Intel’s 11th gen Rocket Lake-S processors are creating just the right kind of buzz in gaming circles, with the flagship Intel Core i9 11900K showing off some seriously impressive overclocking skills. Overclocker ROG Fisher for instance, broke 7GHz speeds – 7047.88MHz to be precise. If extreme liquid nitrogen treatments and overclocking-optimised motherboards are not your thing, Silicon Lottery in its pre-binning stats noted how almost three-quarters of the Intel Core i9 11900k processors it got were capable of a 5GHz all-core overclock, which is rather brilliant.
So then, before we head into the specifics of a few games that really shine, here are a few highlights up front of what makes the Intel Rocket Lake chips truly distinct:
19% IPC gain
Instructions per clock is an incredibly important consideration in gaming, as it gives a rough guide as to how many calculations / operations can be carried out for every CPU cycle. The more the merrier is the simple rule with IPC, and with a 19% IPC gain, Intel continues its gaming reign, especially at 1080p, as you shall shortly see.
Native DDR4-3200 memory support
All processors in the Rocket Lake series natively support DDR4-3200 memory speeds, which means better performance in your favourite titles! In the Gear 1 setting, the memory controller and memory operate at the same frequency (1:1), providing super low latency and optimising performance. And let’s not forget brilliant XMP performance. The proof of the pudding lies in memory kits specifically developed for Intel’s Z590 chipsets from the likes of G.Skill, which promise to go as fast as DDR-5333. The onboard memory controller now supports geared memory ratios between the memory controller and DRAM speeds, ensuring that Rocket Lake users can get every last drop out of their systems.
The goodies continue on the streaming side of things as well, as the Intel Xe integrated graphics architecture has up to 50% better performance than their previous integrated solution, resulting in better encoding (thanks to support for 10-bit AVI/12-bit HEVC) and a load taken off your GPU and CPU cores when it comes to streaming. The upshot is a smoother streaming experience for you and your audience.
PCIe 4.0 support
With double the transfer speed of its predecessor standard (16 G/Ts vs 8 G/Ts) and with support for PCIe 4.0 baked into the new Rocket Lake architecture, you’re looking at doubling your theoretical bandwidth over the same number of PCIe lanes. The upshot of 20 lanes of PCIe 4.0 is incredibly fast loading times aside from getting your rig absolutely future proof.
The overclocker’s side
Overclocking enhancements made to the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility mean real-time memory overclocking is now possible, meaning a user can select two different memory ratios, and it will enable both at boot time. Intel is also continuing support for overclock-related features such as per-core HyperThreading, per-core frequency adjustment, and fine-grained PLL controls. Plus, with memory overclocking extended to new B570 and H560 boards aside from the Z-series motherboards, overclocking has truly gone mass.
Our test chips were the flagship Intel Core i9 11900K and the Intel Core i5 11600K chipsets, with the test set-up including the MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio GPU, the Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 64GB SSD with a Thermaltake Toughpower IRGB PLUS 1000W gold PSU. We used 3D Mark with 1920×1080 Ultra and 2560×1440 Ultra settings.
TO elaborate on the showstopper, the Core i9- processor has a base frequency of 3.5 GHz, alongside a peak turbo of 5.3 GHz in Thermal Velocity Boost mode, and all cores can operate at 4.8 GHz simultaneously. The Core i5-11600K with integrated graphics, on the other handy, aims to be incredibly competitive in both gaming and multi-threaded work. The 11600K boosts to a peak of 4.9 GHz on two cores and can maintain a 4.6 GHz all-core frequency. With PCIe 4.0 and a single M.2 slot, it also comes with an unlocked multiplier, meaning another barrier has fallen when it comes to overclocking.
Key game testing settings with the Rocket Lake processors included:
Core i9-11900K ABT On: Stock configuration, Adaptive Boost Technology enabled, PL1 & PL2 limits lifted, DDR4-3200 in Gear 1 mode (stock memory configuration)
Core i9-11900K ABT Off: Stock configuration, Adaptive Boost Technology disabled, PL1 & PL2 limits lifted, DDR4-3200 in Gear 1 mode (stock memory configuration)
Core i9-11900K @ 5.2: Overclocked configuration, 5.2 GHz on all cores, -2 AVX2 offset, -5 AVX-512 offset, DDR4-3600 in Gear 1 mode
Core i5-11600K: Stock configuration, PL1 & PL2 limits lifted, DDR4-2933 in Gear 1 mode
Core i5-11600K @ 5.0: Overclocked configuration, 5.0 GHz on all cores, -2 AVX2 offset, -3 AVX-512 offset, DDR4-3600 in Gear 1 mode
An absolute masterpiece of emergent sandbox game design, each mission in Hitman 2 is a treasure trove of wonderful immersive gameplay, excellent satirical writing, and lashings of delicious, jet-black humour. The assassinations are meticulously crafted puzzles as you track your targets across dense jungle, overpopulated city streets, quiet suburbs and lavish parties, each offering their own unique risks and opportunities.
The Core i9-11900K closes the gap significantly in this benchmark. The 11900K impresses with a 15% improvement over the 10900K and the 11900K even beats its overclocked predecessor. As far as the Core i5-11600K goes, we see an impressive 16.6% gen-on-gen improvement, with many of these trends carrying over to the 1440p results. Hitman 2 doesn’t scale well from 1080p to 1440p, and we stuck with the 1080p test for this title.
Far Cry 5
Hope County, Montana with its soothing rivers, scenic mountains, idealized farmland framed by dense forests epitomises America’s heartland. Only that slice of Real America is in the throes of a religious doomsday cult, one that has taken over the region by force and trapped you, a lone deputy cut off from the outside world, within its borders. Now, it’s on you to fight back and build a resistance—the result of which is a masterwork of contradiction and tonal whiplash. Battle tourism of the best sort and thoroughly craven, Far Cry 5 is about fighting across wide outdoor spaces, reclaiming a lush and beautiful place through a series of pitched gunfights.
This is a game that sees the flagship Core i9-11900K to the land of performance scaling. At 1080p, the Core i9-11900K takes a big step forward and beats the overclocked 10900K, but at stock settings. Likewise, at stock settings, the Core i5-11600K delivers an impressive 16% increase over the previous-gen 10600K and leads the Ryzen competition with a 5.0 GHz overclock.
The sheer magnitude and diversity of its arsenal of fun and surprising weaponry is unmatched, and the striking amount of loving detail and variety packed into its energetic and replayable 30-hour campaign is what makes Borderlands 3 such a high-point for the genre as a whole. Venture beyond Pandora to jaw-droppingly beautiful planets, from the grimey neon metropolis of Promethea to the cherry-blossom-speckled peaks of Athenas. Visually brilliant, with interesting and goofy artillery, intense and tricky battles, the multiple open-worlds are beautiful and full of challenging missions, as you end up luxuriating in joyous, tongue-in-cheek, comic book-influenced fun.
It’s a battle of the flagships out here, and we’re clearly on the edge of a graphics bottleneck in Borderlands 3 at both resolutions. The differences between the chips in this title though slim, are still a fight where only the flagships find a place. The Core i9-11900K shows off key gain points and advantages over Ryzen.