Intel already dropped the biggest news about its 11th-gen Core desktop CPUs in January: They'll be up to 19 percent faster than its 10th-gen chips. Now, the company is finally able to give us more information about its next family of CPUs, codenamed "Rocket Lake S." The fastest offering will be the Core i9-11900K, an 8-core chip that reaches up to 5.3GHz on a single core. Notably, that's two fewer cores than last year's 10900K. Intel clearly had to make some tradeoffs since it's not moving to a newer manufacturing process; by sacrificing a few cores, it's able to wring out more performance from its aging 14nm hardware.
Paradoxically, that's great news for gamers. Most PC titles don't take full advantage of multiple CPU cores, instead it's single-core performance and high clock speeds that matters the most. Intel claims the 11900K is 14 percent faster than its last chip while playing Microsoft Flight Simulator in 1080p with high settings, as well as 13 percent speedier in Total War: Three Kingdoms. Additionally, Intel says the chip beats out AMD's flagship Ryzen 9 5900X by 11 percent and 10 percent in those respective titles.
Based on the figures Intel has shared so far, there doesn't seem to be a major downside by going with an 8-core flagship chip, instead of a 10-core model. That's even true for tasks that can actually take advantage of multiple cores, like video and photo creation. The company claims the 11900K is a whopping 88 percent faster than the previous model when it comes to video editing, as well as 35 percent faster than the Ryzen 9 5900X. At this point, it seems like the speed improvements in 11th-gen hardware was worth the sacrifice, but I'm waiting on third-party benchmarks for a final confirmation.
You can expect some speed improvements across Intel's new lineup, like a 16 percent speed bump in Gears 5 on the Core i5-11600K, compared to last year's 10600K. As usual, these chips really aren't meant to be an immediate upgrade for anyone rocking last-gen hardware. But for anyone running older chips — like my tried and true Core i7-8700K — it's suddenly more compelling to stick with Intel rather than jump ship to AMD.