Intel Core i5 9600K Review

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Five years ago, if Intel had introduced a six-core mainstream desktop CPU, we most likely would have required new underpants. However, AMD raised the bar first, and not only with a six-core CPU, but an eight-core model as well.

The Core i5-8600K simply lacked the multi-threaded power to compete against AMD’s six-core Ryzen 5 processors, which had 12 threads to play with as opposed to Intel’s six and were less expensive. However, Intel did push the price of low-end quad-cores down, making the Core i3-8350K somewhat of a bargain at the time. The Intel Core i5-8600K wasn’t a particularly appealing option due to these factors, and the situation is the same for the Core i7-9700K as well. It was also not significantly faster in games than less expensive quad-cores.

The Intel Core i5 9600K CPU from Intel hasn’t altered much either; it offers a 100MHz higher base frequency, a 300MHz higher maximum boost frequency, and a 200MHz higher all-core boost. Although the die is slightly larger (it’s the eight-core die with two cores disabled) and, like other 9th Gen CPUs, the CPU substrate is a little bit thicker, we also get STIM (soldered thermal interface material) in place of thermal paste.

The core count, thread count, TDP, and manufacturing process are all the same. Will the Core i5-9600K perform any better than its predecessor given that AMD has also improved their CPUs’ performance since last year?

Intel Core i5 9600K Specifications

Between the $299 Ryzen 7 2700 and the $225 Ryzen 5 2600X is the $263 Core i5-9600K. Unexpectedly, Intel increased the cost of the -9600K by $5 in comparison to the Core i5-8600K.

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The Intel Core i5 9600K is produced by Intel using its 14nm++ technology. The chip has two channels of DDR4-2666 memory support, six execution cores (without Hyper-Threading technology), an integrated UHD 630 graphics engine, and unlocked ratio multipliers for simple overclocking. The Core i9-9600K has a 95W thermal design power rating and 9MB of L3 cache, just as the Core i5-8600K that came before it.

However, Intel did significantly increase the Turbo Boost frequencies on the Intel Core i5 9600K. Whether employing one core or all six, solder-based thermal interface material enhances heat transfer, enabling higher frequencies. A base clock rate of 3.7 GHz already represents a 100 MHz gain over the frequency floor of the Core i5-8600K, and using multiple cores can result in speed increases of up to 300 MHz.

Even when we tried to overclock Intel’s Core i5-9600K, we didn’t feel the need for excessive cooling. Under five hours of Prime95 optimized for AVX instructions, the processor maintained a constant 80°C, and 64°C over a variety of non-AVX jobs. Of course, we did use a powerful Corsair H115i running at top speed. However, at the default settings, you shouldn’t have any issues keeping the processor cool. With a capable closed-loop liquid cooling, overclocking is acceptable.

After a BIOS update, the Intel Core i5 9600K slides into existing 300-series motherboards. Most of them, if not all of them, ought to be able to comfortably accommodate the Core i5-9600K and its power needs; however, if you intend to overclock your processor, you might want to avoid the most affordable variants.

Intel Core i5 9600K Essential information

Product Collection9th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 Processors
Code NameProducts formerly Coffee Lake
Vertical SegmentDesktop
Processor Numberi5-9600K
Launch DateQ4’18
Lithography14 nm
Recommended Customer Price$262.00 – $272.00
Use ConditionsPC/Client/Tablet

Intel Core i5 9600K Specifications

Total Cores6
Total Threads6
Max Turbo Frequency4.60 GHz
Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 Frequency4.60 GHz
Processor Base Frequency3.70 GHz
Cache9 MB Intel® Smart Cache
Bus Speed8 GT/s

Intel Core i5 9600K Performance & Tests

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Despite only scoring 8% less than the Core i7-9700K in the Cinebench R15 single-core benchmark, the Core i5-9600K came in between the two AMD Ryzen 5 APUs. However, due to the fact that it supports fewer threads than our reference CPUs, the Core i5-9600K scores relatively poorly in multi-core benchmarks. Due to its ability to run up to 12 threads simultaneously, the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X outperformed the Core i5-9600K by 16% in CB R15 Multi.

To measure how well the Intel Core i5 9600K maintained performance under prolonged stress, we also ran Cinebench R15 Multi loop on it. The graphs below show that even after almost 40 minutes and 60 iterations of the looped benchmark, our test CPU continued to operate reliably.

All of the cores of the Core i5-9600K operated at 4.3 GHz without experiencing heat throttling. In our CB R15 Multi loop, the CPU averaged 998 points and peaked at about 1,005 points. Due to the fact that we ran HWiNFO throughout our looped benchmark, which used some extra CPU resources, these scores are lower than the one we obtained in our single CB R15 Multi test.

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The Core i5-9600K is an excellent CPU for gaming. In our gaming tests, the chip finishes a few percentage points behind its Coffee Lake brothers, but it does not throttle like our Core i9-9900K test sample did. Even though the Core i7-8700K could support up to 12 threads, the Core i5-9600K outperformed it, which highlights how much Intel has developed their chips over the years.

In our PCMark 10 comparison table, the Core i5-9600K came in second place to the Ryzen 5 2600. However, the Ryzen APUs dropped in our comparison table since the Coffee Lake chip outperformed it in the more dated PCMark 8.

Throughout our time with the CPU, the test Core i5-9600K continuously delivered strong performance, and we had no problems or protracted wait periods. However, if you frequently operate with multithreaded apps or run several programs at once, you will notice the shortage of threads. If you require a CPU for either of those uses, we advise that you look into AMD or Intel processors with more cores or threads than the Core i5-9600K, however our review CPU is an excellent low-cost gaming processor.

Intel Core i5 9600K Conclusion

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The same dilemma we’ve seen before arises when deciding between a Intel Core i5 9600K and Ryzen: it depends on the kind of software you use most frequently. The Intel Core i5-9600K is the right CPU for you if you’re a gamer who rarely goes above 1920×1080. But if the majority of your workloads—such as content production and productivity—are threaded, a potent Ryzen gives you additional performance at a reasonable cost.

Is the Intel Core i5 9600K worth it?

The 9th generation Intel Core i5 9600K (Coffee Lake) processor is well-known for its potent performance in general-purpose computing workloads and gaming. It’s “worth it” based on your own requirements, tastes, and financial situation. Here are some things to think about:

Performance: With its high clock rates and 6-core, 6-thread architecture, the i5-9600K is a CPU that excels at single-threaded tasks and gaming. It functions flawlessly in a variety of games and apps.

Overclocking: The Intel Core i5 9600K is unlocked, meaning that overclocking is possible, as indicated by the “K” designation. Should you feel at ease with overclocking or intend to investigate it in the future, the i5-9600K offers versatility in exceeding stock speeds.

With six cores and twelve threads, the Intel Core i5 9600K is a powerful processor for gaming and overclocking, but it also has several disadvantages, like high power consumption, high temperatures, no integrated cooler, and no hyper-threading. Additionally, a new platform with an LGA 1200 socket is needed, which could raise the upgrading cost.

If you’re searching for a quick and reasonably priced gaming processor and don’t mind the additional power and cooling requirements, the Intel Core i5 9600K is a good choice. However, you might want to think about going with the AMD choice if you’re searching for a more efficient and well-balanced processor or if your motherboard is already compatible with the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X or 3600X. Similar or improved gaming performance, reduced power consumption, improved multi-threaded speed, and a free cooling are all features of the AMD Ryzen 5 processors.

Is Intel Core i5 9600K good for gaming?

Because of its reasonable price, great single-core performance, and capability for overclocking, the Intel Core i5-9600K is a superb processor for gaming. Its disadvantages include no integrated cooler, high temperatures, high power consumption, and lack of hyper-threading. Additionally, a new platform with an LGA 1200 socket is needed, which could raise the upgrading cost.

The majority of games can be played at 1080p resolution with ease on an Intel Core i5-9600K, while some demanding titles or multitasking situations may cause issues. You might wish to go with the AMD choice if you’re searching for a more balanced and effective processor or if you already own a motherboard that works with the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X or 3600X. Similar or improved gaming performance, reduced power consumption, improved multi-threaded speed, and a free cooling are all features of the AMD Ryzen 5 processors.

Even while the Intel Core i5 9600K is a good option for gaming, you should still take other parts of your system into account, particularly the graphics card (GPU). A well-balanced gaming system will be produced by combining the i5-9600K with a powerful GPU, as the GPU frequently has a major influence on gaming performance.

Can you overclock the Intel Core i5 9600K?

It is true that the Intel Core i5 9600K processor is unlocked and capable of being overclocked. The model name’s “K” mark denotes an unlocked multiplier, which lets users modify the core multiplier and overclock the CPU to faster clock speeds.

The general procedures for overclocking the Intel Core i5 9600K are as follows:

Check that your motherboard is compatible with overclocking and has all the functions you need. You will require a motherboard with a Z390, Z370, or other suitable chipset in order to use the Intel Core i5 9600K.

BIOS/UEFI Settings: Go into your motherboard’s BIOS or UEFI settings. Look for settings pertaining to voltages, base clock (BCLK), and CPU multiplier. You can change the CPU’s voltage and clock speeds with these settings.

Voltage and Multiplier Adjustment: To increase the clock speed, increase the CPU multiplier. Carefully adjust the voltages because higher voltages can produce more heat and power usage. Make sure the temperature stays within safe bounds by keeping an eye on it.

Stress testing: To verify system stability after making changes, put your system through a stress test. For stress testing, programs such as Prime95 or AIDA64 can be utilized. Make sure the temperature stays within safe bounds by keeping an eye on it.

Adjusting: The process of overclocking is iterative. To achieve the best possible balance between performance and stability, adjust your settings. Since every CPU overclocks differently, try different things gradually and explore.

What temperature should an Intel Core i5 9600K run at?

The maximum temperature of the Intel Core i5 9600K processor is 100°C, after which the CPU will begin to reduce its speed in order to avoid damage. It is not necessary for the CPU to operate at this temperature all the time, though, as this could shorten its life and instability. Depending on the workload, surrounding temperature, cooling solution, and overclocking settings, the CPU should ideally operate at a lower temperature.

The Intel Core i5 9600K processor can operate at various temperatures in a variety of situations, including stress testing, gaming, and idle time. Here are a few instances of temperatures that have been recorded from different sources:

Idle: Depending on the power-saving features and background tasks, the CPU temperature can change while it is idle. The idle temperature has been reported by some users to be between 30°C and 40°C.

Gaming: Depending on the game, graphical settings, resolution, and frame rate, the CPU temperature can change when playing. Between 50°C and 70°C have been reported by some users as the game temperature.

Stress testing: Because stress testing pushes the CPU to its limits, it can result in the greatest CPU temperature. It has been claimed by certain users that stress testing temperatures range from 80°C to 90°C.

How much power does the Intel Core i5 9600K draw?

The maximum power for a continuous load (PL1) is 95W, which is the rated power consumption of the Intel Core i5-9600K processor. On the other hand, the processor can demand up to 250W additional power for short-term boosts (PL2).

The workload, overclocking settings, cooling solution, and motherboard characteristics can all affect the actual power draw. Always keep a dependable power source on hand, and use software like HWMonitor, XTU, or Corsair Link to keep an eye on how much power your system is using.

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