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AMD Ryzen 9 5900X vs Intel Core i9-11900K: Rocket Lake and Ryzen 5000 CPU Face Off
[Image: HCdKq8oS59zF9Fy8A6dzrV-970-80.jpg]

Intel's 14nm Rocket Lake squares off with AMD's 7nm Ryzen 5000

AMD's Ryzen 5000 processors took the lead in the desktop PC from Intel's competing Comet Lake processors last year, upsetting our Best CPU for gaming recommendations and our CPU Benchmarks hierarchy. Intel's response comes in the form of its Rocket Lake processors, which dial up the power to extreme levels and bring the new Cypress Cove architecture to the company's 14nm process as Intel looks to upset AMD's potent Zen 3-powered Ryzen 5000 chips.

Have no doubt; Intel is pushing the Core i9-11900K's aging 14nm silicon to the absolute limits in an attempt to steal the crown from the Ryzen 9 5900X. Unfortunately, AMD has been plagued by chip shortages — you simply can't find the Ryzen 9 5900X in stock for reasonable pricing — leaving Intel an opening to capitalize.

That means Intel doesn't need outright benchmark supremacy to win this battle; it just needs a good enough blend of features paired with solid pricing and availability to score the win. We put Intel's flagship Core i9-11900K up against the Ryzen 9 5900X in a six-round faceoff to see which chip rises to the top. Let's see how they stack up.

Ryzen 9 5900X vs Intel Core i9-11900K Features and Specifications

Intel 11th-Gen Core Rocket Lake-S Specifications and Pricing
Suggested Price Cores / Threads Base (GHz) Peak Boost (Dual/All Core) TDP iGPU L3

Ryzen 9 5900X $549 12 / 24 3.7 4.8 105W None 64MB (2x32)
RKL-S Core i9-11900K (KF) $539 (K) - $513 (KF) 8 / 16 3.5 5.3 / 4.8 (TVB) 125W UHD Graphics 750 Xe 32EU 16M

The Core i9-11900K comes with eight cores and 16 threads, which is two fewer cores than the previous-gen Core i9-10900K and a woeful four cores behind the Ryzen 9 5900X. Core counts aren't the end-all-be-all, of course, as different architectures deliver varying levels of performance per core. According to our IPC measurements, AMD's Zen 3 cores are still slightly faster than Rocket Lake in most work, though the latter does pull out a few wins. Basically, we should regard the Rocket Lake cores and Zen 3 cores as pretty closely matched, so with four additional cores, the Ryzen 9 5900X should win in most of our threaded benchmarks.

Naturally, speedier clocks can extract more performance from each core. Two of the 11900K's cores boost to a peak of 5.3 GHz, and all cores can operate at 4.8 GHz simultaneously. Intel has four total boost technologies with the 11900K, including the new Adaptive Boost Technology (ABT). Think of this much like a dynamic auto-overclocking feature that applies to all-core boosts, but the chip remains within warranty. This feature is only available with Core i9 chips.

Intel's ABT tech pushes power consumption to the extreme, while AMD's chips stay in their sweet spot during normal operation courtesy of their own Precision Boost 2 tech that accomplishes a similar task as ABT, but in a more reasonable way. The Ryzen 9 5900X operates at a 4.8 GHz boost across two of its cores, comes with twelve cores and 24 threads, and has a 105W TDP rating. The 11900K comes with a 125W TDP rating, which, as we'll show in the power section, really doesn't mean much. 

Both the Ryzen 5000 and Rocket Lake chips come with PCIe 4.0 support, though it is noteworthy that Intel's chipset doesn't support the speedier interface. Instead, devices connected to Intel's chipset operate at PCIe 3.0 speeds, meaning you'll only have support for one PCIe 4.0 m.2 port on your motherboard, whereas AMD's chipset is fully enabled for PCIe 4.0. Both chips also support two channels of DDR4-3200 memory.

The 11900K does have one big advantage over the Ryzen 9 5900X: The new UHD Graphics 750 comes armed with 32 EUs based on the Xe graphics engine, whereas all Ryzen 5000 processors come without integrated graphics. That means that if you don't have a discrete GPU, Intel wins by default. You could also buy Intel's 19-11900KF, which comes with a disabled graphics engine, for $23 less.

Winner: Tie

Both chips have their respective strengths, and those strengths are important enough differentiators that they could be the make-or-break decision based upon your needs. AMD's Ryzen 9 5900X comes with 12 cores and 24 threads that will leave the 11900K completely outmatched in threaded applications. Meanwhile, the Core i9-11900K comes with 5.3 GHz boost speeds that will equate to faster performance in single-threaded apps, meaning it will be snappier on the desktop.

The Core i9-11900K also has integrated graphics by default, though you can sacrifice those for a slightly lower price point. Meanwhile, AMD has no high-end options that come with integrated graphics. 

Ryzen 9 5900X vs Core i9-11900K Gaming Performance

Below you can see the geometric mean of our gaming tests at 1080p and 1440p, with each resolution split into its own chart. As per usual, we're testing with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 to reduce GPU-imposed bottlenecks as much as possible, and differences between test subjects will shrink with lesser cards or higher resolutions. PBO indicates an overclocked Ryzen configuration. You can find our test system details here.
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