Intel Rocket Lake-S Core i9-11900K 'beats' AMD 5900X in first official desktop benchmarks

Intel Rocket Lake-S
(Image credit: Intel)

Today, Intel revealed speeds and benchmarks for the desktop class Rocket Lake-S CPU family that's been leaking out, headlined by the Core i9-11900K processor. The chip hits speeds of up to 5.3GHz with Intel Thermal Velocity Boost, and the company is bragging about its wins against both AMD and its 10th Gen predecessor in a series of new scores.

Intel's making these gains with its new Cypress Cove architecture, which enables up to 19% more instructions per cycle for high frequency cores. If you haven't been able to snag a high-end GPU, note that integrated graphics performance is supposed to improve by up to 50% as well. That said, this doesn't do much to assuage concerns about how leaked Rocket Lake Core i7 Cinemark R20 scores failed to beat Ryzen 7 5800X scores.

Intel's touting improved performance in a number of games, including Valorant, Hitman III, Gears 5 and Destiny 2.

Intel's also promising better HD streaming experiences, with its Quick Sync Video and enhanced media processing (using 10bit AV1/12bit HEVC decode and E2E compression).

Rocket Lake-S Core i9-11900K specs

Intel's reveal is primarily focused on the new Rocket Lake-S Core i9-11900K chip, which has a base clock speed of 3.5GHz, and goes up to 5.3GHz (single core) and 4.8GHz (all cores) with Intel Thermal Velocity Boost.

This 8-core processor has 16 threads, 16MB of Intel Smart Cache, and supports faster memory speeds with DDR4-3200 RAM. 

Rocket Lake-S Core i9-11900K vs AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

Intel Rocket Lake-S Core i9-11900K

(Image credit: Intel)

Of course, Intel is showing off where it believes it wins against AMD. And that's primarily with its Core i9-11000K chip, when compared against the Ryzen 9 5900X. 

In gaming testing provided by Intel (taken at 1080p at high graphics settings), we see gains that are minimal to good. The best is 11% better performance in Microsoft Flight Simulator, which isn't exactly a huge win. Still, it's a good sign for those waiting for Intel to reach parity where some say they've been left behind (though that 3% advantage for Intel on Gears 5 isn't enormous either). 

Intel Rocket Lake-S i9-11900K vs Ryzen 9 5900X

(Image credit: Intel)

Better, more substantive, wins are found in productivity comparisons. Again, against the Ryzen 9 5900X, the 11900K won on a video creation workflow by 35%, and in Photoshop-based image creation by 14%. In Office, the 11900K beat AMD by 8%, and Intel took its biggest differential in the MLPerf machine learning benchmark, by 38%. 

Rocket Lake-S Core i9-11900K vs 10th Gen

Intel Rocket Lake-S i9-11900K vs previous gen

(Image credit: Intel)

Intel also showed scores comparing its i9-11900K chip against the 10th Gen i9-10900K. Here, it did even better than against AMD, with 9% gains in Gears 5, 14% on MS Flight Sim and 13% in Total War: Three Kingdoms. 

Again, you see the widest differentials in productivity suites, with 88% gains on video creation. Intel also noted a 12% improvement in Office productivity and 8% on Nero photo creation.

Rocket Lake-S Core i5-11900K vs 10th Gen

Intel Rocket Lake-S i5-11600K

(Image credit: Intel)

And to show off some wins outside of the high-end, Intel also provided charts for the 11th Gen Core i5-11600K. On both Total War and Gears 5, The 11th Gen Rocket Lake-S shows improvements of 16%. Grid 2019 and MS Flight Sim were at 7% upticks each. 

Again, bigger wins are seen in productivity. The i5-11600K beat its 10th Gen counterpart by 61% in video creation, 18% in photo creation and 12% on Office workflows. 

Intel Rocket Lake-S outlook

Intel Rocket Lake-S family

(Image credit: Intel)

Admittedly, the i9-11900K and Core i5-11900K are just two chips in a family of 30 Intel is launching. We're standing by to see the tests and reviews, as only then will we know if Intel's moving ahead. 

Soon benchmarks will be coming from sources other than Intel. If Intel's family of chips don't stack up well AMD's best, this may not be the day that Intel, and its fans and stockholders, want it to be.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.