Intel Core i9-14900K Review – The 13900K, Remastered
First in the list of Intel's new Raptor Lake Refresh chips is the Core i9-14900K. How much do you get for the number increase from 13 to 14?
$589 (US RCP)
+ Performance continues to lead the way
+ Offers drop-in upgrade path
+ Retains 600/700 series motherboard compatibility
- Very little improvements on the hardware level
- Requires powerful cooling system to maximize performance
- Power hungry
This year’s serving of new Intel chips comes courtesy of the 14th Gen – and unlike previous two generations where we see big architectural revamps and significant performance boosts, this time around Intel has kept the expectations reasonable with a small refresh of the Raptor Lake architecture, aptly named Raptor Lake Refresh. That being said, will the refresh – like this Core i9-14900K – get you any extra goodies? Or should you just stick to 13th Gen and keep your PC humming along? Let’s find out.
Intel Core i9-14900K: Basic Specifications
First things first – don’t expect any big changes for the new chips, as they are effectively just a minor refresh of the existing Raptor Lake (13th Gen) CPUs. The chart below should give you a good idea just how little things have changed, a year later:
|Intel Core i9-14900K
|Intel Core i9-13900K
24 cores, 32 threads
|Raptor Cove (P-Core)
|P-Core Max Turbo Clock
|E-Core Max Turbo Clock
|TDP (PBP / MTP)
|125W / 253W
|DDR5-5600 / DDR4-3200
Max. 192GB dual-channel
|Intel UHD Graphics 770
|PCIe Lanes Configuration
|16 (Gen 5) + 4 (Gen 4)
|Intel 600 / 700 Series Chipset
As a reminder, Intel does not launch new motherboard chipset for this generation, so all 14th Gen CPUs should in theory be a drop-in upgrade – though it’s recommended for you to update the BIOS accordingly (some updates are already public, labeled as “next gen CPU” in the changelogs).
In terms of hardware, there isn’t much to differentiate between 14th Gen and 13th Gen – so Intel has turned to software to give the new chip some exclusive features. The first of two main additions is the Intel Application Optimization, and it functions in ways similar to a “driver” of sorts for each game. When enabled, Intel touts up to 16% improvement compared to when the feature is off, on the same Core i9-14900K chip.
The second new feature – which arguably isn’t as new as it sounds – is “AI Assist” for XTU (Extreme Tuning Utility) software. Most motherboard manufacturers already has CPU overclocking as part of their feature set (and a selling point at that), so what Intel is introducing here is pretty much have the AI overclocking baked into the XTU software itself, instead of relying on 3rd-party motherboards. That being said, this feature is exclusive to Core i9-14900K(F) only, so not exactly something you can use if you’re one of the Core i7 or Core i5 owners, or even previous-gen Core i9 owners.
|Intel Core i9-14900K
|Cooler Master MasterLiquid PL360 Flux 30th Anniversary Edition
Cooler Master MasterGel Maker
|ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 HERO (BIOS ver. 1402)
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition
|Kingston FURY RENEGADE RGB DDR5-6400 CL32 (2x16GB)
|Samsung SSD 980 PRO 256GB (Boot)
Kingston NV1 1TB
|Cooler Master MWE Gold 1250 V2 Full Modular 1250W
|VECTOR Bench Case (Open-air chassis)
|Windows 11 Pro 22H2
For comparison’s sake, both chips will be limited to their stock power limits – that is, 253W MTP. Intel Adaptive Boost Technology (IABT) and ASUS’s Multi Core Enhancement (MCE) are both turned off, unless otherwise specified.
Cinebench R23 (Multi-core)
Let’s start with multicore performance numbers first. Performance improvements on the new Core i9-14900K is very much miniscule: in full-power scenario, the new chip only managed to lead by 4.4%, and it looks like that doesn’t reflect properly as you scale the power down to 125W or even 65W TDP (which oddly loses slightly to the 13th Gen chip).
For some bonus science, we disabled all power limits and enabled Intel’s Adaptive Boost Technology (IABT) and ASUS Multi Core Enhancement (MCE) to see how far the CPU, coolers and VRM can push themselves. Our Cooler Master AIO handled the 253W limit easily – with temperatures in the mid 70s – so there’s plenty of thermal room for the i9-14900K to play with.
The result? The first loop of the de-restricted Cinebench R23 run sees the chip consuming a staggering 350 watts of power for around 30 seconds, before settling in at 330-335W sustained power. We’ve seen scores clocking into 41,000, though further loops sees the scores dropped into the 40,000 range. Though, as you can figure out – 100W of extra power for just 2,000 more points in Cinebench doesn’t sound like a good deal (unless you do extreme overclocking, that is).
Cinebench R23 (Single-core)
Onto single-core scores, and while on paper the i9-14900K gets 3.4% worth of extra clockspeeds, in our run that doesn’t seem to translate at all – it’s virtually dead heat given the scores we got from their respective benchmark runs. Naturally, given that both chips share the same architecture – normalizing it down to 4.0GHz (where we evaluate improvements on instructions-per-clock) sees no discernible difference either.
Cinebench R23 (Power Draw)
When it comes to power usage, Intel’s chips continues to have a habit of guzzling lots of power compared to AMD’s chips. Though in this case, the performance-to-power ratio isn’t too bad comparing to the Ryzen 9 7950X given the slightly performance advantage on the Core i9; but that advantage is immediately gone as you scale down the power, where AMD simply excels in power scaling.
Up next is 7-Zip test – once again, very little difference between the two Core i9 CPUs. Another dead heat on compression, though decompression gives the 14900K a marginal win (which is within error margins). Both chips are no match for Ryzen’s superior decompression performance, however.
3DMark Time Spy (CPU Score)
3DMark Time Spy’s CPU test, which is a very short one after the whole benchmark run (focusing on GPUs mainly), also sees little to no difference between the 14900K and 13900K. The newer chip has a lead of within 1%, which is considered to be within error margins. Ryzen CPUs historically isn’t great in this metric, though that doesn’t necessarily translate to worse gaming performance (it’s just a quirk of this particular test).
For CPU rendering, we have the Handbrake. Keep in mind that depending on which version you use, the performance can be vastly different: when we tested the 13900K, the latest version available was 1.5.1 (released early 2022); though the new and improved version 1.6.1 has since been available with much improved render times. In the newer version, the 14900K is able to shave off 2 seconds – and the old version gets 9 seconds worth of savings.
Gaming is mainly a single-threaded affair, though that’s not always the case if GPU bottleneck or game engine limitations is introduced into the mix. Shadow of the Tom Raider is the most clockspeed-sensitive game of our test here, and we see exactly the same number of FPS – though Forza Horizon 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2 has produced 1 more FPS in favor of the new chip.
As resolutions go higher, the bottleneck will shift towards the GPU more and more, so your CPU choice is unlikely to affect the overall gaming performance unless you have a game that clearly take advantage of it. (Ryzen 7 7800X3D‘s extra cache is likely the better way out, thanks to its massive cache size.)
So, let’s be straightforward: should you be getting the new Intel Core i9-14900K as your new chip? That points to a likely ‘no’. Essentially, the Core i9-14900K is just binned version of the Core i9-13900K – and essentially the same chip as the limited-edition Core i9-13900KS (both shares the same 6.0GHz boost clocks). Unless this is a direct replacement of the 13900K, chances are that chip will continue to exist in the market, likely at a lower price.
In which case, you’re probably better off getting that chip if you do want flagship-tier performance without getting into the “burning cash” territory. That isn’t to say the 14900K has no unique feature going for it. There’s the Intel AI assist and Intel Application Optimization (APO) – though the former is pretty much a built-in AI overclocking tool that your typical high-end motherboard already has some capability to get the job done.
As for APO, this does sound like a GPU-driver style feature since Intel says this will be a game-specific enhancements that the company is actively working with developers to utilize the feature. It’s currently an exclusive feature for Core i9-14900K and Core i7-14700K paired with Z690/Z790 motherboards – and it’s not a guarantee that older chips will be getting this feature down the line, simply down to the reason that Team Blue needs something to differentiate between two generations (as they’re the same thing on a hardware level).
All told, if you’re already on the fairly recent generations of Intel CPUs, skip this one. For users looking for an upgrade though – the price of $589 (which is same as the i9-13900K at launch) will either make or break the deal. Be sure to compare the prices!
Special thanks to Intel for sending us the Core i9-14900K for this review.