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Intel Core i9-9900K Review – Mighty Processor, Mighty Price

Performance Overview

The BIOS of the Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Master has Turbo Boost Settings for:

  • 50x one or two cores
  • 49x three cores
  • 48x four or five cores
  • 47x six, seven or eight cores

We found our Core i9-9900K had an All-core Turbo of 4.8GHz and we occasionally saw glimpses of 5.1GHz on single cores, so something doesn’t quite add up there as we appear to have gained 100MHz across the board.

With that said, it is clear that in a world of 8-core CPUs the Core i9-9900K is king. The combination of eight cores and 16 threads running at 4.8GHz with good support for fast DDR4 is a winner and that is the end of the argument. By contrast the 4.0GHz Ryzen 7 2700X loses out on clock speed and the Core i7-8700K only has six cores. Core i7-7820X is already showing its age.

We shall look at the bigger picture in our Closing Thoughts but the short version is that Core i9-9900K exhibits superb performance and does a wonderful job. Our graphs tell the tale here as the Core i9-9900K tops almost every chart and does very well in the remaining handful.

Overclocking

Gigabyte gave us overclocking settings to use on the Z390 Aorus Master that were expected to yield a clock speed of 5.2GHz on 1.30V-1.35V. The CPU sample sent to KitGuru was unstable beyond 5.0GHz at 1.35V and we couldn’t go any faster with an increased voltage of 1.40V.

We also created our very own Core i7-9700K by disabling Hyper Threading and found we could run the CPU at 5.2GHz with 1.40V Vcore. Clearly this only gives an indication of what we might expect from Core i7-9700K but we have to confess we thought that halving the core count would yield higher clock speeds. Nonetheless, it performed well.

Overclocking Overview

Our results clearly show the many-times-refreshed Skylake/Kaby Lake/Coffee Lake architecture has been pushed to the limits and is surely at the edge of its performance. We know full well that Intel had intended to move from 14nm++ to 10nm and that Coffee Lake/Refresh was never supposed to be on the roadmap, however we have to deal with the CPU that is sat in front of us, regardless of its heritage.

With Core i9-9900K we see no useful scope for overclocking. Run your CPU out of the box with decent cooling on a motherboard with decent power delivery and the job is done. Intel has arrived at the same place as AMD, albeit at higher clock speeds.

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