Intel Core i9-9900KS Assessment – Catrachadas

Intel today launched the "new" Core i9-9900KS processor, which appears to be a pointless version, similar to the Core i7-8086K that we never looked at. According to Intel, this new processor delivers an all-core turbo frequency of up to 5.0 GHz. It is a limited special edition that will be available today for $ 513.

Translation: This is only a 9900K with MCE enabled. Intel raised the TDP to 127 watts because the base clock rose to 4 GHz. However, you need a good cooler to dissipate well over 200 watts if you want maximum performance at reasonable temperatures.

Because it's a limited-edition processor, the warranty has been reduced from 3 years to just 12 months. So you want to pay ~ 5% more for a CPU that is instantly 6% faster, or not faster if you have already activated MCE. Other than the factory overclocking that most motherboards have already done, there doesn't seem to be anything new here.

Before we get to the benchmarks, a few brief notes on the test system. To test 8th and 9th generation core processors, we used the Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Ultra, which has been updated to the latest F9 BIOS version, which includes Gigabyte's revised BIOS design. It looks good and works well.

We use the new Aorus Liquid 360 for cooling, and although we don't have to make any real comparisons with other coolers, it has cooled the 9900KS well.

It is noteworthy that the 9900KS we tested ran on the Aorus Ultra with an all-core clock frequency of 5.1 GHz, not the up to 5 GHz for which it was announced. This was the default configuration on the Aorus Ultra using the latest BIOS, and enabling MCE didn't change anything. The reason for the additional 100 MHz is that the card has forced a base clock frequency of 102 MHz. If we have more time, we will check the storage behavior of other Z390 motherboards with the 9900KS, but we will work with it at the moment.


Starting with Cinebench R20, we have the multi-core test, in which the 9900KS was 8% faster than the 9900K. That meant that it also overtook the Ryzen 7 3800X by 6%, but what was crucial was that it was a whopping 26% slower than the Ryzen 9 3900X.

For light thread workloads, the performance difference is much smaller, just a 3% improvement in the Cinebench R20 single core test.

When testing with WinRAR, we see a performance improvement of only 1% compared to the 9900K. This makes the 9900KS the fastest desktop CPU on the mainstream platform, at least until the 3950X is released next month.

We see another insignificant gain in performance for the 7-Zip compression test. When measuring performance using the decompression test, we found the 9900KS was 7% faster than the original 9900K, although still 5% slower than the 3800X.

When using Premiere Pro, the rendering time could be reduced by 6%. This allowed the 9900KS to match the 3700X, but still took 13% longer than the 3900X.

Tests with the V-Ray benchmark show a 5% improvement for the 9900KS, although it is still 23% slower than the 3900X.

Corona render time reduced by 4% to 92 seconds. The 9900KS took 20% longer to get the workload done than the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X.

Here we see that the 9900KS offers a 7% shorter render time compared to the standard 9900K or 30% longer than the 3900X. If your workload can use more than 8 cores, the Ryzen 9 processor is the better choice almost every time.

power consumption

Although the Blender test takes 30% longer than the 3900X, the 9900KS has increased overall system consumption by 26%, which is insane. Completely unleashed without TDP restrictions, the 9900K was already a power-hungry processor, but the 9900KS consumes even more power for a small performance gain. Of course, the efficiency here is not particularly high.

Gaming benchmarks

Continue with some games and test with the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti …

First up is Assassin's Creed Odyssey, previously the 9900K was the fastest tested CPU in this title, beating the 3900X by a 4% margin. The 9900KS improves the position of the Core i9 by a few additional frames.

We see something similar in Battlefield V, although it's only a 2% increase. As expected, the 9900KS is the fastest CPU in this title, but how well you notice the difference between 155 fps and 171 fps is up to you.

Division 2 saw a 3% increase in performance, which means that the 9900KS was on par with the 9700K, which performs slightly better than the standard 9900K due to the lack of hyper-threading, which, depending on the number of cores, can be a burden for this title.

Finally, we have Shadow of the Tomb Raider, where the gain is limited on average to a single additional frame and two to the 1% low results.

Overclocking and who is it for?

Just like the Core i9-9900K, the 9900KS seems to be struggling at 5.2 GHz. With a little more tweaking, it might be possible to keep it stable under heavy workloads, but we're almost certain that 5.3 GHz is out of the question.

Gigabyte recently provided us with the crazy Z390 Aorus Xtreme Waterforce motherboard package, which comes with a handpicked 9900K. This chip was also limited to 5.2 GHz and ran significantly cooler thanks to a massive voltage reduction at 5.1 GHz.

Our Core i9-9900KS ran all the cores at 5.1 GHz on the Aorus Ultra by default, and the temperatures with an AIO were reasonable. Paying the small price difference for the 9900KS if you're looking for a high-performance version of the 9900K isn't terrible, though the 1-year warranty is shit.

If you were already on the market for a Core i9-9900K processor and wanted to overclock it, the 9900KS makes sense.

We believe that the main reason Intel released the 9900KS was because the processors caused a stir. Currently, only the high-end models like the 9900K make sense to buy AMD's alternatives. Without question, Ryzen parts of the 2nd and 3rd generation killed the Core i5 and i3 series.

Parts like the Core i7-8700K, 9700K and Core i9-9900K as well as all the different K revisions like the KF and now KS are all suitable for extreme high-end gaming rigs, the kind of systems that rock RTX 2080 Great or better. For those with a more modest graphics card and a desire to do things outside of gaming, AMD's 3rd generation Ryzen is the better choice. The 3900X is the ultimate all-rounder, if you can afford to spend a little over $ 500 on a CPU, whether for games or not, it works very well. While the Ryzen 3600 is our preferred value CPU of choice.

The bottom line, we think the Intel Core i9-9900KS is not an event for most of you, as it is little different from the 9900K. This shorter guarantee makes us scratch our heads.

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