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Intel is abandoning high clock speeds on new CPUs, according to leak

The forthcoming Intel Core 9 Ultra 285K Arrow Lake processor will reportedly have a much lower clock frequency than the Core i9 14900K.

Intel’s new CPUs won’t have ridiculous clock speeds, according to leak: CPU fire mockup

The fastest CPU in the forthcoming Intel Arrow Lake desktop lineup will reportedly have a much slower clock speed than its current flagship 14th gen chips, with a potential drop of 700-900MHz. If this latest leak is true, it looks as though Intel may have learned its lesson about clocking its CPUs within an inch of their lives, and will be playing it safer with its new Core Ultra desktop CPUs.

Intel has recently struggled to keep up with AMD when it comes to making the best gaming CPU options. Intel heavily relied on high clock speeds to give its fastest processors the edge, but recent reports of Intel CPU game crashes have prompted the company to ask motherboard makers to reduce the power limits on their motherboards, which in turn gives their CPUs less headroom to hit sky-high clock speeds.

That could all change with Intel’s new Arrow Lake CPUs, however, if this latest rumor is to be believed. According to a series of posts by tech leaker MebiuW on Chinese microblogging site Weibo (via Wccftech), “the frequency of the 14900KS will be 12% higher than that of Ultra 2 285K” (using Google Translate).

Intel’s new CPUs won’t have ridiculous clock speeds, according to leak: Intel Core 9 Ultra 285K clock speed leak screenshot from MebiuW

The Core i9 14900KS is the current flagship of Intel’s 14th gen lineup and has a very high boost clock of 6.2GHz, while the Core i9 14900K hits 6GHz. The new Core 9 Ultra 285K would need to be clocked at 5.53GHz for the Core i9 14900KS to run 12% faster.

That’s a big drop in clock speed between these two generations of processors. Interestingly, though, the clock speed could actually be even lower. When MebiuW is told they could “just say 5.5,” the reply is that “5.5 is basically impossible. 5.3 is pretty good.”

Could the Core 9 Ultra 285K have a peak turbo clock speed of just 5.3GHz? If Intel’s architectural improvements provide a big enough shift in IPC, then clock speed may not be as important with this generation as with 14th gen, and 5.3GHz is still faster than the 5.2GHz boost frequency of the Core i9 12900K.

However, MebiuW casts doubt on the former, saying “the single-core performance of 285K may not be 12% higher than that of 14900KS.” Basically, we can expect the 285K to be quicker than the 14900KS, even with the lower clock speed, but the difference isn’t going to be massive.

Meanwhile, AMD has shown that clock speed isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to gaming performance – thanks to its massive stack of L3 cache, the Ryzen 7 7800X3D is amazingly fast in games, but it only has a 5GHz top clock speed.

Of course, none of the above has been officially confirmed by Intel, so take this with a pinch of salt for the moment. However, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Intel went easy on the clock speeds with its new desktop Arrow Lake CPUs, particularly after all the recent reports of instability on its Core i9 CPUs.

The question is whether the new CPUs have what it takes to compete with the forthcoming AMD Zen 5 architecture, and it looks as though we’ll have to wait until the end of 2024 to find out.

We’re hoping to discover more about Intel Arrow Lake and AMD Zen 5 at Computex in June 2024, but in the meantime check out our guide on how to build a gaming PC if you’re thinking of putting together a new system based on a current Intel or AMD CPU.