It used to be that if you dreamed of reaching 6GHz speeds with your hot rod desktop CPU, you’d have to try your luck with overclocking and all of the potential instability and cooling demands that required. Earlier this year, Intel released the Core i9-13900KS, which hit 6GHz right out of the box. Now, the company is doing it again with its fastest 14th-gen desktop CPU, the i9-14900K. That frequency is just a short-lived “Thermal Velocity Boost” speed, which isn’t sustained for very long, but it’s still something Intel can lord over AMD.
These 14th-gen chips, to be clear, are different from Intel’s recently announced 14th-gen Core Ultra processors for notebooks. Understandably, Intel is focusing on efficiency for its mobile lineup, whereas its desktop chips are all about raw power (and 6GHz bragging rights). You can look at the 14th-gen desktop hardware as a last gasp for Intel’s existing architecture, where the company doesn’t mind pushing power demands to out-bench AMD. (The i9-14900K consumes as much as 253 watts, just like its predecessor.)
Intel’s highest-end 14th-gen chip may get most of the attention, but discerning gamers may be more interested in the i7-14700K, which now features 20 cores (8 performance and 12 efficiency) and reaches up to 5.6GHz “Turbo Boost Max 3.0” speeds. Perhaps most importantly, its $409 price tag is well below the 14900K’s $589.
When it comes to benchmarks, Intel claims the 14900K is up to 23 percent faster than AMD’s Ryzen 9 7950X3D while playing Starfield in 1080p. The company also says that chip is up to 54 percent faster than the same AMD hardware while multi-tasking between After Effects and Premiere Pro. (That comparison may be a bit unfair, since Intel tested an Auto Reframe task in Premiere Pro that works together with its UHD graphics, something that AMD’s graphics don’t help with.)
Perhaps more useful than raw benchmark comparisons, Intel also says the i9-14900K was able to reach over 100fps in Total War: Warhammer III while playing, streaming and recording in 1080p with ultra graphics settings. That game is also optimized specifically for its 14th-gen hardware, so you can’t expect the same results with every title.
If you’re still eager to overclock, Intel is also making that easier with its new XTU AI Assist feature, which will only be available on the i9-4900K. In a demo for media, an Intel representative showed off how the XTU app can quickly determine the ideal processor core voltages, motherboard power settings and “other tuning knobs” to determine safe performance speeds. They noted that Intel had trained its AI overclocking model on hundreds of CPUs, as well as a variety of motherboard and cooler options (including a bit of liquid cooling). Once the AI tuning process is complete, you can roll with its suggested settings or use them as a baseline for further overclocking.
One feature you won’t see in these new 14th-gen chips? An NPU (neural processing unit) for AI acceleration. Oddly enough, the company’s upcoming Core Ultra mobile chips will feature an NPU, which enables things like Windows Studios Effects for AI-powered background blurs in video chats. It makes sense for Intel’s first NPU to appear in its new architecture, whereas the 14th-gen desktop chips are beefed-up versions of last year’s hardware. Still, it’s a bit odd for its priciest desktop hardware to miss out on something mere laptops will see next year.
Intel’s 14th-gen desktop chips will be available from retailers and system manufacturers on October 17th.