Intel’s first quad-core desktop processor, the venerable Core 2 Quad Q6600, was launched in early 2007 and immediately grew to become a badge of honour and exclusivity for a complete technology of fanatics. Since then, we have been hoping for core counts to rise, as they’ve with smartphone processors, however 4 cores (with multi-threading) was the most effective that abnormal shoppers may hope for till very just lately.
One fashionable narrative floating round has been that with out severe competitors from AMD or anybody else, Intel had no cause to push the envelope, although the corporate itself mentioned that the market did not require such merchandise. 4 CPU cores (with multi-threading) was as many as any mainstream PC purchaser may get, and whether or not this was the trigger or impact, nobody was actually growing software program or video games that might profit from extra.
Intel did introduce six-core and eight-core fashions in its Excessive collection in 2010 and 2014 respectively, however these had been a lot too costly for abnormal customers. Nonetheless, when AMD stormed the then-stagnant PC fanatic scene in early 2017 with its first octa-core Ryzen CPUs, it did not take lengthy for Intel to lift core counts on its Core i7, Core i5, and Core i3 product traces for the primary time.
With the arrival of the ninth Gen Core collection, there have been even additional adjustments — and never all for the higher. We now have a mainstream Core i9 for the primary time, and Intel is saying it has designed this chip for its most severe followers. On the identical time, there isn’t any main new architectural change, and Intel is battling a provide crunch that has precipitated shortages available in the market and a few severe spikes within the costs of its present and previous-gen CPUs.
We have got the model new octa-core Core i9-9900Ok CPU with us for assessment, and we’ll dive into its specs, the Z390 platform that has launched to enrich it, and Intel’s technique for fanatics and players. The Core i9-9900Ok would not come low cost in India, priced at practically double of what earlier top-of-the-line Core-i7s value. When you’re about to construct your subsequent gaming PC, learn on.
Intel Core i7-9900Ok specs and options
To start with, we now have to deal with Intel’s branding. The Core i9 tier was launched final 12 months, and it is not onerous to see why. This title was tied to Intel’s Core X-series, a complicated assortment of high-core-count processors constructed across the older, however beefed-up Skylake-X structure. There are additionally new Core i9 X-series processors (nonetheless based mostly on Skylake-X) that launched alongside the Core i9-9900Ok, however that doesn’t make it a part of that household.
The Core i9-9900Ok relies on the mainstream Espresso Lake structure and is the one desktop Core i9 CPU that’s not an X-series mannequin. It makes use of the identical Socket 1151 package deal and 300-series desktop platforms as all different eighth Gen and ninth Gen Core i7, Core i5, and Core i3 CPUs. The one causes that Intel is utilizing the Core i9 title for this mannequin are branding and segmentation — it must be positioned above the Core i7 (and AMD’s Ryzen 7) collection.
Not complicated sufficient but? There’s additionally a Core i9-9900X CPU inside this technology’s Core X-series, in a really uncommon occasion of Intel duplicating mannequin numbers. It is a Skylake-X CPU and has nothing in any respect in frequent with the Core i9-9900Ok though they had been launched on the identical time.
The Core i9-9900Ok is Intel’s first mainstream desktop chip with eight cores. Hyper-Threading means you’ve got 16 complete addressable threads. That is, on paper, equal to AMD’s present desktop spec. The bottom clock velocity is three.6GHz and the utmost Turbo velocity is a powerful 5GHz (which may now be achieved on two cores concurrently, not only one). Intel would not publish all-core Turbo speeds anymore, however it’s extensively identified that the Core i9-9900Ok can attain as much as four.7GHz throughout its eight cores underneath stress.
There’s 2MB of L3 cache reminiscence per core, however all cores can entry one another’s caches. As much as 64GB of DDR4-2666 RAM is formally supported throughout two channels. Sixteen PCIe three.zero lanes emerge from the CPU for a direct to your graphics card(s) and/or NVMe SSDs. You need to use this CPU with all 300-series Intel platform controllers however there is a new Z390 with particular optimisations — extra on that in a bit.
When it comes to precise know-how, little or no in regards to the Core i9-9900Ok is new in comparison with previous-gen chips. Intel is utilizing a extra refined 14nm++ manufacturing course of however that is nonetheless precisely the identical Espresso Lake structure that eighth Gen desktop Core CPUs are constructed on. The one massive factor to notice is hardware-level mitigations for the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities that have an effect on Intel CPUs specifically. It is not clear in any respect why Intel is looking this its ninth Era, (particularly when the brand new Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake cell elements are nonetheless marketed as eighth Gen).
Intel’s greatest nod to fanatics is that this CPU’s warmth spreader is soldered to the die fairly than filled with conductive thermal paste. This must be a giant assist when it comes to having the ability to pull warmth away from the CPU die. That is the primary time for the reason that 2nd Gen ‘Sandy Bridge’ household that Intel will use solder fairly than thermal paste, after repeated pleas from followers. Not solely will this assist with overclocking but in addition with the CPU’s means to run at its enhance velocity for longer.
On that notice, the TDP is rated at 95W, however there was a little bit of an issue on-line when the Core i9-9900Ok first went on sale internationally. Whereas this worth applies to the chip operating at its base velocity, consumers discovered that warmth dissipation underneath load might be a lot increased — in some circumstances exceeding 150W. This has made lots of people suppose that the 95W determine is deceptive, however it’s extra a query of how TDP as an idea is outlined and communicated. With eight cores and an enormous hole between the bottom and enhance speeds, the gulf between TDP and peak energy consumption has develop into bigger and extra noticeable than earlier than.
Many motherboard distributors have BIOS choices that power the CPU to function inside its rated TDP, however this is not the default behaviour and can clearly scale back peak efficiency in addition to how lengthy cores can Turbo up for. Extra importantly, nothing has modified and neither Intel nor motherboard makers have all of a sudden began deliberately deceptive anybody. A CPU’s means to run sooner for longer has at all times relied on how strong its cooler is.
Lastly, we come to the built-in GPU. There’s nothing to say since that is precisely the identical Gen 9.5UHD 630 logic that the earlier technology had (and the technology earlier than that, although it was known as HD 630 then). Intel’s Gen 10 iGPU was designed for the much-delayed and doubtlessly cancelled 10nm Cannonlake structure, and now the corporate is solely skipping forward to Gen 11 with its subsequent launch. It is a aspect impact of the unprecedented longevity of the 14nm course of (5 generations now).
The Core i9-9900Ok is offered in a big, flashy dodecahedron-shaped field made out of translucent blue plastic. It takes a little bit of fiddling earlier than you may pop it open and it is wildly impractical, however the entire concept is to offer consumers one thing they’ll show proudly — a little bit bit like AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper bins. Regardless of its dimension, there isn’t any inventory cooler. Intel assumes that should you’re shopping for this CPU, you may need to select your personal heavy-duty air or liquid cooler.
The Intel Z390 platform controller
There is a new platform controller, or chipset, known as the Z390 to associate with the ninth Gen desktop Core household, notably the flagship Core i9-9900Ok. All CPUs on this household will work with the present Z370 and different 300-series choices (after a BIOS replace), and eighth Gen CPUs will work with the Z390.
The Z390 platform has been rumoured for the reason that launch of the Z370, which was only a Z270 refresh and did not have lots of the options normal throughout the remainder of the 300-series. When you purchase a Z390-based motherboard, you may stand up to 6 USB three.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) ports, or as much as 10 USB three.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) ports.
It has additionally develop into simpler for motherboard distributors to combine Wi-Fi. What Intel has carried out is combine solely the logic and tackle blocks required for Wi-Fi 802.11ac. A motherboard would nonetheless require a companion module with the radio, antennas, and sign processing . As a result of that is nonetheless a small added value and would possibly require regulatory clearances in lots of nations, not all Z390 motherboards may have Wi-Fi as a regular function.
The Z within the mannequin title signifies that overclocking is allowed. In contrast to AMD, Intel would not make all its CPUs and chipsets overclocker-friendly. Intel Optane Reminiscence is supported, however that is not a giant deal for fanatics who ought to have massive SSDs. You get 24 further PCIe three.zero lanes for built-in elements and connectivity.
The Asus ROG Maximus XI Excessive
You may anticipate most Z390-based motherboards to be premium choices, and we now have with us the top-of-the-line Asus ROG Maximus XI Excessive to function the bottom for our Core i9-9900Ok check rig. That is an EATX board so it is bodily bigger than the ATX normal — the very first thing you may need to do is be sure your cupboard of selection can accommodate it. This motherboard is designed to look stealthy with an all-black PCB and only some darkish gray accents on the heatsinks.
The ROG Maximus XI Excessive is not flashy and there is little or no design aptitude, should you do not depend the compulsory RGB LEDs. Even so, these are restricted to the underside of the board, the PCH/M.2 heatsink, and the rear port shroud — with the LEDs off, this appears to be like like a sober workstation motherboard.
Asus has embedded a small, non-backlit monochrome display into the rear port shroud. It exhibits an animated ROG emblem when the board is powered up, after which turns right into a two-line textual content show displaying precisely what is occurring as you boot up your PC.
This is identical info you get from the seven-segment LED readout, however with textual content labels fairly than codes it’s important to lookup. After booting, it adjustments to indicate CPU temperature. You may customise the brand and information readout. The display may not be seen by way of a PC case, however we discovered it useful with our open setup.
You may have as much as 4 M.2 NVMe SSDs — two underneath the massive heatsink within the decrease left nook, and two extra mounted on a bundled module that appears very similar to a stick of RAM. Asus calls this DIMM.2, which is a intelligent title. These slots hook up with the CPU’s direct PCIe lanes and have their very own heatsinks. This not solely saves house on the motherboard however permits for air to circulation over the modules to chill them. There are additionally six inside SATA ports.
The rear port cluster has six USB three.zero ports and 4 USB three.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) ports although just one is of the Sort-C selection. There’s one 5-Gigabit Ethernet port powered by an Aquantia controller and one other Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet port, plus two Wi-Fi 802.11ac antenna terminals. For audio, you get 5 three.5mm sockets plus optical S/PDIF. The only real HDMI 1.4b port helps 4K output, and there is unusually no DisplayPort. Lastly, there are buttons to allow you to simply reset the BIOS or provoke a BIOS flash from a USB drive.
The shortage of Thunderbolt three is a large disappointment for a motherboard this costly. There is a header to allow you to set up an add-in card, however that must be purchased individually. The field contents embrace a Wi-Fi antenna, the DIMM.2 module, an Nvidia SLI-HB bridge, an add-in board for prolonged fan controls, a great deal of cables and screws, a USB thumb drive with drivers on it, and even an ROG-branded coaster.
The ROG Maximus XI Excessive is clearly geared toward top-tier fanatics. It boasts of fine-grained overclocking controls, optimised traces between the CPU and reminiscence slots, a number of temperature and voltage measurement factors, particular energy headers for radiators and liquid coolant pumps, and naturally RGB LED headers. Asus additionally says you may run DDR4 reminiscence overclocked as much as 4400MHz.
In a transfer that some have already discovered controversial, Asus has began benefiting from a Home windows 10 function that lets it mechanically copy information from the embedded UEFI BIOS reminiscence to your PC and execute them. That is used for an Asus background service that simply runs on a regular basis, with out consumer consent.
Upon first boot, we noticed a notification pop up on display asking if we wish Asus to obtain its Armoury Crate software program to examine for driver updates, and regardless that we declined, the AsusUpdateCheck service continued to run completely. Armoury Crate’s description guarantees “options” together with “ROG information, gaming occasions and particular gives” which clearly not everybody will need on their PC.
Intel Core i9-9900Ok and Asus ROG Maximus XI Excessive efficiency
We set about constructing our check rig for the Core i9-9900Ok with the Asus ROG Maximus XI Excessive motherboard that Asus despatched over, plus quite a few high-end elements in order to keep away from bottlenecks. We used the newest model of Home windows 10 with all updates utilized, and the newest releases of all drivers (together with Intel’s new Common Home windows Platform graphics driver).
Most of our assessments had been performed with out a discrete GPU, with a purpose to gauge the efficiency of the Core i9-9900Ok’s built-in GPU. Nonetheless our gaming assessments replicate how the CPU alone impacts gameplay when there’s a highly effective GPU as effectively.
We have in contrast the efficiency of the Core i9-7900X which is costlier but in addition focused at fanatics and “mega-taskers”. Representing AMD, we now have the present top-end Ryzen 7 2700X in addition to the over-the-top Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX simply for instance the distinction between right now’s top-end mainstream CPUs and a workstation-class choice.
Intel Core i9-9900Ok Intel Core i7-8700Ok AMD Ryzen Threadrippper 2990WX AMD Ryzen 7 2700X Intel Core i9-7900X Motherboard Asus ROG Maximus XI Excessive Asus Prime Z370-A Asus ROG Zenith X399 Excessive Gigabyte Aorus X470 Gaming 7 Wifi Asus ROG Strix X299-E Gaming RAM 2×8 GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000 2×8 GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000 4x8GB G.Ability FlareX DDR4-3200 2x8GB G.Ability F4-3400C16D-16GSXW 4x8GB Corsair Vengeance LED DDR4-3466 Graphics XFX Radeon R9 380X DD BLK OC 4GB (discrete GPU assessments solely) SSD 960GB Corsair Pressure MP510 400GB Corsair Neutron NX500 256GB Samsung SSD 950 Professional 1TB Samsung SSD 860 Evo 256GB Samsung SSD 950 Professional CPU Cooler Cooler Grasp Hyper 212X Cooler Grasp Hyper 212X Cooler Grasp Wraithripper AMD Wraith Prism LED Cooler Grasp MasterLiquid 240 PSU Corsair RM650 Monitor Asus PB287Q OS Home windows 10
Setup and set up had been simple. The outsized Asus motherboard is pretty spacious, and the one factor that was a bit too fidgety was the method of eradicating the heatsink over the 2 decrease M.2 slots.
We started testing with the ever-reliable Cinebench R15. In comparison with final 12 months’s Core i708799Ok, we see a small improve in single-threaded efficiency however a major bounce within the multi-threaded rating because of the additional bodily cores plus Hyper-Threading. The outcomes for comparable CPU-bound 3D rendering and ray tracing assessments constantly sturdy efficiency for Intel.
Final 12 months, we noticed the Intel Core i7-8700Ok carry out very effectively with single-threaded workloads, however it misplaced to AMD’s Ryzen 7 1800X in multi-threaded assessments due to AMD’s high-core-count technique. Now, Intel appears to have caught up, and the Core i9-9900Ok comes away with superior scores to the Ryzen 7 2700X each in a number of single-threaded in addition to multi-threaded assessments. There isn’t a tradeoff right here. Intel has really managed to ship a CPU that may shine throughout several types of workloads.
Intel Core i9-9900Ok Intel Core i7-8700Ok AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX AMD Ryzen 7 2700X Intel Core i9-7900X Cinebench R15 CPU single-threaded 213 203 168 174 191 Cinebench R15 CPU multi-threaded 1,996 1,553 5,182 1,817 2,190 POVRay* 57 seconds 1 minute, 24 seconds 23 seconds 1 minute, eight seconds 55 seconds VRAY CPU* 1 minute, 2 seconds NA 27 seconds NA NA Corona Renderer Benchmark* 1 minute, 42 seconds NA 53 seconds NA NA Blender Benchmark* 15 minutes, 21 seconds NA 6 minutes, 13 seconds NA NA Basemark Internet three.zero 394.61 329.08 759.36 NA NA WebXprt 272 NA 208 230 NA PCMark 10 four,957 NA 5,429 6,059 NA PCMark 10 Prolonged three,435 NA NA NA NA 3DMark Time Spy 507 489 NA NA NA 3DMark Hearth Strike Extremely 329 311 NA NA NA 3DMark Hearth Strike Extremely (Physics) 21,550 18,238 18,320 21,158 21,890 SiSoft SANDRA CPU arithmetic 282.45GOPS 238.33GOPS 740.81GOPS 255GOPS 335.89GOPS SiSoft SANDRA CPU multimedia 918.22MPix/s 725.49MPix/s 1.64GPix/s 505.54MPix/s 1.44GPix/s SiSoft SANDRA CPU encryption 12.12GBps 10.52GBps 35.22GBps 17.53GBps 20.56GBps SiSoft SANDRA cache bandwidth 307.32GBps 258.15GBps 832.48GBps 267.14GBps 517.66GBps SiSoft SANDRA reminiscence bandwidth 21.85GBps 59.47GBps 38.62GBps 54.35GBps HyperPi* 15.eight seconds 14.1 seconds NA 16.96 seconds 12.45 seconds 7Zip file compression* 2 minutes, 12 seconds 2 minutes, 38 seconds 2 minutes, 25 seconds three minutes, 19 seconds 1 minute, 31 seconds Handbrake video encoding* 39 seconds 44 seconds 52 seconds 49 seconds 41 seconds Rise of the Tomb Raider, 1920×1080 Low 11.92fps 11.35fps NA NA NA Unigine Valley, 1920×1080, Medium 20.8fps 21.3fps NA NA NA Star Swarm 11.2fps 9.64fps NA NA NA Far Cry 5, 1920×1080, Excessive** 49fps NA NA 52fps NA Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, DX12, 1920×1080, Excessive** 48.3fps 51.8fps 51.1fps 51.1fps 46.3fps Metro: Final Gentle Redux, 1920×1080, Very Excessive** 56.67fps 42.19fps 67.06fps 36fps 55.67fps *decrease is best
There are not any scores for the Ryzen and Core X-series processors in graphics assessments, since they lack built-in GPUs. Though severe players and fanatics are usually not more likely to care about iGPU efficiency, we are able to see that the Core i9-9900Ok is just about on par with its predecessor. Some video games and assessments profit from the CPU’s elevated energy, however these which can be GPU-dependant don’t.
Our real-world video encoding and file compression assessments confirmed that the Core i9-9900Ok comes out on high in opposition to all of the others in our roundup besides the Core i9-7900X. That is the form of outcome that issues should you see your self “mega-tasking” as Intel calls it — taking part in video games whereas concurrently encoding and streaming video together with different background duties. Intel positively has content material creators in thoughts relating to focusing on the Core i9-9900Ok at potential consumers.
We tried some fast automated overclocking with Asus’ AI Suite three utility. It raised our Core i9-9900Ok to 5GHz on three cores, however did not transcend that velocity. We had been capable of maintain four.9GHz throughout all eight cores, which may give duties lots of headroom. Our Cinebench R15 single-threaded rating barely went as much as 218, however the multi-threaded rating was 2116, a pleasant little bump.
It took Intel some time to launch the Core i9-9900Ok in India, and sadly it has are available at an outlandishly excessive value. It sells for Rs. 57,000 on-line which places it effectively out of attain of most informal players and plenty of fanatics. Intel doesn’t present country-specific value steerage anymore so it’s troublesome to know whether or not this might go down as soon as Intel’s provide points are sorted out.
For reference, the official US greenback value is $480 (roughly Rs. 33,560 earlier than taxes). The Core i7-8700Ok which often offered for round Rs. 28,000 earlier than the provision crunch now goes for a minimum of Rs. 36,500. AMD’s Ryzen 7 2700X is promoting for round Rs. 30,000, which is barely increased than its launch value of round Rs. 27,000.
Given these costs, the benefits of the Core i9-9900Ok will not make sense for lots of people. That is sadly not an excellent time to be a fan of high-end Intel CPUs. You would possibly need to take a look at AMD’s choices or the lower-tier Intel Core i7-9700Ok. Do not forget that Intel additionally would not embrace a cooler, in order that is likely to be an added expense for you.
If value is not any object we’d counsel going for a Core X-series processor and an identical motherboard, however the latest fashions are usually not but out there in India. There’s additionally the truth that we’re now lastly near seeing what Intel can obtain with its 10nm engineering. It may not be an excellent time to be forking out on a high-end Intel PC, however in order for you one proper now and you actually take pleasure in having bragging rights, the Core i9-9900Ok is the most effective you could get.
As for our Asus ROG Maximus XI Excessive motherboard, it is utter and full overkill for most individuals. Purchase it should you’re an fanatic and are additionally going to spend on a high-end energy provide and cooler to overclock with. If not, there are many extra moderately priced different decrease down in Asus’ product stack.
Intel Core i9-9900Ok
Value (MOP): Rs. 57,000
Eight cores and threads Nice efficiency throughout the board
No inventory cooler included No enhancements to built-in graphics
Rankings (out of 5)
Efficiency: 5 Worth for Cash: three.5 General: four.5
Asus ROG Maximus XI Excessive
Value: Rs. 40,485
Steady and stable efficiency Loads of provisions for fanatic cooling and overclocking
No DisplayPort video output No Thunderbolt three
Rankings (out of 5)
Options: four Efficiency: four.5 Worth for Cash: four General: four