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Intel 9th Generation Core i9 9900K Review

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Intel 9th Generation Core i9 9900K Introduction:

Purchasing an Intel Core i9 processor in the past meant that you were stepping into the HEDT world. Stepping into this world brought unparalleled performance but came sadly with the unparalleled costs associated with it. Getting anything more than a 4 core processor on an Intel platform was a costly proposition up until the launch of the 8th Generation Core i7 8700K last October. The success of AMD's Ryzen processors that brought more than 4 cores to the desktop with competitive performance surely pushed the key buttons to force Intels hand and  offer up a higher core count mainstream desktop processor. What we got was the 6 core 12 thread Core i7 8700K based of Intels 14nm Coffeelake architecture. The fact that it proved to be every bit the player in the market with an outstanding 4.7Ghz boost clock speed and robust overclocking made it a favorite for gamers and enthusiasts alike.

Today Intel is offering up its latest 14nm Coffeelake-S based offerings including the 9th Generation Core i9 9900K, the Core i7 9700K and Core i5 9600K. Each of these SKU's are overclocking enabled processors that fit each part of Intels product stack. The processor I will be focusing on today is the Core i9 9900K. This is an 8 core 16 thread processor that has a phenomenal Turbo Boost 2.0 clock speed and is the first 8 core processor to fit into the mainstream product stack becoming a direct competitor to the Ryzen 7 offerings from AMD. I was impressed with what the Core i7 8700K delivered so am anticipating another level of performance with this processor that does not crush the bank account. Lets see what this chip can do before I pass summary judgement.


Intel 9th Generation Core i9 9900K Closer Look:

Intels 9th Generation Core i9 9900K showed up in what could be the retail packaging for this series of processors. As I have said in the past sometimes great thisng show up in little black boxes. Inside the box is a separate 5 sided enclosure that holds the processor underneath. A nice take on how to engage your consumer! As with most of the higher end offering as of late a cooling solution is not includes since you will want to use a more robust cooling solution to keep thermals in check to get the most from this true 5Ghz monster. 



The 9th Generation Core i9 9900K is as eight-core processor with Hyper Threading that allows the end user to access up to sixteen threads at one time to boost performance above that of the 8th Generation offerings. Out of the box, the 95W TDP i9 9900K has a base core clock speed of just 3.6GHz with a killer Turbo Boost 2.0 speed of up to 5GHz in single core use. This chip is equipped with 16MB of Intel Smart Cache and supports dual channel DDR4 memory configurations in capacities of up to 64GB runing at speeds up to 2666MHz speeds. Much like I saw with the 8th Generation Core i7 8700K, the graphics capabilities of this processor continue to rely on Intels UHD 630 Integrated graphics processor running at up to a dynamically controlled 1200MHz. Using the IGP on this processor will get you up and running if a discrete video card is out of the question. However if you are not gamer it is fully capable of deliver all your graphics needs. This processor and all the 9th generation Coffeelake-S are built for use in a FCLGA1151 socket when paired with an Intel Z300 series chipset equipped motherboard. A Z390 chipset board is the preffered chipset to maximize the capabilities of the 9th Generation processors.



Intel's 9th Generation Coffee Lake-S processors will need to be installed in a motherboard using an Intel 3 Series chipset. Launching today with these first 9th Generation processors is the Z390 chipset. Out of the processor, you get graphics capabilities that include DisplayPort 1.4, DP 1.2m and HDMI 1.4m along with 4K 60Hz support. Dual channel DDR4 memory configurations are supported at speeds of up to 2666MHz using two DIMMs per channel officially, although memory speeds of up to 8400MT/s are supported. A DMI 3.0 link connects the CPU to the Z390 PCH. Up to 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes are available with this platform when you count the 16 from the processor and the balance of 24 PCIe lanes from the PCH. Support for Optane memory, Intel Smart Sound Technology, Intel Wireless connectivity, Thunderbolt 3, and USB 3.1 are natively supported on the Z390 PCH.



Intels motherboard partners are pretty well stocked up on boards to support the 9th generation processors such as the Core i9 9900K. I have two boards I will be looking at shortly that fit right in the middle of the mainstream board pricing for Z390 motherboards. You can go off the deep end and spend $500 on a board but can get great performance in the $150 to $190 range that these two boards fit into. I will be looking at the MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC from MSI and the ROG Z390-E Gaming from ASUS.


MSI's MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC is part of the MPG product stack. MSI has added another layer of stratification in its product stack with the introduction of the MEG, MPG and MAG series. THis board is chock full of all the MSI tools we are used to. Using angular lines with reflective surfaces the board is built to catch your eyes with its Mystic Lighting enhanced light show. On top of the visuals you get Audio Boost 4, 2x Turbo M.2 Edge Clips on the PCIe slots and a series of Debug LEDs. The all black custom PCB works perfectly with the RGB lighting effects. I will be using this as my first Z390 test board and you can see its performance in this review.


ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming is another of the Z390 boars I will be looking at. The angular theme seems to be the going look on these boards. The ROG Strix name is synonymous with Gaming when you think of ASUS. Packed full of features including Supreme FX sound, AURA RGB lighting, M.2 Cooling, AI Overclocking and 5 way optimization this board should live up to the branding. Look for the review soon!


8 Cores at 5Ghz! Sounds like a significant boost in performance over the Core i7 8700K that shares the same architecture. The expectation here is that we should see that next level performance boost for the mainstream. Will this be a mic drop moment?

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  1. Intel 9th Generation Core i9 9900K: Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Intel 9th Generation Core i9 9900K: Specifications & Features
  3. Intel 9th Generation Core i9 9900K Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  4. Intel 9th Generation Core i9 9900K Testing: Apophysis, Bibble 5, WinRar, Corona
  5. Intel 9th Generation Core i9 9900K Testing: Blender, POV Ray, Cinebench R15, GeekBench 4
  6. Intel 9th Generation Core i9 9900K Testing: Handbrake, PCMark 10, Aida64
  7. Intel 9th Generation Core i9 9900K Testing: SiSoft Sandra 2018, HW BOT X265 Benchmark
  8. Intel 9th Generation Core i9 9900K Testing: 3DMark, The Division, Shadows of the Tomb Raider, IGP testing
  9. Intel 9th Generation Core i9 9900K: Conclusion
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