This week on, “things we didn’t ask for…” comes the i9-9900KS. Now, is Intel providing a genuine improvement here? Or are you just paying to have an S at the end of your CPU model, like certain recent NVIDIA GPU releases? Let’s have a look.
Gimme That 5GHz CPU
It doesn’t seem that long ago we were writing about the i9-9900K versus other Intel offerings. Nine months later, Intel is clearly hoping builders will stuff their stockings with the new i9-9900KS.
Now, in fairness to Intel, there’s something to be said about these “special edition” releases.
Their rationale is that they can tell at the factory which chips are going to be better than most. Yet, if the chip’s specification is very high out-of-the-box, then it’s not just an i9-9900K anymore, right? So rather than leave it to chance, why not make a new product where you know the performance?
This is where builders are split, as we know there’s a bit of a lottery when it comes to performance from chip to chip. However, if Intel is having these CPUs made in the thousands according to their spec, and 5-10% of them just happen to perform well beyond the base specification, then shouldn’t that just be a bonus for lucky buyers at the lower price?
Alright there, voices in my head of all Intel staff and all PC builders—enough of the questions!
It’s no wonder Intel has elected to go down this route, when you take a look at the sticker price for the 5.2GHz variant of one of these beauties:
The normal 5.0GHz version used in the build below is much more reasonably priced ($525), but there’s nothing reasonable about more than doubling the cost for 0.2GHz. And this isn’t the only issue with the i9-9900KS either, unfortunately. It looks like Intel is running out of power to get this performance; if you want to know more about that, I’d recommend watching this Gamers Nexus video.
For now, let’s take a look at the official specifications:
Base Clock: 4GHz
Boost Clock: 5GHz
Cache: 16 MB Intel® Smart Cache
If you’re playing the game of ‘top price-to-performance ratio trumps all else,’ the TDP might stand out to you. This is because, outside of a 0.4GHz change in base clock, the specifications released by Intel are the same as the i9-9900K. So with a higher power draw, how much of this is winning the silicon lottery, and how much of this is just Intel providing a factory overclock? Sure, once the extreme overclockers have their way with it, we’ll see the true limits. However, the i9-9900K with “normal” cooling topped out at 5.1GHz on the best chips, and the new special edition i9-9900KS seems to be squeezing in at 5.2GHz.
So how much are you paying to be lazy on overclocking here? At time of writing, $53 more. Another way to look at it is 11% higher price for 0.1GHz (a 2% higher clock)
If you can’t tell by my tone, I’m not particularly impressed by this release based on a price-to-performance basis. It doesn’t help my reputation as the writer around here that is an AMD fanboy, but this chip is one of those for people that consider the cost irrelevant; they simply must have the best gaming CPU on the market right now, regardless of practicality.
So, what components to put with the current mightiest gaming CPU? Let’s look at the other parts!
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15
The big daddy of coolers. Frankly, this should be enough for just about anything. But if you’re going for the big overclocks, perhaps consider more heavy-duty water cooling solutions instead.
We’re going big with the monstrous RTX 2080 Ti, of course. 4K gaming comfortably above 60 FPS is the expectation here, and this is the best single-card option for gaming right now.
We’ve gone with a nice chunk of RAM at a fast 3600MHz speed; we’ve got plenty of performance here.
A fast gaming PC needs fast storage, and there’s not much faster than the Samsung 970 EVO Plus. The 500GB model gives us plenty of space to work with without breaking the bank!
Storage: Toshiba X300 6TB
We’ve gone with a popular choice in performance desktop gaming hard drives: the X300 from Toshiba. Very reliable and fast for a traditional hard drive, and 6TB is a nice large well of storage to fill up.
Motherboard: MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Edge AC
With power delivery and cooling being a concern, we’ve gone with one of the best-rated boards for the money right now. Comes full-to-bursting with features, and provides everything you could need in a build!
PSU: CORSAIR HX1000
Knowing what the CPU and GPU in this build are like for pulling power, we’ve gone with the ever-reliable HX1000 from Corsair as the power supply. This platinum-rated, fully-modular PSU gives us everything we need, even when overclocking.
Just look at this thing. If you thought the build was big before… one of the best on the market, for when style meets function. A superb way to round off this big build.
Total Cost: $2920
So yes, we’re not making a budget PC with this one, yet I think that’s obvious if you’re using the i9-9900KS at its core.
What you are getting for your money is a gaming and productivity monster that will set you up for a long, long time to come. Everything about this screams performance, and I would recommend choosing a shiny new 4K monitor to go with it. Can’t let that high-resolution gaming potential go to waste after all!
Go Forth and Build!
Now before you go all bonkers spending every saved up penny you have on these components, there are extras that you might need to finish off this i9-9900KS build:
- A copy of Windows. If you are a student or work for a big business, you might be able to get a copy for free or at a significantly lower cost. If not, we recommend Windows 10 on disc ($90) or USB ($120).
- An optical drive—critical if you are wanting to install Windows 10 via disc. Good thing here is DVD-RW drives are cheap these days (here’s one for $21).
We also have general recommendations for:
If you want to see other builds with even higher performance (a short list at this point!), check out the main page at Logical Increments.
There you have it—a high-end gaming build to utilize the best out of the new i9-9900KS!
If you have any questions or suggestions about this build, then let us know in the comments.