The Intel Core i9 14900K is the final flagship to grace the LGA 1700 CPU socket, theoretically serving as the ultimate showcase for what team blue’s processors can do. While this is true when it comes to performance in games and applications, it’s impossible to ignore how hot this chip runs, its thirst for watts, and the negligible generational improvements it offers.
I’ve been using the Core i9 14900K for about a week for this review, with the brand-new ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Dark Hero motherboard serving as its home. Unfortunately, try as it might, I can’t describe this processor as one of the best gaming CPUs out there without some substantial caveats. That said, it does have some clear strengths if you have the cooling setup, power supply, and stomach to handle it.
- Strong single-threaded performance
- Unrivalled multi-threaded capabilities
- Great frame rate consistency
- Often falls behind cheaper AMD X3D CPUs in games
- Extraordinarily power hungry
- Requires a high-end cooling solution
The Core i9 14900K specs are near-identical to the previous Intel flagship, the Core i9 13900KS, albeit with higher max turbo frequencies for both the performance cores (P-Cores) and efficient cores (E-Cores).
However, these clock speed boosts are negligible at best. P-Cores enjoy a 200MHz uplift, while E-Cores see a 100MHz increase. This minor bump leaves little reason for owners of 13th gen i9 processors to upgrade, as the performance increases they offer, if any, are simply not big enough.
This problem isn’t unique to the Core i9 14900K, with the Intel Core i5 14600K also struggling to differentiate itself from its predecessor in terms of specs. Meanwhile, the Intel Core i7 14700K does at least enjoy four extra E-Cores to better separate itself from the prior generation.
Intel Core i9 14900K specs:
|Cores (P+E)||24 (8+16)|
|Base Clock (P / E)||3.20GHz / 2.40GHz|
|Max. Turbo Freq. (P / E)||5.60GHz / 4.40GHz|
There are two features, however, that are unique to the Core i9 14900K, but we expect will see wider support down the line, either across the 14th gen series or on the upcoming Core Ultra family of processors. The first, briefly, is an update to the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility, leveraging AI to enhance the overclocking experience.
The other is ‘Intel Application Optimization’, which aims to better determine and direct application resources in real-time for increased performance. Currently, there are only two games that benefit from the tech, Rainbow Six: Siege and Metro: Exodus. Neither game features as part of our normal benchmark suite, so we haven’t had chance to test this, but we may revisit it as the list of supported titles grows.
Finally, as with all 14th gen parts, the Core i9 14900K also offers support for the latest wireless technologies, namely Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5.3. It’ll also handle Thunderbolt 5 too, when it arrives. Intel has also thrown a bone to owners of the best gaming RAM, increasing XMP speeds past 8,000MT/s.
Our approach to Intel Core i9 14900K benchmarks remains the same as with other processor reviews. The CPU is paired with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 GPU to remove any potential graphics card bottlenecks, as this pixel pusher is more than capable of handling ray tracing and rasterization tests.
All frame rate testing is conducted at 1080p to place more strain on the processor while maintaining a realistic use-case resolution, with additional insight provided by synthetic tests by 3DMark and Cinebench 2024.
Both the Core i9 14900K and comparison CPUs in the bar charts below were freshly tested for this review, using the latest BIOS and drivers available at the time. All components were mirrored across each processor tested, save for the motherboard, naturally.
Here are the specs of our test system:
- CPU: Intel Core i9 14900K
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Dark Hero (BIOS v052)
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR5 6,000MHz
- Cooler: Corsair iCUE H150i Elite Capellix XT
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080
- Driver: GeForce Game Ready – WHQL (537.42)
- OS: Windows 11 Pro 22H2 (22621.2428)
- SSD: Samsung 990 Pro 4TB
- PSU: Corsair RMx SHIFT Series 1000W
- Case: Corsair 5000D RGB Airflow
The Core i9 14900K appears to put in a strong showing in our gaming benchmarks, keeping pace or otherwise beating the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X in all but one instance. However, it cannot consistently compete with the AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D, a processor that costs $140 less.
It flexes its strength best in the Total War: Warhammer 3 ‘Mirrors of Madness’ benchmark, enjoying a 4fps lead versus the Ryzen 7 7800X3D in average frame rates and pulls ahead by 10fps when it comes to 1% lows. The Core i9 14900K snatches another victory in Cyberpunk 2077, using the game’s ‘Ultra’ settings, with a near 100fps minimum frame rate, but it falls behind the 3D V-Cache CPU on the average front.
Aside from these wins, the Core i9 14900K generally finds itself playing second fiddle to the Ryzen 7 7800X3D. While the advantages enjoyed by the team red chip don’t translate to every game on the market, it’s consistent enough that it’s on average a better buy for gaming.
Briefly, and oddly, the Core i9 14900K does manage to defeat the Ryzen 7 7800X3D when it comes to Civilization VI, only to concede to the Ryzen 9 7900X. All the turn times produced by the CPUs are within a second or two of each other, but the Core i9 14900K looks all the worse for it when power draw enters the equation (which we’ll touch on shortly).
When it comes to creative and production applications, the Core i9 14900K looks to be an absolute beast in every sense of the word. Its 24 cores and 32 threads left everything else in the dust, in Cinebench 2024 and the 3DMark CPU Profile benchmarks. The latter’s Time Spy test also saw Intel enjoy a comfortable lead too, despite it not translating into a tangible difference in real-world gaming.
As such, if you’re someone who requires a do-it-all processor that can both work and play, then the Core i9 14900K looks to be a strong contender. That is, of course, if you don’t have to think twice about your electricity bill and live in a colder environment, because this Intel CPU loves watts and runs hot.
While the Core i9 14900K is a class-leader when it comes to topping the Cinebench 2024 charts, it does so by guzzling up to 343W. I didn’t see numbers quite so high in games, but CPU Package Power did reach uncomfortable levels of up to 260W in both Civilization VI and Cyberpunk 2077.
Worse still, even with a 360mm AIO cooler attached to it, the operating temperatures of the Core i9 14900K ranged from 70-90°C under load. This is a beefy processor, and it demands an equally beefy cooling solution, as otherwise I can only foresee the chip thermal throttling.
Contrast this with the much more efficient and cooler Ryzen 7 7800X3D, and it becomes even harder to justify using the Core i9 14900K in its stead for gaming. Intel does seem to have the advantage in other applications, but it’s not without its problems.
The Intel Core i9 14900K price is $599 / £579, making it cost the same as the 13900K did at launch. This is an important qualifier, as 13th gen CPUs can already be found for a discount, leaving little justification for spending the extra cash on this 14th gen chip.
While the Core i9 14900K is laden with intergenerational pricing problems on one side, it faces an even steeper hurdle when AMD enters the frame. Intel has a 3D V-Cache problem that it doesn’t have a surefire answer to, leaving the Ryzen 7 7800X3D to rule the gaming roost largely unchecked. Not only does the 14th gen flagship struggle to match the X3D processor on performance, it’s also much more expensive, to the point that AMD’s option feels like a no-brainer.
There are platform costs to consider too, as the LGA 1700 motherboard you purchase for the Core i9 14900K won’t be compatible with future Intel processors, unlike the Ryzen 7 7800X3D and its AM5 ilk. This is less of a problem if you already have a board and wish to upgrade, but then the uncomfortable truth of 13th vs. 14th gen pricing rears its head up once again.
The Core i9 14900K truly feels like it has almost everything working against its immediate value, with its future prospects not looking much brighter either. I struggle to think of any surefire instances in which its price is justified when the wider market is brought into consideration.
The Intel Core i9 14900K isn’t so much a last hurrah for the LGA 1700 socket as it is a final gasp. Its generational improvements are meager, and these don’t amount to anything like enough to beat back its much cheaper, and more efficient competition. All while it chugs back watts and runs hot enough to make high-grade water coolers sweat.
This is a tuned-up Core i9 13900KS with a few extra features in all but name, and it pains me that Intel opted to call it the Core i9 14900K rather than the Core i9 13900KX (or something else more aptly descriptive). In a word, I’m simply disappointed.
There’s plenty of performance to be had with the Core i9 14900K, in gaming and with creative or production workloads, to the point that it can’t be written off as a bad processor. That said, there are too many caveats surrounding it that prevent that all from shining through.
Intel Core i9 13900K
The Intel Core i9 13900K shares many similarities with the Intel Core i9 14900K, including core and thread count. While its clock speeds are slightly lower, you can often find it for a discount, improving its value.
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D
The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D is more expensive than the Intel Core i9 14900K, but it has more threads and performance cores at its disposal, as well as a greater pool of L3 cache. Its AM5 platform also provides you with the added benefit of upgrading your CPU in the future without needing to buy a new motherboard too.
Intel Core i9 14900K
The Intel Core i9 14900K struggles to consistently compete with cheaper AMD Ryzen X3D CPUs in gaming, and while it does show its strength in other areas, its marginal generational improvements and insatiable appetite for watts can’t be ignored.