I tested the Intel Core i9-14900K against the Core i9-13900K, and the results were less than stellar

Intel’s new Core i9-14900K is a difficult processor to evaluate. It carries the same core count and architecture as the last-gen Core i9-13900K, but Intel insists that the new chip delivers some performance improvements. Is that true, and is it worth ditching a last-generation flagship product in favor of what Intel claims is its best processor yet?

The Core i9-14900K improves some of the weak areas of the Core i9-13900K. However, as you can read in our Intel Core i9-14900K review, the new processor does little to justify spending a higher price for largely the same performance.

Price and availability

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Both the Core i9-13900K and Core i9-14900K come in at the same recommended price from Intel: $590. This is a flagship chip, and you’ll have to spend nearly $600 for one of the processors. However, the Core i9-13900K has the advantage of being older.

You can usually find them for around $560, and they sometimes drop to $540 when they go on sale. There’s a good chance the price will drop further in the weeks following the release of the Core i9-14900K. We see it all the time in the last generation of parts. The Intel Core i9-12900K, for example, is now available for $375 even though the processor cost $550 a year ago.

An Intel 14900K CPU is installed on the motherboard.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The Core i9-14900K retails for $590, but it already sells for more. As we’ve seen with Intel’s last two flagship products, the Core i9-14900K will likely retail between $620 and $640 for at least a few months. Currently, the processor sells for $630.

As is usually the case when comparing two processors, you have to weigh their performance against the price of each chip. Between the Core i9-13900K and the Core i9-14900K, there’s a difference of between $10 and $100 depending on what happens after the launch process is complete. If only $10 or $20 separates the chip, it’s worth buying a new processor. However, if there’s a difference of $70 or more, you’re already getting most of the performance with the cheaper Core i9-13900K.

Specification

There’s not much to say about the specifications of the Core i9-13900K and Core i9-14900K because, on paper, they look almost identical. Both processors use Intel 7 nodes, and come with 24 cores split into eight performance cores and 16 efficiency cores, for a total of 32 threads.

The only difference is the clock speed. The Core i9-14900K can be boosted up to 6GHz, while the Core i9-13900K goes up to 5.8GHz. Additionally, the Core i9-14900K comes with a 200MHz boost on the base and increased clock speeds on the performance cores and efficiency cores.

Core i9-14900K Core i9-13900K
Core/Thread 24 (8+16) / 32 24 (8+16) / 32
L3/L2 cache 36MB / 32MB 36MB / 32MB
Maximum turbo frequency 6GHz 5.6GHz
Base power/Turbo 125W / 253W 125W / 253W
Current price $630 $570

Everything else is identical, including the 36MB L3 cache, 32MB L2 cache, and 253 watts of maximum turbo power. It’s a shame there isn’t at least a cache hit, especially with AMD 3D V-Cache processors still dominate gaming graphics. There would likely be a better incentive to buy the Core i9-14900K in this case.

Productivity performance

In terms of raw CPU power, the Core i9-14900K isn’t much of an improvement over the Core i9-13900K. In our testing, there were a few cases where the results were slightly worse. In the Cinebench R23 multi-core test, the Core i9-14900K was about 3% slower than the Core i9-13900K. Not a good start.

To be clear, this may be due to silicon differences — based on other tests, it appears we have a very fast Core i9-13900K. However, that explanation only makes the Core i9-14900K normal. It’s hard to justify spending more for the same performance, let alone a performance setback. There’s no setback in single-core performance, but both processors deliver essentially the same results.

That wasn’t the only test where we saw nearly identical performance. In Blender 3.4, there is only a slight difference between the Core i9-13900K and Core i9-14900K. You can swap the names on this chart and there will be no difference in the conclusions. It’s also not great for the Core i9-14900K.

Intel Core i9-14900K and Core i5-14600K performance in Blender.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

However, it was the weakest test for the Core i9-14900K. In transcoding tests such as Handbrake, the Core i9-14900K managed to complete tasks 8% faster than the Core i9-13900K. That’s likely an increase in higher clock speeds in the workplace. It’s not a massive upgrade, but the extra boost might be worth it if you do a lot of video editing.

Handbrake performance for the Core i9-14900K and Core i5-14600K.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

In 7-Zip, the Core i9-14900K showed the clearest improvement. Supported by better compression performance, the result is 15% faster than the Core i9-13900K. Decompression is usually more important, especially in tasks like gaming, but it’s good to see Intel making some improvements to benchmarks that are usually dominated by AMD processors.

Intel Core i9-14900K and Core i5-14600K in 7-Zip.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Another area where the Core i9-14900K shows excellence is Y-Cruncher, although it’s not as tight as 7-Zip. In calculating 500 million Pi digits, the Core i9-14900K was able to complete tasks 9% faster when using a single core, and 14% faster when using each core.

Intel Core i9-14900K and Core i5-14600K performance on y-Cruncher.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The biggest performance jump occurred in Jetstream 2. This web-based benchmark shows the Core i9-14900K is around 16% ahead of the Core i9-13900K. This is a big leap for web-based applications, but you don’t usually buy a flagship CPU for web applications.

Intel Core i9-14900K and Core i5-14600K performance in Jetstream 2.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

That’s the biggest problem with the Core i9-14900K. This shows some improvement, but not in the most important areas. For example, in PugetBench for Photoshop, the Core i9-14900K posted nearly the same numbers as the Core i9-13900K.

Gaming performance

Intel has highlighted the gaming improvements of the Core i9-14900K over the previous generation, which will likely close the gap with chips like ryzen 7 7800X3D. And there are some clear improvements here, although they’re not big enough to justify a new flagship CPU.

At high levels, the Core i9-14900K was 20% faster than the Core i9-13900K in 3DMark Time Spy. We also looked specifically at the CPU scores from this test. This is a big jump, but unfortunately, it only applies to this synthetic test.

Intel Core i9-14900K and Core i5-14600K performance in Time Spy.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

If we look hitman 3, the lead shrunk to about 10%. This is still a pretty good jump in gaming performance, but it’s still a far cry from what we saw in 3DMark. Likewise in F1 2022, The Core i9-14900K shows an improvement of around 9%.

The biggest push comes Far Cry 6, where we saw the Core i9-14900K outperform the Core i9-13900K by almost 33%. It’s worth noting that the Core i5-13600K shows even higher scores than the flagship, so there may be issues in task scheduling across performance and efficiency cores. We’ve seen it before with Intel’s hybrid architecture.

Intel Core i9-14900K and Core i5-14600K performance in Far Cry 6.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

While the Core i9-14900K shows improved performance at 1080p with High graphics settings, you likely won’t use this processor for 1080p gaming at lower settings. If we look Red Dead Redemption 2 with its Ultra preset, you can see the Core i9-14900K actually ends up a few frames slower than the Core i9-13900K. These graphically demanding games are a good reminder that your graphics card will play a more important role in overall gaming performance as you increase the resolution and graphics settings.

Intel Core i9-14900K and Core i5-14600K performance in Red Dead Redemption 2.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Which is the best?

Currently, those upgrading from a 12th generation CPU or older should use the Core i9-14900K. It costs about $50 more than the Core i9-13900K, and brings some solid performance improvements. This is a limitation for the Core i9-14900K.

As the price of the Core i9-13900K drops further, it’s a better choice. It offers most of the performance compared to the 14th generation at a lower price. Additionally, those already using the Core i9-13900K have little reason to upgrade. The Core i9-14900K is faster, but not enough to justify spending more than $600 for a new CPU.

Editor’s Recommendations






Leave a Comment