Intel Core i9 14900K review – is it worth it?

We take a look at the new ruler of Intel's desktop CPU realm

Intel Core i9 9900K review

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Our Intel Core i9-14900K review is here. We’ve been hands-on with the new Intel desktop processors flagship, and here we’ll briefly cover the core information you need to know. We’ll be looking at the vital statistics of the new arrival, synthetic benchmarks, and some real-world gaming performance, to provide you with critical decision-making knowledge.

If you’re looking to buy Intel 14th gen processors, consider reading this article first for a look at what to expect and what you’ll be getting for your money. Throughout this 14900K review, the key battle to consider is probably the 14900K vs 13900K, Intel Raptor Lake-R vs Intel Rator Lake. But if AMD is a potential option for you, take a look at our considerations for the Core i9 14900K vs Ryzen 9 7950 X3D piece. Right, let’s get into it:

Intel Core i9 14900K review – specs

Intel’s Core i9 14900K is set to take over from the 13900K in terms of performance, but what do the specs say?

Processor ModelRelease QuarterCoresMax Clock SpeedCache SizeIntegrated GraphicsTDP
Intel Core i9-14900KQ4’23246.00 GHz36 MB Intel Smart CacheIntel UHD Graphics 770125W
Intel Core i9-13900KS ProcessorQ1’23246.00 GHz36 MB Intel Smart CacheIntel UHD Graphics 770150W
Intel Core i9-13900K ProcessorQ4’22245.80 GHz36 MB Intel Smart CacheIntel UHD Graphics 770125W
Core i9 14900K review specs comparison

What are we looking at here? Well, as suggested before launch the 14900K offers a bit more in terms of clock speed vs the 13900K, but the elephant in the room is the 13900KS. All suggestions here are that in terms of core specs, they’re essentially the same. And, given some expertise in overclocking the 13900K may even reach a boost clock of 6GHz itself. So what’s actually new?

Well, aside from a drop in the 13900K / KS prices, the 14900K arrival also brings with it improved power efficiency. It offers a TDP of 125W, which is the same as the 13900K, but it can boost to 6GHz as standard. Or, to put it another way, it offers the same performance as the 13900KS (which has a TDP of 150W) for the TDP of the 13900K.

So that’s what with dealing with. There’s nothing revolutionary; the same cores, same threads, same memory support, and integrated graphics as the 13900K/KS. The list goes on, so in this Core i9 14900K review, think of this processor as a stepping stone to what’s next for Intel.

Intel Core i9 14900K review – test rig

CPUCore i9-14900K
MotherboardMSI Z790 Carbon WiFi
RAMCorsair Dominator Titanium DDR5 64GB @ 6800Mhz
CPU CoolerCorsair H170i ELITE LCD XT
GPURTX 4070 Ti
PSUROG Thor 1200W
Core i9 14900K review – test bench

For this Core i9 14900K review, we paired the 14900K with an MSI Z790 Carbon WiFi, 64GB of Corsair’s Titanium DDR5 RAM running at 6800MHz. The CPU was fitted with the Corsair H170i ELITE LCD XT, and we included an RTX 4070 Ti as the graphics card of choice. For the PSU we opted for the ROG Thor 1200W.

All in all, we felt this was a system befitting of the new CPU, although as a new test rig we are unable to provide direct comparisons in performance to its predecessors.

However, for a general reference point, we’ll include the results from our sister title, WePC’s Core i9 13900K review. Again, we’re not drawing direct comparisons here, given the variances involved, but we do follow the same testing process as WePC. The test rig for the 13900K was:

  • Intel Core i9-13900K
  • ASUS ROG RYUJIN ii 360 CPU cooler
  • ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 Extreme
  • Corsair Vengeance 16GB DDR5 @5600Mhz
  • MSI Gaming X Trio RTX 3080
  • Fractal Design ION+ 860W

Intel Core i9 14900K review – synthetic benchmarks

BenchmarkCore i9 14900KCore i9 13900K
*not the same test bench*
CPU Z Single927.6933
CPU Z Multi17074.216812
Cinebench R23 Single21432288
Cinebench R23 Multi3997338951
Geekbench Single30972244
Geekbench Multi2271325102
Core i9 14900K review synthetic benchmark scores

Not being able to test both CPUs in the same environment is not ideal of course – and this can obviously impact what we see when comparing these numbers. However, these reference 13900K scores are within typical margins for the benchmarks from third-party testing, and the 14900K is generally…not too different. Overall, the 14900K appears to take the win, as we’d expect, but there are wins and losses in this battle.

We’d think, given closely configured test benches, that the 14900K would be a clearer victor. But there’s nothing to suggest a staggering difference, and this points to the incremental upgrade Intel 14th gen is supposed to bring.

AIDA stress test

  • Aida 64 stress 5 min
  • CPU core max: 100°C
  • H170i LCD ELITE XT coolant temp: 32°C
  • Throttle % max: 10%

With a Corsair H170i ELITE LCD XT installed to keep things cool, we ran our AIDA stress test and saw 10% max throttle at a temperature of 100°C. That’s…not great, but it appears an improvement vs the i9 13900K. Again, referencing WePC, the 13th gen CPU throttled 13% at the same temperature.

That suggests the 14900K has improved thermal efficiency here, but a 10% loss of performance is still a CPU running at 90% workload max. Those numbers aren’t great, and they still need some work. But that will likely require new architecture from Intel and not some licks of paint.

Core i9 14900K review – gaming

Of course, we ran the i9 14900K through a couple of gaming tests, and here we used the same test bench for a direct comparison of performance. As you can see, there’s nothing game-changing. In fact, we saw 2fps more with the 13900K installed on Counter-Strike 2. There’s such a minor difference here though, that it’s almost margin of error type changes. For Cyberpunk 2077 it was a 4fps difference with the 14900K pipping it, but it’s not much of a gap at all.

CPUCounter-Strike 2
@ 1080p HIGH
@ 1080p LOW
Core i9 14900K336 fps219 fps
Core i9 13900K338 fps215 fps
Intel Core i9 14900K review – gaming tests

Core i9 14900K – price

As above, the same is below, in this review. There are minimal differences here on price, with last-gen’s 13900K’s MSRP of $589 being upped to $599 for the hero product that is the 14900K. That stands to reason, given the minor improvements, but honestly, it may make more sense to buy a cheaper 13th gen processor on a deal. Yes, progress has costs, and the price does seem to accurately reflect the changes present in the new processor. But, well, that’s all there is to it. Minimal changes, minimal price increase.

Conclusion – Is the Core i9 14900K worth it?

So is the Core i9 14900K worth it? If you have a 13900K or KS we’d say certainly not. If you have a 12900K or older-gen then sure… if you need to upgrade right now. But without such urgency, we’d personally be waiting until the next gen.

Yes, it’s the new processor at the top of the mountain, likely the best CPU for gaming, but there’s not enough here to part money for unless circumstances demand it. Or unless you demand the latest and greatest processors. Heat issues remain, performance is a smidge better, and for that, you’d need to pay slightly more. From what we’ve seen it’s a nice step forward, but the view is very, very similar.

Kevin is the Editor of PC Guide. He has a broad interest and enthusiasm for consumer electronics, PCs and all things consumer tech - and more than 15 years experience in tech journalism.