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Intel i9-9900K Review: The Gaming World's Most Powerful

Christopher Coke Posted:
Hardware Reviews 0

In case you skipped through the first section just to get here, here’s a reminder of the system we’re testing with:

Test system: i9-9900K (stock), ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming Motherboard, NZXT Kraken X72 360mm CPU cooler,  32GB ADATA XPG D41 DDR4-3200 DRAM, NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition, 1TB Samsung 970 PRO NVME SSD, 1TB WD Black NVME SSD, 1TB WD Blue 2.5” SATA SSD, 1TB, Crucial MX500 2.5” SATA SSD, 10TB WD Gold HDD, Corsair HX-1050 1050-watt PSU, Fractal Define R6 Case (open top panel)

Benchmark Testing




Gaming Benchmarks

With processing testing out of the way, we move into our game benchmarking, beginning with 3DMark Fire Strike and Time Spy.

Note that we limited our resolution to 1080p in these tests to remove the GPU from the equation as much as possible (and to represent the majority of gamers today). As we can see, the i9-9900k leads the pack, even over AMD’s Ryzen R7 2700X. 

Discussion and Final Thoughts

Looking at these results, it’s clear that Intel has a winner on its hands. We would loved to have tested the 9900K against some of Intel’s higher-end HEDT processors to see how it performed first hand, but reports around the internet are indicating that this i9 punches up and makes itself competitive against much more expensive offerings even from Intel itself. From what we can see here, the 9900K leads the pack in every way making it the most capable mainstream processor you can buy.

When it comes to gaming, the 9900K is similarly a performer. That said, the gains over prior generations aren’t monumental and narrow further once resolution is increased. If you’re currently running an 8700K purely for gaming, we don’t see much of a reason to run out and upgrade at today’s prices. That said, if you’re doing more than just gaming, say producing YouTube videos or creating content in multi-threaded apps, the value of those extra cores adds up quickly.

Which brings me to this conclusion: the i9-9900K really isn’t for the average gamer. It’s an incredibly capable processor whose potential is largely lost on games alone. The 9900K is for users who want the best, X-level performance without spending X-level dollars. It’s for the gamer that’s a producing videos or working extensively in creative apps, folks where time lost rendering is money lost. In short, the enthusiasts and the professional.

The i9-9900K is a fantastic processor. If you fall into either of those camps and have the money to make the jump to Z390, you’ll be happy you did.


  • Solder-based TIM returns with very good results
  • Excellent, chart-topping performance
  • Additional cores and threads speed up render time
  • Great for professionals, content creators, and gamers who want the best


  • Hyperthreading is now i9 exclusive
  • Cost-prohibitive for mainstream gamers

The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.

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Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight