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Intel Core i9-11900K Review: Undeniably Superior Single-Core Performer
Intel is the name that comes to mind when we think about high-performance CPUs. However, Intel was once a lone warrior in the territory, which has now become a lot more competitive in the last few years, thanks to the high-performance Ryzen CPUs from AMD.
- Excellent single core performance
- Integrated graphics
- Lower CPU cores when compared to its predecessor
- Based on 14nm fabrication
Intel recently launched the 11th Gen high-performance desktop CPUs, and we got to test one of the most powerful consumer CPUs -- the Intel Core i9-11900K. The letter K in the nomenclature depicts that the processor can be overclocked to squeeze in more performance out of this CPU.
Currently, the Intel Core i9-11900K is the most powerful consumer-grade CPU from the company, which does compete against the likes of the Ryzen 9 5950X. At the time of publishing, the processor is currently listed for Rs. 71,900 on Amazon, which makes it a bit cheaper than the Ryzen 9 5950X.
So, how does the Intel Core i9-11900K performs against the competition and the last-gen Core i9-10900K? We have run some popular benchmarks and played a few games to test the same. We present these benchmarks in the form of a full review of the Intel Core i9-11900K.
Intel Core i9-11900K Specifications
Number Of Cores: 8
Number of Threads: 16
Base Clock Speed: 3.50GHz
Boost Clock Speed: 5.30GHz
Total L3 Cache: 16MB
PCI Express Version: PCIe 4.0
The Intel Core i9-11900K replaces the Core i9-10900K. Compared to the 10th Gen model, the 11th Gen model has actually two core and four threads. This change shouldn't affect much when it comes to gaming, as most games still depend on single-core CPU performance.
Just like the Core i9-10900K and the i9-9900K, it is still manufactured using 14nm fabrication, which makes it not as power-efficient as the Ryzen 9 5950X built on top of 7nm TSMC fabrication. The Core i9-11900K offers 16MB of L3 cache with eight cores, 16 threads, and a peak CPU clock speed of 5.30GHz (Max Turbo Frequency), making it one of the fastest CPUs with respect to clock speed.
It does come with Intel UHD 750 as an integrated graphics with a max dynamic frequency of 1.3GHz, and it can use up to 64GB of video memory. The CPU can be used with a motherboard with an FCLGA1200 socket, this means, most motherboards with support for 10th Gen Intel processors should support the Core i9-11900K.
This CPU also supports PICe Gen4 and offers up to 20 PCIe lanes, which can be used to connect peripherals like SSDs and GPUs with higher memory bandwidth. Lastly, it comes with a TDP of 125W, which can be configured down to 95W, which will indeed reduce the performance.
Intel Core i9-11900K Vs AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
On paper, the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X does look superior to the Intel Core i9-11900K as it has twice the number of cores (16 vs 8) and doubles the number of threads (32 vs 16). However, Intel does have a few trips up its sleeves with a higher clock speed and an integrated graphics card.
This means, you can actually run a PC with the Intel Core i9-11900K without an external graphics card and with the Ryzen 9 5950X you must have a GPU just to boot the OS. Nonetheless, if you are going with either of these CPUs, you definitely should pick top-tier external graphics to get the most out of these CPUs.
Coming to benchmarks, the Intel Core i9-11900K does outperform the Ryzen 9 5950X in single-core performance on almost every benchmark tool we ran. However, when it comes to multi-core or multi-thread-related tasks, the Ryzen 9 5950X is leaps and bounds ahead of Intel's offering.
On Geekbench 5 single-core test, the Intel Core i9-11900K posts 1796 points while the Ryzen 9 5950X scores 1630 points. Similarly, on Geekbench R23, the Intel Core i9-11900K scores 1572 while the Ryzen 9 5950X scores 1489 points.
Even on CPU-Z, the Intel Core i9-11900K scored 687.4, outperforming the Ryzen 9 5950X. Do note that, in all these benchmarks, the Ryzen 9 5950X has outperformed Intel Core i9-11900K as more numbers of cores definitely reflect better multi-core performance.
Intel Core i9-11900K Vs Intel Core i9-10900KF
A new product should always be better than its predecessor, right? However, on paper, the Intel Core i9-11900K doesn't look that way as it has few CPU clocks with an identical peak CPU clock speed of 5.30GHz. So, is the Intel Core i9-11900K an actual successor to the Core i9-10900K/10900KF? Let's find out.
We recently reviewed the Alienware Aurora R11, powered by the Intel Core i9-10900KF (without an integrated graphics card). Despite having fewer cores, the Intel Core i9-11900K outperforms the Intel Core i9-10900K in every benchmark that we ran on both single-core and multi-core performance.
These numbers do confirm that Intel has actually done a lot of work, where, the brand is actually able to harness more power (improved instructions per core) from fewer cores and identical CPU clock speed. This makes the Intel Core i9-11900K a truly next-gen CPU and does confirm that the number of cores doesn't always reflect higher performance.
Intel Core i9-11900K Synthetic Benchmarks
We also ran two famous benchmarks to test the overall capabilities of the Intel Core i9-11900K. On PCMark 10, the Intel Core i9-11900K with NVIDIA RTX 2060 Super GPU scores 7491 points, which is actually higher than the score that we obtained for the Ryzen 9 5950X (7138).
Intel Core i9-11900K Synthetic Benchmarks
On 3DMark, the Intel Core i9-11900K scores 8774 points. This time around, the Ryzen 9 5950X did take the lead, as it scored 8903 points with around one to two percent performance difference. These numbers do indicate that in the real world, the Intel Core i9-11900K is actually as fast as the Ryzen 9 5950X, despite having half the number of cores.
Intel Core i9-11900K Gaming Performance
If you look at any of the marketing materials of the Intel Core i9-11900K, it becomes very evident that the Intel Core i9-11900K is a gaming-centric CPU with top-tier single-core performance. How does this translate to real-world gaming performance? Let's dig deeper.
On Superposition 4k benchmark, the Intel Core i9-11900K with the RTX 2060 Super GPU offers an average FPS of 51.29. Do note that, the RTX 2060 Super is not a 4K-class gaming graphics card and this score is very impressive for the graphics card of this class, which also shows the prowess of the Intel Core i9-11900K.
Similarly, on the Shadow of the tomb raider with the maximum ray-tracing and graphics settings, we obtained an average FPS of 72 at 1080p, and on the GTA: V, we obtained 90+ FPS on this CPU and GPU combo. Again, in this case, GPU is the bottleneck, as the Intel Core i9-11900K when combined with GPUs like RTX 3080 can easily offer over 120fps on almost all games at 1440p resolution without any issue.
At the time of testing, we only had the NVIDIA RTX 2060 Super GPU, hence, we couldn't test the full potential of the Intel Core i9-11900K when it comes to gaming. However, these numbers should clearly give us an indication of the capability of the Intel Core i9-11900K.
Verdict: Most Powerful Single-Core Performer CPU
Based on the tests we have done on the Intel Core i9-11900K, it's very evident that it keeps up with the standards set by Intel when it comes to high-performance desktop CPUs, especially when it comes to the single-core and gaming performance.
It does cost less than the Ryzen 9 5950X and offers plenty of headroom when it comes to power-envelop. Hence, a great CPU for gamers who want to play games at 1440p or even at 4K resolution. Even for tasks like video rendering, the Intel Core i9-11900K will perform a lot. However, the Ryzen 9 5950X does take a lead when it comes to tasks like video or 3D rending, which depends on multi-core and multi-thread performance.
The Intel Core i9-11900K costs over Rs. 70,000 and for the price you definitely get a performance that one expects. Again, the performance of the CPU does depend on a lot of parameters like the motherboard, CPU cooler, RAM, and the type of storage it offers.