If you’ve been following PC News for the past few years, you’d have noticed that Intel has been lagging behind its competition in AMD’s Ryzen family of desktop processors. Not only did Ryzen completely outperform Intel in every way with their 3000 Series, but since the launch of the 5000 Series in late 2020, Intel hasn’t had much to show that could compete. Today, however, Intel changes the landscape by launching their 11th Gen “Rocket Lake” desktop processors including the Intel Core i9 11900K.
We’ve been lucky enough to try out the top of the stack, their Intel Core i9 11900K, a successor to the 10th Gen series following intel’s tick-tock method of releasing two generations of CPUs on the same socket – LGA1200. On top of the existing 10th Gen Processors, Intel added support for PCIe 4.0 Graphics cards and NVMe Storage allowing for higher transfer speeds on newer generation SSDs.
To put the CPU through its paces we’ve put together a test bench consisting of a Core i9 11900K, Z590 Aorus Pro AX Motherboard, 32GB Aorus DDR4 RAM running at 3200MHz (16-18-18-38), 1TB Sabrent PCIe 4.0 NVMe, Cooler Master H500 ARGB Chassis and 750W Cooler Master PSU. Before we take a look at how this CPU performs, let us see how it stacks up against the competition in AMDs 3000 Series and 5000 Series CPUs.
Looking at the specifications of the i9-11900K above, it doesn’t exactly stand out from the crowd. Compared to the Ryzen 7 5800X the i9 has a lower Base Clock, less L3 Cache, fewer PCIe Lanes as well as a higher price and TDP, likely caused by it being created on the older 14-nanometer fab. One thing it does have going for it however is a significantly higher Boost Clock, sitting well above the rest at 5.3GHz. With this in mind, let’s take a look at how the CPU performs in some synthetic benchmarks.
After running Cinebench R23’s Single-Core test it’s clear that Intel has finally leapfrogged AMD with its i9-11900K, outperforming the 3000 series by a considerable margin, and being in line with the AMD 5000 Series, just passing the higher-priced Ryzen 9 5900X by 2 points. It is worth noting that Intel is likely only able to do this due to its massive Boost Clocks which come with the disadvantage of a higher power draw and likely heat output in your system.
Cinebench R23’s Multi-Core test shows similar results, with the i9-11900K squeezed between the Ryzen 7 5800X and Ryzen 9 3900X. While some may see it as quite a disappointment that the Core i9 is losing to the 3000 Series Ryzen 9, Intel is beating out the Ryzen 7 5800X which has the same 8 Core 16 Thread configuration.
While the i9-11900K isn’t nearly slow by any means in Multi-Core performance, it is quite sad that a customer’s expectation of an i9 would be to compete somewhat with a Ryzen 9. In addition, some professional users might be better off buying a Ryzen 9 to speed up their workflow.
To find out how intel achieved the scores above, we dove in a bit deeper to take a look at the frequencies and power draw of the CPU while benchmarking.
Looking at the graphs above it’s clear that Intel has squeezed out the last bit of performance left on its 14nm node. While it is able to maintain a solid 4.7GHz on all cores at stock, as well as generally stay at 5.3GHz in single-threaded workloads, it’s only able to achieve this by drawing a considerably higher wattage than any CPU we have ever tested.
Multi-Core loads push the CPU at an average of about 175W and single-threaded workloads see the CPU running above the rated “125W TDP” that intel advertised. This is quite concerning when you look at the Ryzen 9 Processors having up to double the core count while still pulling in lower power draw.
With processors such as the Apple M1 (also an 8 Core Processor) only pulling about 25W and with the climate of the world being at its historic worst, we’d hope to see intel take sustainability a bit more seriously and rectify this in their next release of processors in the near future.
While we’ve only had this processor for a few days and were unable to do extensive tests on its gaming performance. We tested out 3DMark Time Spy, which uses a game engine and should show a more realistic scenario of how this CPU performs when paired with a new GPU in AAA titles.
The results show us an impressive score as the i9-11900K pushes past everything but the 12 Core 24 Thread Ryzen 9 5900X. It’s clear that Intel’s new tag line of “Designed to Game“ wasn’t just for show, and intel did everything in its power to deliver an extremely fast processor. As it stands the Core i9-11900K is by far the “best” 8 Core processor that money can buy.
Intel Core i9 11900K Verdict
We planned to do more gaming tests in the future, but due to the current lack of stock on high-end graphics cards, a follow up review might take us more time than anticipated. In the meantime, we’re very impressed by the Intel Core i9 11900K and if pricing and availability in your region puts the CPU between a Ryzen 7 5800X and Ryzen 9 5900X then we wholeheartedly recommend you pick it up before stock likely instantly disappears.
The Intel Core i9-11900K was provided by Intel Taiwan in partnership with Gigabyte for Review Purposes.