Update 10/28/2019 12:08pm PT: Intel revealed the Core i9-9900KS will only be available until the end of the 2019 holiday season via a video posted to YouTube.
Original Article 10/28/2019 6:00pm PT:
Intel's announced that its Special Edition Core i9-9900KS would land on store shelves October 30 with a $513 recommended customer pricing (RCP). As a special edition processor, Intel says the chip will be available worldwide for a limited time only but didn't specify the number of chips it will bring to retail or an expected end date for retail availability (later revealed to be available until the end of the 2019 holiday season). We recently tested Intel's Core i9-9900KS ahead of the official launch, finding that the chip expands upon Intel's lead in gaming performance, and reaches higher overclocks than our Core i9-9900K sample.
The Core i9-9900KS features the same silicon as its Core i9-9900K counterpart, meaning it has the same 14nm++ process and Coffee Lake microarchitecture, but represents the highest-quality silicon binned during the manufacturing process.
Intel Special Edition Core i9-9900KS Specifications
|Header Cell - Column 0||Process||SEP / RCP (USD)||Cores / Threads||TDP (Watts)||Base Frequency (GHz)||Total Cache (MB)||PCIe Lanes||iGPU||Price Per Thread|
|Ryzen 9 3900X||7nm||$499||12 / 24||105W||3.5 / 4.7||32||24 Gen4||No||$20.79|
|Core i9-9900KS||14nm||$513||8 / 16||127W||4.0 / 5.0||16||16 Gen3||Yes||$32|
|Core i9-9900K||14nm||$488||8 / 16||95W||3.6 / 5.0||16||16 Gen3||Yes||$30.05|
|Ryzen 7 3800X||7nm||$399||8 / 16||105W||3.9 / 4.5||32||24 Gen4||No||$24.94|
|Core i9-9700K||14nm||$374||8 / 8||95W||3.6 / 4.9||12||16 Gen3||Yes||$46.75|
|Ryzen 7 3700X||7nm||$329||8 / 16||65W||3.6 / 4.4||32||24 Gen4||No||$20.56|
The -9900KS's premium silicon supports a 4 GHz base clock, a 400 MHz improvement that leads to a beastly 127W TDP rating. That's a big increase from the Core i9-9900K's 95W TDP.
However, the -9900KS delivers a 5 GHz Turbo Boost across all of its cores under any workload (AVX included), while the 'vanilla' -9900K only boosts to 5 GHz on two cores. As expected of a higher-bin processor, Intel's Core i9-9900KS should overclock higher than garden-variety -9900K chips, but the silicon lottery still applies (your mileage may vary). The higher quality silicon also affords tremendous power consumption advantages in our testing.
Unlike Intel's standard processors, the Core i9-9900KS only carries a one-year warranty, as opposed to the standard three-year warranty period we're accustomed to. Intel chalks this up to limited volume, but we're following up for more information.
|Active Cores||Base||1 Core||2 Cores||3 Cores||4 Cores||5 Cores||6 Cores||7 Cores||8 Cores|
|Core i9-9900KS (GHz)||4.0||5.0||5.0||5.0||5.0||5.0||5.0||5.0||5.0|
|Core i9-9900K (GHz)||3.6||5.0||5.0||4.8||4.8||4.7||4.7||4.7||4.7|
Intel Special Edition Core i9-9900KS Pricing and Performance
Intel's recommended pricing is surprisingly close to the Core i9-9900K's $488-$499 RCP, but Intel assigns pricing based on 1000-unit tray orders, so prices at retail will vary. Given this chip is a special-edition processor, we can also expect the economics of supply and demand to come into play, so these chips will likely command a hefty premium over the recommended pricing. For instance, the Core i9-9900KS is listed (preorder) for $559 at B&H Photo (opens in new tab).
Intel's Special Edition chip vies with AMD's $499 Ryzen 9 3900X, but the lower-priced AMD processor comes with four more cores and eight more threads, which our testing shows offer more performance than the -9900KS in threaded workloads. However, Intel's Core i9-9900KS is unquestionably the new leader in gaming performance at both stock and overclocked settings, and the performance delta is often substantial enough that gaming enthusiasts looking for the absolute most performance, regardless of price, will seek out the processor.
It's anyone's guess how long the -9900KS will remain available, though, as Intel continues to struggle with 14nm production capacity, leading to shortages. Luckily for enthusiasts shopping for pricey chips, Intel continues to prioritize its high-priced processors, so we might see availability for an extended period of time.
Of course, you could also pick up a -9900KS from Silicon Lottery, which will bin the processors and sort out the best of the best and guarantee specific overclocking thresholds. That company recently listed the Core i9-9900KS as available on November 3, so well-heeled enthusiasts will have to wait for a bit longer to plunk down the extra cash it costs for the service.