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Reviewers agree: Intel’s latest chip is truly ridiculous

Intel 14900KS box.

Intel’s “Special Edition” KS chips are meant to be over the top. But the latest Core i9-14900KS has just dropped, and it takes things to new heights of insanity.

It’s a super-clocked version of the already ludicrous 14900K that sports the same great quantity of cores, but a boost clock that moves even beyond the extremes of the standard 14900K. It can hit an unprecedented 6.2GHz on a couple of cores right out of the box, making it the fastest CPU by clock speed ever unleashed upon the public.

But in modern CPUs, cores and clocks are never the full story. The 14900KS certainly appears to be superfast, but as the reviews now drop, the cost of such raw power is quite steep. Not only does this chip demand a lot from your wallet — it demands even more from your power supply and cooling.

The good: It’s the fastest CPU for just about anything

We love the Ryzen 7 7800X3D. It’s the best gaming CPU — even if the 14900K and KS are competitive at times — thanks to its incredible performance, relatively modest price tag, and utterly jaw-dropping efficiency. But there’s no denying that the 14900KS is a much faster CPU all-around. It gets very close in gaming, tending to win out by less than a percent at 4K and falling behind by around 5% on average at 1080p. As TomsHardware put it: “Most users who buy a $689 chip will be gaming at higher resolutions than 1080p anyway, and the difference between the vanilla and KS models is still only 2.5% at 1440p.”

But it’s productivity where the 14900KS really shines. Just like the 14900K before it, its massive quantity of cores — 24, with 32 thread support —  just means it can do more at the same time as AMD’s processors. The AMD 7950X offers reasonable competition with its 16 high-performance Zen 4 cores, but it lacks the gaming power of the X3D models, so falls behind the Intel alternative there.

As Overclock 3D puts it: “[The 14900KS offers] truly ridiculous levels of performance from a single CPU.”

Intel's 14900K CPU socketed in a motherboard.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The high clock speed of the 14900KS really comes into play in applications that benefit from single-core performance. In HotHardware’s testing, it found that “[HEDT] platforms actually trail the Core i9-14900KS when running single- or lightly threaded workloads.” Although Threadripper and its ilk will run rings round these sorts of CPUs in video transcoding or encryption, the 14900KS blazes ahead in apps like Premiere and Photoshop.

It has also broken a few records already, perhaps most notably the highest ever clock speed. As reported by Videocardz, Swedish overclocker Elmor managed to push their 14900KS to 9117.75MHz — that’s around 70MHz higher than the previous record, achieved with a 14900KF in October last year. Asus has also claimed records in PiFast, SuperPi 1M, and PyPrime 32B with its 14900KS sample(s).

The bad: It uses all the power

If you thought the 14900K was a power hog, wait until you see the 14900KS. Although its base thermal design power (TDP) is only 25 watts higher than the 14900K and its max turbo power rating is still at 253W, it can draw a lot more power than any other processor in the right scenario.

“[The 14900KS] is configured with a power limit setting of 320W, which it can reach easily when loaded with apps that scale to all cores,” says TechPowerUp’s W1zzard. “On average, we measured an application power draw of 208 W, which is the highest we’ve ever recorded — 30 W higher than the 14900K. With the 320W power limit removed, average application power reaches 232W, with a 508W record in Blender.”

Ouch. 500W just from the CPU alone is simply staggering, and though that’s not what you’ll experience in gaming — it tends to pull only around 160W on average there — it’s not really viable for most users. It’s way more than any other processor, and more than three times that of our favorite gaming CPU, the 7800X3D.

Intel Core i9-14900KS CPU slide.

This leads to temperature issues. TechPowerup tested it using a high-end Noctua NH-U14S air cooler, where it saw the 14900KS reach 118 degrees in multi-threaded tests and just shy of 100 degrees in gaming. Overclock3D could only get it to stop thermal throttling by delidding it — basically removing the internal heat spreader and seriously risking breaking the CPU in the process.

Even with a delidded 14900KS, an undervolt, and a 360mm AIO, load temperatures still reached 86-degrees. Madness.

But wait, there’s more

The 14900KS might be the last great CPU of its generation and will retain the title as the fastest LGA 1700 processor for the rest of time, but it’s not quite finished its act just yet. As VideoCardz reports, MSI launched a custom firmware for PCs running the 14900KS to allow it to boost even higher. The P-Core Beyond 6GHz feature is already available on most MSI Z690 and Z790 motherboards for 14900K users who want a little extra performance, but the newly updated version is applicable to the 14900KS.

It lets the new CPU boost to a staggering 6.4GHz — that’s a further 200MHz of raw power for absolutely nothing. Well, it doesn’t cost you any more dollars, but it will likely lead to an even greater rise in power consumption and cooling requirements. Make sure your fans are spun up before enabling this one.

A true halo product CPU

Intel’s special-edition KS processors have always been somewhat ridiculous, but the 14900KS feels like the most ridiculous of the bunch. Its performance appears to be class-leading in productivity, and through sheer brute force, it’s able to catch up (sometimes) to the much more agile and nimble 7800X3D, which costs around half the price and uses a third of the power.

But the 14900KS appears to only be a little faster than the 14900K, and that chip is now around $140 cheaper. You can get lucky with the binning on that chip and just overclock it yourself if you don’t mind rolling the dice.

However, if you want the fastest LGA 1700 processor that will ever be made or just want the fastest Intel CPU while we wait for Arrow Lake later this year, the 14900KS is an option. But if you want amazing productivity at a fraction of the price, the 14700K offers much more value for money with a slightly less insane power draw. If you are only going to be gaming, the 7800X3D is by far the better choice, and the 7950X or 7950X3D offer a good middle ground of productivity and performance at a greater efficiency.

There are lots of awesome CPUs to pick from at the moment. The 14900KS might wear a crown, but it’s a halo, and according to the reviews out there right now, isn’t for the faint of heart.

Editors' Recommendations

Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
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