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

Cyberpunk 2077, Far Cry 5, Crysis 3.

As we mentioned earlier, these results are all with 3600MHz CL16 RAM and a 240mm AiO water cooler. If you pair one of these CPUs with slower RAM or weaker cooling, then you are likely to see slightly worse performance - see page six for a look at RAM in particular. It's also worth noting that our Intel results have MCE enabled, which is the default on many high-end motherboards but may not be available on all models. This setting trades power usage and heat for increased performance, a move that throws Intel's turbo boost targets out the window but makes a big difference in CPU-bound scenarios. It's worth testing with this enabled and disabled in the games you play most often to see whether it's worthwhile, as you may discover that turning it off only costs a few frames per second but reduces your energy costs and diminishes fan noise considerably.

In these tests, we'll examine how the 11900K and 11600K stack up in one of the most controversial games of the year, Cyberpunk 2077, as well as two classics from our previous CPU benchmark suite: Far Cry 5, renowned for its single-core reliance, and Crysis 3, the Digital Foundry staple. We've opted for highly repeatable scenes here from a variety of sources here - an in-game cutscene, a brief open gameplay segment along a fixed route and an in-game benchmark.

Remember that you can mouse over the results in the tables below (as long as you're using a desktop browser rather than a phone) to get dynamically generated performance readouts for all processors we've tested. Meanwhile, clicking the graph swaps you into percentages, making it a bit easier to judge relative performance at a glance.

Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 is our second RT benchmark, showing how RT performance can add even more load to the CPU and cause CPU bottlenecking in some scenarios. We'd have liked to have placed even more emphasis on the CPU by using an RTX 3090 here instead of an RTX 2080 Ti, so perhaps we'll revisit the game in future. For now, we see a scant three per cent advantage for the 11900K over the 10900K, but both CPUs heavily outperform AMD's best. Interestingly, the 10900K's performance is equalled by the 11600K, an impressive result for a CPU that costs around half the price. The 11600K is also a big step up over the 10600K, recording a result that's 17 per cent faster. At 1440p, all of our CPUs are within touching distance of each other, with the 11900K still in front, but note that the worst one per cent times still vary considerably. At 4K, everything is hovering around 36fps with only run-to-run variance separating each model.

Cyberpunk 2077: DX12, RT

Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 is a classic bench, so that means we have quite a few more CPUs in our database to give you an idea of relative performance. Make good use of it, as it's only one of three such titles in the new suite. The 11900K is the new highest-scoring entry, with a sensational 177fps average, a good five per cent ahead of the 10900K and six per cent ahead of the 5900X. That's not too surprising, given how much Far Cry 5 is dependent on single-core speed, but AMD's Ryzen 5000 processors do hold their own here - not something you could really say about their Ryzen 3000 or especially pre-Zen 2 CPUs. At 1440p, it's mostly down to margin-of-error differences, but the hierarchy remains - Ryzen 5000 and the last three Intel generations in the 130s, Ryzen 3000 in the 120s and earlier AMD chips closer to 100fps. Progress!

Far Cry 5: Ultra, TAA

Crysis 3

Crysis 3 is one game that seems to show a performance regression for 11th-gen versus 10th-gen Intel, with the 10900K scoring higher than the 11900K by a repeatable four per cent margin. Meanwhile, Ryzen 5000 is the overall champion, with the 5950X turning in an insane 210fps result at 1080p - very cool. It's awesome to see a game made so long ago scale so well on modern CPU architectures; I hope we see a proper Crysis follow-up one day so we can use it for testing into the 2030s...

Crysis 3: Very High, SMAA T2X

Now let's move onto something quite interesting - memory bandwidth analysis. What happens when you pair these new CPUs with slower RAM than the 3600MHz we're using here?

Intel Core i9 11900K and Core i5 11600K analysis

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About the Author

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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