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Core i9 11900K and Core i5 11600K: performance analysis

CS:GO, Rainbow Six Siege, Black Ops Cold War.

We've run our benchmarks at the standard three resolutions: 1080p, 1440p and 4K, but we're focusing the bulk of our attention on those 1080p results, as this is where differences between different CPUs are most visible. (There's an argument for testing at 720p to make these deltas even more visible, but even mainstream PC gaming has long since moved onto 1080p.) We're using an RTX 2080 Ti for these results - high-end graphics cards aren't easy to come by these days! - so you could expect CPU performance to make even more of a difference if you're lucky enough to be running an RTX 3080, RTX 3090, RX 6800 XT or RX 6900 XT.

This page is all about FPS fps - the frames per second you'll see in some of the best first person shooters on the market. We start with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, a game I've spent a silly amount of time playing, before moving onto two more recent titles: Rainbow Six Siege and Black Ops Cold War. Rainbow Six Siege is closer to CS:GO, with a focus on competitive action and high frame-rates, while Cold War is one of our new RT-enabled benchmarks, as we examine performance in the game's campaign.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike. The game's been updated continually since its release in 2012, and though its DX9 internals remain much the same it's blossomed into an esports giant and a genuinely excellent competitive shooter. Here, we're tapping into that pro scene with an in-game replay from perhaps the most memorable major tournament in the game's history: the Eleague Boston Major. The round we're looking at isn't that moment, but it's another highlight, as eventual MVP Tarik shows up in a big way. For our purposes, the round includes a realistic amount of smokes, molotovs and other particle effects that can tank frame-rates plus some downtime, giving us a good chance to see how different CPUs fare under these different scenarios.

At present, there's only one clear winner for CS:GO - Ryzen 5000. The Intel hegemony is long-since gone, with the 5900X trouncing the 11900K by over 20 per cent. Even the 5600X manages to outdo Team Blue's latest and greatest by an 18 per cent margin. The 11900K does improve over the 10900K by four per cent, but there's not much in it. The 11600K fares better, recording a 13 per cent higher frame-rate at 1080p. Meanwhile, the 11900K leads the 11600K by 13 per cent, a decent margin.

This comparison might seem a bit pointless - even the 11600K delivers well over 200fps - but look at the lowest one per cent scores and you'll see values well below what you'd want with even a cheap 1080p 144Hz monitor on all but the Ryzen 5000 chips. At 1440p, only the 11900K and the AMD CPUs can deliver 144Hz or higher in those lowest dips. If you cap your frame-rate just below these lowest points, then you get extremely regular frame pacing and consistent response times - and capping at 165fps instead of 120fps is going to be a noticeable improvement.

CS:GO: DX9, Very High, AF off

Rainbow Six: Siege

Rainbow Six Siege is another title that benefits from even frame-pacing and extremely high frame-rates. There's not much in it here - even with the graphics set to the low preset, with a 100 per cent render scale rather than the default 50 per cent - but it's the 10900K that leads with the 5900X close behind. As before, even though the frame-rates are all great here, the differences at the lower end of the scale might still impact you. It's also interesting that this is another game where the 11900K falls behind the 10900K, as Siege uses a larger number of CPU cores for its processing and is therefore hurt by the drop from 10 to eight.

Rainbow Six: Siege: DX11, Low, 100% Render Scale

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Our final FPS on this page is the latest Call of Duty, Black Ops Cold War. Here, the focus is less on competitive performance and more on the single-player side of things, as we enable ray tracing and hop into one of the first campaign missions, Fracture Jaw. Interestingly, this mission has RT disabled on consoles, even when the option is enabled elsewhere in the game, suggesting that the BVH building process here is particularly tough. The opening scene, as Bell joins Adler on the fields of Vietnam, is heavy on the CPU at the relatively low graphical settings we've chosen - and if we had an RTX 3090 on hand, we'd likely see a similar preponderance for processor power at a more problematic preset.

The 11900K is the overall champ here, with a 130fps average at 1080p, with the 11600K, 10900K and 5900X closer to 120fps. There's not much in it, but it's clear that this game has a slight liking for Intel processors. We're looking at a six per cent advantage for the 11900K over its predecessor, a decent uplift, but the 11600K is the real star with a performance that equals the old flagship.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War: DX12, Low, TAA

We conclude our new standard gaming tests on the next page, where we take on Cyberpunk 2077 and two returning favourites: Far Cry 5 and DF favourite Crysis 3.

Intel Core i9 11900K and Core i5 11600K analysis

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Will Judd avatar

Will Judd

Deputy Editor, Digital Foundry

A bizarre British-American hybrid, Will turns caffeine into technology articles through a little-known process called 'writing'. His favourite games are Counter-Strike, StarCraft and Fallout 2. Will also tweets the latest tech deals at @DealsFoundry.


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