Rocket Lake-S fails on its conquest: Core i9 11900K and Core i5 11600K review

Intel has finally given the green signal for the Intel 11th generation processors. The Core i9 11900K and the Core i5 11600K are the bright prospects among the 11th generation lineup competing against the Ryzen 9 5900X and Ryzen 5 5600X. Intel is releasing a somewhat stronger answer to AMD’s Zen 3 filled Ryzen 5000 lineup. The company, even though behind, has improved a lot on the 14nm process node.

The Rocket Lake processor uses the same old 14nm process node with a new core architecture. The Cypress core architecture brings the final form of the now mature 14nm process node. Intel has released 5 generations of processors based on the same node. It looks like the company is squeezing every ounce of performance out of the process node.

Intel is trying desperately to regain dominance over the desktop market. Since AMD started releasing its Ryzen series processors, it has gone downhill for Intel and its Core series desktop processors. The new Rocket Lake processor is fabled high to beat the Ryzen processors. But it does not look like what Intel presented in CES 2021. 

The Core i9 11900K, the flagship processor, goes head to head with Ryzen 9 5900X, while the Core i5 11600K takes on the Ryzen 5 5600X. The 8-core Core i9 is pitched directly at the Ryzen 9 5900X with a price tag of $539.  The Core i5 11600K might be the next best CPU for gaming, priced at $262.

Specifications:

Processors Cores / Threads Base (GHz) Peak Boost (Single/All Core) L3 Cache iGPU TDP Price
Core i9 11900K 8 / 16 3.5 5.3 / 4.8 16MB UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU 125W $539 (K) – $513 (KF)
Core i7 11700K 8 / 16 3.6 5.0 / 4.6 16MB UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU 125W $399 (K) – $374 (KF)
Core i5 11600K 6 / 12 3.9 4.9 / 4.6 12MB UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU 125W $262 (K) – $237(KF)

Core i9 11900K: A spiced up Core i7 processor posing as a Flagship

The Core i9 11900K reigns on the flagship throne with its 8 cores and 16 threads. The specification for the Rocket Lake Core i9 doesn’t live up to its name. It is the most confusing SKU on the Rocket Lake lineup. It is the flagship processor, but it has similar specifications to the Core i7 processor. What is going on? 

The Core i9 11900K 8-core processor comes with a base clock of 3.5 GHz and boosts to 5.3 GHz max (Dual-core boosts). The processor is capable of hitting a 4.8 GHz all-core boost with a 125W TDP. More on the TDP later. The newer Thermal Velocity Boost and Adaptive boost technology help propel the Core i9 differentiating it with the Core i7. 

Core i9 11900K

But that makes the Core i9 11900K just a highly binned Core i7 processor. A Core i7 with better clock speed and technology only to be given the Core i9 name. What disappoints us more is that Intel had to cut down on core count and cache size. The Core i9 offers less than your previous Core i9 10900K at a weirdly high price. The enthusiast-grade Intel processor is only a hot mess. 

Don’t get us wrong; the Core i9 shows a strong showing of single-core performance beating out the previous generation Core i9 10900K. But things go downhill from there, and it is not going very well.

Core i5: The Silver lining to the Rocket Lake lineup

The Core i5 single-handled becomes the best CPU to come out of Intel’s fabrication. It is the best-valued processor and performs up to the mark. It is a great contender for the best gaming CPU, going head to head with Ryzen 5 5600X.

The 6 cores and 12 thread configuration on the Core i5 matches its contenders. The Core i5 comes with a 3.9 GHz base clock and boosts up to 4.9 GHz. Thanks to the new Turbo Boost Technology, the processor boosts up to 4.9GHz and acquires an all-core turbo boost of 4.6 GHz.

Core i5 11600K

But that is all hunky-dory until you factor in its TDP. The Core i5 11600K rocks a PL1 TDP of 125W, similar to the Core i9. At stock, the Core i5 is a beast; removing the PL1 TDP limits, shifts the gear up a bit. The Rocket Processors get a healthy dose of the newly formed Intel Xe GPU.

Both the Core i9 and Core i5 boast the UHD Graphics 750 Xe with 32 EU. Intel finally has a breakthrough in the graphics sector. But don’t expect a stellar performance with the integrated Xe graphics

Performance Benchmarks:

So we have a reasonably simple testbench. We are pitching the 11th generation processor with the latest and greatest Ryzen 5000 processors. Each of the games below is tested in 1080p with all maximum quality. To find out the single-core performance, we are giving more emphasis on the 1080p performance. Plus the benchmark tools like Cinebench will give more insight into the performance of each processor.

Intel Testbench:

  • MSI Godlike Z590 Motherboard
  • Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti FE
  • Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4 3200MH
  • 2 TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe SSD
  • SilverStone ST 1000-PTS

Ryzen Testbench:

  • MSI MEG Godlike X570 Motherboard  
  • Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti FE
  • Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4 3200MH
  • 2 TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe SSD
  • SilverStone ST 1000-PTS

Cinebench R23

7ZIP File Manager BenchmarkBlender Render Run Power Consumption

The Core i9 11900K and the Core i5 11600K sure do take advantage of the Cypress Cove architecture. The Rocket Lake processors have an impressive single-core performance. But they take a hit on their multi-core performance. The CineBench R23 test shows the Core i9 and the Core i5 dominating with its single-core performance. But the lower core count does affect the multi-core performance.

In the multi-core test, the Ryzen 9 5900X with its 12 core takes a considerable lead. Intel reduced the core count of the Core i9, taking a significant hit in the performance. In the 7ZIP and the Blender Open Render test, the Ryzen processors are ahead of their Intel counterparts.

That is not even the worst part. During the blender render, the Core i9 draws 300W of total energy while the Core i5 draws 217W. The 14nm process node shows its age, and the backported architecture is pushing the processor to its limit.

Counter Strike Global Offensive Bench

Far Cry 5 Bench Rise of the tomb raider bench Hitman Absolution Bench

The gaming section shows a close affair between the Intel Rocket Lake and the Ryzen 5000 processors. The Core i9 only gains a considerable lead in Far Cry 5. Other than that, it is a closer affair in other games, with the Ryzen 5 5600X performing very well against the Core i9 11900K. The Ryzen 5000 processor take the lead in the Counter-Strike Global Offensive. The AMD processors take huge leads due to their larger cache size that the esports title hugely favors.

There isn’t a massive difference in the 4K resolution. As the resolution increases, the computing power is shifted more towards the graphics card. So there isn’t much CPU impact in the 4K resolution.

Pricing:

The Core i9 11900K processor is stationed right between the previous generation Core i9 10900K and the Ryzen 9 5900X. The Core i9 11900K costs $539, $50 more expensive than the previous generation Core i9 10900K. AMD’s Ryzen 9 5900X is $10 more expensive than the current generation Core i9 processor. The pricing of the Core i9 is downright comical. 

The $539 price tag doesn’t suit the current 11th generation flagship processor. The Ryzen 9 5900X has 12 cores and 24 threads, leagues above the Core i9. We could suggest the Core i9 11900K if it performed well against the Ryzen 9. But it flounders to beat even the last generation Core i9 10900K processor. Intel was not thoughtful of the price while releasing the Core i9 11900K.

Core i9 die shot

The Core i5 11600K is priced very reasonably against the Ryzen 5 5600X. The $262 starting price of the Core i5 is better than AMD’s $299 price tag. There isn’t much difference between the Core i5 and the Ryzen 5 5600X. You can even save some money opting out for the Core lower SKUs like the Core i5 11600 or the i5 11400F. If you won’t be performing overclocking and have a powerful GPU then, the Core i5 11400F offers more value among the Rocket Lake series.

We currently face the most significant silicon shortages of our time. The Ryzen processors are impossible to get our hands on and available in minimal quantities. Because of the limited quantities, the price of the Ryzen 5 5600X has increased by $80. Now that is an excellent window of opportunity for the Core i5 to shine. The performance is excellent and cost lower than the competition. Intel is in a perfect position for the Core i5 series. Intel has gained a significant advantage thanks to its fabrication.   

Conclusion:

The Core i9 11900K is the worst flagship released under the Rocket Lake lineup. Intel must be dumb releasing a newer product at an outrageous price. The Core i7 looks way better than the Core i9 in terms of performance. But since it is the flagship processor, it gets some advantages to thank features like TVB and ABT.

Intel has increased the Core i9 Rocket Lake processor’s price compared to the last-gen flagship and reduced the Core count by 20%. The worst part is that the Core i9 11900K struggles to keep in performance, thanks to its reduced core count. The single-core performance of the flagship Core i9 is good but comes with many flaws.

The reduced core count means a slower multi-threaded task. The Core i9 has taken a significant hit in the multicore and professional workloads. The saddening part is that the 6-core Ryzen 5 5600X is quite close in terms of performance. The worst part is it can’t keep up with the last generation Core i9 10900K.

Intel never made the Cypress Cove core for the 14nm process node. The company aimed to release the new core architecture for the 10nm fabrication. But they eventually backported the Sunny Cove architecture to the 14nm process node and renamed it Cypress Cove architecture. It did increase its performance trading it for the high temperature and TDP. Both the Core i5 and Core i9 draw over 200W at peak. The Core i9 almost draws 300W under load.

It is hard for us to say, but the latest Core i9 processor is a bad senseless product. Intel has missed its chance to catch up on AMD’s Zen 3 architecture. Please do not buy the Core i9 11900K processor, it is not worth the money or the time. 

We have mixed thoughts on the Core i5 11600K. AMD isn’t able to push more Ryzen processors in the market. The scalpers are making it hard to get the latest processor, and the price of the Ryzen processor has significantly increased. So the Core i5 11600K fits in very well in the market. The Rocket Lake Core i5 is a sound processor that we wholly recommend to our readers. Intel will be able to provide a lot of Core i5 processors. But spare some change because you will need a beefy PSU and cooler.

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