Intel’s only major desktop CPU release in 2019, the Core i9-9900KS, is almost ready to hit store shelves and review test benches. It’s not a major release when compared with the likes of AMD’s Ryzen 3000 debut in July, but it’s still the most exciting desktop development from Intel in 2019, and it does break some boundaries. Most notably, it’s the first 5GHz, all-core CPU that can hit those frequencies right out of the box without a sniff of overclocking.
The 9900KS isnt’t a brand new chip, but rather a “limited edition” of the 9900K. In other words, if you bought a 9900K before now, there’s a decent chance it’s capable of hitting 5GHz across all cores (and maybe beyond). The 9900KS is just a 9900K that is guaranteed to do that out of the box without you having to overclock it.
Elsewhere, it’s the same eight core, 16 thread CPU as the 9900K, with 16MB of shared L3 cache, support for PCIExpress 3.0, and DDR4 memory up to 2,666MHz (without overclocking). It also has support for USB 3.1 Gen 2 and Wi-Fi 5. The only real reason to consider the 9900KS is because you were already thinking of buying a 9900K and this new CPU offers slightly greater performance for a slightly greater price of $513. The standard 9900K started at $450.
In effect, this CPU is like what AMD did with the Ryzen 3800X. It’s a binned version of its best eight-core CPU with a guaranteed higher clock speed and better quality silicon. It’s unlikely that the 9900KS will offer much in the way of additional overclocking headroom, but some pre-release testing has seen it reach 5.2GHz on air. Intel did a similar thing last year with its limited edition Core i7-8086K.
With the absence of 10nm developments, Intel has been struggling to innovate on desktop for a few years now. While it has released new CPU generations, the ninth was a largely cosmetic one, with only slight increases to clock speed delivering a small boost in performance over their eighth-generation counterparts. The most interesting developments have come from the types of CPUs that Intel has debuted. The F-series iterations of its mainstream processors ditched the onboard graphics for minor dollar savings and now the 9900KS, with its especially binned silicon, is almost here.
Consider this chip a guaranteed top performer, rather than anything that new or exciting. For that, we’ll need to wait for Comet Lake, which is expected to debut in early 2020.
The 9900KS will be officially available on October 30 for a price of $513.
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