Intel Core i5-9600K Review: A Mid-Range Gamer's CPU

Overclocking, Power, and Test Setup

Power Consumption

Measuring the power consumption of modern CPUs can get tricky. But as long as your 12V supply (EPS) readings, motherboard power supply sensor values, and voltage transformer losses plausibly coincide, everything should be fine. Therefore, we're reporting pure package power to avoid possible influences from our motherboard. Results from the PWM controller are very reliable if you take them as averages over a few minutes.

We conducted this round of testing in our U.S. lab, and our results are not directly comparable with numbers from the German lab used in previous reviews.

As expected, the Core i5-9600K exceeded its 95W TDP at stock settings. Remember, though: that figure only applies to the base frequency, and it doesn't reflect power consumption during Turbo Boost activity.

Regardless, the stock -9600K's 119W (under the influence of AVX-optimized code) and 62W (in a non-AVX workload) measurements didn't raise any alarms. We saw a peak of 179W during an AVX-optimized workload with the processor operating at 5 GHz, but that was about what we expected from it. 

Overclocking

We tapped Corsair's H115i v2 to test our Core i5-9600K, which gave us enough headroom to run at 5 GHz with 1.36V Vcore and Auto Load Line Calibration settings. An AVX offset wasn't needed; our sample maintained ~80°C during AVX workloads. The temperature only reached ~64°C during non-AVX workloads.

Although some Core i5-9600K CPUs reportedly run stable at up to 5.2 GHz, we aren't comfortable pushing our chip beyond the "safe" 1.35V limit.

MEG Z390 Godlike

We're using MSI's MEG Z390 Godlike as our test platform for all Intel processors. This pricey board sells for $600, but has the power delivery subsystem to support aggressive overclocking.

MSI's motherboard imposes a 100.8 MHz base clock. Its extra 0.8 MHz serves to push overclocks even harder, though our motherboard review team would probably call it cheating. Consequently, our 5.1 GHz overclock is actually 5.14 GHz. Stock frequencies aren't spared, and there is no way to adjust the BCLK down to remove MSI's self-awarded advantage. Meanwhile, we are waiting on a solution from MSI that should allow us to dial in an exact 100 MHz BCLK.

The MSI MEG Z390 Godlike sits at the top of MSI's motherboard hierarchy. It has a decked-out 18-phase power delivery subsystem that's designed to squeeze every drop of performance out of Intel's new processors. It also comes with a few nifty accessories like an M.2 PCIe riser card and an HDMI streaming card.

Comparison Products

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Test System & Configuration
Hardware

Intel LGA 1151 (Z390)

Intel Core i9-9900K, i7-9700K, i5-9600K, i7-8700K, i5-8600K, i5-8400
MSI MEG Z390 Godlike
2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2667 & DDR4-3466

Intel LGA 2066
Intel Core i9-7820X
MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC
4x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2666, DDR4-3200

AMD Socket AM4 (400-Series)
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X, Ryzen 5 2600X
MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC
2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2933

All Systems

EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FE
1TB Samsung PM863
SilverStone ST1500-TI, 1500W
Windows 10 Pro (All Updates)

Cooling

Corsair H115i

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  • rgd1101
    First page, Ryzen 5 2600X should be 95W
  • johnphilips
    This is not for rendering, but gaming. At 4k, there are practically few to no performance losses compared to the top tier processors. ( maybe a couple of multithreaded games). If AMD really wants to grab the gaming niche, they should consider better overclocking chips ( nothing less than 5ghz nowadays) or at least same intel level, and a differencial, which could be from more pcie lanes (maybe 24, 16 for graphics, 4 for boot drive and 4 for the chipset) to a larger die area, for a more efficient cooling.
  • hannibal
    One thing I am wondering. Why these 6 core parts does not boost as high as 8 core 16 threads versions... It would seems to be easier to boost higher with less cores.
  • Math Geek
    seems more like a "refresh" than a new chip. something like the 4690k was a few years back. thrown on some better thermal compound and bump the mhz up a little bit. does look like they have squeezed all they can out of the current fab. overclocking shows that the thermal compound makes little difference once oc'ed. they gonna fall behind if they can't get the bugs worked out of their new die shrink. amd has a chance to make a move with a well placed update if they can swing some extra ipc from the ryzen chips.
  • PaulAlcorn
    60597 said:
    One thing I am wondering. Why these 6 core parts does not boost as high as 8 core 16 threads versions... It would seems to be easier to boost higher with less cores.


    You're right -- they could easily push the clocks higher. Product segmentation is the name of the game, though.
  • Math Geek
    if they could push it higher, shouldn't that show in overclocking? but it does not look like there is any extra headroom based on various oc testing. or am i remembering wrong?
  • Olle P
    Notice that the "stock" numbers for this CPU really represent a "best case":
    * Slight (0.8%) base clock overclock.
    * Motherboard that leaves the CPU on full boost frequency until the job is done instead of dropping the frequency to stay within official TDP limit.
    The majority of motherboards should provide lower scores.

    Some new games also favor eight threads over six, so a six thread CPU might not be the best option for gaming a few years ahead.

    2828754 said:
    ... If AMD really wants to grab the gaming niche, they should consider better...
    That'll be the Zen2 line-up...
    If the leaks/rumors are true the next Ryzen 5 will outperform current Ryzen 7.

    60597 said:
    One thing I am wondering. Why these 6 core parts does not boost as high as 8 core 16 threads versions...
    Binning! (See below.)

    1786133 said:
    seems more like a "refresh" than a new chip. ...
    It's just a way to dump off some of the flawed eight-core dies.
    One or two flawed cores and/or reduced clocking capacity makes a die suitable for the i5 rather than i7 or i9.
  • notea
    1786133 said:
    seems more like a "refresh" than a new chip. something like the 4690k was a few years back. thrown on some better thermal compound and bump the mhz up a little bit. does look like they have squeezed all they can out of the current fab. overclocking shows that the thermal compound makes little difference once oc'ed. they gonna fall behind if they can't get the bugs worked out of their new die shrink. amd has a chance to make a move with a well placed update if they can swing some extra ipc from the ryzen chips.


    It is a refresh, read Coffee Lake
  • johnphilips
    It depends a lot on the chip...

    1786133 said:
    if they could push it higher, shouldn't that show in overclocking? but it does not look like there is any extra headroom based on various oc testing. or am i remembering wrong?
  • inmyrav
    It'd be nice to show the benches of the i5's people will be considering replacing ... all the way from i5 2500 which is more likely an upgrade than the 8700k.
  • dennphill
    So I am looking for a basis for a new build, and noting what's new and what it costs. Thanks for this...maybe it's time to just go back to AMD again? The chart comparing the 9000 series CPUs shows the i5-9600K at $262-263, but the link to Amazon and their price is now $377.98 (correct as of 5 Dec on their site). What is with Amazon anyway? Looking at NE, it's listed at $277.95. That's a hundred bucks difference! Still don't see what I get with the 9th Gen. My old Haswell is still working well.
  • notea
    727185 said:
    So I am looking for a basis for a new build, and noting what's new and what it costs. Thanks for this...maybe it's time to just go back to AMD again? The chart comparing the 9000 series CPUs shows the i5-9600K at $262-263, but the link to Amazon and their price is now $377.98 (correct as of 5 Dec on their site). What is with Amazon anyway? Looking at NE, it's listed at $277.95. That's a hundred bucks difference! Still don't see what I get with the 9th Gen. My old Haswell is still working well.

    its not because of amazon that the prices are higher than MSRP, the price hike is because of lack of supply from intel, they cannot meet the demand, their 14nm fab process cant handle it, also Apple has ordered a ton of modem for their new iphones which are also on the 14nm process, some of the intel chipsets which were on 14nm are pushed back to 28nm to make room and intel has contracted TSMC to manufacture some of their chips..so maybe we might see a reduction in price soon, and with AMD is launching the 7nm Ryzen 2nd gen CPUs (Zen 2 not Zen+) soon, that will also reduce the price of intel chips, hoipefully
  • Gurg
    The 9600k is only $230 at Microcenter with a MSI MPG Z390 GAMING PLUS ATX motherboard for only $120.
  • derpfromabove
    "Worse, both competing CPUs are bundled with coolers, while Intel makes you buy your own."

    EXCUSE ME? What sort of nonsensical statement is that? I mean let's cut the BS and be real for a moment: What self-respecting PC builder would install that crap in their rig? Everyone knows that the intel stock coolers are worthless, so why is it worth complaining about when Intel decides to remove them entiely if 99% of them go into the trash anyways?
  • Gurg
    1979597 said:
    It'd be nice to show the benches of the i5's people will be considering replacing ... all the way from i5 2500 which is more likely an upgrade than the 8700k.


    These are from my past computers which were pretty decently equipped for their time.

    Passmark CPU mark
    Q6600 3372
    q9550 4603
    2500k 9771
    2700k 11871 @4800mhz
    5820k 16019 @4200mhz
    9600k 15503 @5044 mhz

    Fire Strike Physic
    2700k 7857
    5820k 16557
    9600k 15920

    Time Spy CPU
    5820k 6700
    9600k 6707

    5820k vs 9600k is pretty much push. Upgraded because my mb bios went squirrelly after I tried to load new ones to accommodate using 2 m.2 drives.
    New system:
    Thermalake P3 case
    MSI Z390 Gaming Plus
    Corsair H115i Pro
    Intel I5 9600K
    Corsair RM1000 FM 80+G ATX PSU
    MSI GTX 1080ti GamingX
    Gskill 3600 16gb
    AOC 28" 4k monitor
    Kingston HyperX M.2 240Gb
    Samsung 970 EVO M.2 500Gb
    W10