Ever since AMD launched the Ryzen 3000 CPUs, the mainstream consumer market has drastically changed. What used to be Core i7s have become i3s, The i7s have doubled in core counts and there’s a fourth tier now, the Core i9s, something no one expected a couple of years back. That’s the impact AMD’s Zen microarchitecture has had on the market. It has been nothing short of a renaissance. In this post, we compare two of AMD and Intel’s high-end processors and decide which one is worth your money: The Core i9-9900K or the Ryzen 9 3900X.
Although technically the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X is the fastest consumer CPU, we won’t be considering it as it mostly competes in the HEDT space against Intel’s Cascade Lake-X parts.
We will be putting AMD and Intel’s top chips through their paces and analyze how they perform across a variety of workloads from gaming to content creation and day-to-day tasks like file-compression and video encoding.
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X vs Intel Core i9-9900K: Specifications
|Ryzen 9 3900X||Core i9-9900K|
On paper, the Ryzen 9 has the Core i9-9900K beat on all fronts except the boost clock. Looking at the TDP, it may seem like the latter is more power-efficient but that’s far from the truth. The 9900K draws well over 200W under load while the 3900X doesn’t cross the 120W mark in most cases. Furthermore, the pricing makes it even harder to recommend the Core i9. Recently, AMD’s Ryzen 3000 CPUs have seen some steep price drops, bringing the Ryzen 9 down to $400 (from $500). The 9900K still retails for a hefty $550. You can snag the KF variant for less than $500 if you plan on using a discrete GPU. The two are basically identical.
- ASRock X570 Taichi (AMD)
- Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Master (Intel)
- G.Skill Trident Z Royal 8GB x 2 @ 3600MHz
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
- WB Black 480GB M.2 SATA
- WD Black 4TB HDD
- Corsair HX1000i
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X vs Intel Core i9-9900K: Gaming Performance
In gaming, the Intel Core i9-9900K is faster by around 10-15% on average, although certain games like Assassins’ Creed and Ashes of the Singularity (not included above) clearly favor the higher core count of the Ryzen 9. However, the conclusion here is that in terms of gaming performance Intel still has a clear lead in the ultra-high-end segment.
Surprisingly in the single-threaded Cinebench R20 test, the Ryzen 9 3900X manages to edge past the Core i9-9900K despite having a lower boost clock. This means that the deficit in gaming may be due to the latency induced by the Infinity Fabric, rather than the IPC.
The multi-threaded benchmark goes as expected. The 3900X and its 24 threads impose a heavy lead over the 9900K. The former is almost 50% faster than the Coffee Lake flagship. For the sake of comparison, the 1st Gen Threadripper with its 32 threads scores just above 6,500 points. That’s notably lesser than the 3rd Gen Ryzen 9 3900X. AMD really has come a long way in the last two years.
The delta only widens in IndigoBench, with the Ryzen 9 increasing its lead over the 9900K to a staggering 75%. For content creators and professionals, the 3rd Gen Ryzen lineup is a dream come true. A $400 chip performing on par with a $1,000 part is nothing short of phenomenal.
Encoding, Browsing, and Compression
Compression/decompression, web-browsing, and encoding applications are used on a large scale by just about everyone. We consider these as a measure of day-to-day or real-world performance. In 7-zip (both compression and decompression), the Ryzen 9 squishes the Core i9 by a fat margin. The deltas in Handbrake x264 and Kraken (browsing) are less pronounced but nevertheless, mark a resounding victory for the Ryzen 9.
Overall, the Ryzen 9 3900X is the undoubted performance king. Offering 90% of the gaming performance as the Core i9-9900K and being more than 50% faster in everything else, the 3900X is the clear winner. However, which chip you should opt for largely depends on your workloads. If you are building a gaming PC that will be used exclusively for high frame-rate gaming, then the Core i9 is a no-brainer. However, if you’re a content creator or your workloads are more versatile than just gaming, then the Ryzen 9 3900X is the sensible choice.