Intel Core i9-9900KS hits 5.2GHz on air – and could be an overclocker’s dream

(Image credit: Future)

Intel’s incoming Core i9-9900KS, a new top-end CPU which is expected to launch later in October, has apparently already been purchased by a Redditor and overclocked with impressive results – hitting 5.2GHz just on air (in other words, with no fancy liquid cooling solution).

As is usually the case with these sort of pre-release leaks, though, we have to be cautious about whether this could be fabricated – although the denizen of Reddit in question did post a (purported) picture of the retail box. Apparently the chip was mistakenly listed – and errantly sold – by a retailer in the Czech Republic.

The Redditor admits to being a “total OC [overclocking] noob”, and using just air cooling – a Noctua NH D15 – overclocked the CPU to 5.2GHz over all cores with the voltage set to 1.36V, while benchmarking in Cinebench R20.

Assuming this is genuine, it seems to be an impressive indicator of the overclocking potential of the Core i9-9900KS. Even if the actual Cinebench result achieved isn't totally mind-blowing.

The chip recorded a result of 5,356, and as Tom’s Hardware notes, a stock 9900K hit 4,984. So the overclocked 9900KS is just over 7% faster in this comparison. Although an overclocked 9900K at 5GHz scores 5,266, so the gain is only 1.7% in this case.

That said, this is only one benchmark – and not a gaming one, which is where the real interest will be – and of course the 9900KS may well have a good deal more potential to be pushed further considering this result was obtained by a self-confessed newbie with a simple air cooler. It’s also worth noting that the purported 9900KS was only paired with the ‘cheapest DDR4 RAM’ (2666MHz) the Redditor could find.

Very good chip

The Redditor also observed: “Very good chip indeed. In a Prime95 small FFTs 16 thread test it managed to stay at ~5020MHz for the whole test which I terminated after 20 minutes. Cooled with NH-D15, it reached max temperature 83°C and average temperature 75°C in the test. I didn't touch BIOS settings yet, so these are all out of the box results.”

And in GTA Online, Intel’s Core i9-9900KS ran itself at 5,010MHz and “stayed there rock solid”, with a CPU load hovering around 15% and temperature at 57°C.

Intel has already been busy pointing out that the CPU is capable of reaching the promised 5GHz boost across all eight-cores, and drawing comparisons to AMD’s recent controversy over boost clocks not reaching advertised levels. And that small anecdotal test (again, assuming all this is true) appears to bear this out…

The Core i9-9900KS is essentially a heavily binned version of the 9900K, meaning Intel has simply reserved the best versions of this chip which are capable of reaching 5GHz across all cores (the vanilla Core i9-9900K can only achieve that feat on a single core).

So effectively you are paying for one of the top 9900K chips, although even then, within the 9900KS range there will still be variances in tolerances for overclocking, and CPUs which can be pushed further than others.

Another point to note here is that if retailers actually have stock of the Core i9-9900KS, it hopefully won’t be long before these processors are officially on sale. As mentioned, Intel has said the chips will launch in October, so we could be looking at next week.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).