Is spending $300 on an Intel Core i9-9900K worth it? | Ask an expert

Your PC's lifespan generally dictates an upgrade's value.

Credit: Gordon Mah Ung

Q: An opportunity came up to buy a 9900K for $300. Right now, I own a PC with an 8700K, which I use with an RTX 3080 on an ultrawide 3440x1440p monitor. If I buy the 9900K, I could pass down the 8700K to my kid, who has an i3 chip. Is it worth making this upgrade?

A: Even though it’s not the newest processor on the block, a 9900K for $300 is still an excellent deal. But of course, spending money you weren’t planning to requires justification, especially when it’s several hundred dollars.

Looking at it from the perspective of just your own benefit, you won’t see that much of a difference in gaming. Moving up to a 9900K will net you higher clock speeds plus extra cores and threads, but for gaming on an ultrawide 1440p monitor, you won’t get any advantage from a more powerful CPU, as you’re GPU-bound. The 9900K might have helped with bottlenecks at standard 1440p, though.

But factor your kid into the equation, and the upgrade actually may make sense. Let’s say her machine already has a 300-series chipset motherboard, and you can drop the 8700K right in. Going from a processor with four cores and four threads to one with six cores, 12 threads, and higher clock speeds will extend the life of that PC considerably, especially if she plays games on it. So now you’ve spent $300 on two systems that extends their lives by years. Not a bad investment, especially if you don’t often buy new parts. If you can resell that i3 chip, the value increases further.

install intel cpu motherboard Thomas Ryan/IDG

Playing musical chairs with CPUs is a lot easier and cheaper if your motherboards are compatible with all the processors involved.

Continuing this reasoning, the upgrade can still make sense even if it involves buying a new motherboard for either the 8700K or the 9900K. Perhaps you’d anticipated a bigger outlay in a year or two to completely replace your kid’s machine—$450 to improve her experience and boost your own system’s longevity could be worth it. Add in another family member (perhaps a younger child?) who could make use of the i3 processor, and you may still get good value out of purchasing the 9900K.

Some folks will joke that this decision boils down to how much you love your kid, but in the end, you are the best judge of your family’s needs—and your kid’s habits and interests. As with any tempting deal, throwing down money only makes sense if you’ll get use out of the item.

Welcome to Ask an Expert, where we tackle your questions about PC building. Have your own burning concern? Shoot us an email at

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Alaina Yee

PC World (US online)
Show Comments




Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >


Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?