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Intel Core i9-9900K review and rating

Whether Intel recognizes this or not, since the launch of the AMD Ryzen first-generation "Summit Ridge" processors (led by the excellent Ryzen 7 1800X), the two companies have been in the midst of a nuclear war. With the launch of the Intel Core i9-9900K at $ 499, Intel now has a chance to take advantage of AMD's mainstream CPU productivity crown. Although raw performance is not the only factor to determine which components to buy, this is an important factor. And on this front scores Intel with the Core i9-9900K with eight cores. That said, while this epic mainstream processor delivers killer points in benchmark testing and is a prime choice for performance-oriented PC gamers and content creators, you need to budget for a decent thermal topper for that chip ̵

1; and a lot more budget for both the and chip itself. It is the most expensive desktop CPU of recent memory on a mainstream, rather than specialized enthusiasts, platform. But, oh, is it ever a good one.

The Whole i9 Yards

If you've purchased an Intel Core processor (or pre-installed laptop or desktop) at any point in the last decade, you know how Intel segmented its products into the Core i3, Core i5, and Core Core i7 families. With the "Nehalem" microarchitecture, launched in 2008, Intel offers Hyper-Threading on its Core i7 chips, but not on the Core i5 chips. Hyper-Threading enabled users to achieve approximately 30 percent better performance per core, depending on the application, because each core could handle up to two threads on these higher-level processors. Because of this, the Core i7 processors were much more powerful than the Core i5 processors, especially when using highly threaded software. But with 9th-generation Intel Core processors, hyperthreading is no longer a standard feature on the Core i7s.

  Intel Core i9-9900K Box 2

Intel has already released a series of processors above the Core i7s, which was unveiled in May 2017, with the Skylake-X HEDT (high-end desktop) processor family, whose leading chip is the impressive Multi-Kilobuck Core i9-7980XE Extreme Edition. This first wave of Core i9s was developed especially for well-heeled extremenus enthusiasts and pro-content creators. The core is one of the Core X-Series Core i9 processors, starting at 10 and going up to 18, with hyper-threading being a standard feature. All chips, however, need an expensive Intel X299-based motherboard and the Core i9 chip Prices start at a cool $ 1,000 with the Core i9-7900X. In addition to accessing these supercar speed processors, support for four-channel main system memory and many additional PCI Express lanes (for multiple graphics cards or PCI Express-based SSDs) are the reasons buyers choose to use the X299. Platform

Unlike the Intel Core X family of Core i9 chips, the Intel Core i9-9900K is the first i9 processor available in Intel's mainstream desktop platform cheaper Z370 motherboards, although a BIOS update will be required. This chip also offers two more cores than the previous mainstream flagship chip, the six-core Core i7-8700K . If you look at the rest of the Core i9 processors in the Intel stack, you might see the Core i9-9900K as a somewhat midrange silicone, but it's meant to reassure enthusiasts who do not need Core X replacement PCI Express. Lanes and quad-channel memory.

  Intel Core i9-9900K Box 3

On the other hand, the list price of $ 499 on the Intel Core i9-9900K (the selling prices at the time I started this at $ 530 and got even higher) is more difficult Pill to swallow, if you expected that this chip is a direct replacement for the Core i7-8700K. Instead, Intel launches the $ 385 Core i7-9700K as the 9th-generation top-end Core i7 processor, and although hyperthreading has eight cores, is not a supported feature. The core and thread jump from the Core i7-7700K to the Core i7-8700K is measurable in just about anything you do with your PC, but Intel does not seem to go the same way this time. Are there any cases where the Core i7-8700K with its six cores and 12 threads surpasses a Core i7-9700K with eight cores and eight threads? Maybe, although we suspect that this will be the exception rather than the rule. I'll save that discussion for the processor report for assuming I can get my gloves on one.

And what about AMD? With eight cores and 16 threads in their flagships, AMD and Intel may have achieved core parity on their respective frontlines, but AMD once again sets the price as the biggest weapon. But before we talk about how Intel competes, let's take a close look at what you can do with the Core i9-9900K.

The guts of the 9th Gen Core

Although the Core i9-9900K looks exactly like any other of the LGA-1151 processors that Intel has made, there is something new (well, new since the days of "Ivy Bridge") under the hood. Instead of using a silicone-based paste between the chip surface of the processor and the attached heatspreader, Intel recovers bonded metal or solder. This soldered thermal interface material (STIM) is much more efficient at removing heat from the chip when the CPU is under load. With a decent CPU cooler, STIM can help keep your processor cooler.

  Intel Core i9-9900K STIM

Like the gift of an unlocked multiplier, this new feature is a nod from Intel directly to overclockers, the & # 39; We have developed a whole home industry around Intel processors to replace the TIM paste with something more thermally conductive. It is also worth noting that all AM4 AM4 processors, except the Raven Ridge chips, rely on bonded metal between the chip surface and the heat spreader.

The Core i9-9900K is based on Intel's x-th revision of the 14nm process (here "14nm ++"). The chip giant, however, has managed to pack two more cores with similar clock rates in a package. Later I will take a closer look at the real energy situation of the Core i9-9900K.

  Intel Core i9-9900K Chip

The Intel Core i9-9900K is a 95-watt TDP processor with eight cores and 16 threads, and it's built on an LGA 1151 package. This processor belongs to the Intel "Coffee Lake-S" family and has a basic clock of 3.6 GHz and a maximum Turbo-Boost frequency of 5 GHz. Like the recently released Intel Core i7-8086K Limited Edition this 5 GHz boost clock only applies when a single core is active. In my tests, this processor went up to 4.7 GHz when all cores were active.

Other features include 16MB of Intel Smart Cache, available for all eight cores, a dual-channel memory controller, and Intel UHD Graphics 630 integrated graphics with a minimum frequency of 350MHz and a maximum GPU of 1 , 2 GHz. With the exception of the Smart Cache, the rest of the functions on the Core i7-8700K are identical. The memory controller is designed to support DDR4-2666 memory, and Intel Extreme Memory Profile support means that Z370 and Z390 motherboards can support memory speeds in excess of 4,000 MHz.

The processor has 16 PCI Express lanes for separate graphics cards, and the integrated UHD Graphics 630 processor (the same graphics engine as the Core i7-8700K) supports overclocking with an unlocked multiplier. When you plug this chip into a Z370 or Z390 motherboard, you also get an unencrypted base clock and memory ratios, support for overclocking per core, and adjustable voltages.

  Intel Core i9-9900K mobo

You may not be very inclined to use the UHD Graphics 630 for gaming (I could not test it because the system's MSI MEG Z390 ACE motherboard did not works a graphics output), but it's not just some useless residual lump of silicon. With Intel Quick Sync Video technology, this part of the chip can quickly convert HEVC 10-bit (H.265) video files and encode / decode premium 4K Ultra HD content, such as from Netflix. This chip also supports the AVX2 instruction set, Intel Optane Memory, and the Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0

  Intel Core i9-9900K Chipset

Intel also brings a slightly optimized Z390 chipset to market Core processors of the 9th generation, but if you already have a Z370 motherboard, there is not much to inspire. The Upticks of Z370? The Z390 has a built-in USB 3.1 Gen 2 controller for up to 10 Gbps ports and built-in Intel Wireless AC with support for Gigabit Wi-Fi speeds.

However, not all Z390 motherboards will necessarily ship with these ports and Wi-Fi capabilities, but at the top, Z390 motherboards equipped with an Intel Wireless AC 9560 adapter support theoretical data rates of up to 1,733 Mbps. Also note that, as mentioned earlier, not all Z390 boards necessarily have video outputs that let you use Intel's built-in graphics. Go shopping carefully, if that's important to you. (See our preview of Asrock's and MSI's Z390 motherboards.)

Stock Performance Testing

On paper, the Intel Core i9-9900K looks like a powerful processor, but to see how it works with other muscle – Auto chips that are currently on the market, I've run a series of tests to determine how it handles a variety of workloads in its default settings.

For my test configuration, I have the Intel Core i9-9900K installed in the MSI MEG Z390 ACE ATX motherboard earlier mentioned and two of the DIMM sockets with 16GB dual-channel G.Skill Sniper X DDR4-3400 memory equipped . For the Windows 10 boot drive, I relied on the 240GB Crucial BX300 6Gbps SATA SSD . I installed the components in an Alpine White EVGA DG-77 housing and used the Fractal Design Celsius S36 sealed liquid chiller to dissipate the heat from the processor's integrated STIM heat sink. Keep in mind that the Intel Core i9-9900K, like many of Intel's enthusiast-oriented processors, does not include a standard CPU cooler in the box.

Keep in mind. So you have to own or buy one. For our gaming tests, I've upgraded the Core i9-9900K with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 which runs on the Founders Edition watches.

 Intel Core i9-9900K System

To compare the performance of this processor with those of other chips, the In the following charts, I've included the values ​​for several previously mentioned chips: the Intel Core with six and twelve i7-8700K and Core i7-8086K Limited Edition and the 10-Core / 20-Thread Intel Core i9-7900X and the Intel Core i7-7820X with eight cores and 16 threads . The first two are on the same platform as the Core i9-9900K and will work with Z370 motherboards, while the two Core X-Series chips (ending with "X") set to X299.

For the AMD side of the gang, the competitors are the mainstream flagship eight-core / 16-thread AMD Ryzen 7 2700X the step-down six-core / 12-thread Ryzen 5 2600X [19659030] and for kicks and context, the much more expensive 16-core / 32-thread Ryzen Threadripper 2950X .

Cinebench R15

Maxon's 64-bit Cinebench R15 is a CPU-centric test with which we tested both the single-core and multi-core performance of the various processors I have tested. The resulting scores are test-specific numbers that represent the performance of the processor while providing a complex computationally intensive image. This is considered a synthetic benchmark.

  Intel Core i9-9900K Cinebench

In the Cinebench R15 multi-threaded subtest, more cores tend to return higher values. Nevertheless, the Core i9-9900K performs better than the much more expensive Core i9-7900X with 10 cores . The eight-core Ryzen 7 2700X and Core i7-7820X are neck-to-neck, and the trio of six-core processors brings the back.

The Cinebench R15 single-threaded test takes into account more than one core, which is why megahertz is the most important here. As expected, the two 5GHz Intel processors take the top spots, but the Core i9-9900K has a slight edge.

iTunes 10.6 Conversion Test

The iTunes 10.6 encoding test is tragically single-threaded, which means that more cores simply do not cause problems with these workloads. This test was designed to demonstrate the performance you could expect when using legacy software that does not scale across multiple cores.

  Intel Core i9-9900K iTunes

The iTunes Encoding test is a bit like the Cinebench R15 threaded test, where sheer one-core clock speed plays a big role. The Core i9-9900K comes back to the top, but the rest of the Intel chips are not far behind. All three AMD processors complete the encoding task 16 seconds or more behind the slowest Intel processor, the Core i9-7900X.

Handbrake 0.9.9

Handbrake is a classic (and popular) workstation application that is used to convert videos between formats. The more threads and cores a processor has, the better it will normally run in this utility. I loaded a 12-minute open-source 4K movie titled Tears Of Steel and converted it into a 1080p MPEG-4 video.

  Intel Core i9-9900K Handbrake

The AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X is a hand to be reckoned with when it comes to handbrake rendering, but the Core i9-9900K comes in second place and even beats the approximate Core i9-7900X. The AMD Ryzen 7 2700X clocks almost a full minute behind the Core i9-9900K.

POV-Ray 3.7

This benchmark is another that is generally considered synthetic; However, the highly tortuous nature of the utility is becoming more and more representative of the applications available today. (The benchmark instructs the processor to render a complex photorealistic image using raytracing.) I ran POV-Ray with both the "All CPUs" multi-threading setting and the "One CPU" hamstrung.

  Intel Core i9-9900K POV-Ray

POV-Ray's single-threaded workload seems to be preferable to Intel's processors, and the Core i9-9900K has another impressive run to conquer the top of the chart. However, the multithreaded POV-Ray does not provide such unilateral results, as the thread ripper chip is expected to take the lead by far. Only 11 seconds separates the fourth place of the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X from the Core i9-9900K in third place.

Blender 2.77a

Another of the real benchmarks I've used is Blender, a popular open-source 3D rendering application that people use a lot more creative and talented than me to create 3D visual effects, To create animations and models. Our test file consists of a cartoon flying squirrel render that takes less than a minute to complete with most modern processors.

  Intel Core i9-9900K Blender

In Blender the only processor that took more than 25 seconds to render our test image was the Ryzen 5 2600X. The rest of the processors made it between 22 and 18 seconds. The Core i9-9900K achieved the fastest time and the Ryzen 7 2700X was only 4 seconds behind.

7-Zip File Compression

7-Zip is a widely used file compression utility that has an integrated compression / decompression benchmark. It's a real test that usually uses as many cores and threads as your processor has to offer.

  Intel Core i9-9900K 7-Zip

A glance at our results, and it is immediately clear that 7 -zip likes multicore processors. Although the 16- and 10-core processors ranked first and second, the Core i9-9900K is the fastest of the eight-core processors we've tested. The six-core Intel chips (Core i7-8700K and Core i7-8086K Limited Edition) left the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X in the dust.

The Ultimate Gaming CPU (with an Asterisk)

Due to time and hardware constraints, I limited the game benchmark focus to just three processors: the Intel Core i7-8086K Limited Edition, the Intel Core i9-9900K and the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X. The first one has six cores, but shares the Core i9-9900K's 5GHz boost clock, and the AMD processor has the same core count as the theme of this test. The real heavy lifting for the game benchmarks is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080.

In order to keep the platform comparisons as apple-to-apples as possible, I have the same video card as well as that same memory bit that runs at the same frequency (3,400 MHz) and with the same timings. I played in-game benchmarks of Far Cry Primal (in high preset) and Rise of Tomb Raider (DX11 in preset very high) with three resolutions: 1080p, 1440p and 4K. I've also benchmarked both stock and overclocked settings, occasionally seeing a slight performance improvement (but not always) for our efforts.

  Intel Core i9-9900K Games

After seeing the Core i7-8086K Limited Edition, I was skeptical that Intel's Core i9-9900K will be able to outperform its gaming performance even to match with a boost clock. But the numbers do not lie. In the standard and overclocked settings, the i9-9900K achieved 138fps and 140fps in Far Cry Primal and Rise of the Tomb Raider 1080p tests, respectively. The Core i7-8086K was right there, but the AMD platform only managed to overclock Far-Cry-Primal and 132fps / 133fps in Rise of the Tomb Raider and overclock frames per second (fps) at 106 fps / 109fps. That's a 26% deficit for the AMD platform in Far Cry Primal. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, the difference between the two platforms is less obvious; The AMD chip is just 6.6 percent behind Intel at 1080p. Although both platforms deliver frame rates over 100 fps, this gap is not trivial.

But what happens if we move the resolution to 1440p? Since the CPU is less of a bottleneck and the graphics card has some room to run, the difference disappears. Compared to the Ryzen 7 2700X, Far Cry Primal was 2 percent faster on the Core i9-9900K platform. In Rise of the Tomb Raider at 1440p, the difference in inventory settings was less than a single frame per second. At 4K resolution, the Intel and AMD platforms did the same in both games.

In conclusion: Yes, Intel Core i9-9900K is dominant in games as long as your resolution and graphics cards are chosen so that CPU becomes a bottleneck. (Generally this will be a problem mainly at 1080p.) The tests I did were by no means exhaustive, and depending on the game, there will be profits for Intel and there will be gains for AMD. If you only play on your PC, you can save hundreds of dollars by getting a Ryzen 5 2600 with six cores, a Core i5-8600K or a Core i5-9600K and spend that extra money in a more powerful graphics card or monitor with a higher resolution or high refresh rate. The extra frames of the Intel platform will not bring you near the experience that will increase your resolution and / or refresh rate. Games demographic games will not find much value in the i9-9900K over other high-end CPUs. Luckily for content creators, extreme multitaskers and the rest of us power users, this processor accelerates virtually every task you inflict on it.


At the beginning, I loaded the BIOS menu of the MSI MEG Z390 ACE motherboard and increased the multiplier to 50. After a series of reboots and tests, I decided to set a core voltage of 1.33V, always Still modest enough to maintain in the long run, I should make that clock speed a permanent setting.

  Intel Core i9-9900K BIOS

Back in Windows 10, at 5 GHz on all cores that ran stable and within reasonable temperature thresholds, I ran Cinebench out to see the performance benefits. The Intel Core i9-9900K went from 2,063 points (multi-threading) and 218 (single-threading) to 2,188 or 222 points. My overclocking shaved one second each after the Blender and iTunes coding tests, 20 seconds after the Handbrake result, 4 seconds after the POV-Ray multithreading test result, and 3 seconds after the single-threaded POV-Ray test result. Overall, my results in the games did not show much improvement, but I achieved 4fps more in Rise of the Tomb Raider at 1080p and 2fps more in the game's 1440p result.

Power and Thermal Testing

When Intel says so The Core i9-9900K has a TDP of 95 watts, which has virtually no impact on the performance that the chip has in its own settings. Back then, when I tested the Core i7-8086K Limited Edition with six cores, another chip with 5GHz boost clock, the 95W TDP was not far from the 103W total power consumption of AIDA's system stability test 64 removed. When I overclocked the Core i7-8086K to run at 5 GHz on all cores, power consumption increased to 141 watts. The Core i9-9900K, which performed the system stability test AIDA 64, achieved an impressive 165 watts in its hard drive settings. Note: This is an out-of-the-box performance. In real computer scenarios, you will probably be exposed to similar burdens.

Despite this amount of power, the Fractal Design Celsius S36 (the aforementioned closed-loop liquid-cooled radiator equipped with a 360mm radiator) could be able to hold the processor between 65 and 75 degrees C. If I did Overclocking the Core i9-9900K to 5 GHz on all cores, power consumption increases by another 10 watts, but temperatures rose in the mid-'80s, peaking in the '90s. I have no problem running a system that jumps into the 90s for a short time. However, if I do something with this computer, which would take hours, I would return to the camp settings. If you run your PC regularly with heavy loads, you may need a custom liquid cooling system with a higher heat capacity than a simple compact liquid cooler. If you plan to run an air cooler, I do not recommend overclocking the Intel Core i9-9900K unless you equip it with a specialized high-end air monster such as the Noctua 1151 socket.

  Intel Core i9-9900K Chip and Board

When I first learned that Intel uses STIM between the chip and the heatspreader of the Core i9-9900K, I thought this was an example for Intel, he was really listening to the enthusiast community. After working with the chip for a few weeks, I came to the conclusion that everything else would have been a non-starter.

. 9 Gen Core: Still the Goods

Although it is the product of an iterative refinement, the Intel Core i9-9900K is no wonder of modern silicon technology. The fact that it does what it does while built on the same production node as the previous Coffee Lake processors confuses thoughts. With Intel's continuing problems around the 10nm process, few would say that the Santa Clara chip maker is at the top of its game, but this processor would not exist if some of the world's brightest and brightest did not work on it ( If someone thought that AMD's second-generation Zen processor would be the hit that would make Intel the outsider in the mainstream, then that person just would not know Intel well. This processor is not for everyone, but for those who can afford both and heavy cooling for overclocking, the Intel Core i9-9900K player, content creator and extreme multitasker will not disappoint their CPU in a single GPU system, to do everything and do well. Nonetheless, Intel's existing 8th-generation Hyper-Threading Core chips and AMD's second-generation top-length Ryz continue to deliver superior value to those who can only live one or two levels below the leading edge with just one graphics card. 19659090]
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