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Intel Core i9-10900K vs i9-9900K: A worthy upgrade?

Intel’s 10th Gen desktop chips are now out in the wild for enthusiasts and average joes to get their hands on – but, are they worth the wait? We compared with the previous generation for this Intel Core i9-10900K vs Intel Core i9-9900K to help you make up your mind.

Intel calls the Intel Core i9-10900K the ‘most powerful gaming processor in the world’, but in practice, that doesn’t necessarily make it the best chip to buy for your gaming rig.

Intel is still stuck on to its five-year-old 14nm process, limiting the performance gains potential compared to its 9th Gen equivalent. But with an increased core and thread count, there may still be a reason to upgrade. 

Related: Best Intel processor

Intel Core i9-10900K vs i9-9900K release dates

The Intel Core i9-10900K is available now, following its recent launch. 

Meanwhile, the Intel Core i9-9900K launched during Q3 last year. 

Related: Best Gaming CPU

Intel Core i9-10900K vs i9-9900K price

The suggested retail price for the Intel Core i9-10900K comes in at £530, while the Intel Core i9-9900K is available for around £500 depending on where you shop.

Don’t rule out further price cuts to the Intel Core i9-9900K though, as chips often see a reduction when new ranges become available. 

Related: Best Intel Z490 motherboard

Intel Core i9-10900K vs Intel Core i9-9900K specs

If you are considering upgrading to the Intel Core i9-10900K then you’ll want the nitty-gritty info from the specs sheet – let’s take a look:

Cores Threads Base clock speed (GHz) Boosted clock speed (GHz) TDP Intel Smart Cache Price
Intel Core
10 20 3.7 5.3 125W 20MB ~£530
Intel Core
8 16 3.6 5.0 95W 16MB ~£500

Related: Best desktop PC

Intel Core i9-10900K vs i9-9900K performance

When comparing the specs, it’s clear Intel is pushing the 14nm process as hard as it can to stay competitive with AMD’s advancements. But, does the spec sheet differences play out when it comes to actual performance?

We’ve reviewed the Intel Core i9-10900K and, comparing benchmark results with the Intel Core i9-9900K, the improvements certainly weren’t remarkable.

Our testing showed the Intel Core i9-10900K to be a seriously powerful chip, especially when it comes to gaming thanks to the class-leading single-core performance. That said, the i9-10900K isn’t running away with the victory, as the i9-9900K was usually only a few frames behind when testing the likes of Ghost Recon Wildlands and The Division 2 in 4K. The 10th Gen chip did see a sizeable lead when running games in Full HD though. 

It’s the multi-core performance that the Intel Core i9-10900K has improved on most though, with its increased core and thread counts ensuring a superior performance when multi-tasking and running intensive creative applications. This makes the new 10th Gen chip a more versatile and better all-round performer than the i9-9900K.

Is it worth the extra cash, though? Probably not. In many cases, you’ll be able to get better value lower down the Intel line as the new i9-10900K will be overkill for most. The performance increase is too marginal to be worth upgrading from the i9-9900K, but if you’re building your rig from scratch and want the most powerful gaming PC possible, then making a move to 10th Gen is still worth considering. 

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