Intel Rocket Lake Revisited: Core i9-11900K Performance Boost After BIOS Update

Manufacturer: Intel Intel Rocket Lake Revisited: Core i9-11900K Performance Boost After BIOS Update

A Little Microcode Goes A Long Way

Rather than simply updating our Rocket Lake-S launch review, I have taken it upon myself to write a companion article after some brief re-testing on the latest BIOS for our Z590 test board – the ASUS MAXIMUS XIII HERO.

Now up to version 0704 (as this was written, anyhow), there were some significant performance-minded changes made that actually alter the story with the Core i9-11900K a bit. Officially these changes include:

  • Support Intel ABT (Adaptive Boost Technology) when using i9-11900K, i9-11900KF processors
  • Improve system performance
  • Update microcode of the 11th Gen Intel processors
  • Improve system stability
Intel Core i9-11900K ASUS ROG BIOS 0704

You might be thinking, why does a simple BIOS update warrant a performance update article? Well, the numbers we saw on BIOS 0605 were, frankly, not all that impressive. Boost behavior was a bit reserved, even in an unlimited power state, with all-core clocks hitting a 4.8 GHz ceiling. Well, no more.

Higher Boost Clocks – Now 5GHz All-Core

Intel Core i9-11900K Freq BIOS 0704 Chart

After updating the BIOS I now find sustained all-core boost frequencies of a whopping 5.0 GHz, and this can obviously shave valuable time off multi-threaded workloads. To quickly illustrate, here is the new average of three runs with the Blender Classroom render, compared to previous results:

Intel Core i9-11900K Blender BIOS 0704 Chart

A savings of around 17 seconds might not seem like that much, but it’s a measurable example of the impact of this 200 MHz clock jump. So was the improvement limited to multi-threaded workloads considering Thermal Velocity Boost is now enabled on the i9-11900K? To spot-check I ran Geekbench three more times on the new BIOS, and here are the averages:

Intel Core i9-11900K Geekbench Single BIOS 0704 Chart

For whatever reason we actually see a slight regression in this test with single-thread integer/float performance, but significant multi-threaded gains as with Blender thanks to those higher all-core boost clocks.

Intel Core i9-11900K Geekbench Multi BIOS 0704 Chart

Turning The Power To 11

Those impressive all-core boost clocks don’t magically happen without an increase in power draw, and in the default power limit-free operating environment of enthusiast motherboards it makes a pretty significant difference to add 200 MHz to all cores:

Intel Core i9-11900K Power BIOS 0704 Chart

This is not a small increase. Just looking at reported package power via HWINFO64, during the same Blender Classroom workload the Core i9-11900K moves up from around 210 watts to 270 watts. I was using a 280 mm liquid cooler with the fans and pump set to 100% during all testing, so thermals weren’t an issue, and I recommend a powerful cooling solution if you plan on running without power limits.

Closing Thoughts

How much does the promise of 5 GHz all-core frequencies affect your opinion of Intel’s 11th Gen launch? IPC gains were already significant over 10th Gen Core desktop, but AMD’s single and multi-threaded performance is so good with Zen 3 that Intel has more catching up to do. Still, there’s no denying that a simple BIOS update offering this level of improvement is both unusual for Intel, and welcome by those adopting the platform.

This 11th Gen desktop launch has certainly felt a little rushed, with the lack of a day-one Xe graphics driver perhaps a further sign of the compressed timeframe in launching these new products. But, a week later, we have a better product and working graphics drivers, so things have improved – though Intel’s power draw this generation might remind enthusiasts of a certain AMD product from 2014.

Review Disclosures

This is what we consider the responsible disclosure of our review policies and procedures.

How Product Was Obtained

The product is on loan from Intel for the purpose of this review.

What Happens To Product After Review

The product remains the property of Intel but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.

Company Involvement

Intel had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.

PC Perspective Compensation

Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by Intel for this review.

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About The Author

Sebastian Peak

Editor-in-Chief at PC Perspective. Writer of computer stuff, vintage PC nerd, and full-time dad. Still in search of the perfect smartphone. In his nonexistent spare time Sebastian's hobbies include hi-fi audio, guitars, and road bikes. Currently investigating time travel.

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