Intel Core i9-9900K Review: The ultimate gaming processor


The Intel Core i9-9900K processor is an absolute driver for video and Photoshop rendering at this price. If you are a crazy power media professional, it is the processor that you need. But for the players? You can find better value alternatives.


  • Ultra fast for rendering and editing videos
  • Best clock speeds of all mainstream processors
  • Price reduction sees improved value

The inconvenients

  • Not a huge game upgrade from the previous generation
  • Requires a powerful cooler to prevent overheating
  • Not much room for overclocking

Key specifications

  • Price of examination: $494.99
  • Eight cores, 16 wires
  • 3.60 GHz base clock
  • 5 GHz clock booster
  • overclockable
  • 14nm manufacturing process

UPublication date: The price of the Intel Core i9-9900K processors has dropped significantly since its initial release, from $600 to $494.99. Having recently examined the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X, we believe that the new price of the Intel chip makes it much more competitive and is the best option for high-end gaming, so we adjusted to the final verdict score to reflect this reality.

What is Intel Core i9-9900K processor?

The Intel Core i9-9900K is the most powerful processor in the 9th generation Intel Core family. For occasional users of the Web and YouTube enthusiasts, this chip is excessive. But for gamers and creatives, Intel says that this processor will take your performance to a higher level.

In fact, Intel even suggests that the Intel Core i9-9900K processor is “The best game processor in the world”. A bold assertion, of course – but with an accelerated clock speed of 5 GHz and the possibility of overclocking, such a suggestion does not seem so excited so far. In addition, it has eight cores and 16 threads, which gives the Intel 9th ​​generation a significant performance boost over last year’s offerings.

Unfortunately, the the architecture has not been upgraded yet. IFor four years now, ntel has been struggling with a 14-nanometer design, and the 9th-generation Intel processors will not end this rut. On the good side, it means that you get backward compatibility with older Z370 chipsets. Although to get the most out of the i9-9900K, you will want to invest in a fully compatible Z390 motherboard.

Also launching as part of the 9th generation of Intel the processors are the i7-9700K and i5-9600K. As expected, there is not much difference between the three processors, apart from the performance gains. We still have not gotten the 9th generation i5 or i7, but we’ll be sure to call on them for a review to find out how much they differ from the i9’s performance.

Intel 9th ​​Generation Processors – Technology, Specifications and Chipset

Intel 9th ​​generation processors have not seen any major architectural changes since their predecessors, but they have all experienced a decline in performance. This is mainly due to the increase in the number of cores and wires.

The i9-9900K and i7-9700K models have eight cores, a 33% improvement over the previous generation.

With an optimized clock speed of 5 GHz, the i9-9900K benefits from the best optimized clock speeds of all Intel Core processors, while increasing its lead in the market Ryzen 7 2700X by an appreciable margin. Even the new AMD Ryzen 9 3900X can not quite with the clock speeds i9-9900K.

Being overclockable means that in theory you can leverage the performance of the i9-9900K even more, just in case the increased speed of 5 GHz is not enough already.

The 9th generation Intel Core processors also see the return of the Welding Thermal Interface Materials (STIM). This means that Intel gives up the thermal paste in favor of the brazed metal for its manufacturing process. STIM offers improved heat dissipation, helping to prevent shutdowns due to rising temperatures. But as you will read later in this review, the i9-9900K is so powerful that even the STIM could not prevent overheating.

The new wave of Intel chips also features more subtle, but very welcome features. For example, support for Intel Optane memory, as well as support for Gigabit Wi-Fi speeds.

The kernelsThe sonsBasic clock speed (GHz)Enhanced clock speed (GHz)TDPIntel Smart CachePrice
Intel Core i9-9900K8163.65.095W16MB£ 600
Intel Core i7-9700K883.64.995W12MB£ 500
Intel Core i5-9600K663.74.695W9MB£ 350
Ryzen 7 2700X8163.74.3105W20MB£ 300
Intel Core i7-8700K6123.74.795W12MB£ 450
Intel Core i5-8600K663.64.395W9MB£ 290

Intel Core i9-9900K – AMD Threadripper 2 competitor?

For our testing process, we compared the Intel Core i9-9900K processor to i7-8700K and the AMD Ryzen 2700X. You may be wondering why we have not compared it to the Intel Xeon and AMD Threadripper 2 lineup.

Our rationale for excluding the majority of Intel Xeon and AMD Threadripper 2 processors is that they have a different target audience, with prices sometimes exceeding £ 1,000. Unless you’re a media professional, developer or animator, and you’re in dire need of this monstrous power, these processors are excessive.

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The AMD Threadripper 2920X is another problem, it costs about the same price as the i9-9900K. Unfortunately, I do not have the processor in the office that allows me to compare it to that of Intel i9-9900K, but as soon as I receive a call, I will not fail to update the test results with my results.

Intel Core i9-9900K – Test Configuration

During the revelation, Intel has qualified its i9-9900K processor as “the world’s best gaming desktop processor”. To determine the credibility of this statement, I compared the i9-9900K to some of the most notoriously demanding video games.

Of course, it’s not just the game, so I also used benchmarking software to see how this processor behaved creatively.

But the benchmarks do not mean much if there is nothing that compares them. So I also dug the Intel Core i7-8700K Ryzen 2700X, the flagship product of AMD, to determine if the new Intel processor is truly a revolutionary.

Before coming to my conclusions, I will explain our platform so that you know exactly which components I used:

Apart from the motherboards, which I had to switch between them because of the chipset compatibility, I made sure to keep the consistency of all the components for the tests to be correct.

Take note that I had to call the cooler specifically for this review. The Corsair Hydro Series H100i PRO liquid cooler was simply not powerful enough to withstand the heat produced by the i9-9900K.

If you want to see how the Intel i9-9900K processor compares to the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X then check out this latest review for all the latest benchmark results.

Intel Core i9-9900K – Results

Cinebench R15
The Intel Core i9-9900K began in a promising way as I began our benchmarking tests with Cinebench R15. The multi-threaded result arrived at 2058cb. This is a huge improvement of 45% over Intel’s 8th generation i7-8700K processor. With two additional cores and four additional threads, this performance improvement is not too surprising.

Intel Core i9-9900K Review: The ultimate gaming processor 1

Intel Core i9-9900K Review: The ultimate gaming processor 2

Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that the Intel Core i9-9900K processor has a 16% increase over the AMD Ryzen 2700X for Cinebench’s multi-threaded benchmark test. This despite the two i9-9900K and Ryzen 2700X having 8 cores and 16 threads.

The i9-9900K also recorded a slight improvement in single-core performance compared to its predecessor, with a score of 218cb. This represents only a 5% improvement over the i7-8700K. Still, it’s one of the best single-core scores I’ve seen in processor testing, comfortably beating the AMD Ryzen 2700X with a difference of 25%.

These very impressive benchmark results for the i9-9900K prove that this processor is an absolute dream for those who devote much of their time to Photoshop and Premiere Pro.

Then I tested the i9-9900K with the POV-Ray benchmarking software. I saw similar results here, with a 37% increase for the 9th generation processor, compared to the i7-8700K processor.

How is the i9-9900K compared to the Ryzen 2700X in the multi-threaded POV-Ray test? Well, again, Intel came out on top with a 16% advantage.

Intel Core i9-9900K

Intel Core i9-9900K

After these decisive tests, I can conclude that the Intel Core i9-9900K processor is certainly the most powerful processor compared to the Intel Core i7-8700K processor and AMD Ryzen 2700X. This makes it one of the best mainstream processors available for media work. If you want to make a 4K video, it is a fantastic processor.

The creative chops are well established then, but how does this power of performance translate to the game?

Shadow of the Tomb Raider
After getting such impressive results so far, I expected the i9-9900K to have significantly better frame rates than the i7-8700K, especially since Intel has called it “the world’s best gaming desktop processor”. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Overall, the difference was minimal.

Intel Core i9-9900K

I first tested Shadow of the Tomb Raider, one of the most energy hungry video games currently available. The frame rates were identical between the two Intel processors for all our Full HD benchmarking tests. But even then, it was only a 7fps improvement – even the most advanced pixel perfectionists will not notice the difference when watching the screen.

Even more alarming, the Ryzen 2700X was just 1 ips behind in the 4K test. Whereas the AMD processor is (at the time of writing) twice as cheap as the i9-9900K, it’s incredibly disappointing for the players.

Ghost Recon Wildlands
Unfortunately, I have seen similar disappointing results with Ghost Recon Wildlands. There was hardly a difference between the results of i9-9900K and i7-8700K, with 2 frames per second being the maximum advantage of the 9th generation processor compared to its 8th generation brother.

Intel Core i9-9900K

In the benchmark test of 2560 x 1440, the Intel Core i7-8700K slightly outperformed the i9-9900K score. Obviously, these scores may vary, so this does not mean that the i7-8700K is the best processor for games. But this points out that there is not much between the two Intel processors.

Again, it was not surprising that the i9-9900K was ahead of the Ryzen 2700X for the 2560 x 1440 and Full HD reference tests. But alarmingly, there was only a difference of 3fps when benchmarking in 4K. If you want to play Ghost Recon Wildlands in Ultra HD, the Ryzen 2700X is better value than the i9-9900K

Dirt Rally
Since the previous two games consume a lot of energy, I thought that it would be wise to use a slightly older and more tolerant video game to try to give the i9 -9900K a little more freedom to show his muscles. For this reason, I decided to use Dirt Rally for benchmarking.

Intel Core i9-9900K

As you can see from the 4K results, the scenario is the same as before, with only 1 ips separating the two Intel processors. However, by resuming the resolution, I finally saw the i9-9900K take a considerable lead over its 8th generation brother.

In the 2560 × 1440 test, the i9-9900K flew one step at 20 frames per second. This is an increase of 14%, which is quite impressive for a processor. The problem? At 158 ​​fps and 138 fps, these rates are so high that the naked eye will probably not notice any difference. Even the Ryzen 2700X, which is half as high in this 70 fps test, will look just as impressive at this resolution if your eyes are not glued to the monitor.

Civilization VI
So far, I’ve focused only on frame rates for reference games, and the fact that the i9-9900K technology does not bring a significant improvement in this department compared to its competitors. Processors are so powerful nowadays that they are no longer the bottleneck for frame rates of video games.

Intel Core i9-9900K

However, the i9-9900K could still have a big impact on processor-based games for complex calculations. Civilization VI is one of those titles because it requires a beefy processor when artificial intelligence develops strategies. A powerful processor can mean the difference between having to wait an absurdly long time or a few seconds after each turn.

I put the i9-9900K on the civilization test, which produces an average turnaround time of 13.11 seconds. What score i7-8700K scored? 13.78 seconds. That’s right, with the 9th generation i9 chip, you only have half a second of improved speed. Of course, any improvement remains positive.

Intel Core i9-9900K – Power Consumption and Heat

The i9-9900K processor is a very powerful processor. It is therefore not surprising that it has a relatively high peak consumption under pressure.

When running the Cinebench multi-threaded performance tests, the i9-9900K recorded peak power consumption of 204.1W. In the same test, the Intel Core i7-8700K processor had a power of 139.9W.

IdleRunning Cinebench
Intel Core i9-9900K59,7W204.1W
Intel Core i7-8700K59.2W139,9W
AMD Ryzen 2700X70.4 W203.5W

In comparison with the Ryzen 2700X, the results of the i9-9900K are really impressive. The Ryzen 2700X experienced higher idle power consumption and only underestimated the i9-9900K Cinebench power consumption test by half a watt.

This means that if you already own a power block capable of withstanding the vigor of the modern game, it is unlikely that you will need to buy a replacement game. However, you may need to purchase a more powerful fan.

Although Intel returned to STIM during the manufacture of the i9-9900K, I still found that the processor was suffering from overheating problems at the very beginning of my tests.

This is not due to a problem in the design of the CPU. It’s just because the i9-9900K is so powerful that it needs an ultra-powerful cooler to work.

Intel Core i9-9900K

I’ve been forced to upgrade to Corsair H150i Pro Liquid processor cooler to prevent CPU blocking Intel Core i9-9900K

I initially used the Corsair H60 liquid cooler for my test bench. Previously, it was a good job, whether to cool the Intel Core i7-8700K processor or the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X. Start the platform with the i9-9900K installed and the Corsair H60 fails to prevent a system crash.

Although equipped with two 140 mm fans that can run at a maximum speed of 2400 rpm, Corsair Hydro Series H100i v2 Extreme Performance Series Liquid Processor Chiller did not do much better. This at least prevented other system failures, but heating problems persisted, preventing the processor from exceeding the basic clock speed of 3.60 GHz, which therefore affected the test results. performance.

After calling and installing the Corsair H150i Pro Liquid processor cooler, all heating issues were resolved, proving that the i9-9900K was not in question. That said, it’s always difficult to upgrade your components. You really need to get the most out of improved performance to make money with Intel’s flagship i9 processor.

Intel Core i9-9900K – Overclocking

While Intel proudly displays the fact that overclocking experts have been able to overclock the Intel Core i9-9900K at an astonishing 7.6 GHz, you would have assumed that this processor is extremely overclockable.

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However, given the heating problems encountered during the initial tests, I was not confident with the overclocking potential of the i9-9900K. It turns out that my concerns were well founded.

As soon as I pushed the i9-9900K beyond 5 GHz, it started to become unstable. The launch at 5.2 GHz caused the blue screen of death. By increasing the voltage up to 1.4 V, I was able to run the processor at 5.2 GHz, but it became too unstable for me to continue willingly.

So, how have professional overclockers been able to push the i9-9900K so far? They used a liquid helium cooler, which is not really a practical option for consumers in general.

Since I used the very respectable Corsair Hydro Series H150i PRO, it is unlikely that many users get much better overclocking results than me. And given the instability of things when I pushed the processor beyond 5 GHz, I really do not recommend overclocking the Intel Core i9-9900K.

Why buy Intel Core i9-9900K processor?

Intel announced that the i9-9900K was “the best gaming desktop processor in the world” when it was launched. This is an assertion that is difficult to refute because the CPU has performed slightly better than the competition.

Is the i9-9900K the most affordable gaming desktop processor in the world? Probably not. You could buy the i7-8700K percent less, giving similar benchmark results.

That said, opting for the i7-8700K, you lose the excellent multicore performance of the i9-9900K in terms of productivity and workloads for media publishing. Enhanced multicore performance will also be beneficial for complex strategy titles such as Civilization and Total War titles.

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The Intel Core i9-9900K processor may not be the best mainstream processor for creative tasks – this title belongs to the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X – but it remains one of the best options currently available, especially when it is associated with first-rate gaming. performance.


The Intel Core i9-9900K processor is the absolute best processor for video games while delivering solid performance for creative tasks.

Intel Core i9-9900K Review: The ultimate gaming processor
Intel Core i9-9900K Review: The ultimate gaming processor 3

Verdict The Intel Core i9-9900K processor is an absolute driver for video and Photoshop rendering at this price. If you are a crazy power media professiona

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