Intel is doubling down on the claim it makes the best CPUs for gaming, and will up the ante next month with the release of the Core i9-9900KS, a special edition processor binned to hit a 5GHz Turbo clock on all eight cores. Not long after, Intel will launch another round of X-series processors that will bring about "dramatic changes" to the high-end desktop (HEDT) market.
AMD has clearly struck a nerve with its third-generation Ryzen processors. Whereas for years AMD was relegated to competing in the budget segment, it's latest Zen 2 CPUs are stout performers, particularly when hammering multi-threaded workloads with up to 12 cores and 24 threads (Ryzen 9 3900X), and soon up to 16 cores and 32 threads (Ryzen 9 3950X).
So where does that leave Intel? On the defensive, apparently. Intel has called into question the relevancy of certain benchmarks that favor AMD's processors, such as Cinebench. Intel maintains that such benchmarks have little value to most users. And in terms of real world performance, especially gaming, Intel says it still has the edge.
Our own benchmarking finds that to be true (with regards to gaming), though AMD offers a strong bang-for-buck proposition. Nevertheless, strictly for playing games, the Core i9-9900K is the fastest in most case, and the Core i9-9900KS should take the baton when it comes out in October. It is an 8-core/16-thread CPU, and the first to offer a 5GHz all-core Turbo clock. It's essentially a binned Core i9-9900K.
Intel has not announced any pricing information yet. Our expectation is that it will cost anywhere from $499 to $599, but we will have to wait and see.
On the HEDT front, Intel is making some bold claims. It's planning to release a new family of X-series CPUs under the Cascade Lake-X banner, and while Intel is not getting into the specifics of the dramatic changes that are in store, it is claiming "up to 2x the performance per dollar of the previous generation."
Intel is also claiming a better value proposition than any of AMD's current Threadripper offerings, as outlined in the graph above. However, AMD is also planning another round of Threadripper processors, which will be based on its 7nm Zen 2 CPU architecture. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.