Is an i9-9900K upgrade a POOR choice?

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Is an i9-9900K upgrade a POOR choice?

Hey guys I’m Rick with Techspin, and while I’m working on three, count ’em, three episodes simultaneously, I’ve done some testing overclocking the new i9-9900K chip from Intel with a lot of help from MSI, who really helped me understand how to easily overclock these new 9th gen Intel CPU’s to get good results. I thought I’d put out a quick suggestion guide to help others who are thinking of an Core i9-9900k upgrade.

Enermax also helped out a lot with their LIQFusion 240mm AIO water cooler. So if you’re thinking of a serious system upgrade, as I have been for the last year, then this episode is made especially for you.


I bet you’re thinking the answer is “What, you still here? Go out now and buy an i9-9900k upgrade now” but the truth is, it depends on what you use your computer for, and how important improving certain things like Windows boot time, launching your favorite triple AAA game title, or other things are to you. As the easiest comparison tool, I’ll be using Cinebench Multi-Threaded benchmarks sourced from as the standard to determine each CPUs capability, and all prices quoted are from AmazonUS.

And a reality check, obviously your productivity is not going to be solely running Cinebench all day, so you’ll notice improvements most in heavy use applications like gaming and rendering, and not much at all for typing in Word. Also I’m gonna state I’m not an Intel fanboy, but I’ve been heavy into researching CPUs for rendering and a bit on Threadripper and especially top of the line Intel are what I know pretty well.

First off, do you have a computer from 5 years ago or more? Do you want to get to the Windows 10 desktop in under 20 seconds? How about 10 seconds? Newer motherboards have a great development called a m.2 slot, and Solid State hard drives, called SSDs, have evolved to the point where they can fit onto a chip which goes in the m.2 slot. These are called NVMe or PCIe m.2 drives, and they can reach 3000 Gb/s or more vs the slower 500 Gb/s SSD drives. When you install Windows onto this, your system becomes super fast to load and very responsive, which you’ll notice the most.

If you play lots of Steam or GOG games, you can install them on the m.2 drive, or you can use a slower and much cheaper SSD to run games faster than a conventional hard drive. So instead of dropping cash on brand new hardware, you can get a serious upgrade by getting yourself a second hand system with an m.2 slot, and picking up a SSD if you need one.

Basic- Netsurfing, word PC

If we’re going back a few years, even the i5-6600K or the venerable i7-2600K is still a very powerful chip, about on par with a Ryzen 3 2200G on Cinebench according to data, and still great if you want to play games with a decent fps or can even handle a bit of video rendering. The i7-2600 was released in 2011, you can find a used one from around 100 to a hundred and thirty bucks, but for something new, there’s the i3-8100 for $115 bucks. The Ryzen 3 2200G is new and super cheap at $96 bucks, beating the Intel score at this level.

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No matter if you cheer for AMD or Intel, those Ryzen numbers for the price simply can’t be beat for this tier. But don’t take my work for it, as I’m certainly not an AMD “expert”, so please feel free to chime in down in the comments and let us know what suggestions you have for AMD CPUs for each level.

Intermediate- Light Photoshop/Casual Gamer, Streamer

So this tier will see a lot of benefit in jumping up to a current gen AMD or Intel CPU. Actually AMD in this tier really stands out for price per benchmark. The AMD I’m recommending here is the Ryzen 5 1600X at 150 bucks, that’s a real steal for that performance. plus it can overclock to 4Ghz. Still, it won’t qualify for a i9-9900K upgrade though.

And you could always spend 10 bucks more to get the Ryzen 5 2600, with about 3% more power at stock, though if you overclock to 4.2Ghz you can get up to an 8% power gain, but you’ll need a hefty air or AIO water cooler.

If you’re looking for Intel CPUs, I mentioned the i3-8100 but after using it for 6 months and being a Power User, I kinda regret it and would choose an i5-8400 for $235, an i5-8600K on sale for $240 which can overclock to about 4.8Ghz for a 37% improvement. I would NOT recommend a new i5-9600 for $270 unless you don’t want to overclock- the 9600 has roughly 23% more power than last gen’s 8400. However, overclocked, the 9600 only hits 1207 Cinebench marks at 5.1Ghz, so the 30 dollar premium for new but 1% power gain is simply not worth it.

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Power User- Gaming+Streamer, Video Editing, Ps/Ae

Now I was in this boat because my current editing and rendering machine is an i7-7700K and I sat out Intel’s 8th gen processor as it required a new motherboard and I had tapped myself out with my MSI z270 Xpower Titanium and 64GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR4-3000. But a 7th gen 7700K upgrading to 8th gen 8700K you’d get about 32% more processing power, though a leap to a 9700K you’d see 47% more power, which is substantial and worth it for 10 bucks more at $410 on AmazonUS. Because the 8700K is already a powerhouse, only about 8% more power would be gained from upgrading to 9th gen, so I’d recommend to stay or with the i9-9900K upgrade.

Or for a real step up, a Ryzen 7 2700X for 316 bucks gives you 20% more power than the 9700K for 100 dollars less, another win for AMD in this tier. I’ve always known AMD gives Intel a run for the money, but it really shows here. Keep in mind Intel CPUs are better at some tasks than AMD and vice versa, research the CPU you’re thinking of before you buy.

But here’s the gold- the i9-9900K upgrade does 2044 points stock, and 2160 points overclocked at 5Ghz. Plus I’ve actually done the 5Ghz OC myself, it’s very stable, and with all the cores and hyper-threading… if you’re producing content or want the best desktop processor, that’ll be 580 us dollars. But the overclock will cost you! You’ll need a power supply with 800 watts or more, I’m using this Seasonic Focus 850w which handles the demand well. Furthermore you’ll need a z390 board, but you may be able to BIOS update a z370 to handle the 9900K, flash FIRST before you put in the new chip.

God-Tier level for an i9-9900K upgrade?

For God-tier level, both the Intel specialized thousand dollar i9-7900x which requires a costly 220 to 350 dollar socket 2066 board and the AMD Threadripper 1950X or 2950X which cost 800 or 900 bucks respectively are out of the reach of most…. wait , what?

The 1950X is on sale for $550 bucks! Holy crap! For thirty bucks less than the 9900K, you get God mode computer CPU strength, boasting a 28% improvement over the 9900K overclock, and 32% increase over stock. However, Threadripper boards start at 300 bucks, most are under 400, and you’ll need a cooler for the larger TR4 socket.

Speaking of that… with water cooling… a Cinebench of three thousand four hundred is possible. So yeah, Cinebench R15 isn’t the end-all of tests but it is a good comparison tool to measure CPU strength. Now I heard about how good AMD’s Threadripper was, but this was quite revealing… and shocking.

Now it’s true that Premiere Pro update 12.1 has Hardware Acceleration that works with Intel CPUs to speed up sequence exporting from 20 to 30 percent on average… so that’s one reason to choose the i9-9900K upgrade. And enabling that acceleration might be problematic, it didn’t for me with a i7-7700K and GTX 970 or a 1070.

What are your thoughts on the i9-9900K upgrade, or the state of Intel right now? Can you believe this disparity for price for performance? And what CPU do you have, or will you choose for your next build, and why? Please join the conversation below.

As for me, I was super excited to research and make this i9-9900K upgrade episode, but now with that bombshell I’m somewhat sad I could be having 30% more God-tier CPU power for thirty bucks LESS than I paid for my i9. At least I got this cool… soccer ball?

I’d like to send a special thanks to both Enermax who sponsored me for their excellent LIQFusion 240mil AIO water cooler which helped me do the overclocking and the i9-9900K upgrade, and MSI for sponsoring the z390 Tomahawk motherboard, an excellent choice if you’re considering Intel chips, and I’ll do a review very shortly here. MSI also helped me with some technical details and helped me understand that it can be easy and stable. Thanks again guys!

Anyone out there do a Core i9-9900K upgrade and just get a pang of buyers remorse along with me? Or, if you got some impressive Cinebench results, tell us along with your setup. I might consider doing some side by side CPU comparisons if I get the time. We’d like to hear your ideas for upcoming episodes, feel free to let us know what you’d like to see next. Please do SUBSCRIBE for new content, and be sure to click that BELL to get notified when we put up a new video! We always check the comments and respond to most, so if you have a question or if we missed something, please tell us down below.

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Rick Novlesky

Rick balances his work for Techspin writing, shooting and production with equal parts of sleep deprivation and coffee intake.