Intel Core i9-9900K Is The World’s Best Gaming CPU of 2018! Best Time to Upgrade?

Intel recently released the world’s best gaming processor, say hello to the new “gaming CPU king”; the Intel Core i9-9900K. The 9th gen Intel Core processors are basically Coffee Lake Refresh; an improvement from the 8th Gen CPU (Coffee Lake). That’s why the i7-9700K and i5-9600K are somewhat similar to their predecessors. We’ll get into that later. But the star of the 9th gen lineup is the i9-9900K. It features 8 cores with 16 threads, with a base clock speed of 3.7GHz and a boost clock speed of up to 5GHZ (cores 1 and 2). It will boost to 4.7GHz with all cores, but I’m positive that you can manually overclock this CPU to run 5GHz on all cores; just like the i7-9700K and i7-8700K processors. I think it’s time to update our list of best gaming CPU, now that that there’s a new best CPU for gaming. So let’s learn more about the new Intel Core i9-9900K processor below and find out if it’s time to upgrade and catch up with the technology.

Intel Core i9-9900K – Best Gaming CPU (Period)

With 8 cores and 16 threads, the Intel Core i9-9900K has similar core and thread count with AMD’s Ryzen 2700X. Although the Ryzen 2700X was able to beat the Intel Core i7-8700K in multi-threaded workloads, it wasn’t able to beat the 8700K in most gaming scenarios especially at 1080p. This is simply because it has a slower frequency or speed. The 2700X has a base clock speed of 3.7GHz but it can only reach up to 4.3GHz at best. This leaves the Ryzen 2700X to a disadvantage.

The 9th Gen Intel Core i9-9900K is superior to both the i7-8700K and the Ryzen 2700X. It has a faster clock speed than the Ryzen 2700X and it has more cores (and also faster speed) than the i7-8700K. I don’t need to test the i9-9900K to know that it’s going to be superior when it comes to gaming versus its predecessor and AMD’s offering. AMD’s Ryzen 2700X was already no match to the Core i7-8700K in gaming. With same core count but faster clock speeds, I’m pretty sure that the Core i9-9900K is faster not only in gaming, but in multi-threaded workloads as well.

The Core i9-9900K also features a 16MB cache, supports DDR4-2666 memory, 95W of TDP and has a built-in integrated Intel UHD 630 graphics. Another improvement implemented on the i9-9900K, aside from the core count and clock speeds, is the IHS or integrated heat spreader is now soldered on to the silicon. Previously, Intel has been using a somewhat “inferior” thermal paste. Some or many i7-8700K needed to be delided just to get a stable 5GHz overclock. This time, I am expecting that overclocking will be better and there’s no need to delid the CPU because the IHS is soldered.

Should You Upgrade to i9-9900K?

One burning question we always get is should you upgrade to the new Core i9-9900K? It’s the same question every time a new CPU or GPU is released. If you’re rocking an i7-8700K already, you may not need to upgrade at all, especially if your 8700K can do 5GHz on all cores. Skip this generation and wait for the 10th gen. Unless you are the type of gamer or enthusiasts who upgrades to whatever latest and greatest is released every year, then by all means upgrade and be sure to pair it with a good Z390 motherboard.

For 7th gen users, it actually depends. If you think your CPU is no longer fast enough, or you encounter a game or software that somehow performs poorly with the current CPU that you are using; then it may be a good time to upgrade. Like I said, it depends; you may or may not need to upgrade at all.

For 6th gen users and below, same answer for the 7th gen users. But I’m leaning towards the idea that it’s time to upgrade to the 9th gen since the performance increase and the set of features you get on the 9th gen and new Z390 motherboards are already somewhat significant compared to processors and motherboards released three or more years ago.

As for AMD users who are rocking 1st or 2nd gen Ryzen CPUs, the Ryzens are still good for multi-threaded workloads and applications. This is due to the number of core and thread counts. So no need to upgrade or switch if gaming is not your priority, or if you are gaming on a 4K monitor where most of the tasks is already GPU bound. But if gaming is your priority and you game at 1080p and 1440p, you may want to consider switching or upgrading to the latest Core i9-9900K. After all it is currently the best gaming CPU in the world (at least for 2018).

9th Gen Intel Core Processors Pricing and Availability

The Intel Core i9-9900K will start shipping on October 19. It comes with an MSRP of $488 USD, followed by the Core i7-9700K at $374 USD and finally the Core i5-9600K at $262. Current retail prices may be different from the MSRP; be sure to check the latest pricing and availability via the links below.

9th Gen Intel Core Processors:

8th Gen Intel Core Processors:

Z390 Motherboards:

9th Gen Intel Core Processors vs 8th Gen Specifications

SpecificationsCore i9-9900KCore i7-9700KCore i7-8700KCore i5-9600KCore i5-8600K
Cores / Threads8 / 168 / 86 / 126 / 66 / 6
Intel Hyper-Threading TechYesNoYesNoNo
Base Clock3.6 Ghz3.6 GHz3.7 GHz3.7 GHz3.6 GHz
Boost Clock Speedup to 5GHzup to 4.9 GHzup to 4.7 GHzup to 4.6 Ghzup to 4.3 GHz
L3 Smart Cache16MB12MB12MB9MB9MB
Memory SupportDDR4-2666DDR4-2666DDR4-2666DDR4-2666DDR4-2666
Built-in GraphicsIntel UHD 630Intel UHD 630Intel UHD 630Intel UHD 630Intel UHD 630

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