Intel just launched its 9th Gen CPUs: the $263 Core i5-9600K, the $385 Core i7-9700K and the $499 Core i9-9900K, the latter of which Intel dubs the "world's best gaming processor."
Our sister site Tom’s Hardware put this bold claim to the test, pitting three 9th Gen CPUs up against their 8th generation predecessors on multiple gaming benchmarks to see which does it better. If you’re looking for a more in-depth review of the Core i9-9900K, be sure to check out Tom's Hardware and see why they gave it an Editor's Choice award.
Without a doubt, the Core i9-9900K and its 9th Gen siblings are faster than the previous models, but in most cases, the gap is too tight to jump for an upgrade from 8th Gen. Let’s see how this fight went down.
Middle-earth: Shadow Of War
On the Middle-earth: Shadow Of War benchmark (Ultra, 1080p, DX11), the Core i9-9900K (5.0-GHz) hit a solid 92 frames per second, but the Core i7-8700K (4.9-GHz) matched it to the decimal.
Meanwhile, the base Core i9-9900K and the Core i7-9700K both averaged 91.5 fps, and the base Core i7-8700K and the Core i5-9600K got 91.4 fps. The Core i5-8600K fell behind its competitors by a single decimal, at 91.3.
Regarding value, the Core i7-8700K (4.9-GHz) wins this round, especially because it kept up with the all-mighty 9th Gen Core i9.
The Hitman benchmark (Ultra, 1080p, Direct 3D12) widened the gap from single decimals to single digits (exciting). The Core i9-9900K (5.0-GHz) beat the Core i7-8700K (4.9-GHz) by 0.6 fps, from 140 to 139.4 fps.
Intel’s Core i7-9700K hit 138.8 fps, which showed up the 134.5 fps from its "superior" brother, the base Core i9-9900K. And interestingly enough, the Core i5-9600K's 132.9 fps surpassed the base Core i7-8700K. The Core i5-8600K fell behind by a couple of frames, at 130.3 fps.
The Core i9-9900K (5.0-GHz) showed off better frame rates, but you wouldn't notice the difference between that and a much cheaper 8th Gen Core i7.
Grand Theft Auto V
The gaps widened even further when cranking up Grand Theft Auto V to Ultra, DX11 on 1080p settings, as Core i9-9900K (5.0-GHz) hit 114.5 fps and the Core i7-8700K (4.9-GHz) averaged 111.7 fps.
Once again, the Core i7-9700K (108.2 fps) beat the base Core i9-9900K (106.6 fps) by a couple of frames, which is disappointing considering its supposed increase in power. And the base Core i7-8700K (102.6 fps) defeated the Core i5-9600K (102.5 fps) this time around, but by a single decimal. The Core i5-8600K showed similar results once again, at 100 fps.
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Intel's Core i9-9900K (5.0-GHz) succeeded with better frame-rate gaps, which could make the difference between deciding to game in higher resolutions as well as HDR.
Project CARS 2
9th Gen CPUs shined on the Project CARS 2 benchmark (Ultra, 1080p, DX12) by staying above their predecessors (for the most part). The 116.3 fps from the Core i9-9900K (5.0-GHz) slid past the Core i7-8700K (4.9-GHz), which hit 114.8 fps.
The base Core i9-9900K maintained 116.3 fps, which nails the Core i7-9700K (114.2 fps) and the base Core i7-8700K (113.2 fps). There is one anomaly, however, as the Core i5-8600K (112.5 fps) actually surpassed the Core i5-9600K (104 fps) for the largest gap throughout the benchmarks.
Despite that, the 9th Gen CPUs still managed to stay on top, and even the base Core i9-9900K beat the Core i7-8700K (4.9-GHz) in this round.
Far Cry 5
The 9th Gen CPU maintains a similar hierarchy on the Far Cry 5 benchmark (Ultra, 1080p, DX11), as the 8th generation falls slightly behind. The Core i9-9900K (5.0-GHz) achieved 110.3 fps, narrowly passing the 109.4 fps from the Core i7-8700K (4.9-GHz).
The top-tier 9th Gen brothers, the base Core i9-9900K and the Core i7-9700K averaged 108 and 107.8 fps, respectively. Redeeming itself, the Core i5-9600K (107.6 fps) washed away the Core i7-8700K (107.4 fps) and Core i5-8600K (107.1 fps).
If all you play is Far Cry 5, then the Core i5-9600K is the clear winner, especially since it beat the 8th Gen Core i7 and had similar results to its big siblings.
Yes, Intel's 9th Gen CPUs are faster for gaming, and can occasionally save you some frames, which can be helpful for playing games in 4K or HDR. However, the amount of extra frames you get simply isn't worth the money if you already have an 8th Gen processor, especially since the new chips will run you upward of $499.
You'd be perfectly safe upgrading to 8th Gen, or you if already have that, saving for a one of Nvidia's GeForce RTX graphics cards. If you have a slower CPU, somewhere in the 6th Gen, then I'd recommend upgrading. Otherwise, use that extra money for a 4K display, bigger SSD storage or even a better headset.
Credit: Intel; Tom's Hardware