The Core i7 9700K tested
Intel's new eight-core (8 threads) Coffee Lake-S processor
In our second review we check out the secondary Coffee Lake-S refresh release. In this review we blister that all new Core i7 9700K. This is the higher end mainstream processor. With eight cores it is aimed at the Z390 chipset based platform. But is it an interesting enough proc with just 8 threads, as this dawg does have hyper-threading? The Core i7 9700K is the high-end product in the new mainstream processor series. This proc can be seated into your Z390 or Z370 (update your bios first please) chipset based motherboard. I've called the new processors a refresh, however, an 8-core part based on Coffee Lake-S has never been released by Intel before. So by refresh, I do mean the similar 14nm Coffee Lake processor architecture that was brought into the Core 9000 series, from that 8000 series.
Six and eight-core processors in the mainstream segment, it's an all-new thing for Intel, and we do have to give credit where it's due. If you are going to purchase one of the three procs as listed today, you will need to thank AMD for that. Their aggressive product positioning with Ryzen and many cores forced Intel into fabbing more core processors. And you know what? That's a very good thing, as competition in the market makes companies go that extra mile.
We expect the three processors to become extremely popular and in demand for the PC gamer, as each and every one of the processors will offer fantastic gaming performance if your graphics card is fast enough. Intel is able to boost the Turbo frequencies towards that 5 GHz domain. And that is a big advantage that Intel has over AMD, which is wedged shut at that 4.2 GHz range with Ryzen 2000 (which is overall really good, but the high clock per core is what matters in CPU bound gaming; e.g. with super high-end graphics cards like the RTX 2080 Ti). Intel is releasing these three 9000 series processors initially:
- Core i5-9600K (6 Core / 6 Threads)
- Core i7-9700K (8 Core / 8 Threads)
- Core i9-9900K (8 Core / 16 Threads)
If you checked out the product names then yes, you will have noticed it. Three processors are spread out over three Core ranges (i5/i7/i9), two out of the three processors will not get hyper-threading as, probably, the lineup would compete too much with the existing 8000 series. The flagship 9900K is a mad dawg proc with a boost allowance to 5 GHz. The 9700K that we test today is pretty much the same product, yet clocks 100 Mhz lower on the boost frequency. The big difference, however, is that it only has eight threads, so there is no hyper-threading (SMT) available. That will have an adverse effect on your normal Windows applications performance wise. Gaming wise, however, SMT is hardly relevant if you have enough cores. The Core i5 9600K on its end is the entry-level product with a boost to 4.6 GHz and, with six logical cores, this might become a very attractive gaming processor. For multi-threaded applications obviously less so. The i9-9900K (8c/16t) is listed to sell at USD $479,- the i7-9700K (8c/8t) at $369,- and the i5-9600K (6c/6t) we expect to sell at $279. On the next page, we'll talk a bit more about it all, as the Turbos do need to be discussed. The boost frequencies only apply to a limited number of cores. Say two can do that 5 GHz, however, if you utilize 6 cores, it would drop down to 4.7 GHz and so on. Again, we'll list that on the next few pages.
In this review, we'll take the eight-core Core i7 9700K through our benchmark paces. This is Coffee Lake, Intel's mainstream segment series processors that you will need to seat on a Z370 chipset based motherboard (with updated BIOS), or a new Z390 motherboard. Gaming wise, this product does a great job thanks to the high clock frequencies. Also, you'll be able to tweak this proc towards at least 5.0 GHz on all eight cores. On the next few pages, I will take you guys a little deeper into the architecture and processor series that is Coffee Lake, as well as the Z390 chipset.