Intel Core i5-9600K Processor Overclocking Review

The Intel Core i5-9600K Processor will likely hit the the sweet spot for a lot of desktop PC enthusiasts and gamers. We have a solid 6-Core count with a Turbo Boost clock of 4.6GHz coming in for right around $270. What kind of overclock will the new 9600K CPU support and remain 100% stable?


Overclocking the 9600K

Overclocking the 9600K, honestly, sort of let us down. We somewhat had the bar set by the 9900K which clocked to ~5.15GHz under Prime95 with good stability. We also had another bar set by the 8600K, which of course is very comparable to this CPU. Our retail 8600K would run at 5.1GHz on air cooling. Delidding got us to 5.2GHz on air. The 8600K also did 5.2GHz on water and 5.3GHz after delidding.

We were truly expecting 5.1GHz at a minimum, but 5.0GHz is all we managed with Prime95 stability. We did try and push as high as 1.5v vCore but we just could not keep up with the temperatures even with our XSPC custom loop. This is outlined by the temperature chart on the previous page. That said, we could get HandBrake stability under at 5.1GHz, and we could even get Premiere Pro stability with the 9600K at 5.2GHz. So how overclocking the 9600K works out for you is truly going to depend on what you are comfortable with when it comes to "stability." Certainly, we can all define that as we wish. Pushing the 9600K to 5.3GHz under any usage profile was simply not in the cards for us.

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When it came to running games on the 9600K at 5.2GHz, we had no issues at all either. It is very likely, that if you are "just" using your new PC for gaming, you can conceivably run the 9600K at 5.2GHz and never look back.

At 5.2GHz we were only pushing vCore to 1.40v and at 5.0GHz we could drop down to 1.35v.

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Worth again mentioning is that our cooling loop is certainly far from being underpowered in terms of cooling prowess. It 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.

The Bottom Line

The Intel Core i5-9600K is a very good part for the $278 price tag. If you are going to run it at stock settings, it will best the 8600K that precedes it, by a slim margin. That said, it hardly encourages anyone with an 8600K to upgrade either. If you are looking to overclock, the 8600K is still extremely attractive, and a few dollars less ($255), which quite frankly makes it a much better value. We did look at the 8600K vs the 7600K about a year ago, and certainly a 6C/6T CPU can do wonders for you if you are coming from a 4C part.

Of course if you are going to compare the 9600K with the Ryzen 7 2700X, the 2700X is going to excel in multimedia applications, and if you are not CPU limited in your games, then it will likely be a wash as that gaming performance is mostly left to your GPU. The 2700X is also $50 more than the 9600K, so Intel has positioned the 9600K wisely.

The 9600K is still going to be great CPU for the gamer. Hands down, Intel rules the roost when it comes to gaming benchmarks, and only you know if you are CPU-limited in games that warrant the need of a faster CPU. I have found that with my personal 6950X at 4.3GHz, it is starting to show me CPU limitations even at 1600P with an RTX 2080. While games are still mostly limited to four cores or less, usually much less, the two extra cores of the 9600K might leave you feeling a bit better if you are looking to keeping your processor around for a few years.

If you are primarily a gamer, or just use your box for content consumption applications, the 9600K looks to be very desirable. You can push it to 5GHz with relatively low vCore. There is little or no reason to consider this over an 8600K however. Certainly AMD has lit a fire under Intel, and we see the 9900K as an appropriate response to it. The 9600K seems to simply the 8600K with different Base and Turbo Clock rates that does not overclock as well as the 8600K.

If you are looking to make the jump from a 7700K or even an aging 2600K, as we know many of you are still running, the 9600K seems to be a good jump-off point.

And remember to turn on MultiCore Enhancement if you are an actual enthusiast.

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Intel Core i5-9600K Processor