The Core i9-9900KS is confirmed for October, but will it be the win Intel needs?

Intel's 9900KS 5GHz on all cores is nice, but is it enough?

core i9-9900ks

At IFA 2019, Intel confirmed that October will finally see Intel release some new desktop CPUs, namely the Core i9-9900KS.

What’s the selling point? Well, Intel claims the re-binned Core i9-9900KS which will hit 5GHz across all cores right out of the box. That will be closely followed by its Cascade Lake high-end desktop (HEDT) chips which will replace the monstrously expensive 9000 series processors from 2018. It’s not much, but it’s what Intel has — and boy does it need a win.

While the company acts nonchalant and unconcerned with what AMD and Qualcomm are doing with its 3000-series Ryzen and Snapdragon chips, there’s no denying that these are major threats to Intel’s processor dominance. Intel has a credible response in the laptop space with its Ice Lake and Comet lake chips, but on desktop, it’s having to resort to rebinning last year’s technology (and what appears to be price drops) with the absence of its 10nm desktop parts.

The only real, mainstream desktop CPU that Intel is set to release in the back half of 2019 is the 9900KS. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is. It’s the same 9900K that Intel released in October 2018, but it’s been binned, or especially selected, to guarantee a turbo boost frequency of 5GHz across all cores. That’s not bad by any means. Indeed, it will still be the most powerful CPU Intel has ever released for mainstream users and gamers. But it’s not something that couldn’t be achieved with a standard 9900K, a hefty cooler, and a little overclocking.

It will keep Intel competitive with AMD’s best Ryzen 3000 processors, and with AMD’s ongoing struggles with imperfect boost frequencies, it may provide just enough edge. It’s nothing new — Intel’s been repacking older chip designs with its Skylake iterations since 2015 — but it might be Intel’s only chance at winning back some favor in the desktop space for the end of 2019.

Casecade Lake relative performance

Cascade Lake, is similar in that it’s based on the same 14nm architecture at the heart of Skylake and the 9900KS. It is, however, at least an enhanced version that  results in greater performance. Intel’s latest briefing didn’t go into detail how it was achieving its newly boosted “relative performance per dollar,” but its wording suggested we’re looking at a slight clock speed increase over 9000 X-series processors (which were themselves a slight clock speed bump over 7000 X-series processors) with a more aggressive price structure. These chips have also been promised by Intel to launch in October.

Such a move will compete favorably against AMD’s second-generation Threadripper CPUs, at least according to Intel’s slide. But with third-generation Threadripper CPUs on the horizon, the competition in this space is about to heated.

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