Intel Core i9-11900K Review — an unenviable position

Vyncent Chan
13 Min Read
Intel Core i9-11900K Review — an unenviable position
  • Efficiency - 7.2/10
    7.2/10
  • Features - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Performance - 8.1/10
    8.1/10
  • Value - 6.9/10
    6.9/10

Summary

The Intel Core i9-11900K somehow misses the mark when it comes to gaming performance.

Overall
7.7/10
7.7/10

Pros

+ Cypress Cove cores offers a good IPC boost
+ Can be overclocked for a nice improvement in multi-core performance
+ Offers Gear 2 mode for memory overclocking enthusiasts
+ ABT offers better multi-core performance with zero effort

Cons

– Can be challenging to cool
– Power draw can be a concern
– Pricier than its predecessor with more cores

The 11th Gen Intel Core processors arrive with a rather awkward proposition. It comes with the newer Cypress Cove core architecture, but loses two cores when you compare the Intel Core i9-11900K versus its predecessor, the Core i9-10900K. Will the improved IPC make up for the two missing cores, or will they be sorely missed? I guess that’s what we aim to find out today.

Intel Core i9-11900K review-4

Intel Core i9-11900K review-4

The 11th Gen Intel Core processors work with the same LGA1200 motherboards as its predecessor, so anyone considering an upgrade will most probably choose not to get a new motherboard. However we did receive the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero along with the processors to fully take advantage of everything Intel has to offer, so let’s see how it does.

Intel Core i9-11900K Specifications

Cores / Threads 8C/16T
Base Clock / Max Boost 3.5 / 5.3 GHz
Cache 16MB L3 cache
Memory Up to 128GB, 2-channel, DDR4-3200
Integrated Graphics Yes, Intel UHD Graphics 750 @ up to 1.3GHz
PCIe 16+4 lanes, PCIe 4.0
DMI 3.0 x8 to Intel Z590 chipset (x4 to Z490)
TDP 125W
Process Intel 14nm
Socket LGA 1200

Intel has made some significant upgrades to the PCIe interface, finally supporting PCIe 4.0. You have 20 PCIe 4.0 lanes, with 16 for the dedicated graphics and 4 more for a PCIe 4.0 SSD. They also upgraded the DMI link to the chipset, now with double the bandwidth. It is now essentially as fast as AMD’s PCIe 4.0 x4 interface to the AMD X570, although the Intel Z590 chipset still doesn’t support the PCIe 4.0 interface.

Test System

CPU Intel Core i9-11900K
Cooler Cooler Master ML240R
Motherboard ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero (BIOS ver.0610)
GPU ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3090 OC Edition
Memory 2 x 8GB T-FORCE XTREEM ARGB DDR4-3600 CL14
Storage Kingston UV400 120GB
Kingston UV500 1TB
Seagate FireCuda SSHD 1TB
Kingston KC2500 1TB
Power Supply Cooler Master V1200 Platinum

For the stock settings, we set the BIOS to enforce all of Intel’s limits, and all the voltages are auto. Adaptive Boost Technology (ABT) is enabled via a simple toggle in the BIOS, with no other changes. The overclocked results are obtained by setting the core multiplier to 51x and the cache multiplier to 46x and manually entering 1.475V for Vcore. Now, let’s take a look at the performance data. The memory is running in Gear 1 (1:1) at 3600MHz CL14.

Performance

Intel Core i9-11900K review Cinebench R20

Intel Core i9-11900K review Cinebench R20

Cinebench R20 shows that the Intel Core i9-11900K’s single-core performance is vastly improved from its predecessor. The +21% single-core improvement allowed the Intel Core i9-11900K to only lose 3% multi-core performance here, which is a really impressive result. While ABT is supposed to improve multi-core performance, somehow all we saw is marginally lower performance.

Of course, the manual OC lowers the single-core performance because of the 200MHz lower clocks, but multi-core scores improve as a result and it actually outperforms the Core i9-10900K by close to 5%. Compared to the competition, we see a slight advantage in single-core performance, although I have to note that it boosts to around 250MHz faster than the Ryzen 9 5950X does in single-core loads, so IPC is still not in Intel’s favor here.

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