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Intel Core i9-9900K preview: Intel hits back at AMD

By Koh Wanzi - 19 Oct 2018

Performance results

Test setup

The configurations of the test setups we used for the different processors are listed below. I've compared it against the Ryzen 2700X, its direct competitor from AMD. On Intel's end, I've included the Core i7-8086K, which is basically a Core i7-8700K with higher base and boost clocks. 

Intel Core i9-9900K

  • Thermaltake Water 3.0 360 Riing RGB Edition
  • ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula
  • 2 x 8GB G.Skill Ripjaws V DDR4-3000 (Auto timings: CAS 15-15-15-35)
  • ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Gaming
  • Samsung 850 Pro 2.5-inch SATA SSD
  • Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Intel Core i7-8086K

  • Thermaltake Water 3.0 360 Riing RGB Edition
  • ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula
  • 2 x 8GB G.Skill Ripjaws V DDR4-3000 (Auto timings: CAS 15-15-15-35)
  • ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Gaming
  • Samsung 850 Pro 2.5-inch SATA SSD
  • Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

AMD Ryzen 7 2700X

  • Thermaltake Water 3.0 360 Riing RGB Edition
  • ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero
  • 2 x 8GB G.Skill Sniper X DDR4-3400 (Auto timings: CAS 14-14-14-34)
  • ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Gaming
  • Samsung 860 EVO M.2 SATA SSD
  • Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Test CPUs compared
  Intel Core i9-9900K Intel Core i7-8086K Anniversary Limited Edition AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
  Intel Core i9-9900K Intel Core i7-8086K Anniversary Limited Edition AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
Launch SRP
  • From S$485
Latest Price
  • From S$780
  • From S$245
Processor Name
  • Intel Core i9-9900K
  • Intel Core i7-8086K
  • AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
Processor Model
  • Intel Core i9-9900K
  • Intel Core i7-8086K
  • AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
Rated Processor Frequency
  • 3.6GHz
  • 4.0GHz
  • 3.7GHz
Max Processor Frequency
  • 5.0GHZ
  • 5.0GHZ
  • 4.3GHz
No. of Cores
  • 8
  • 6
  • 8
Base Clock
  • 3.6GHz
  • 3.7GHz
  • 3.7GHz
Bus Type
  • DMI 3.0
  • DMI 3.0
Bus Speed
  • 8 GT/s DMI3
  • 8 GT/s DMI3
L1 Cache (data + instruction)
  • 8 x 32KB (data)
  • 8 x 32KB (instruction)
  • 6 x 32KB (data)
  • 6 x 32KB (instruction)
  • 768KB
L2 Cache
  • 8 x 256 KB
  • 6 x 256KB
  • 4MB
L3 Cache
  • 16MB
  • 12MB
  • 16MB
Memory Controller
  • Dual-Channel DDR4-2666
  • Dual-Channel DDR4-2666
  • Integrated Dual Channel (up to DDR4-2993)
PCIe Controller
  • 16 lanes of PCIe 3.0
  • 16 lanes of PCIe 3.0
  • PCIe 3.0
TDP (W)
  • 95W
  • 95W
  • 105
Instruction Set Support
  • SSE4.1/4.2, AVX 2.0
  • SSE4.1/4.2, AVX 2.0
  • SSE 4.1/4.2, AVX 2.0
64-bit Processing Technology
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST) / AMD Cool 'n' Quiet
  • Yes
  • Yes
Virtualization Technology
  • Yes (VT-x)
  • Yes (VT-x)
Packaging
  • LGA 1151
  • LGA 1151
  • Socket AM4
Process Technology
  • 14nm++
  • 14nm++
  • 12nm
Processor Codename
  • Coffee Lake
  • Coffee Lake
  • Pinnacle Ridge
Die Size
  • 213 mm²
No. of Transistors
  • 4.8 billion

 

Cinebench R15

Cinebench R15 utilizes up to 256 threads to evaluate a processor’s performance in a photorealistic 3D rendering.

The Core i9-9900K was roughly 13 per cent quicker than the Ryzen 7 2700X in the multi-threaded benchmark, a modest lead. In some ways, it combines both the strengths of the Ryzen 7 2700X and Core i7-8086K, bringing both high boost frequencies and core counts to the table to produce really impressive multi-threaded performance. 

In the single-threaded benchmark, the Core i9-9900K and Core i7-8086K were on par, which isn't surprising considering they both boost to 5.0GHz. However, the Ryzen 7 2700X trailed the Core i9-9900K by around 20 per cent. 

 

SPECviewperf 13

SPECviewperf is used to assess the 3D graphics performance of systems in professional applications. Each individual workload, called a viewset, represents graphics and content from an actual real-world application. SPECviewperf actually runs a total of eight different viewsets, but we’ve picked the four which have the greatest performance variation across CPUs display here.

The new SPECviewperf 13 incorporates new models and raycasting for volume visualization. Select viewsets have also been updated with new models and fresh application traces. 

There doesn't seem to be much of a benefit from high core counts here. In fact, the Core i7-8086K came ahead of the Core i9-9900K, probably owing to its higher 4.0GHz base clock. 

 

Handbrake

Handbrake is a video transcoder that converts videos into a format for use on PCs and portable electronic devices, and is a good indicator of a processor’s video encoding capabilities. YouTube content creators, Twitch streamers, and other video creators will be most interested in this performance metric.

The Core i9-9900K reclaimed its lead here, and it sure looks like it's going to be a very competitive chip for those who want to game and stream at the same time.

 

Initial thoughts

The benchmarks above offer a peek at just a slice of the Core i9-9900K's performance, but it so far looks very impressive. It's often that you see single-core performance dropping when you add more cores, but the Core i9-9900K is so far keeping pace with the Core i7-8086K, which is one of the highest clocked chips Intel has offered to date. 

That's good news for gamers, because most games are still more sensitive to clock speeds than core counts. However, streamers and content creators will find a lot to like as well, as the chip serves up multi-threaded performance that surpasses that of the Ryzen 7 2700X. I can see it giving something like the Core i7-9800X a run for its money, and it's a great example of how the multi-threading prowess of enthusiast chips is slowly but surely making its way to mainstream chips. 

AMD kickstarted this with its Ryzen processors, and Intel looks like it's delivering a great follow-up. Either way, this means more competition, which is great news for consumers.