Intel Rocket Lake Core i9-11900K 8 Core Desktop CPU Review Ft. MSI MEG Z590 ACE, ASRock Z590 Steel Legend, AORUS Z590 PRO AX Motherboards



Intel Core i9-11900K

30th March, 2021
Type CPU
Price $539.00 US

Intel's 11th Generation Rocket Lake CPU Family - Goodbye Skylake!

The Intel Rocket Lake-S or the 11th Generation Core Family is going to be the last 14nm, desktop family. The Cypress Cove architecture replaces 2015's Skylake architecture. The architecture has seen several optimizations and key refinements that have led to an increase from 4 cores and 8 threads to 8 cores and 16 threads. The same 14nm process has also been improved to the point that the flagship CPU speeds have seen a massive jump from 4.20 GHz boosts to 5.30 GHz boosts.

There are a couple of topics to talk about but they are all related to Intel's 11th Gen Desktop CPU lineup. Do remember that while Intel brands its Rocket Lake and Tiger Lake CPUs as 11th Gen, they are both based on different architectures, optimizations, and process nodes (14nm vs 10nm SF).

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Intel 11th Gen Rocket Lake Desktop CPUs Get Adaptive Boost Technology

So first up, we have the Adaptive Boost Technology for Intel's 11th Gen Rocket Lake Desktop CPUs. The technology will only be available for Rocket Lake Core i9 'Unlocked' Desktop CPUs. So only two parts will support the technology, namely the Core i9 11900K and the Core i9-11900KF. Adaptive Boost will opportunistically allow higher multi-core clock speeds on the said processor.

Adaptive boost for Intel Core i9 'K' series processors would deliver higher multi-core clock speeds for systems that have adequate power delivery and cooling configurations while remaining within the spec's current and temperature limit. Adaptive boost, like TVB (Thermal Velocity Boost), will not be considered as overclocking so you won't be losing your warranty while running this feature.

In the chart, it is shown that with Adaptive Boost technology, Intel Rocket Lake Core i9 CPUs can get up to 5.1 GHz across 3 to 8 cores with a temperature limit of 100C. This is a marked boost over the 4.8 GHz all-core boost that Thermal Velocity Boost will have to offer & that's only till a working CPU temperature of 70C.

Intel 11th Gen Rocket Lake Desktop CPUs PL1 /PL2 Power Limits Detailed Too

In addition to that, the Power Limits for Intel's entire Rocket Lake stack of 11th Gen CPUs have been detailed too by Intel. The chart compares the Intel 11th Gen PL (Power Limits) with the 10th Gen Comet Lake family. Starting with the top of the stack, we get to see Intel sticking with the PL1 ratings of 125W but raising the PL2 limit to 203W base (vs 177) & 251W Perf (vs 250) on its flagship part. Do remember that Intel's flagship 11th Gen CPU features eight cores compared to ten cores on the Comet Lake flagship.

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Next up, we have the 65W parts and here, the slide compares the 10C CPU vs the 8C CPU. While the base power limits stay at 65W, the PL2 profiles are actually lower than 10th Gen with 11th Gen at 154W (vs 176W) at the base profile and 224W (vs 224W) at the performance profile. The 65W 6 Core parts are the opposite which sticks with the 65W PL1 rating but sees the PL2 base profile getting lower at 119W (vs 134W) while the performance profile goes up to 154W (vs 134W).

Going down the stack, we have the 35W 'T' series SKUs which are once again featuring lower power limits than the 10th Gen stack. The base PL1 profile sticks at 35W while the base PL2 profile sticks to 84W (vs 92W) while the PL2 performance profile sticks to 115W (vs 123W). Last but not least, we have the 35W six-core SKUs which stick to the base PL1 profile of 35W while featuring a lower PL2 limit of 84W (vs 92W). As of right now, we only know that Intel is using the Thermal Velocity Boost numbers for its PL2 performance profile so Adaptive Boost Technology would further raise the PL ratings for 11th Gen SKUs.

Intel Core i9-11900K 8 Core & 16 Thread Rocket Lake Desktop CPU

The Intel Core i9-11900K will be the flagship 11th Gen Rocket Lake Desktop CPU. The chip is going to feature 8 cores and 16 threads. This will result in 16 MB of L3 cache (2 MB per core) and 4 MB of L2 cache (512 KB per core). In terms of boost clocks, we have already seen the CPU running at base frequencies of 3.5 GHz but as for boost, the CPU will feature a maximum boost clock of 5.2 GHz (1-core) while the all-core boost frequency will be maintained at 4.8 GHz.

The chip will also feature Thermal Velocity Boost which should deliver a 100 MHz jump in the max clock frequency. This should lead to a single-core boost clock of 5.3 GHz making it the first CPU to ever hit such a high frequency out of the box. However, do remember that regardless of using the Cypress Cove cores, the Core i9-11900K will feature lower cores and threads than the Intel Core i9-10900K. This is partially due to the backporting of Cypress Cove on the refined 14nm process node.

11th Gen Intel Core desktop processors (code-named "Rocket Lake-S") deliver increased performance and speeds. Intel launched the processors on March 16, 2021. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

The CPU is said to feature a 1st stage power limit of 125W which is standard for a flagship Intel SKU and the 2nd stage power limit or PL2 is rated at 250W. This means that when hitting its maximum advertised clock speeds, the CPU could indeed be pulling the said amount of wattage from the PSU making it one of the most power-hungry 8-core chips ever produced. This might also explain why Intel didn't go 10 cores and 20 threads on its 11th Gen lineup since it would've turned out to be a power-hungry monster of a chip breaking even past the 250W power limit.

Intel Core i7-11700K 8 Core & 16 Thread Rocket Lake Desktop CPU

Moving over to the Core i7, we see that Intel won't be segmenting the core/thread count on a tier below Core i9. The Core i7-11700K features the same core configuration as the Core i9-11900K but comes with reduced clock speeds. The chip is said to feature a boost clock of 5.0 GHz on a single & 4.6 GHz across all of its 8 cores. The CPU will even carry the same amount of cache so nothing has changed but the main difference should come from the clocks and power limits. This lower-binned chip will sit at around 225-250W (PL2) limit while the PL1 limit will be standard at 125W.

It will be interesting to see how Rocket Lake CPUs overclock since the minute difference between the Core i9 and Core i7 chips can be overcome by a small overclock. As for pricing, the Core i7 will also be cheaper than the Core i9 variant but we don't know yet how Intel will price its 8 core Rocket Lake-S Desktop CPUs yet. There are reports that Intel could aggressively price the chips at around $400 US for the Core i9 and $300 US for the Core i7 which could prove to be a great decision if they really want to go against AMD's Zen 3 based parts in the sub-$500 US segment.

Intel Core i5-11600K 6 Core & 12 Thread Rocket Lake Desktop CPU

The Core i5-11600K is a 6 core chip with 12 threads. The Core i5-11600K should be going up against the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X which is a phenomenal CPU in its own right. The Core i5-11600K is said to feature a clock speed of 4.9 GHz on a single and 4.6 GHz across all cores.  Do note that TVB won't be available on SKUs below the Core i9 models so we shouldn't expect an extended frequency limit on Core i7 and Core i5 SKUs. The chip will feature 12 MB of L3 cache and 3 MB of L2 cache.

Now the main proving ground for this chip against the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X will be its performance to price value. The Ryzen 5 5600X with a $299 US MSRP is slightly higher in terms of pricing when we compare it to its predecessor. The Core i5-11600K on the other hand will be replacing the Core i5-10600K which has a retail price of around $260 US.

If Intel sticks to its existing price strategy, then the Core i5-11600K could indeed become a hot selling chip in the mainstream gaming market. With that said, we also have to take into account the availability of the Core i5-11600K. Technically, mainstream SKUs aren't affected a lot by supply issues as is the case with the Ryzen 5 5600X but a small delay in stock could result in Intel missing an opportunity to create a dent in AMD's Ryzen 5 segment. Consumers have already seen what AMD delivered as a successor to its Ryzen 5 3600X so now it's time to see what the Core i5-10600K's successor can do.

Intel 11th Gen Rocket Lake Desktop CPU Lineup Specs (Preliminary):

CPU NameCores / ThreadsBase ClockBoost Clock (1-Core)Boost Clock (All-Core)CacheGraphicsTDP (PL1)TDP (PL2)Price
Core i9-11900K(F)8 / 163.50 GHz5.30 GHz4.80 GHz16 MBIntel Xe 32 EU (256 Cores)125W251W$539 US (K)
$513 US (KF)
Core i9-11900(F)8 / 162.50 GHz5.20 GHz4.70 GHz16 MBIntel Xe 32 EU (256 Cores)65W224W$439 US
$422 US (F)
Core i9-11900T8 / 161.50 GHz4.90 GHz3.70 GHz16 MBIntel Xe 32 EU (256 Cores)35W115W$439 US
Core i7-11700K(F)8 / 163.60 GHz5.00 GHz4.60 GHz16 MBIntel Xe 32 EU (256 Cores)125W251W$399 US (K)
$374 US (F)
Core i7-11700(F)8 / 162.50 GHz4.90 GHz4.40 GHz16 MBIntel Xe 32 EU (256 Cores)65W224W$323 US
$298 US (F)
Core i7-11700T8 / 161.40 GHz4.60 GHz3.60 GHz16 MBIntel Xe 32 EU (256 Cores)35W115W$323 US
Core i5-11600K(F)6 /123.90 GHz4.90 GHz4.60 GHz12 MBIntel Xe 32 EU (256 Cores)125W224W?$262 US (K)
$237 US (KF)
Core i5-116006 /122.80 GHz4.80 GHz4.30 GHz12 MBIntel Xe 32 EU (256 Cores)65W154W$213 US
Core i5-11600T6 /121.70 GHz4.10 GHz3.50 GHz12 MBIntel Xe 32 EU (256 Cores)35W92W$213 US
Core i5-115006 /122.70 GHz4.60 GHz4.20 GHz12 MBIntel Xe 32 EU (256 Cores)65W154W$192 US
Core i5-11500T6 /121.50 GHz3.90 GHz3.40 GHz12 MBIntel Xe 32 EU (256 Cores)35W92W$192 US
Core i5-11400(F)6 /122.60 GHz4.40 GHz4.20 GHz12 MBIntel Xe 24 EU (192 Cores)65W154W$182 US
$157 US (F)
Core i5-11400T6 /121.30 GHz3.70 GHz3.30 GHz12 MBIntel Xe 24 EU (192 Cores)35W92W$182 US
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