The generational leaps between hardware can be equal parts inspiring and underwhelming. For every massive jump, there seems to be an equally middling plod forward. This has been especially true for Intel, once the champion of the desktop CPU for gaming and every other imaginable application.
Today’s guide concerns the i9 10900K, Intel‘s former flagship, and the i9 11900K, its direct successor. Let’s take a look at the specs, talk performance, and get down to the bottom of whether or not the price of the upgrade is ultimately worth it.
Intel Core i9 11900K vs i9 10900K: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Intel Core i9 11900K||Intel Core i9 10900K|
|Base Clock Speed||3.5 GHz||3.7 GHz|
|Boost Clock Speed||5.3 GHz||5.3 GHz|
|Integrated GPU||Intel UHD Graphics 750||Intel UHD Graphics 630|
|Memory Type Supported||DDR4-3200||DDR4-2933|
Intel Core i9 11900K vs i9 10900K: What’s the Difference?
The 11900K being the direct successor to the 10900K comes with some minor expected performance boosts. It isn’t quite as substantial as you might hope for, with the 11900K actually losing two physical cores. This is a confusing choice by Intel since it seems there are a few areas of improvement for the latest i9.
Synthetic benchmarks for both CPUs do indicate that there is a performance boost from the 11900K. This isn’t a vast increase, amounting to a little more than 8% to 9% boosts in efficiency under more strenuous workloads.
- Base clock speed: 3.5 GHz
- Max clock speed: up to 5.3 GHz
- 14 nm design offers great efficiency for computing
- Intel Smart Cache: 16 MB
- Supports up to 3 monitors
Gaming performance is likewise a similar affair; either of these CPUs isn’t going to bottleneck your playtime. The 11900K sees marginal increases in real-world testing scenarios, seeing fairly substantial increases in games like League of Legends, Grand Theft Auto V, and Counter-Strike Global Offensive.
Granted, most of these are older games, so the framerates are in the 100s to 1000s, but you certainly see the increase in frame timing and pacing.
Losing two physical cores doesn’t seem to have hampered the speed and performance of the 11900K, but the single-core performance does seem to vary wildly with the 10900K taking the edge in some synthetic benchmarks. It isn’t a vast improvement, but one worth considering if you’re building a new PC.
Being based around a newer architecture, the 11900K does come with support for newer technologies. Faster RAM is supported across the board, although, curiously, there isn’t explicit support for DDR5 RAM for the latest Intel generation.
- 10 cores/ 20 threads
- Socket type LGA 1200
- Up to 5.3 GHz unlocked
- Compatible with Intel 400 series chipset-based motherboards
- Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3. 0 support
Perhaps the most exciting feature added to the i9 series is support for the PCI-E 4.0 standard, enabling the use of faster NVMes and more efficient external GPUs. Further, the latest version of the integrated graphics processor, the Intel UHD 750, supports higher resolutions. Overall, it performs better than the 630.
These aren’t gaming GPUs by any means, but those looking for a high-powered CPU for other work can drive multiple displays at high resolution. Despite the increase in RAM speed, both CPUs only support a maximum of 128GB to draw from. As with the general performance, there seem to be more marginal improvements aside from the PCI-E upgrade.
Intel Core i9 11900K vs 10900K: 6 Must-Know Facts
Core i9 11900K
- SSD performance boosted to 16GB per second transmitted.
- Uses the same motherboard socket as the previous generation.
- Has more overclocking potential.
Core i9 10900K
- Better performance for multi-threaded applications.
- Has higher resolution support for its integrated GPU.
- Larger L3 cache than its successor.
Intel Core i9 11900K vs 10900K: Which One Is Better?
If you’re in the market for a new CPU, and you’re looking for a high-end CPU, then the 11900K is a great choice for a new build. If you’re on a previous generation of i9, or if you’re already on a 10900K, then it is a marginal increase in performance.
Budget-minded customers can certainly consider getting the 10900K. It isn’t, currently, at the forefront of performance, but it is a fair bit cheaper given that it is an older CPU. You could easily piece together a super capable high-end build without breaking the bank using a 10900K.
When it comes time to upgrade, it would be super easy to just pivot toward using the 11900K or whatever its successor may be. Current i9s seem to use the same socket on the motherboard, as the lithography hasn’t changed over the last few years.
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