Intel Core i9-9900K 9th Generation CPU Review

The new 9th generation Intel i9-9900K CPU is upon us! AMD has been pushing into Intel's desktop market and Intel knows it. Today Intel is pulling the curtain back on "not paid for" reviews and we are happy to be serving you one of those up here today. Is the i9-9900K better than the Ryzen 7 2700X, and is it worth the staggering price premium?


Test Setup

Our CPU choices here might raise a few eyebrows. Of course we have the AMD Ryzen 2700+ which is exactly the processor that Intel is targeting with the i9-9900K. We have standardized our 2700X testing using Precision Boost 2 clocks because we feel as though this is how most people will use this CPU. Yes, you can rather easily over it to 4.2GHz across all cores, but then you hinder some lower threaded workloads that PB2 will boost to higher clocks to. We have a full review that will show you all our 2700 and 2700X and how those react.

Our i7-8700K that we had in house failed on us, so we are lacking a 6-core Coffee Lake part with HyperThreading. We do have our i5-8600K for comparison which is a 6C/6T part. Our 8600K easily clocked to 5.2GHz before delidding, so we are using that for our 8600K OC testing.

We are also going to include the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X processor using Precision Boost 2. This part cost $900. No, it is not price comparable and it is outside of our testing scope in that the 2950X is considered a High End Desktop (HEDT) part. However, I think that a lot of focus is put on Performance Per Watt (PPW), and that is why we are including it here, and we will show you how all that pulls together. With ASUS teasing its HEDT ROG Dominus Extreme motherboard for upcoming 28 Core Intel processors, we think this comparison will benefit the overall conversation moving forward. Worth mentioning is that the 2950X can be pushed good bit further in clocks using Precision Boost Overdrive as shown in this review.

The 2700X has been selling lately for less than $300, and is $305 today at Amazon. Keep in mind that the 2700X does come with the Wraith Prism Cooler which can fetch $30 to $50 on the aftermarket should you not want to use it.

The i9-9900K is selling for $530 and does not have a cooler included.

The i5-8600K is selling for $260 and also does not come with a cooler.

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Our water cooling loop is from XSPC and consists of a XSPC RayStorm Pro Water Block for AMD and for Intel, RX480 V3 Radiator, and D5 Photon Reservoir/Pump Combo V2. So the cooling systems being used on both the AMD and Intel desktop CPUs are identical, the only thing that is different the hold-down bracket.

9900K OC = all core overclock to 5.141GHz with 2x8GB 3600MHz memory. 8600K OC = 5.25GHz with 2x8GB 3600MHz memory. Both the 2700X and 2950X are both using Precision Boost 2. The 2700X is using 2x8GB 3600MHz memory and the 2950X is using 4x8GB of 3200MHz memory.

Synthetic Arithmetic Benchmarks & RAM Bandwidth

As always, synthetic benchmarks are a good marker for performance, but are far from the end-all be-all of the CPU measuring stick. That said, there is value to be found in these metrics. We generally use these for finding out if anything is "wrong" rather than when something is "right."

SiSoft Sandra 2017

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The i9-9900K comes out swinging very hard on our 2700X. At stock clocks our 9900K shows an increase over the 2700X of ~35%, and ~43% when overclocked. As you can see the 8600K picks up ~24% increase with its overclock as it has a very low stock clock. This workload extends across all cores available.

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Memory bandwidth across the board should come as no surprise to anyone as these numbers have been pretty much static since Coffee Lake and Ryzen CPUs have been launched.

Hyper Pi

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Intel truly shows off its clock and IPC dominance here. Again, these numbers should come as no surprise. Certainly the 9900K in its stock form is boosting to its stated 5GHz clock in this single thread workload.


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With four threads thrown into the mix, we see the delta between our 9900K scores open up a bit as our 9900K stock clocks are slowing down a bit under the heavier load, just as Intel has stated those would in the specifications we have been given.