Well this has been an interesting review. Typically when we review a flagship Intel desktop processor it is at the top of our charts and has increased in core count, but with the Core i9-11900K neither of those things are true. As I mentioned in the beginning on this review Intel went from a 10-core chip on their i9-10900K to a 8-core chip on their i9-11900K. This of course was because of the new Cypress Cove CPU cores and new Gen12 Xe iGPU on the chip. This was a sacrifice Intel had to make, but it really hurt them on multi-core performance. In our testing the Core i9-11900K was easily beat by AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series chips in multi-core testing and even the Core i9-10900K in some tests.
Where the Core i9-11900K does perform quite well is in single-threaded workloads, this is due to its boost clock up to 5.3 GHz. This gives the Core i9-11900K an advantage in some games like we saw with Shadow of the Tomb Raider and FarCry New Dawn. Obviously performance has a lot to do with the game / application you are running. The new Adaptive Boost technology allows you to get a little bit more out of the processor as we saw in our tests and is actually a better option than just overclocking as we noticed you couldn’t really get much more out of the chip. I would definitely turn this on in your motherboard’s BIOS, although it was set to “auto” on our board (Gigabyte Z590 AORUS Master).
It really is hard to recommend the Core i9-11900K at this point. I think the only real reason to go this route is if you are several generations behind and are looking to do a new build. The Z590 platform does bring with it PCI-Express 4.0, which you’ll really take advantage of with super-fast M.2 solid state drives. Also some of the new Z590 motherboards are pretty awesome, stay tuned as we have a bunch of reviews of those coming! Also you have to expect that this is the last 14nm Intel desktop processor range, at least we would hope. Once Intel moves down to either 10nm or 7nm we should see a massive increase in performance. On top of that DDR5 is on the way, so you might have buyers remorse when the new chips come out, but with any tech that is how it goes.
Right now the Core i9-11900K is selling for $539.99 at our favorite online retailer, which puts it below the $549.99 of the Ryzen 9 5900X. Sadly you really can’t buy either of these processors at their retail price. At the end of the day if you are looking to build a new PC and want to go the Intel route the Core i9-11900K is not a horrible choice, but it is a disappointment from what we expect to see from a flagship Intel processor.
– Great single-threaded performance
– New Adaptive Boost technology
– PCIe Gen4 support from the CPU
– A decrease in core count
– Does not really compete against AMD overall
– Likely last generation on 14nm