Rumor suggests Intel's Core i9-14900K will only be enough to scrape by as next-gen flagship CPU

Temper your expectations for Intel's Raptor Lake Refresh processors, as they might be a bit weaker than anticipated, or so the rumor mill reckons.

2 minutes & 19 seconds read time

Intel's Raptor Lake Refresh should be 'good enough' to serve as the next generation of CPUs from Team Blue, but nothing more - so don't get overly excited about it, or the flagship 14900K.

That's the gist of a bunch of new revelations from YouTube leaker Moore's Law is Dead (MLID).

Previously, we'd been hearing talk about clock speeds for Raptor Lake Refresh being pushed much higher than with current-gen CPUs - like to 6.4GHz, or even 6.5GHz - but apparently the Core i9-14900K will most likely top out at a boost speed of 6.2GHz (or perhaps 6.3GHz at a stretch, but it is 'incredibly unlikely' it'll go above that).

Incidentally, we don't know for sure if Intel will keep the Core i9 (and i7, i5, i3) branding, but it seems that the chip giant might, at least on desktop for one last generation (but not on mobile). Or it may be entirely scrapped with Raptor Lake Refresh, and we'll get the Core Ultra name coming in.

At any rate, we can expect no IPC gains for the 14th-gen on desktop, just some raw performance increases thanks to the clock speeds being driven somewhat higher than Raptor Lake.

For single-thread performance, the source MLID spoke to claims Intel is likely to achieve a 4% to 8% uplift over Raptor Lake, and 8% to 15% better performance in multi-threaded.

That single-threaded increase is solid enough (particularly at the higher-end there), though multi-core looks shakier, and the source concludes to expect "nothing crazy" from Raptor Lake Refresh, and that overall it's "good enough to be regarded as a new desktop generation."

To us, that sounds like it's only scraping through as justified in qualifying as a new generation, which is rather worrying. Then again, nobody was expecting all that much from Raptor Lake Refresh - which has always been a stopgap.

Still, it's a little disappointing that it is starting to sound like Raptor Lake Refresh will be a bit less peppy than previously rumored, certainly for multi-core gains. MLID further observes that there may not be a 14900KS limited edition CPU down the line, and that makes sense given that Intel will likely have difficulties on the power usage front there.

Really, the focus is on making Arrow Lake a massive step up - which the rumor mill certainly believes it will be - and Raptor Lake Refresh is just something to placate Intel fans on the desktop for this year, because Meteor Lake really didn't work out for desktop cost-wise (and releasing nothing isn't an option).

That said, there is still some chatter about Meteor Lake Core i5 (or equivalent) still happening on the desktop - despite strong rumors to the contrary elsewhere, in general - and as ever, regard all of this as the speculation it remains until we hear something concrete from Intel about its next-gen chips.

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Darren has written for numerous magazines and websites in the technology world for almost 30 years, including TechRadar, PC Gamer, Eurogamer, Computeractive, and many more. He worked on his first magazine (PC Home) long before Google and most of the rest of the web existed. In his spare time, he can be found gaming, going to the gym, and writing books (his debut novel – ‘I Know What You Did Last Supper’ – was published by Hachette UK in 2013).

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