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Overclocking and Test Setup
We originally used a Corsair H115i v2 cooler to test Core i9-9900K, but encountered thermal limitations that restricted our overclocking efforts. For this round, we used a custom watercooling loop with an EKWB Supremacy Evo waterblock paired with a 360mm radiator to remove thermal limitations from the equation.
With the standard Core i9-9900K, this facilitated a slightly higher 1.35V Vcore that allowed us to run the processor at an all-core 5.0 GHz overclock without an AVX offset, registering slight gains over our previous 4.8 GHz AVX offset. The beefier cooling solution kept the chip at a steady 82°C during extended AVX stress testing, so thermal output was not a limiting factor. Instead, prodigious amounts of extra voltage didn't prove stable at higher clock rates, meaning we simply reached the processor's limits.
As mentioned on the previous page, Intel didn't sample Core i9-9900KF to press. Instead, we sourced a chip from our resident extreme overclocker Allen "Splave" Golibersuch. Splave lapped the processor, meaning he sanded down the integrated heat spreader to reduce its thickness before testing. As with any lapped processor, improved thermal performance enables higher overclocking potential, but unfortunately also makes apples-to-apples comparisons with retail CPUs impossible.
We encountered problems measuring power consumption through familiar software utilities. It appears that they aren't yet optimized for Intel's new configuration. We're troubleshooting this issue and speaking with ISVs to find a solution, but we don't expect significant changes compared to the figures we recorded from Intel's Core i9-9900K.
As such, we can't really report definitive thermal or overclocking comparisons between the two chips. Splave did bin a relatively large sample set of 200 Core i9-9900Ks against a smaller pool of five Core i9-9900KFs, and found that a larger percentage of KF models binned to higher frequencies. That anecdotal evidence suggests that Core i9-9900KF could be attractive to overclockers chasing the top overclocking records.
Our Core i9-9900KF is a cherry piece of silicon, though. We were able to attain an all-core 5.242 GHz overclock with no AVX offset and a 1.37V Vcore setting. Paired with our custom loop, the chip hovered at an outstanding 71°C during extended AVX stress testing, highlighting the combined benefits of the -9900KF's solder TIM and the lapped IHS.
MEG Z390 Godlike
We're using MSI's MEG Z390 Godlike as our test platform for all Intel processors. This pricey board retails for $600, but has the power delivery subsystem to support aggressive overclocking.
The 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.
|Test System & Configuration|
|Hardware||Intel LGA 1151 (Z390)Intel Core i9-9900KF i9-9900K, i7-9700K, i5-9600KMSI MEG Z390 Godlike2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2667 & DDR4-3466AMD Socket AM4 (400-Series)AMD Ryzen 7 2700X, Ryzen 5 2600XMSI X470 Gaming M7 AC2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2933All SystemsEVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FE 1TB Samsung PM863SilverStone ST1500-TI, 1500WWindows 10 Pro (All Updates)|
|Cooling||U.S.Corsair H115iCustom Loop, EKWB Supremacy EVO waterblock, 360mm radiator|
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Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.