The i9-9900K and variants are intels Flagship consumer and gaming CPU for 2019. Whilst AMD have challenged intel across the board for value, for raw gaming performance the Coffee-Lake refresh i9 retains top spot producing higher frame rates than even the mighty Ryzen 3700X and 3900X. If you’re a high FPS gamer or overclocking enthusiast, and budget isn’t an issue, this is the go-to CPU for you. It also remains highly relevant to creative use of Adobe suite products in particular, where its exceptional clock speed and single-core throughput provide the best performance possible.
Best GPU for 1080p High FPS Gaming/eSports
One area the i9-9900K excels is in very high refresh rate gaming. If you’re a competitive gamer frames-per-second matter: Your PC rendering frames faster than the other guy can mean you see first and shoot first. If you’ve got a 240fps monitor and an i9-9900K, then you need a GPU capable of keeping up. Most competitive gamers will reduce graphics settings to boost performance, so a top tier GPU isn’t necessary.
The RTX 2060 Super is an excellent performer at 1080p, easily capable of exceeding 200fps at 1080p in Overwatch, Rainbow 6 Siege and Apex Legends. Fortnite is no issue at all – although an i9-9900K is really overkill if Fortnite is your poison of choice. Nvidia relented in January 2019 and enabled Freesync compatibilty with their GPUs, meaning you don’t need to pay the premium for a G-Sync monitor to enjoy the benefits of adaptive sync.
The RTX 2060 Super boasts 8Gb VRAM and It also includes Nvidia’s NVENC hardware encoder – so if you’re streaming you can offload that encoding to the GPU for minimal system overheads and maximum performance for both you and your viewers. That’s why it’s our pick for a high FPS 1080p gaming machine over, for example, a Radeon RX 5700XT.
The EVGA RTX 2060 Super SC Ultra Gaming packs all the features of the RTX 2060 Super into a 2 slot, 2 fan form factor. The SC stands for ‘super clocked’ and indicates a higher binned GPU core guaranteeing a 1680mhz boost clock. Anything with two ‘supers’ in its name can’t be bad, right? It includes 2 Displayport outputs and HDMI as well as legacy DVI output, which might be handy in preventing a forced monitor upgrade. It’s backed by EVGA’s 3-year warranty and reputation for excellent customer service and is a strong performer. This rock-solid and full-featured GPU is an excellent choice for high FPS 1080p E-sports.
Best GPU for 1440p Gaming i9-9900KS Builds
AMD’s mid-to-high-end Radeon RX 5700XT is still dominating the centre ground of the GPU market. With a number of partner boards offering good cooling solutions and high performance, this GPU easily surpasses 100fps in AAA titles at 1440p with higher visual settings. Combined with the power of an i9-9900K gaming and all round performance is excellent at this resolution. It performs on a par with the RTX 2070 Super but doesn’t have a hardware encoder or ray tracing cores – this GPU is all about gaming performance and provides unbeatable value.
The PowerColor RX 5700XT Red Devil has a great 3 fan cooler which allows the GPU core to perform to its full potential – the 5700XT does run hot if not adequately cooled. At $440 RRP it’s only a handful of dollars more than less capable versions of the 5700XT and worth it in our opinion.
Best GPU for 1440p high-end i9-9900KS Gaming Rig
1440p is a demanding resolution to run. For peak performance and to utilise the high framerates the i9 is capable of generating you need a top tier GPU. The RTX 2080 Super is unmatched in performance by any product AMD can offer and allows for high-quality settings and high frame rates at 1440p. It avoids the value pitfall of an RTX 2080 Ti saving at least $300 for around 15-20% less performance.
Partner versions of this GPU are available from $699 but we’d recommend the $749 Asus Strix Gaming Advanced. This triple-fan card has a bulky and effective cooling solution which uses zero fan mode for silent operation when it’s not under heavy load and the GPU is under 55C. It includes a USB-C port to allow a VR headset to be connected, as well as some discreet RGB and of course a full backplate.
Best GPU for 4K Gaming i9-9900KS Builds
At 4k, options narrow. An i9-9900KS actually isn’t likely to be fully utilised at 4K, where heavy GPU load will limit frame rates far before we approach the limits of the CPU. Nevertheless, 4K resolution is currently the signature of an extreme high-end AAA gaming build and enthusiasts will want to showcase the best parts across the build.
In order to give the CPU the best chance of stretching its legs, an RTX 2080 Ti is called for – but don’t expect miracles. Titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 will test even the 2080ti to its limits and deliver around 60FPS on ultra settings at 4K with dips below that. A G-Sync monitor will help smooth these variations and maintain the quality of the experience.
The Gigabyte Aorus Waterforce is a high-end version of the RTX 2080 Ti. It uses a 240mm radiator and water cooling to allow boost clocks quoted at 1770Mhz. A 2Ghz+ Overclock should be possible with a bit of luck on silicon quality. Because it’s less reliant on airflow through the card Gigabyte have been able to include a full suite of 3 HDMI, 3 Displayport outputs and a USB-C port on the I/O backplate (though it’s worth noting you can only use 3+1 of either output format at once, not all).
It’s a 2 slot card with a unique aesthetic so you might consider vertically mounting it: it’s one of a handful of cards that won’t suffer from being close to a tempered glass panel since the AIO handles cooling and it’s not reliant on air through the card itself. It includes extensive RGB customisation as well as a 4-year warranty. This powerful GPU can act as a centrepiece in an enthusiast 4K custom gaming rig and serve as a showcase for current top tier gaming hardware.
Best GPU for i9-9900KS
Creative Workstation Builds
One area the i9-9900 series CPUs shine is for creative work, particularly if you’re using the Adobe Creative Suite: Intel has long since had a ‘preferential’ arrangement with Adobe and their software could be generously described as ‘intel optimised’ or rather less charitably as ‘badly optimised for AMD’. If you’re reliant on that software for income or hobbyist use the nuances don’t really matter, it simply runs better on intel (for now).
A creative workstation PC will benefit from CUDA acceleration when applying certain effects and transforms, as well as multiple display connectivity and quiet operation. RTX is a premium feature that is yet to bring benefits to creative work, meaning the Nvidia GTX 1660 Super, with 6Gb VRAM and 1408 Cuda cores provides a significant benefit in running large high-resolution screens and accelerating workflows without adding cost for features that bring no benefit.
The Gigabyte 1660 Super packs a lot of features into a compact form. The single fan is adequate for this efficient GPU, and importantly it has zero fan mode so when under light loads it will remain silent. It provides 3 display port and one HDMI output, so can support multiple high-quality displays. GTX 1660 supers are in short supply at the moment, but with gamers prioritising twin fan models, creative users can take advantage of the lower price and immediate availability of this version of Nvidias widely acclaimed mid-range GPU.