I built a new gaming PC in September to play new games like Microsoft Flight Simulator, Cyberpunk 2077, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. I figured choosing Intel’s Core i9-10900K and Nvidia’s RTX 3090 would make this machine last for years and deliver top-notch performance in demanding titles like Microsoft Flight Simulator. I was wrong. Microsoft Flight Simulator is a notorious beast of a game and is quickly becoming the new one Crysis test for PCs.
It struggled to perform well above 30 fps with all settings maximized at 1440p on my PC, and even the Ryzen 9 5950X, beating AMD’s Intel, only slightly improved the situation for some.
The latest 11th Gen Intel processor comes with a big promise of IPC (Instructions Per Cycle) improvements of up to 19% over the existing i9-10900K, and specifically the allure of 14% more performance at 1080p in Microsoft Flight Simulator with high settings. This piqued my curiosity, so I tested the i9-11900K over the last few days to see what it can offer. Microsoft Flight Simulator More precisely.
It’s less than a year after the i9-10900K was released, and I’m already considering upgrading to Intel’s new i9-11900K because I’ve found it to boost Microsoft Flight Simulator by 20 percent.
The edge doesn’t typically check processors, so we don’t have dedicated hardware testing platforms or multiple processors and systems to offer all of the benchmarks and comparisons you’ll typically find in processor reviews. For these we will recommend you to visit the excellent people of Tom’s material, KitGuru, or Eurogamerof Digital foundry.
Intel’s new Core i9-11900K comes with eight cores, 16 threads and increased clock speeds up to 5.3 GHz. On paper, this appears to be less powerful than the 10900K with its 10 cores, 20 threads, and clock speeds boosted up to 5.3 GHz, but the reality is much more complicated thanks to the way games and applications are designed. The most of Flight simulator Currently running in a main thread that is often limited by your CPU’s ability to run single-threaded applications and games.
So, in recent years, Intel has managed to stay on top with its single-thread performance, although AMD offers more cores. That was until AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X managed to beat Intel’s final performance advantage late last year. The new 11th generation Intel chips are trying to reclaim their traditional advantage.
Microsoft Flight Simulator is a good example where Intel usually has an advantage. It is also an increasingly rare example of a game very sensitive to all the components of your system and not just to the quality of your GPU for rendering games.
Intel’s Core i9-11900K does its job well enough here to boost performance by around 20% depending on resolution. I have tested a variety of flights taking off from different airports and over some of the most beautiful places in the world and the most demanding cities in the game. Everything looks smoother with the latest chips from Intel, but the results are not spectacular enough to get me past 60 fps without lowering some settings. A flight over Seattle with all settings maximized shows a 24% performance improvement with the new 11th gen Core i9 at 1080p and an 18% increase at 1440p.
On my i9-10900K PC, I saw average frame rates of 38 fps at 1440p and 33 fps at 1080p. The Core i9-11900K managed to get them to average 45 fps at 1440p and average 41 fps at 1080p. However, the averages for a particular benchmark don’t always tell the whole story. Over the hours that I have played Microsoft Flight Simulator, I noticed that the game dived and stuttered less than before. It’s still not perfect, but it’s definitely smoother overall.
If I bring the game back to high settings, it immediately goes to an average of 66 fps at 1440p – demonstrating how well the ultra settings hit the frame rates. Personally, I can hardly notice the difference between high and ultra settings in Microsoft Flight Simulator, so the boost here is noticeable thanks to the smoother gameplay.
I also tested Shadow of the Tomb Raider and the Cinebench R23 and Geekbench 5 benchmarks. Shadow of the Tomb Raider saw a small bump of around 3% in both 1080p and 1440p, while the i9-11900K achieved impressive single-core performance gains in both Cinebench and Geekbench.
Intel Core i9-11900K benchmarks
|Reference||Intel Core i9-10900K||Intel Core i9-11900K||% change|
|Reference||Intel Core i9-10900K||Intel Core i9-11900K||% change|
|Microsoft Flight Simulator (1080p)||33 fps||41 fps||up 24.2%|
|Microsoft Flight Simulator (1440p)||38 fps||45 fps||up 18.4%|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider (1080p)||176 fps||181 fps||up 2.8%|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider (1440p)||154 fps||159 fps||up 3.2%|
|Single thread Cinebench R23||1281||1623||up 26.6%|
|Cinebench R23 multi-thread||14 968||14,826||down 0.94%|
|Geekbench 5 monofilament||1336||1766||up 32.1%|
|Geekbench 5 multi-thread||10,709||11,148||up 4%|
I should note that I was also hoping to do most of my testing with my existing Z490 motherboard, but it didn’t go as planned. I swapped out the chip with the latest BIOS update for 11th gen processors and found the system reboots in games for a few minutes without even a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). I was not able to fully troubleshoot it in time for review, but the Asus Maximus XIII Hero (Z590) board provided by Intel worked fine.
You should be able to use 11th gen processors with Z490 motherboards easily, as most manufacturers have already released BIOS updates to support the latest processors from Intel. Some will even support M.2 NVMe storage using PCIe 4.0 with these latest chips, while others like Asus only support PCIe 4.0 on the main PCIe x16 slot with 11th gen processors.
Intel’s 11th generation processors finally offer PCIe 4.0 support, and that’s good news for storage. Manufacturers have started to fully support PCIe 4.0 drives in recent months, with Western Digital, Samsung, GigaByte, and MSI all releasing high speed drives. If you have a compatible PCIe 4.0 NVMe drive, upgrading to 11th gen processors will definitely be worth it. I have handled read speeds of 6729MB / s and write speeds of 5206MB / s using Western Digital’s new SN850 1TB drive. Corsair’s MP600 also handles read speeds of 4987MB / s and 4259MB / s write. Using the older 10th gen Intel chip, the Corsair drive handled 3484MB / s reads and 3235MB / s writes, so an 11th gen upgrade improved speeds by over 40 %. If you are working with a lot of files every day, upgrading to 11th gen processors will be worth it for PCIe 4.0 only.
I don’t think the Core i9-11900K would personally allow me to upgrade from a 10900K, but PCIe 4.0 support would tempt me more if I needed the speeds there. At $ 550 (if you can find it at that retail price), the Core i9-11900K falls between AMD’s offerings, being cheaper than the 5950X and 5900X Ryzen 9 chips and $ 90 more than the 5800X.
There’s solid single-threaded performance here, and AMD’s 11900K and 5900X and 5950X all trade blows depending on the game. However, Intel’s performance improvement will come at the expense of energy efficiency. Tom’s material found that the 11900K “sets the new high power mark” in several of its power tests, pulling over 200 watts in the same test that AMD’s Ryzen 9 5900X drew 116 watts. If you even need a new processor, it’s worth considering how much Intel’s latest chips will impact your energy bills and the games you play.
Whether you decide to upgrade to Intel’s 11th gen or one of AMD’s chips will likely depend on the games you play and stock availability. Many games do a poor job of using multiple cores on CPUs, mainly because console gaming hardware hasn’t offered strong CPU performance, and streaming multiple render and physics threads across different cores can complicating game design. Intel’s newer chips handle these single threads better to improve performance, but that depends a lot on the game.
For Microsoft Flight Simulator, the general consensus is that the game is in desperate need of a move to DirectX 12 to improve multi-core processor performance. But Intel’s IPC improvements managed to help until the Direct X 12 update arrives with the Xbox Series X release this summer.
Where Intel could have an advantage over AMD is chip availability. Finding AMD’s latest Ryzen processors has become increasingly difficult in recent months, due to a global shortage of chips. Intel partners have already accidentally sold 11th generation desktop processors, which may indicate that the supply will be more stable in the coming weeks.
The winner between Intel and AMD will be the company that can get these chips into the hands of PC gamers who want to upgrade them. Much like the GPU market today, benchmarks don’t matter when the best chip is often the only one you can actually buy.