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Intel Core i9-9900K (8 cores, 16 threads, 3.6 GHz) Desktop CPU Review

Sebastian Bade, Andrea Grueblinger (translated by Alex Alderson), 11/05/2018

Fast and expensive! Intel shows what it is made of with its first octa-core mid-range CPU, hot on the heels of AMD’s new Ryzen APUs, which have shaken up the desktop processor market. Find out in our review whether the Core i9-9900K is worth buying and how well it performs in our tests.

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The Core i9-9900K clocks up to 5 GHz

9th generation Intel Core Desktop Processors - Built for gamers (Source: Intel)
9th generation Intel Core Desktop Processors - Built for gamers (Source: Intel)
Features of the new 9th generation processors (Source: Intel)
Features of the new 9th generation processors (Source: Intel)
Model overview (Source: Intel)
Model overview (Source: Intel)

Intel has focussed on gamers for the introduction of its 9th generation Core Desktop processors. AMD’s resurgence has disrupted Intel’s dominance in the recent years, particularly with the release of the octa-core Ryzen 7 2700X earlier this year.

Intel initially countered the Ryzen 7 2700X with the hexa-core Core i7-8700K, but its fewer cores meant that it performed worse in multi-threaded applications. The release of the octa-core Core i9-9900K seeks to address this performance gap and Intel has done more than just increasing the chip’s core count. The company have manufacturered the Core i9-9900K on its new 14 nm ++ FinFET process and has soldered a heat spreader to the chip to dissipate the heat more efficiently and quickly than previous processors could. The Core i9-9900K can also achieve up to a 95-W thermal design power (TDP) according to Intel, although this remains a theoretical value.

Intel has released the Core i9-9900K alongside the Core i7-9700K and the Core i5-9600K, all of which have unlocked multipliers and support manual overclocking with the corresponding motherboard. Your successes at overclocking any of Intel’s new CPUs will differ from what we have achieved though as each CPU is different. The quality of CPUs varies so much that some online shops like Caseking offer pre-selected processors that have good overclocking potential.

All three processors are built on the same die, but Intel has limited its lesser 9th generation chips to create production differentiation. The Core i9-9900K is the only CPU of the three that supports Intel Hyper Threading, for example. In practice, this means that the Core i9-9900K can run up to double the threads in parallel that the octa-core Core i7-9700K can, and ten more than the Core i5-9600K. These differences will be most noticeable in multi-threaded applications, which will perform better with the higher core and thread count.

The 8th and 9th generation Intel Core chips in comparison

Model Cores - Threads Base clock Turbo on 1/2/4/6/8 Cores L3-Cache Graphics TDP Launch Price
Intel Core i9-9900K 8-16 3.6 GHz 5.0/5.0/4.8/4.7/4.7 GHz 16 MB UHD 630 95 Watt 488 USD
Intel Core i7-9700K 8-8 3.6 GHz 4.9/4.8/4.7/4.6/4.6 GHz 12 MB UHD 630 95 Watt 374 USD
Intel Core i5-9600K 6-6 3.7 GHz 4.6/4.5/4.4/4.3/- GHz 9 MB UHD 630 95 Watt 262 USD
Intel Core i7-8700K 6-12 3.7 GHz 4.7/4.6/4.4/4.3/- GHz 12 MB UHD 630 95 Watt 359 USD
Intel Core i5-8600K 6-6 3.6 GHz 4.3/4.2/4.2/4.1/- GHz 9 MB UHD 630 95 Watt 257 USD

Pricing & Availability

The new 9th generation Core processors remain pricey primarily because of their limited availability. Intel lists the Core i9-9900K’s recommended consumer pricing at between $488-$499 before taxes, but prices are currently considerably more inflated. We found the processor online for around €670 (~£586/$763) at the time of writing, but this is back-ordered pricing because of low availability. The only suppliers that had inventory in stock currently sell the Core i9-9900K for closer to €1,000 (~£875/$1,140).

The Core i7-9700K and Core i5-9600K are easier to come by and are accordingly cheaper. We would recommend buying the cheaper 9th generation Core processors if you plan on building or upgrading an Intel system, the Core i9-9900K is simply too expensive at the moment for us to recommend buying it.

The Test System

We paired the Core i9-9900K with an ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming motherboard and 16 GB of G-Skill DDR4 RAM for our tests. We set the RAM, which clocks at 3,200 MHz, to the XMP profile in the BIOS. We left all other values at their factory settings and only made changes when overclocking. Caseking kindly sent us a Raijintek AIO, which has three 120 mm fans, and a matching Raijintek case.

We used the same graphics card and RAM to test the Core i9-9900K as we did with the Ryzen 7 2700X to ensure a fair comparison between the two processors. We have included the GPU’s and RAM’s power consumption in the corresponding section.

ASUS, Caseking and Intel provided the following hardware for our Core i9-9900K benchmarks and tests:

  • Intel Core i9-9900K
  • ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming (BIOS 0506, Default Settings, XMP 1 for DDR4-3200)
  • G-Skill Sniper X DDR4-3400 2 x 8 GB Kit
  • Raijintek Orcus 360 (AIO)
  • Case: Raijintek PEAN Benchtable

We also used the following additional hardware in our test system:

  • XFX AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
  • LC Power-1, 200-W power supply
  • ADATA SX910 512 GB
  • Western Digital 2 TB USB 3.0 HDD
The Test System
The Test System
The Test System
The Test System
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming with an Intel Core i9-9900K installed
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming
LC Power 1200 Watt
LC Power 1200 Watt
Raijintek Orcus 360 (AIO)
Raijintek Orcus 360 (AIO)
G-Skill Siper X DDR4-3400
XFX AMD Radeon RX Vega 64

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Processor Benchmarks

The Core i9-9900K performs well in CPU benchmarks and even beats the AMD Threadripper 1950X overall. The Core i9-9900K excels in single-core performance, where our test Core i9-9900K scored more than 20% more in the single-threaded Cinebench R15 than the Ryzen 7 2700X. Single core performance has always been a strength of Intel processors though. Our test device makes life difficult for AMD too, and scores 12% more than its AMD counterpart in Cinebench R15.

Overall, Intel has made a leap forward with the Core i9-9900K’s eight cores and sixteen threads. The performance improvement is evident when comparing the processor to the Core i7-8700K in which it scores an outstanding 45% higher score in Cinebench R15 thanks to its two additional cores and higher clock speed. Intel had to make the jump to eight cores given the difference in multi-core performance between the octa-core Ryzen 7 2700X and the hexa-core Core i7-8700K. The Core i9-9900K redresses the balance in Intel’s favour.

We have not yet got our hands on the Core i7-9700K or the Core i5-9600K, so we cannot say how well these perform compared to their bigger sibling and their AMD counterparts. We will cover these CPUs in separate articles when we have received test samples.

Performance Rating
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
83 pt ∼83%
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
82 pt ∼82%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
77.6 pt ∼78%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
3700, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
69.2 pt ∼69%
Intel Core i7-8700K
3700, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
68.2 pt ∼68%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
62 pt ∼62%
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
213 Points ∼100%
Intel Core i7-8700K
3700, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
199 Points ∼93% -7%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
3700, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
176 Points ∼82% -17%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
176 Points ∼82% -17%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
163 Points ∼76% -23%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
159 Points ∼74% -25%
CPU Multi 64Bit
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
3110 Points ∼71% +52%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
2944 Points ∼67% +44%
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
2040 Points ∼47%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
3700, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
1801 Points ∼41% -12%
Intel Core i7-8700K
3700, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
1405 (min: 1375.04, max: 1405.28) Points ∼32% -31%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
1341 Points ∼31% -34%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
2.44 Points ∼100%
Intel Core i7-8700K
3700, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
2.27 Points ∼93% -7%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
3700, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
1.95 Points ∼80% -20%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
1.9 Points ∼78% -22%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
1.81 Points ∼74% -26%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
1.73 Points ∼71% -29%
CPU Multi 64Bit
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
27.07 Points ∼100% +25%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
23.13 Points ∼85% +7%
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
21.63 Points ∼80%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
3700, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
18.68 Points ∼69% -14%
Intel Core i7-8700K
3700, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
15.64 Points ∼58% -28%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
14.56 Points ∼54% -33%
Blender 2.79 - ---
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
350 Seconds * ∼4% -60%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
3700, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
264 Seconds * ∼3% -20%
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
219.2 Seconds * ∼3%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
163 Seconds * ∼2% +26%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
152.7 Seconds * ∼2% +30%
wPrime 2.0x
1024m
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
133.8 s * ∼2% -56%
Intel Core i7-8700K
3700, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
118.6 s * ∼1% -39%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
3700, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
96.622 s * ∼1% -13%
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
85.558 s * ∼1%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
55.07 s * ∼1% +36%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
53.159 s * ∼1% +38%
32m
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
5.203 s * ∼1%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
4.62 s * ∼1% +11%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
4.186 s * ∼1% +20%
Intel Core i7-8700K
3700, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
4 s * ∼1% +23%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
3700, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
3.484 s * ∼1% +33%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
3.34 s * ∼1% +36%
HWBOT x265 Benchmark v2.2 - 4k Preset
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
17.5 fps ∼97% +7%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
16.9 fps ∼94% +4%
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
16.3 fps ∼91%
X264 HD Benchmark 4.0
Pass 2
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
144.88 (min: 143.48, max: 145.54) fps ∼100% +20%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
134.26 (min: 133.84, max: 135.07) fps ∼93% +11%
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
120.5 (min: 116, max: 121) fps ∼83%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
3700, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
104.5 fps ∼72% -13%
Intel Core i7-8700K
3700, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
87.4 fps ∼60% -27%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
80.5 fps ∼56% -33%
Pass 1
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
270 (min: 265, max: 272) fps ∼100%
Intel Core i7-8700K
3700, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
232 (min: 229, max: 233) fps ∼86% -14%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
3700, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
226.7 fps ∼84% -16%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
207.4 fps ∼77% -23%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
202.305 (min: 200.47, max: 203.47) fps ∼75% -25%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
189.58 (min: 188.03, max: 193.43) fps ∼70% -30%
WinRAR - Result
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
8518 KB/s ∼100%
Intel Core i7-8700K
3700, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
7120 KB/s ∼84% -16%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
3700, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
4779 KB/s ∼56% -44%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
4599 KB/s ∼54% -46%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
4548 KB/s ∼53% -47%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
4150 KB/s ∼49% -51%
TrueCrypt
Serpent Mean 100MB
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
1.8 GB/s ∼0% +50%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
1.8 GB/s ∼0% +50%
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
1.2 GB/s ∼0%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
3700, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
1 GB/s ∼0% -17%
Intel Core i7-8700K
3700, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
0.793 GB/s ∼0% -34%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
0.78 GB/s ∼0% -35%
Twofish Mean 100MB
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
2.9 GB/s ∼97% +53%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
2.9 GB/s ∼97% +53%
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
1.9 GB/s ∼63%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
3700, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
1.6 GB/s ∼53% -16%
Intel Core i7-8700K
3700, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
1.4 GB/s ∼47% -26%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
1.2 GB/s ∼40% -37%
AES Mean 100MB
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
19.5 GB/s ∼100% +70%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
19 GB/s ∼97% +65%
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
11.5 GB/s ∼59%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
3700, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
10.6 GB/s ∼54% -8%
Intel Core i7-8700K
3700, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
8 GB/s ∼41% -30%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
8 GB/s ∼41% -30%
Geekbench 4.1/4.2
64 Bit Multi-Core Score
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
36198 Points ∼100% +6%
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
34233 Points ∼95%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
28877 Points ∼80% -16%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
3700, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
25919 Points ∼72% -24%
Intel Core i7-8700K
3700, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
25223 Points ∼70% -26%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
21616 Points ∼60% -37%
64 Bit Single-Core Score
Intel Core i9-9900K
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
6339 Points ∼100%
Intel Core i7-8700K
3700, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
5937 Points ∼94% -6%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
3700, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
4999 Points ∼79% -21%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
3500, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
4903 Points ∼77% -23%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
3600, AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
4706 Points ∼74% -26%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
3400, NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
4304 Points ∼68% -32%

* ... smaller is better

Cinebench R15 Multi Loop

The Core i9-9900K during the Cinebench R15 multi-threaded loop
The Core i9-9900K during the Cinebench R15 multi-threaded loop

We tested how well the Core i9-9900K performs under sustained load by running a Cinebench R15 multi-threaded looped benchmark. Our test CPU exhibited no disadvantages at stock settings and achieved between 1,920 and 1,970 points throughout the benchmark loop. We noticed that programs running in the background caused the slightly lower Cinebench scores, for which we have included a HWiNFO log file that demonstrates the CPU’s performance fluctuations in greater detail.

010203040506070809010011012013014015016017018019020021022023024025026027028029030031032033034035036037038039040041042043044045046047048049050051052053054055056057058059060061062063064065066067068069070071072073074075076077078079080081082083084085086087088089090091092093094095096097098099010001010102010301040105010601070108010901100111011201130114011501160117011801190120012101220123012401250126012701280129013001310132013301340135013601370138013901400141014201430144014501460147014801490150015101520153015401550156015701580159016001610162016301640165016601670168016901700171017201730174017501760177017801790180018101820183018401850186018701880189019001910192019301940195019601970Tooltip
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi Schleife

Gaming Performance

The Intel Core i9-9900K - the world's best gaming processor (Source: Intel)
The Intel Core i9-9900K - the world's best gaming processor (Source: Intel)

The Intel Core i9-9900K performs well in both synthetic benchmarks and in gaming tests. Unfortunately, we equipped our Core i7-8700K test system with a better graphics card, so the results are somewhat skewed, but the Core i9-9900K can keep up with its predecessor regardless of the difference in GPU power. We will soon retest the Core i7-8700K with an RX Vega 64 to provide a better comparison between the two Intel CPUs. The Core i9-9900K has the edge over its AMD counterparts though.

Performance Rating
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
Intel Core i7-8700K
100 pt ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
97.8 pt ∼98%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
88.8 pt ∼89%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
86.2 pt ∼86%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
82.3 pt ∼82%
3DMark
2560x1440 Time Spy Graphics
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
7221 Points ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
7183 Points ∼99% -1%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
7129 Points ∼99% -1%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
6815 Points ∼94% -6%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
Intel Core i7-8700K
26515 Points ∼100% +15%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
23117 Points ∼87%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
22761 Points ∼86% -2%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
22338 Points ∼84% -3%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
21547 Points ∼81% -7%
1280x720 Sky Diver Graphics
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
74475 Points ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
73929 Points ∼99% -1%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
72885 Points ∼98% -2%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
70358 Points ∼94% -6%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
Intel Core i7-8700K
157012 Points ∼100% +1%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
156190 Points ∼99%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
127011 Points ∼81% -19%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
120426 Points ∼77% -23%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
86339 Points ∼55% -45%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Graphics
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
393717 Points ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
342631 Points ∼87% -13%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
310841 Points ∼79% -21%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
309591 Points ∼79% -21%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Graphics
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
439293 Points ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
378535 Points ∼86% -14%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
368724 Points ∼84% -16%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
354528 Points ∼81% -19%
3DMark Ice Storm
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited
3DMark Ice Storm Extreme
3DMark Cloud Gate
3DMark Sky Diver
3DMark Fire Strike
3DMark Fire Strike Extreme
3DMark Fire Strike Ultra
3DMark Time Spy
 
Performance Rating
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
Intel Core i7-8700K
100 pt ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
95.4 pt ∼95%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
84.2 pt ∼84%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
82.3 pt ∼82%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
81.5 pt ∼82%
NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
77.9 pt ∼78%
Assassin´s Creed Odyssey
1920x1080 Ultra High Preset
NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
67 (min: 30, max: 125) fps ∼100% +40%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
50 (min: 25, max: 75) fps ∼75% +4%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
48 fps ∼72%
1280x720 Low Preset
NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
120 (min: 52, max: 163) fps ∼100% +19%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
101 fps ∼84%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
73 (min: 20, max: 101) fps ∼61% -28%
Forza Horizon 4
1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:2xMS
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
132 fps ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
121 fps ∼92% -8%
NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
112 fps ∼85% -15%
1280x720 Very Low Preset
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
252 fps ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
200 fps ∼79% -21%
NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
141 fps ∼56% -44%
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
1920x1080 Highest Preset AA:T
NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
103 fps ∼100% +13%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
91 fps ∼88%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
85 fps ∼83% -7%
1280x720 Lowest Preset
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
207 fps ∼100%
NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
117 fps ∼57% -43%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
107 fps ∼52% -48%
Far Cry 5
1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:T
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
117 (min: 106, max: 137) fps ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
99 (min: 78, max: 124) fps ∼85% -15%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
98 (min: 75, max: 125) fps ∼84% -16%
NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
80 (min: 64, max: 107) fps ∼68% -32%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
80 (min: 61, max: 108) fps ∼68% -32%
1280x720 Low Preset AA:T
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
167 (min: 136, max: 227) fps ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
125 (min: 99, max: 171) fps ∼75% -25%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
122 (min: 97, max: 162) fps ∼73% -27%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
100 (min: 82, max: 133) fps ∼60% -40%
NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
96 (min: 77, max: 116) fps ∼57% -43%
Final Fantasy XV Benchmark
1920x1080 High Quality
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
62.5 fps ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
59.8 (min: 33, max: 93) fps ∼96% -4%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
58.9 (min: 23, max: 92) fps ∼94% -6%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
58.5 (min: 23, max: 92) fps ∼94% -6%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
58.5 (min: 23, max: 92) fps ∼94% -6%
1280x720 Lite Quality
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
172.1 fps ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
145.6 (min: 94, max: 177) fps ∼85% -15%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
143 (min: 98, max: 201) fps ∼83% -17%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
133.6 (min: 88, max: 191) fps ∼78% -22%
Assassin´s Creed Origins
1920x1080 Ultra High Preset
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
70 fps ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
67 fps ∼96% -4%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
63 fps ∼90% -10%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
57 (min: 6, max: 93) fps ∼81% -19%
1280x720 Very Low Preset
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
105 fps ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
81 fps ∼77% -23%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
76 fps ∼72% -28%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
68 (min: 34, max: 93) fps ∼65% -35%
Battlefield 1
1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:T
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
148 (min: 134, max: 173) fps ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
145.1 (min: 131, max: 167) fps ∼98% -2%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
135.6 (min: 124, max: 152) fps ∼92% -8%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
135.2 (min: 124, max: 148) fps ∼91% -9%
1280x720 Low Preset
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
200 (min: 173, max: 201) fps ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
199.1 (min: 182, max: 201) fps ∼100% 0%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
181.4 (min: 141, max: 194) fps ∼91% -9%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
173 (min: 161, max: 185) fps ∼87% -13%
Rise of the Tomb Raider
1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:FX AF:16x
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
105.7 (min: 90, max: 116) fps ∼100% +5%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
100.8 (min: 86, max: 111) fps ∼95%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
91.5 (min: 82, max: 103) fps ∼87% -9%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
91.3 (min: 79, max: 101) fps ∼86% -9%
1024x768 Lowest Preset
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
305.2 (min: 278, max: 339) fps ∼100%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
263.7 (min: 256, max: 276) fps ∼86% -14%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
262.2 (min: 252, max: 300) fps ∼86% -14%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
258.9 (min: 230, max: 274) fps ∼85% -15%
The Witcher 3
1920x1080 Ultra Graphics & Postprocessing (HBAO+)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
Intel Core i7-8700K
102 (min: 86, max: 115) fps ∼100% +27%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
80.9 (min: 68, max: 87) fps ∼79% +1%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
80.1 (min: 69, max: 87) fps ∼79%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
77 (min: 67, max: 84) fps ∼75% -4%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
73.3 (min: 62, max: 82) fps ∼72% -8%
1024x768 Low Graphics & Postprocessing
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
Intel Core i7-8700K
338 (min: 307, max: 390) fps ∼100% +2%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Intel Core i9-9900K
332.1 (min: 289, max: 377) fps ∼98%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
318.2 (min: 289, max: 352) fps ∼94% -4%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
298.7 (min: 259, max: 354) fps ∼88% -10%
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
258.5 (min: 219, max: 295) fps ∼76% -22%

The Intel Core i9-9900K & the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64

low med. high ultra4K
The Witcher 3 (2015) 332.1232.3137.980.151.2fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) 305.2193.3118.8100.851.2fps
Battlefield 1 (2016) 200200166.214865.6fps
Assassin´s Creed Origins (2017) 10588827034fps
Final Fantasy XV Benchmark (2018) 172.196.162.528.8fps
Far Cry 5 (2018) 16713412411746fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018) 2071151049132fps
Forza Horizon 4 (2018) 25217316313267fps
Assassin´s Creed Odyssey (2018) 10182674827fps

Program Performance

The Core i9-9900K scores well in PCMark 8 too, demonstrating that it is more than a pure gaming CPU. Our test CPU finished around 20% better than the Ryzen 7 2700X in certain PCMark 8 tests. Numerous programs will benefit from the Core i9-9900K’s improved core and thread count, while the processor will easily handle high-resolution videos.

Our test system showed no great weaknesses in daily use either, even though we used a conventional SATA SSD. Using an NVMe SSD would have improved the benchmark scores and would make our test system feel snappier. However, the Core i9-9900K is so powerful that we did not notice the bottleneck associated with the slower SATA SSD. The Core i9-9900K also performs noticeably better than the Core i7-8700K in multi-threaded applications thanks to the two additional cores and four threads at its disposal.

PCMark 8 Home
PCMark 8 Home
PCMark 8 Creative
PCMark 8 Creative
PCMark 8 Work
PCMark 8 Work
PCMark 8 Storage
PCMark 8 Storage
PCMark 10
PCMark 10
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Intel Core i9-9900K
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
5975 Points ∼100%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
4891 Points ∼82% -18%
Intel Core i7-8700K
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
4821 Points ∼81% -19%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
4750 Points ∼79% -21%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
4735 Points ∼79% -21%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
4520 Points ∼76% -24%
Creative Score Accelerated v2
Intel Core i9-9900K
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
8604 Points ∼100%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
8217 Points ∼96% -4%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
8166 Points ∼95% -5%
Intel Core i7-8700K
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
8110 Points ∼94% -6%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
7948 Points ∼92% -8%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
7859 Points ∼91% -9%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Intel Core i9-9900K
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
5523 Points ∼100%
Intel Core i7-8700K
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
4648 Points ∼84% -16%
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
4483 Points ∼81% -19%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
4392 Points ∼80% -20%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
4367 Points ∼79% -21%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
4359 Points ∼79% -21%
PCMark 10 - Score
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
7764 Points ∼100% +10%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
7451 Points ∼96% +6%
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
7337 Points ∼95% +4%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
7285 Points ∼94% +4%
Intel Core i9-9900K
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
7035 Points ∼91%
Intel Core i7-8700K
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (Desktop)
6150 Points ∼79% -13%

Emissions

The Intel Core i9-9900K during a stress test
The Intel Core i9-9900K during a stress test

Intel states that its three 9th generation Core processors all have a 95-W maximum TDP. However, our test CPU consumed significantly more than Intel’s claims during our tests. HWiNFO measured the Core i9-9900K consuming an average of 131 W during a one-hour stress test, during which power consumption peaked at 161 W.

The Core i9-9900K gets hot when operating under sustained load too. HWiNFO measured a maximum core temperature of 83 °C (~181 °F) during the same stress test, in which the processor achieved a stable 4.7 GHz across all cores. We chose a 360-mm radiator for our tests primarily because the Core i9-9900K runs hot. We would recommend pairing the CPU with at least one 240-mm radiator to cool the chip efficiently.

It is possible to de-lid the Core i9-9900K like other processors, but Intel’s decision to solder the heat spreader to the lid makes this a riskier experience than de-lidding the Core i7-8700K. Moreover, initial tests online have shown no great improvements from de-lidding the Core i9-9900K. In short, the increased risk of damaging the CPU is not worth it.

We also took a closer look at how much power our test system consumed in various scenarios. Our test system draws around 58 W from the mains when idling, which ramped up to an average of 202 W during a one-hour stress test. Power consumption further increases to 366 W on average when gaming, of which the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 consumes its fair share too.

Our Test System - Power Consumption

Power consumption at idle
Power consumption at idle
Power consumption during a one-hour stress test
Power consumption during a one-hour stress test
Power consumption while playing The Witcher 3 at 1,080p on the Ultra preset
Power consumption while playing The Witcher 3 at 1,080p on the Ultra preset

Overclocking

The Intel Core i9-9900K at 5.0 GHz
The Intel Core i9-9900K at 5.0 GHz
Power consumption at 5.0 GHz during a Cinebench R15 multi-threaded benchmark loop
Power consumption at 5.0 GHz during a Cinebench R15 multi-threaded benchmark loop

The Core i9-9900K is easy to overclock thanks its unlocked multiplier and should have all the power that most users would need when paired with a Z390 chipset.

We would recommend becoming familiarwith the BIOS settings and security features before overclocking the CPU. You must adjust numerous settings before the motherboard will allow you to unlock the Core i9-9900K’s full performance, otherwise it will power the system down when power consumption gets higher than pre-defined limits.

As mentioned earlier, not all CPUs are of the same quality either so your success will vary when overclocking your Core i9-9900K. Online retailers like Caseking pre-check their processors before shipping them to buyers to ensure that they reach specified clock speeds. 

Our test CPU reached a maximum of 5.0 GHz across all cores, during which the core temperature quickly reached 99 °C (~210 °F), which is 1 °C (~2 °F) short of its maximum safe operating temperature. We increased the voltage and deactivated the default safety features in the BIOS, which allowed the CPU to consume up to 200 W under sustained load. The test system also averaged 286 W as we re-ran the Cinebench R15 multi-thread benchmark loop. By contrast, our test system consumed an average of 203 W in the same benchmark loop with the CPU at stock settings. Moreover, our test AIO struggles to dissipate the additional waste heat generated by the overclocked CPU.

Verdict

The Intel Core i9-9900K Desktop CPU review. Test device courtesy of Intel.
The Intel Core i9-9900K Desktop CPU review. Test device courtesy of Intel.

It is clear to see what Intel wanted to achieve with its 9th generation Core Desktop processors. AMD has until now had Intel beat with its Ryzen 7 2700X APU, which has eight cores and sixteen simultaneous threads to the Core i7-8700K’s six cores and twelve threads. The release of the octa-core Core i9-9900K redresses the balance, despite it being harder for Intel to scale its processors than it is for AMD. 

The Core i9-9900K is considerably more powerful than its effective predecessor and has the edge over the Ryzen 7 2700X too. The difference between the new i9 and the Ryzen 7 is slim in multi-core applications, but Intel has maintained its dominance in terms of single-core performance. We wait with bated breath whether AMD can catch up with next year’s 3000 series.

Intel advertises the Core i9-9900K as the best gaming CPU currently on the market, which is a claim that we can verify when comparing the processor in an identically equipped test system. The Core i9-9900K can squeeze out considerably more graphics performance from the same GPU than its competitors. The benefit at higher resolutions is drastically lower though.

Currently, the Core i9-9900K’s biggest drawback is its price. The CPU currently sells online for between €600 (~£586/$763) to an eye watering €1,000 (~£875/$1,140). By contrast, AMD sells the Ryzen 7 2700X for €307.99 on Amazon.de, while the APU costs $309.89 and £296.98 on Amazon US and UK respectively at the time of writing. The Core i9-9900K is the more powerful processor, but any improvements are not worth an additional €300. We would question whether they are worth the difference between Intel’s recommended price and what the Ryzen 7 2700X currently sells for too. The Core i9-9900K is simply too expensive.

If you want the fastest gaming system and money is no object, then choose the Intel Core i9-9900K. Otherwise, check out other better value for money AMD or Intel processors, the Core i9-9900K cannot justify its extortionate cost.

The Core i9-9900K costs a lot more to run than other processors too. Our test CPU consumes considerably more power than its stated maximum TDP, which drastically increased when we overclocked it. The Core i9-9900K delivers great performance at stock settings anyway, and the benefits of overclocking are minimal to non-existent. Hence, we would recommend against permanently overclocking the Core i9-9900K, it is just not worth it.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Intel Core i9-9900K (8 cores, 16 threads, 3.6 GHz) Desktop CPU Review
Sebastian Bade, 2018-11- 5 (Update: 2018-11- 8)