Power Consumption, Overclocking, and Pricing
In our power testing, the i9-9900K used substantially more power—around 60 Watts—more than the Core i7-8700K it's replacing. At 206W, the 9900K even manages to outdraw the Ryzen 7 2700X by a few Watts.
Due to the substantially higher power draw, users might run into issues with existing lower end LGA1151 heatsinks and this new 8-core processor, especially in overclocked states.
While the i9-9900K is already running at a relatively aggressive all-core turbo speed, which we measured to be 4.7 GHz, the reimplementation of Solder TIM on these processors has enthusiasts excited about the overclocking headroom.
Despite this, we were only able to get an additional 300MHz of all-core frequency out of the i9-9900K, bringing us to an even 5.0 GHz across all eight cores. That being said, running at this frequency put us north of 90C on the CPU core temperature, compared to the 73C or so we were running at stock frequencies with our Corsair H100i all-in-one liquid cooler.
As extreme overclocker der8auer has recently discovered, it's clear while the CPU is in fact soldered to the heat spreader like the Ryzen processors, it's still not in an ideal fashion due to the thickness of the actual silicon die in the i9-9900K.
This is very disappointing that while Intel is finally listening to what the enthusiasts want, they seem to be doing it in a way that's a marketing checkbox rather than a useful feature.
Pricing and Availability
As we saw with the launch of the Intel Core i7-8700K last year, there seems to be a gap between suggested retail pricing, and actual retail pricing for the launch of the i9-9900K. Despite the around $500 pricing we got from Intel, early preorders for this chip have been popping up on Newegg and the like for $580.
At a time when the Ryzen 7 2700X has seen a 10% price cut down to $300, at least for the time being, this is a bad look and hurts the potential value proposition of someone looking to buy one of these processors today.
I don't expect this price hike to last, just like we saw it eventually peter out with the 8700K, but it's always disheartening to see higher than MSRP prices at launch.
All things considered, at the $500 or so price tag we were promised, I do think the i9-9900K provides a reasonable amount of value.
Generally, in the past, users have had to decide between more expensive large core count processors for things like video encoding and 3D rendering, while potentially sacrificing a bit of gaming performance compared to their higher-clocked and cheaper mainstream CPU counterparts.
With the i9-9900K, Intel has struck a balance between the core counts and frequency that provides impressive results in both single and heavily threaded workloads, as well as gaming. Now you can have the "fastest gaming processor" while still managing to keep up or surpass last year's $1000 10-core i9-7900X in most other tasks.
However, if you are looking strictly to play games, I don't think this is the processor for you. In the vast majority of titles, the i9-9900K didn't offer substantially better performance over Intel's previous mainstream CPU lineup. For those users, something like the i5-9600K could be a great option, although we cannot yet confirm that as we haven't had the opportunity to test it.
All in all, $500 is still a lot to pay for a processor, and the i9-9900K is simply priced out of the reach of a lot of consumers. For those people, the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X remains a fantastic value, especially at the $300 you can find it for now. Single-threaded performance and potentially gaming performance are worse with the 2700X, but at almost half the price it won't matter to a large number of consumers.
For the balanced approach between all types of workloads that the Intel Core i9-9900K offers, we award it the PC Perspective Gold Award. While the $500 price tag will be steep for some consumers, those who do purchase the i9-9900K will be enjoying competitive levels of performance for many years to come.