Intel’s new Rocket Lake series of performance-focused CPUs blasts off on March 30th, 2021. With that date lurking right around the corner, many consumers are turning to pre-orders to secure these in-demand chips before they fly off the shelves as most new releases have done this last year. COVID-19, cryptocurrency mining, and newfound demand for premium components have led to mass shortages. Now more than ever, it is imperative to know exactly what you’re buying and what will be the perfect fit for your next build.
Rocket Lake’s lineup has a range of great options for budget builders and enthusiasts alike. However, two of Team Blue’s offerings this generation rise above and deliver blistering speeds for rock-solid price points. The i7-11700K comes out as a high-end option that can handle high frame rates in AAA titles while still being an attractive option for intense workloads for the professional working from home. Meanwhile, the i9-11900K is the CPU for the uncompromising gamer or professional who needs every single core to be packed with features and performance.
|CPU||Rocket Lake i7-11700k||Rocket Lake i9-11900k|
|Included Graphics||UHD Graphics 750||UHD Graphics 750|
Base Features – Rocket Lake i9-11900k
At first glance, it can be difficult to tell the i7-11700K and the i9-11900K apart from each other. The core structure is largely the same, and both CPUs share the 14nm node design of the Cypress Cove refresh that Intel touts as a direct competitor to AMD’s new 7nm node infrastructure with the Ryzen 5000 series CPUs. The similarities don’t end with the basic design of these two CPUs.
Both CPUs share the same 8 cores and 12 threads as well as the same reported power draw at 125W. Though it is worth noting that the i9-11900K has been seen peaking at upwards of double its reported TDP during intense workloads. Continuing the trend, the CPUs share the same 16MB L3 cache and include UHD Graphics 750. The i9-11900K gains a marginal lead because it can make full use of the DDR4-3200MHz memory within its L3 cache while the lower-tiered Rocket Lake CPUs can only make use of half of the frequency. This difference leads to a slight boost in performance during certain multi-threaded tasks.
With even clock speeds being neck and neck between these chips, reviewers have had to put these CPUs through a slew of demanding benchmarks to see if the ~$140 price difference is backed up by a worthwhile performance leap between the two processors.
Single & Multi-Thread Performance – Rocket Lake i7-11700k
Single thread performance is tight, with the margin being negligible during benchmarks like CPU-Z. This metric found the i7-11700K scoring a few points higher than its more expensive counterpart at 719 and 716 respectively. While the single-thread performance between these two CPUs may be similar, both blast ahead of AMD’s top-of-the-line Ryzen 9 5950X by 5-7%. But the reduced core counts in the Rocket Lake series of chips do cause AMD to score much higher in multi-thread performance, with the Ryzen 9 5950X doubling the i9-11900K’s performance.
The i7-11700K is currency lacking in the multi-thread benchmark department. While no reliable tests have been released for that particular metric, the i9-11900K’s score gives a fair idea of what to expect. Given the similar single-thread performance and no core count differences, the i7-11700K has a high likelihood of falling just under the i9-11900K’s 6549 CPU-Z benchmark score.
Price – Rocket Lake i7-11700k
Perhaps the only metric where these CPUs vary wildly is the price-point. The i7-11700K can be had for $399, setting it at a competitive price to the comparable Ryzen 7 5800X’s $449 price tag. Meanwhile, the i9-11900K is going to cost upwards of $539. Compared to the AMD offerings, the CPU comes in at $10 less than the powerful Ryzen 9 5900X. Consumers can expect the i7-11700K to have a 10-14% performance boost over Intel’s previous generation i9-10900K. It’s a hard sell with the i9-11900K only squeaking out another percentage or two more than the i7-11700K.
Verdict – Rocket Lake i7-11700k
The i9-11900K is a hard CPU to justify when there are competitive options by AMD in the same price bracket that sport higher core counts, better performance, and less power draw. It is still a lightning-fast chip that may very well end up as many consumer’s only viable option due to availability and shortages. While it’s not a bad idea to pick up the i9-11900K in that circumstance, the better value by far is the i7-11700K. It has a nearly identical design and structure to the i9-11900K while boasting single-thread performance that outclasses the more expensive chip. Getting that much performance for such a reasonable price makes this one of the best bang for your buck CPUs on the market.