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Intel Core i9 11900K vs i9 10900K: Full Comparison and Specs

Intel Core i9 11900K vs i9 10900K

Intel Core i9 11900K vs i9 10900K: Full Comparison and Specs

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

i9 11900K vs i9 10900K comparison infographic
Intel Core i9 11900KIntel Core i9 10900K
Core Count810
Thread Count1620
Base Clock Speed3.5 GHz3.7 GHz
Boost Clock Speed5.3 GHz5.3 GHz
Clock Multiplier35x37x
Integrated GPUIntel UHD Graphics 750Intel UHD Graphics 630
Memory Type SupportedDDR4-3200DDR4-2933

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.

Performance

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.

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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.

New Features

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.

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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

  1. SSD performance boosted to 16GB per second transmitted.
  2. Uses the same motherboard socket as the previous generation.
  3. Has more overclocking potential.

Core i9 10900K

  1. Better performance for multi-threaded applications.
  2. Has higher resolution support for its integrated GPU.
  3. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is core count a marker of performance in a CPU?

The number of physical cores a CPU has can certainly impact its performance, but it isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing a CPU. Factors like instruction per cycle and the cache present also factor into how a CPU performs under stress.

Of course, there are also many different applications that approach things differently in how they utilize CPUs. Those in pro audio might favor stronger single-core performance, while those working in image processing might prefer multi-threaded speed. So while the core count is important, it really is dependent on your use case.

Is the i9 suitable for high-end workstations?

If you’re in the business sector and need a speedy multi-core CPU, then the i9 should fit the bill quite well while also being more budget-friendly than a correspondingly powerful Xeon processor.

11900K and 10900K alike make for good choices for those building higher-end desktops intended to handle serious rendering work or AI development.

For those looking to equip their offices with something more budget-conscious for data entry and word processing, it might be worth considering something even lower on the power curve like an Intel Core i3 or i5. The processes associated with office work are rarely demanding on RAM and CPU resources, and as such don’t need quite as much power to effectively run.

Is it worth opting for a higher-end CPU or GPU when building a gaming rig?

Typically speaking, you’ll want to choose a higher-end GPU to power your rig. That said, you will very likely want a correspondingly powerful CPU to take full advantage of all the components in your PC.

Games are such odd beasts when it comes to what is prioritized in terms of getting the best performance out of them. Some games are very much CPU-bound, and as such it might not matter quite as much what your GPU is doing.

Depending on where your interests in games lie, there are additional resources online where you can seek out benchmarks using specific hardware combos to decide whether your purchase is the best for your potential use case.

Is it worth upgrading to a motherboard using PCI Express 4.0?

Anything that increases the speed at which data can be transmitted is worth an upgrade. However, if you already have a machine built in the last year or two, it’ll depend more on the budget you have at your disposal.

A desktop built in the last year or two is still plenty fast compared to contemporaries using the most current versions of the various hardware components comprising it.

As such, it might not be fully worth it to upgrade for marginal increases in performance across the board aside from saving and loading data. The speed of the RAM and CPU hasn’t drastically increased between the 10900K and the 11900K. Granted, if you’re looking at a new motherboard, it is usually worth it to just build a brand-new desktop.

Why are synthetic benchmarks used for testing hardware components on a PC?

Synthetic benchmarks present an idealized scenario where the full brunt of the hardware can be used. They aren’t general tasks that will be replicated in your usual computer usage, but it does give a great idea of what a certain component is capable of.

Synthetic benchmarks also have the added benefit of nominally targeting singular components. This can be contrasted with real-world benchmarks where multiple components work in conjunction with each other to deliver results.

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