Intel Core i9-11900K and Core i5-11600K Review: Rocket Lake Blasts Off

14nm flies again

Intel Core i9-11900K
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

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Core i9-11900K and Core i5-11600K Verdict

Intel took a bold risk with its Rocket Lake chips by reducing peak core counts in the face of an unrelenting competitor that has completely redefined our expectations for core-heavy chips on the mainstream desktop. Through the benefits of the new Cypress Cove architecture, Rocket Lake does realize impressive generational performance gains, particularly in gaming and lightly-threaded applications (or workloads that can leverage AVX-512 and DL Boost), but there are significant drawbacks, particularly for the high end model. 

Unfortunately, Intel had to dial up power consumption further to stay within competitive range of AMD's Ryzen 5000 chips, and that brings undesirable side effects. Pricing for the Core i9-10900K also complicates matters, too.  

The Core i9-11900K delivers impressive performance in both single-threaded applications and gaming. Still, it doesn't cement itself as the clear leader in gaming and also trails the price-comparable (at least based on general pricing guidelines) Ryzen 9 5900X in threaded workloads. 

Assume for a second that both Intel and AMD's chips were available for close to the tray/suggested pricing (a dream, I know): For gamers, the Core i9-11900K would have to show a more appreciable advantage to justify its price tag and power consumption — the performance deltas are so slim you likely wouldn't see much difference with current-gen GPUs. But you would see the extra cost associated with buying a robust motherboard to feed the chip and an adequate cooler to unlock the best performance. You'll also sacrifice quite a bit of threaded performance by choosing the 11900K over the Ryzen 9 5900X. 

In fact, the Core i9-11900K trailed its previous-gen counterpart, the Core i9-10900K, in several heavily-threaded tests. Hopefully Intel surprises us again and launches a value-alternative flagship chip, like the Core i9-10850K. That chip was largely identical to the flagship Core i9-10900K but came with a $35 discount. 

At least the six-core twelve-thread Core i5-11600K lands with a much friendlier $262 price point, making it much more competitive with AMD's $300 Ryzen 5 5600X that currently sells far over suggested pricing due to shortages. 

The Core i5-11600K has a very competitive price-to-performance ratio compared to the $300 Ryzen 5 5600X in a broad swath of games and applications, and it's a solid generational advance over the Core i5-10600K.

While the Core i5-11600K may not claim outright supremacy in all benchmarks, its mixture of price and performance makes it a solid buy if you're willing to overlook the higher power consumption. The 11600K actually serves up quite a bit of performance for a ~$262 chip, and the graphics-less 11600KF is a steal if you can find it anywhere near the $237 tray pricing.

Of course, this is all provided that you can find any of these chips at close to suggested pricing. Like other chipmakers, AMD has been beset by chip shortages for several months, leading to unavailability and high pricing, and there doesn't appear to be a quick resolution on the near horizon. Intel has appeared to maintain a better supply of its chips, and Rocket Lake is currently available for much more reasonable pricing than the Ryzen processors. 


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Paul Alcorn
Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech

Paul Alcorn is the Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech for Tom's Hardware US. He also writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage, and enterprise hardware.

  • Zacca
    You have forgotten to post SolidWorks graphs. And Creo is wrongly posted in the Workstation stack
  • robert3892
    Personally it looks like the 10900K is preferred.
  • Zacca
    Admin said:
    We put the Core i9-11900K and Core i5-11600K to the test in our gaming and application benchmarks.

    Intel Core i9-11900K and Core i5-11600K Review: Rocket Lake Blasts Off : Read more

    Once again, please add the missing SolidWorks graphs to the SPECviewperf 2020 benchmark image stack. Also Creo is miss placed.