Intel likes 5.0 GHz processors. The one area where it claims a clear advantage over AMD is in its ability to drive the frequency of its popular 14nm process. Earlier this week, we reviewed the Core i9-9990XE, which is a rare auction only CPU but with 14 cores at 5.0 GHz, built for the high-end desktop and high frequency trading market. Today we are looking at its smaller sibling, the Core i9-9900KS, built in numbers for the consumer market: eight cores at 5.0 GHz. But you’ll have to be quick, as Intel isn’t keeping this one around forever.

The Battle of the Bits

Every time a new processor comes to market, several questions get asked: how many cores, how fast, how much power? We’ve come through generations of promises of many GHz and many cores for little power, but right now we have an intense battle on our hands. The red team is taking advantage of a paradigm shift in computing with an advanced process node to offer many cores at a high power efficiency as well as at a good frequency. In the other corner is team blue, which has just equipped its arsenal by taking advantage of its most aggressive binning of 14nm yet, with the highest frequency processor for the consumer market, enabled across all eight cores and to hell with the power. Intel’s argument here is fairly simple:

Do you want good all-around, or do you want the one with the fastest raw speed?

The Intel Core i9-9900KS is borne from the battle. In essence it looks like an overclocked Core i9-9900K, however by that logic everything is an overclocked version of something else. In order for Intel to give a piece of silicon off the manufacturing like the name of a Core i9-9900KS rather than a Core i9-9900K requires additional binning and validation, to the extent where it has taken several months from announcement just for Intel to be happy that they have enough chips for demand that will meet the warranty standards.

At the time Intel launched its 9th Generation Core desktop processors, like the Core i9-9900K, I perhaps would not have expected them to launch something like the Core i9-9900KS. It’s a big step up in the binning, and I’d be surprised if Intel gets one chip per wafer that hits this designation. Intel announced the Core i9-9900KS after AMD had launched its Zen 2 Ryzen 3000 family, offering 12 cores with an all core turbo around 4.2 GHz and a +10% IPC advantage over Intel’s Skylake microarchitecture (and derivatives) for a lower price per core. In essence, Intel’s Core i9-9900K consumer flagship processor had a chip that was pretty close to it in performance with several more cores.

Intel is pushing the Core i9-9900KS as the ultimate consumer processor. With eight cores all running at 5.0 GHz, it is promising fast response and clock rates without any slowdown. Intel has many marketing arguments as to why the KS is the best processor on the market, especially when it comes to gaming: having a 5.0 GHz frequency keeps it top of the pile for gaming where frequency matters (low resolution), and many games don’t scale beyond four cores, let alone eight, and so the extra cores on the competition don’t really help here. It will be interesting to see where the 9900KS comes out in standard workload tests however, where cores can matter.

Intel’s 9th Generation Core Processors

The Intel Core i9-9900KS now sits atop of Intel’s consumer product portfolio. The processor is the same 8-core die as the 9900K, unlocked with UHD 620 integrated graphics, but has a turbo of 5.0 GHz. All cores can turbo to 5.0 GHz. The length of the turbo will be motherboard dependent, however.

Intel 9th Gen Core 8-Core Desktop CPUs
AnandTech Cores Base
Freq
All-Core Turbo Single
Core Turbo
Freq
IGP DDR4 TDP Price
(1ku)
i9-9900KS 8 / 16 4.0 GHz 5.0 GHz 5.0 GHz UHD 630 2666 127 W $513
i9-9900K 8 / 16 3.6 GHz 4.7 GHz 5.0 GHz UHD 630 2666 95 W $488
i9-9900KF 8 / 16 3.6 GHz 4.7 GHz 5.0 GHz - 2666 95 W $488
i7-9700K 8 / 8 3.6 GHz 4.6 GHz 4.9 GHz UHD 630 2666 95 W $374
i7-9700KF 8 / 8 3.6 GHz 4.6 GHz 4.9 GHz - 2666 95 W $374

The Core i9-9900KS has an tray price of $513 (when purchased in 1000 unit bulk), which means we’re likely to see an on-shelf price of $529-$549, depending on if it gets packaged in its dodecanal box that our review sample came in.

Compared to the Core i9-9900K or Core i9-9900KF, the Core i9-9900KS extends its 5.0 GHz all through from when 2 cores are active to 8 cores are active. There is still no Turbo Boost Max 3.0 here, which means that all cores are guaranteed to hit this 5.0 GHz number. The TDP is 127 W, which is the maximum power consumption of the processor at its base frequency, 4.0 GHz. Above 4.0 GHz Intel does not state what sort of power to expect. We have this testing further in the review.

Competition

At present, Intel is competing against two major angles with the Core i9-9900KS. On the one side, it already has the Core i9-9900K, which if a user gets a good enough sample, can be overclocked to emulate the 9900KS. Intel does not offer warranty on an overclocked CPU, so there is something to be taken into account – the warranty on the Core i9-9900KS is only a limited 1 year warranty, rather than the standard 3 years it offers to the majority of its other parts, which perhaps indicates the lengths it went to for binning these processors.

From AMD, the current 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X that is already in the market has become a popular processor for users going onto 7nm and PCIe 4.0. It offers more PCIe lanes from the CPU to take advantage of PCIe storage and such, and there are a wealth of motherboards on the market that can take advantage of this processor. It also has an MSRP around the same price, at $499, although is often being sold for much higher due to availability.

AMD also has the 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X coming around the corner, promising slightly more performance than the 3900X, and aside from the $749 MSRP, it’s going to be an unknown on availability until it gets released in November.

The Competition
Intel i9-9900KS Intel i9-9900K Anand
Tech
AMD
2920X
AMD
3950X
AMD
3900X
AMD
3800X
8 8 Cores 12 16 12 8
16 16 Threads 24 32 24 16
4.0 3.6 Base 3.5 3.5 3.8 3.9
8 x 5.0 2 x 5.0 Turbo 4.3 4.7 4.6 4.5
2 x 2666 2 x 2666 DDR4 4 x 2933 2 x 3200 2 x 3200 2 x 3200
3.0 x16 3.0 x16 PCIe 3.0 x64 4.0 x24 4.0 x24 4.0 x24
127 W 95 W TDP 180 W 105 W 105 W 105 W
$513 $486 Price $649 $749 $499 $399

It’s worth noting here that while Intel has committed to delivering ‘10nm class’ processors on the desktop in the future, it currently has made zero mention of exactly when this is going to happen. Offering a limited edition all-core 5.0 GHz part like the Core i9-9900KS into the market is a brave thing indeed – it will have to provide something similar or better when it gets around to producing 10nm processors for this market. We saw this once before, when Intel launched Devil’s Canyon: super binned parts that ultimately ended up being faster than those that followed on an optimized process, because the binning aspect ended up being a large factor. Intel either has extreme confidence in its 10nm process for the desktop family, or doesn’t know what to expect.

This Review

In our review, we’re going to cover the usual benchmarking scenarios for a processor like this, as well as examine Intel’s relationship with turbo and how much a motherboard manufacturer can affect the performance.

Test Bed and Setup
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  • jonbar - Friday, November 08, 2019 - link

    "Skylake refresh crippled by security patches" - you must be kidding, right? It shouldn't have those security holes. Please stop talking shit about poor because people here talk about optimization - the best for the least money at a price point. And please stop bashing AMD's ryzen - it's not bulldozer, without ryzen this shit here would be sold as "Intel i11 Unobtanium Edition" for 1k$ and you, rich boy, would have 6 cores or more only on LGA 2011.
    Nobody hates a product - I don't like Intel practices - 5% increase per generation to the point. Where my i7 3840qm is 10-15% slower than 7700hq with a 4! generations gap.
    Speaking about private planes - nobody gives 1 cent on rich boys approach on tech at this level because, while you can afford stupid - the rest of us have to be smart. Now you can fly eat your pizza:)
    Reply
  • Korguz - Friday, November 08, 2019 - link

    wow maxiking... resorting to insults and name calling still ?? still believing all the intel bs ?? still believe intels bs about how much power their cpus use ?? talking like you have money is supposed to impress people ?? good for you.. nice to see you are also arrogant rich spoiled brat Reply
  • Maxiking - Friday, November 08, 2019 - link

    How dare you? Where did I name call anyone? If someone is fat and I call them fat or if they smell and I tell them so, it is not an insult, it is called stating a fact.

    I see you still do not get the TDP does not mean power consumption, it is even stated and explained in the review.

    If I were you, I would be more concerned about 1700x, 1800x, 2700x, 3900x TDPs and AMD misleading marketing about boost frequencies because there have been so far 3 bios patches which were supposed to fix the issue and guess what. Nothing has changed. People have to use a makeshift custom power profile created by a geek in order to get closer to the promised boost clocks.

    Typical AMD, I give it 3 months till he starts fixing their awful gpu drivers aswell.
    Reply
  • Korguz - Friday, November 08, 2019 - link

    calling people poor.. among many other things in previous posts by you.. and yes it is an unsult to call some one fat.. or they smell.. but, i bet you do that because either your selfesteem, and self worth is so low, you have to say things like that to make your self feel better..
    yet you still cry about ryzen and the clock speeds.. but yet. you STILL refuse to admit the fraud intel calls is tdp spec ?? so what ever maxipadking . go back to your cave...
    Reply
  • Maxiking - Sunday, November 10, 2019 - link

    Yeah, my self esteem is so low that I regularly visit Mercedes and BMW showrooms only to tell them how they cars are overpriced and my Dacia is cheaper and can perform the same and consuming less gass like you do. If Intel TDP is fraud, so does is AMD's one and their promised boost clocks and video on youtube where they promise you can overclock chips even further with sufficient cooling. What do they mean by that? Ay, and what about the bulldozer fraud? Reply
  • Korguz - Sunday, November 10, 2019 - link

    yea sure you do, your the one who is probably poor... you are becoming the worst intel shill on here now.... all you EVER do is talk. if you are so sure amd is committing fraud as you claim, then put your supposed money where your mouth is, and take AMD to court,m or shut up Reply
  • Maxiking - Monday, November 11, 2019 - link

    Again, it is you, you and only you perpetuating lies. I never come here first talking **********, I only reply to amdfanboys comments.

    I do not own any AMD cpu, I do not buy subpar products so I can not take them to court.

    Anyway, if you are so sure about Intel wrongdoings, take them to the court. EZ.

    Unfortunately for you, it is AMD who lost at court and got caught misleading about that parody on cpu called bulldozer. Claiming to possess 2 times more cores than they actually had.

    This is your AMD marketing in a nutshell

    https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/...

    QQ more. Deal with it.
    Reply
  • Korguz - Monday, November 11, 2019 - link

    maxipadking.. you are so full of it... what about the intel lies about its 10nm nodes for the last what.. 6 years being on track ?? what about the lies about their not doing anything wrong to prevent amd feom selling its products ?? among various other things over the years that you so easily for get... you never come here 1st ?? BS actually.. you DO buy sub par products.. intel is sub par now.. but in your intel blindness.. you just dont see it... intels marking has been worse over the years then amd.. deal with that.

    keep QQing more about it... your good at it..
    Reply
  • Lolimaster - Sunday, November 10, 2019 - link

    Let's not forget thr new agesa efficiency mode where losing 1-3% fps the cpu power consumption goes down by 35%. Reply
  • Maxiking - Sunday, November 10, 2019 - link

    Yeah, let's not forget that agesa was supposed to fix the boost and it didn't again. Reply

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