 per core.

Pricing has additionally gone up a good quantity with the 9900Okay asking $488 (tray = 1000) with the worth for single models even larger. This can be a $100+ improve over the 8700Okay which was launched at $359 which additionally bought extra when not purchased in 1000 unit batches. Newegg at present has these on sale for $580 which is sort of a bit over the anticipated MSRP. This worth premium just isn’t uncommon contemplating the shortage of inventory for the flagship CPU. For about what quantities to a ~35% worth improve, provides customers 33% extra cores and threads, in addition to a small clock velocity bump.  The 9700Okay is priced at $374 and compared towards the 8600Okay (launched at $260) fetches a $114 premium, or 43% improve. Newegg has these presently for $420.  The 9600Okay priced at $262 and appears to be a possible candy spot for the finances oriented crowd in search of the newest and biggest. With 6c/6t it can energy by means of most any recreation with no efficiency hit as a result of a scarcity of cores/threads. These can at present be discovered for $280 at Newegg and the almost definitely to seek out in inventory.

Intel ninth Gen Core Product StackCPUWorth # CoresFreq.TDPL3DRAM
DDR4iGPUCore i9-9900Okay$580eight / 16three.6 / 5.zero95W16 MB2666GT2Core i7-9700Okay$374eight / eightthree.6 / four.995W12 MB2666GT2Core i5-9600Okay$2626 / 6three.7 / four.695W9 MB2666GT2

The brand new chips make a slight change on how turbo works with the 9900Okay now capable of increase TWO cores as much as 5 GHz. Prior to now, and on chips decrease within the stack, peak increase is usually with one core. The 9700Okay will increase one core to four.9 GHz whereas the 9600Okay’s most increase can also be utilizing one core to four.6 GHz.

Intel Core 9 Collection Turbo Increase (Non-AVX)Base12threefour567eighti5-9600Okaythree.7 GHzfour.6 GHzfour.5 GHzfour.four GHzfour.four GHzfour.three GHzfour.three GHzi7-9700Okaythree.6 GHzfour.9 GHzfour.eight GHzfour.7 GHzfour.7 GHzfour.6 GHzfour.6 GHzfour.6 GHzfour.6 GHzi9-9900Okaythree.6 GHzfour.eight GHzfour.eight GHzfour.7 GHzfour.7 GHzfour.7 GHzfour.7 GHzi7-8700Okay three.7 GHzfour.7 GHzfour.6 GHzfour.5 GHzfour.four GHzfour.four GHzfour.three GHz

Outdoors of what’s talked about above, the processor continues to be constructed on the dated, but efficient, 14 nm course of node which with this iteration of the ninth Era Espresso Lake refresh is dubbed “14nm Class” by Intel. The 14nm course of has been round since 2014 launched with fifth era Broadwell-based mostly CPUs, refined 2016 with seventh era Kaby Lake (14nm+), after which with eighth era Espresso Lake S/U/H and Whiskey Lake-U CPUs debuting in 2017. It’s a bit lengthy within the tooth, however general it’s holding Intel within the recreation whereas they develop new chips on a smaller course of.

With new CPUs comes a brand new line of motherboards from the board companions based mostly on the newest Z390 chipset. The Z390 chipset was launched in mid-October bringing with it native USB three.1 (10 Gbps) ports as properly, built-in CNVi based mostly Wi-Fi, all built-in on the chipset. The Z390 chipset is “made for” the brand new 9-Collection CPUs accepting them natively. Then again, Z370 chipset based mostly motherboards would require a BIOS replace with a purpose to work with these new CPUs. We revealed an article going over a number of the options of 50 new Z390 motherboards that’s value a learn.

Meet the i9-9900Okay

Earlier than issues get began, under are photographs of the 9900Okay in CPUz at its inventory settings with XMP enabled.

And eventually, an image of the packaging because it was despatched to us, and the CPU itself alongside an i7-8700Okay. Observe within the final picture, the PCB used is thicker than the 8700Okay.

Aspect View (i9-9900Okay on the left, i7-8700Okay on the appropriate)

Check Setup and Outcomes

Right here we take a barely totally different strategy to CPU testing with ours based mostly on lots of benchmarks since that’s what we’re recognized for, overclocking and benchmarking. We use actual-world testing as nicely with Cinebench, x265, POV-Ray, and 7Zip with a purpose to give readers a good suggestion of the overall efficiency of the product examined.

Thanks exit to EVGA for offering the CLC 240 CPU Cooler and 750 W G3 Energy Provide to chill and energy the system, G.Talent for the Trident Z DRAM, and Toshiba OCZ for the 480 GB TR200 SSD storage operating the OS, benchmarks, and video games. With our companions serving to out, we’re capable of construct matching check techniques to mitigate many variations discovered between utilizing totally different hardware. This enables for a number of reviewers in several places to make use of the identical check system and examine outcomes with out further variables.

CPU Exams

  • AIDA64 Engineer CPU, FPU, and Reminiscence Checks
  • Cinebench R11.5 and R15
  • HWBot x265 1080p Benchmark
  • POVRay
  • SuperPi 1M/32M
  • WPrime 32M/1024M
  • 7Zip
  • Intel XTU

All CPU exams have been run at their default settings until in any other case famous.

Gaming Exams

We’ve got up to date our gaming checks and dropped down to 2 video games for CPU critiques. In lots of instances, even at 1080p, the distinction between CPUs isn’t that a lot and the 2 titles we use covers each a CPU heavy title in AOTSe in addition to a GPU sure title in SOTR. All recreation checks have been run at 1920×1080 with all CPUs at default settings until in any other case famous. Please see our testing procedures for particulars on in-recreation settings.

  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation

AIDA64 CPU, FPU, and Reminiscence Exams

The reminiscence channels and configuration hasn’t modified on these refresh CPUs, so bandwidth outcomes must be just like the 8700Okay or 8086Okay at default settings. We will see the uncooked knowledge under the chart the 8700Okay and 9900Okay are fairly comparable when utilizing the identical sticks of RAM. The 8086Okay was utilizing quicker RAM speeds leads to its notably larger outcomes. We’ve got seen some fairly excessive reminiscence speeds achieved with this CPU and Z390 based mostly boards, particularly on ITX board(s) as a consequence of their shorter hint paths, so if pushing reminiscence is most popular, a 9-collection CPU and Z390 based mostly board may help in that endeavor.

AIDA64 Reminiscence Check

AIDA64 Reminiscence

AIDA64 Cache and Reminiscence Benchmark – Uncooked KnowledgeCPULearnWriteCopyLatencyIntel Core i9 9900Okay Defaults47163462324326945.5Intel Core i7 8700Okay Defaults46988462314223044.zeroAMD Ryzen 2700X Defaults 49063472874518066.5

Within the AIDA64 CPU exams, we’re capable of see what the upper core rely and clock speeds convey to the desk. Almost throughout the board we see the 9900Okay beating out the opposite Intel CPUs examined. The AMD Ryzen 2700X shined vibrant within the AES and Hash testing main the pack.


AIDA64 CPU Exams – Uncooked KnowledgeCPUQueenPhotographZLibAESHashIntel Core i9 9900Okay Defaults101379232978434313710854Intel Core i7 8700Okay Defaults7248725265573294207402AMD Ryzen 2700X Defaults94678257187427152524429

Shifting on to the AIDA64 FPU checks, the 9900Okay carried out nicely within the Julia and Mandel checks simply beating each the 8700Okay and 2700X. The VP8 testing exhibits comparable efficiency out of the Intel with the AMD providing virtually 10% quicker right here. SinJulia outcomes present the 9900Okay simply out working the 8700Okay however nonetheless behind the AMD Ryzen 2700X.


AIDA64 FPU Exams – Uncooked KnowledgeCPUVP8JuliaMandelSinJuliaIntel Core i9 9900Okay Defaults6830805394314011411Intel Core i7 8700Okay Defaults676554933295617788AMD Ryzen 2700X Defaults 8151417892183113775

Actual World Checks

Shifting on to the actual world testing, the 9900Okay exhibits a clear sweep throughout these 5 benchmarks. It bests the 8700Okay by 29-40% and is 17-37% quicker than the 2700X. General an excellent displaying for the CPU.

Cinebench R11.5/R15, POVRay, x265, 7Zip

Cinebench R11.5/R15, POVRay, x265 (HWBot), 7Zip – Uncooked KnowledgeCPUR11.5R15POVRayX2657ZipIntel Core i9 9900Okay Defaults22.three2054435067.three69831Intel Core i7 8700Okay Defaults15.three1417299147.240632AMD Ryzen 2700X Defaults19.three1826372945.9 47344

Pi and Prime Based mostly Checks

Subsequent up are the Pi and Prime quantity based mostly checks together with Intel’s personal stress testing and benchmarking utility, XTU. On this set of testing, the 9900Okay sits on prime of the heap resulting from its quicker clock speeds. All that’s, apart from Intel XTU. At this second we aren’t completely positive why this end result was so and are wanting into it.

Tremendous Pi 1M/32M, WPrime 32M/1024M

SuperPi and wPrime Benchmarks – Uncooked KnowledgeMotherboardSpi 1MSPi 32MWPrime 32MWPrime 1024MIntel XTUIntel Core i9 9900Okay Defaults7.407410.9952.56371.8253254Intel Core i7 8700Okay Defaults7.865429.363three.46799.572368AMD Ryzen 2700X Defaults9.75543.338three.21984.188N/A

Gaming Outcomes

For gaming, we’re utilizing Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation in DX12. The sport leans fairly closely on the CPU for all it has to do within the recreation, whereas Shadow of the Tomb Raider makes use of a good quantity of CPU, however a extra sometimes GPU sure title. As we will see from the graph under, there was little distinction in both title at 1080p.

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation and Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Energy Consumption and Temperatures

Our energy consumption outcomes are fascinating in that the 9900Okay, although quicker and with 33% extra cores, runs on the similar TDP because the 8700Okay of 95W. Intel defines TDP as a worth of the cooling required to take care of its base frequency. TDP doesn’t take into consideration turbo speeds and as one might think about, the all core turbo worth is notably above the 95W TDP.

Intel makes use of a set of variables referred to as Energy ranges: PL1, PL2, and PL3. PL1 is the cooling restrict (TDP), PL2 is sustained energy supply (Turbo), and PL3 is the facility supply restrict. PL2 is the utmost sustainable energy the CPU can deal with till thermal points. Intel has set the worth of PL2 to 210W although board producers can set their very own. Actually, if you wish to get probably the most out of this CPU, you will need to convey the cooling, even with the improved thermal interface materials.

Energy Consumption

We didn’t get too granular right here and used system energy use checks, however we will see the 9900Okay in inventory type is utilizing a good bit extra energy than the 8700Okay. When pushing it utilizing the newest Prime 95 with AVX/FMA3 directions, the system peaked at 322W on the wall.


Temperatures at inventory speeds operating these exams have been nearly our thermal restrict. Utilizing a check that may be a little much less irritating like AIDA64 exhibits the CPU hit 82 °C at inventory utilizing EVGA’s CLC240 CPU cooler. I’m imagining hitting round 5 GHz all cores and threads with this cooling when all is claimed and carried out. Including an AVX offset might assist push previous that worth saving a number of levels in these heavy exams.


As soon as once more we arrive at my favourite a part of the assessment, the overclocking. The 9900Okay did deliver with it some pleasure from the fanatic and overclocking group when rumors got here out Intel moved again to the simpler STIM. This, in principle, ought to yield higher temperatures and extra overclocking headroom assuming all different issues stay the identical. However as a consequence of how the processor works and the way far more energy it may well draw, and subsequently warmth it’ll produce, we’re again to the cooling used, and silicon lottery as to how excessive we will push the chip.

Our testing consists of operating the AIDA64 stress exams in its default type. Whereas this isn’t probably the most traumatic check we will put it beneath, our settings do NOT use an AVX offset and we nonetheless needed to overclock to the bounds of our cooling whereas leaving as little meat left on the bone whereas nonetheless being “stable.” We’re operating the A64 check for 30 minutes as it will get us the utmost warmth and be thought-about at the very least secure sufficient to benchmark.

9900Okay @ 5.14 GHz, 1.30V.

General the CPU carried out fairly properly reaching a most overclock of 5.1 GHz at 1.30V with out an AVX offset. This compares equally to the 8700Okay CPUs we’ve overclocked prior to now, however the huge distinction right here is the extra cores and threads (2/four respectively) the 9900Okay offers over the 6c/12t 8700Okay. Further velocity could be gained through the use of an AVX offset as that may permit for extra temperature headroom.

MSI shipped us their MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC ($190 @ Newegg and Amazon) motherboard for this assessment and this mid-vary board dealt with all of the overclocked testing with out flinching. The board is claimed to be a 10-phase (5 doubled) unit and even consists of an non-compulsory four-pin CPU energy lead (not used on this testing). Because the identify implies, the board has constructed-in wi-fi networking dealt with by an Intel 9462 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter and helps the newest Bluetooth 5 connectivity. The board has 4 DRAM slots with help for as much as DDR4-4400 with a complete capability of as much as 64 GB. Storage is managed by a pair of M.2 PCIe x4/SATA slots in addition to six SATA ports. The board has three full-size PCIe slots with the highest two slots utilizing MSI’s Metal Slot armor. Two-approach SLI and three-approach Crossfire setups are supported. The again panel consists of two USB three.1 (10 Gbps) ports, Sort-A and Sort-C, together with two USB  ports and two USB ports with additional enlargement by means of inner headers. The audio is dealt with by the Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec.

General on the overclocking entrance, it seems like we have now had some enchancment from Intel with the 14nm tweaks in addition to going with the simpler thermal interface materials. Although the potential clock speeds reached are nonetheless restricted by cooling, we’re capable of get 8c/16t to five.14 GHz the place with the 8700Okay tends to lose steam and wish extra cooling round 5 GHz. Now, that’s simply with this pattern, which appears is fairly common in relation to the silicon lottery. As all the time, your mileage might range.


The 9900Okay has been met with seemingly equal elements constructive and unfavorable press. On one hand, Intel has expanded the mainstream line as a way to compete with AMD’s comparable (by thread rely) choices on their mainstream lineup. This introduced eight core processors from the costlier HEDT line right down to the place the plenty have a tendency to buy. With this got here barely elevated clock speeds, boosting to five GHz with two cores/threads. A feat solely managed by the 8086Okay restricted version processor (and that was solely utilizing one core/thread). Worth clever, the comparable AMD CPU, a 2700X blows it out of the water costing about half as a lot. The worth to efficiency ratio doesn’t work out terribly nicely right here, however, that’s the worth one has to pay for, basically, the quicker CPU (clock velocity, single threaded, gaming).

The underside of the product stack poses fairly an fascinating worth proposition, nevertheless. The 6c/6t 9600Okay may be discovered for $280. As talked about above, 6c/6t must be sufficient for many customers to recreation on and naturally different actions with out being held again by a scarcity of cores and threads. This additionally leaves a reasonably vital improve path as nicely. Even right here, AMD holds the worth to efficiency and worth phase typically.

We noticed the STIM in full impact with our overclocked testing permitting our pattern on our “average” cooling (2×120 MM CLC) to succeed in 5.14 GHz at 1.3V. This was the restrict of our cooling, however not likely the CPU. I’m sure with a greater cooler 5.2 GHz+ is within the playing cards. Keep in mind, we don’t use an offset for our overclocking, however use a barely much less hectic program in AIDA64 to find out relative stability.

In the long run, the Espresso Lake refresh CPUs look to stay it to AMD’s clock velocity sensible and single threaded efficiency. Some checks present the AMD CPU taking a lead on account of the place it shines (Hash testing to call one) and its barely higher hyperthreading effectivity. Nonetheless, in most exams, that is the quickest CPU Intel has put out so far. Whether or not or not the elevated worth of the CPU is value it for the features is as much as the customer, however Intel put out a strong performing chip with extra cores and threads than they’ve ever used within the mainstream platform. The trick is looking for one out there on-line at an inexpensive worth contemplating inventory on these are arduous to return by.

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Joe Shields (Earthdog)


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