Intel Core i7-9700K 9th Gen CPU Review: Eight Cores And No Hyper-Threading

Overclocking, Power and Test Setup

Power Consumption

Power consumption measurements are always a bit tricky. But as long as your 12V supply (EPS) readings, motherboard power supply sensor values, and voltage transformer losses plausibly coincide, everything is fine. Therefore, we're using pure package power to avoid possible influences from our motherboard. Results from the PWM controller are very reliable if you take them as averages over a few minutes.

We conducted this round of limited testing in our U.S. lab, and our results are not directly comparable with numbers from the Germany lab used in previous reviews.

Core i7-9700K doesn't use as much power as the Core i9-9900K. It even draws less power overclocked than a stock Core i9-9900K in both non-AVX and AVX stress tests. Bear in mind that the overclocked Core i7-9700K and i9-9900K CPUs employ AVX offsets that step down to 4.8 GHz during our Prime95 stress test.

We did notice some errant power results from our Ryzen samples, possibly due to the motherboard's sensor loop. Until we determine the cause, we're withholding Ryzen power numbers. As you can see from our previous testing, AMD's Ryzen family generally uses a lot less power than Intel's comparable models.

Overclocking

We tapped Corsair's H115i v2 to test our Core i7-9700K sample. This liquid cooler afforded enough headroom to sustain a 5.1 GHz overclock with a 1.345V Vcore and an Auto Load Line Calibration setting. It kept the chip at 70-74°C during extended non-AVX stress tests. Folding in AVX instructions did lead to failed stress tests, even though there was thermal headroom to spare. To circumvent that issue, we set the AVX offset to -3, meaning the chip ran at 4.8 GHz during AVX-optimized workloads and 5.1 GHz in the absence of AVX instructions. We maintained a temperature of 88-91°C during three hours of Prime95 using those settings.

According to Silicon Lottery's latest statistics, 28% of Core i7-9700Ks the company tested can reach 5.1 GHz or greater (though it only uses a -2 AVX offset and a higher 1.362V Vcore setting). As of 10/28/18, Silicon Lottery reports that all Core i7-9700Ks it tested can maintain 4.9 GHz or greater. Expect similar results from your sample, provided you score a nice chip.

MEG Z390 Godlike

We're using MSI's MEG Z390 Godlike as our test platform for all Intel processors. This pricey board sells for $600, but has the power delivery subsystem to support aggressive overclocking.

MSI's motherboard imposes a 100.8 MHz base clock. Its extra 0.8 MHz serves to push overclocks even harder, though our motherboard review team would probably call it cheating. Consequently, our 5.1 GHz overclock is actually 5.14 GHz. Stock frequencies aren't spared, and there is no way to adjust the BCLK down to remove MSI's self-awarded advantage. Meanwhile, we are waiting on a solution from MSI that should allow us to dial in an exact 100 MHz BCLK.

The MSI MEG Z390 Godlike sits at the top of MSI's motherboard hierarchy. It has a decked-out 18-phase power delivery subsystem that's designed to squeeze every drop of performance out of Intel's new processors. It also comes with a few nifty accessories like an M.2 PCIe riser card and an HDMI streaming card.

Comparison Products

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Test System & Configuration
Hardware

Intel LGA 1151 (Z390)

Intel Core i9-9900K, i7-9700K, i5-9600K, i7-8700K, i5-8600K, i5-8400
MSI MEG Z390 Godlike
2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2667 & DDR4-3466

Intel LGA 2066
Intel Core i9-7820X
MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC
4x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2666, DDR4-3200

AMD Socket AM4 (400-Series)
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X, Ryzen 5 2600X
MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC
2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2933

All Systems

EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FE
1TB Samsung PM863
SilverStone ST1500-TI, 1500W
Windows 10 Pro (All Updates)

Cooling

Corsair H115i

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  • rantoc
    Considering the amonth of security flaws that have been found lately the lack of HT could become a blessing in the end!
  • logainofhades
    I would like to see a locked at same clocks review, for these CPU's. It seems you really have to push Intel, to handily surpass AMD. It reminds me of the FX vs Sandy bridge days.
  • sadsteve
    No more computer sleeping without SMT.
  • ingtar33
    Well I just went from an I5-4690K to an AMD Ryzen 7 2700 after seeing the price of intel's current lineup, and knowing that Ryzen2 is coming in another 6mo or so. Personally I thought it was a no brainer, since the 7 2700 could be had for $260, mine is in an mitx build right now with a little Kracken M22 cooling it, and as I type on it it's currently plugging along at 4.2 ghz with DDR4 3600 ram in it.

    What point am I making? Well, the motherboard, cpu cooler and cpu combined were cheaper then this i7 in this review. chew on that. And remember that ryzen2 should be out sometime in the spring of 2019, and it will be completely compatible with everything I just purchased while being on par with or even faster then this last intel chip.

    Now that you've chewed on that for a bit, ask yourself "why did THG stamp an editor approval on this chip again?" We probably should, "Just buy it," I guess, and not ask so many questions.
  • ingtar33
    59887 said:
    I would like to see a locked at same clocks review, for these CPU's. It seems you really have to push Intel, to handily surpass AMD. It reminds me of the FX vs Sandy bridge days.


    except that's not what we're seeing. 105.5 fps vs 94.9 fps is 10.4%, a 10.4% improvement for the 8c16t intel core i9-9900k. yet the chip is running at 5.0ghz vs the 8c16t ryzen 7 2700x at 4.2 ghz, which means the intel is clocked about 19.0% faster then the AMD to get a 10.4% lead in FPS.

    These Intel cpus DO NOT have higher IPS then Ryzen. If anything, assuming there isn't some sort of scaling issue in the testing suite, this seems to indicate that intel's cpus have moderately less IPS then AMD Ryzen+ and are currently getting by with clock speed alone. Which means this is as far away from sandy bridge vs fx then we could get. Sandy bridge didn't just clock to 5ghz, but was sporting almost 40% better IPS then Piledriver FX cpus.
  • InvalidError
    1027081 said:
    And remember that ryzen2 should be out sometime in the spring of 2019

    You are getting product and code names confused. Ryzen 2 (Zen+) has been out for over six months already and your new Ryzen 2700 is one of those. Ryzen 3 (Zen 2) is what's coming out in 2019 on 7nm.
  • adam.oakes83
    INGTAR33, you can't just make up results and claim t
    It to be proven actuate by doing a math equation. 99.99% of the internet making claims with no source to back it up.
  • TerryLaze
    1027081 said:
    except that's not what we're seeing. 105.5 fps vs 94.9 fps is 10.4%, a 10.4% improvement for the 8c16t intel core i9-9900k. yet the chip is running at 5.0ghz vs the 8c16t ryzen 7 2700x at 4.2 ghz, which means the intel is clocked about 19.0% faster then the AMD to get a 10.4% lead in FPS. These Intel cpus DO NOT have higher IPS then Ryzen. If anything, assuming there isn't some sort of scaling issue in the testing suite, this seems to indicate that intel's cpus have moderately less IPS then AMD Ryzen+ and are currently getting by with clock speed alone. Which means this is as far away from sandy bridge vs fx then we could get. Sandy bridge didn't just clock to 5ghz, but was sporting almost 40% better IPS then Piledriver FX cpus.


    This only works if you don't know CPU and GPU utilization.
    Looking at a lot of gaming benchmarks even the i3/pentiums/2400g etc are only 10-20% below the 9900k because gaming benchmarks are made to push the GPUs and not the CPUs so the GPUs bottleneck way before the CPUs,and even if they don't, scaling in games means that slower CPUs can just use more threads to get to the same FPS.
    Look at CPU benchmarks the deficit the ryzen CPUs have there is still there in gaming it just shows in the utilization where the ryzen cpu will have 30-40% more utilization (2700x vs 9900k) .
  • Dantte
    PCgamers did some testing delidding a 9900K and determined that the solder TIM does NOT provide any additional cooling when compared to a 8700K because the die is much thicker (about 32% thicker) and hampers the transfer. Also the solder is too thick as well.

    They tested and proved this theory by delidding and replacing the solder with conductonaut and got a 8C decrease in temps. Then they lapped the die -.15 and -.20mm and retested which came back with even lower results.
  • t99
    Glad I went with a 2600 for only 150$ new and just OC if needed. Basically a 2600x and the avg is within 20% of an OC'd 9900k and 10% of 8600k.

    When you account for the difference in cooling and motherboards as well you can get a 2600 + 1070ti for price of a 9700k.

    Maybe we will see larger gaps with the new intel when they test 1080p on a 2080. So glad I didnt wait and go with one of these
  • Karadjgne
    So what? As long as the cpu isn't hitting 100% to do whatever you need it to do, be it gaming or streaming or both or something different, does it really make a hill of beans difference if a Ryzen is sitting at 60% and an intel at 50%?

    Benchmarks are a tool, not gospel and 99% of all pc users couldn't tell, won't ever see any difference at all in anything they do. You'd need to be running both setups, side by side, running identical software, doing the same process and be using a digital timer. I see benchmarks where the 9900k does something in 2.3 seconds, the 2700x takes 2.6 seconds. Wow, really, the Intel is so much better, on a blown up graph.
  • t99
    Damn an OC'd 2600 (basically same fps as 2600x) at 150$ new is within 20% of 9700k and 10% of 8600k and cost over 2.5x & 1.5x more. Even if you bought a 9700k with a semi budget board and just enough cooling you could buy a 2600 and 1070ti for the same amount.
  • Dantte
    1713826 said:
    Damn an OC'd 2600 (basically same fps as 2600x) at 150$ new is within 20% of 9700k and 10% of 8600k and cost over 2.5x & 1.5x more. Even if you bought a 9700k with a semi budget board and just enough cooling you could buy a 2600 and 1070ti for the same amount.

    So basically what you're saying is:
    - Intel CPU is more powerful and faster than AMD
    - AMD CPU is cheaper than Intel
    - You value price over performance so in your opinion, AMD is a better choice for you.

    Cool, we all have different values. A millionaire PC enthusiasts probably doesnt care one bit about price and would willingly spend $500 extra if it meant even 1% better performance (atleast this is how I would think in that situation).
  • kiniku
    If the Ryzen 2 provides decent IPC increases then I'll be on that. If not it will be the 9700K for my new rig next year.
  • stdragon
    526978 said:
    1713826 said:
    Damn an OC'd 2600 (basically same fps as 2600x) at 150$ new is within 20% of 9700k and 10% of 8600k and cost over 2.5x & 1.5x more. Even if you bought a 9700k with a semi budget board and just enough cooling you could buy a 2600 and 1070ti for the same amount.
    So basically what you're saying is: - Intel CPU is more powerful and faster than AMD - AMD CPU is cheaper than Intel - You value price over performance so in your opinion, AMD is a better choice for you. Cool, we all have different values. A millionaire PC enthusiasts probably doesnt care one bit about price and would willingly spend $500 extra if it meant even 1% better performance (atleast this is how I would think in that situation).


    Depends. Do you value CPU only operations, or prefer gaming with a GPU? Because as far as gaming, an AMD/nVidia build is clearly the better value per dollar. It's factual, not even debatable.

    There's personal justification which is opinion based, and then there's economic facts.
  • InvalidError
    2695855 said:
    Depends. Do you value CPU only operations, or prefer gaming with a GPU? Because as far as gaming, an AMD/nVidia build is clearly the better value per dollar. It's factual, not even debatable.

    Some people aren't bound to value/dollar and/or have performance targets that are only achievable with Intel's superior IPC and achievable overclocks due to their preferred games not scaling with core/thread count.

    For most people though, I agree that something like the Ryzen 2600 is a solid value proposition.
  • spentshells
    What I'm seeing is that and needs to up the clock speed them inch up their price a bit to be on the level with Intel.

    Good luck
  • Karadjgne
    Nah, Rx580 and gtx1060 are neck and neck performance, but the 580 is considerably cheaper. Seems this time around amd/amd is the value king, especially at 1080p
  • s1mon7
    At first, I thought this chip is a neat upgrade - an Intel chip with 8-cores and STIM. Then I realized that due to the minuscule IPC improvements I can't think of any use case for which this would be a good purchase.

    This chip is marketed for gamers, yet if you're on a recent quad-core i7, it offers merely 10% higher average and minimum fps in games than the 7700k, and at best (1080P, stock clocks), mind you. Overclock the 7700K and the difference shrinks due to its proportionally larger OC gains - the 10% stock clock speed gap shrinks to 4-5%, climbing back to 7-10% with overclocked Skylake and Haswell i7s. It makes me wonder.. apart from the unreasonable upgrade itch we all feel when something different like this launches, if you already own a recent Intel quad-core it doesn't really make any sense to upgrade for games, as there isn't much performance improvement.

    If you're concerned about the future games (what if they become more threaded?), it makes zero sense to upgrade now, since at the moment they perform almost the same, and the infinitely more "future-proof" solution is to upgrade when the games actually become more threaded to a then much better chip built around also actually faster cores.

    Since single-threaded performance is the same per clock as with Kaby/Skylake, the upgrade won't perceivably improve the user experience or lightly-threaded productivity performance. If multi-threaded prowess is what you're after, going Ryzen will get you similar frames than what you're getting now with a quad-core and significantly more heavy-weight performance per dollar for multi-threaded tasks.

    And even if you're not on a recent quad-core i7 and you're upgrading from something much weaker and more ancient, there's always something offering more bang for your buck than this chip, no matter what you want to use your chip for.
  • Dantte
    2695855 said:
    Because as far as gaming, an AMD/nVidia build is clearly the better value per dollar. It's factual, not even debatable.


    This is incorrect, "AMD/nVidia build is clearly the better" performance per price comparison, "value" is an individual's OPINION, not fact, and is extremely debatable!

    Value (definition): a person's principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what is important in life.

    If the price of an object holds no importance to to an individual, then there is no value in who has the better performance/price comparison. Strickly speaking performance, Intel "is clearly better."

    2809234 said:
    If you're concerned about the future games (what if they become more threaded?), it makes zero sense to upgrade now, since at the moment they perform almost the same, and the infinitely more "future-proof" solution is to upgrade when the games actually become more threaded to a then much better chip built around also actually faster cores.

    Again, what makes "sense" is a matter of personal opinion; what does or doesnt make sense to you may not be the same for another person. Same argument I made before, if I unlimited amount of money and only cared about having the best performance, I would upgrade now, and when the formula changes and there is a better performance CPU for the application, I would upgrade again...

    Also to have "infinitely more "future-proof" solution" is not to wait till the next best thing, because there will always be a next best thing, but to constantly change, upgrade, and 'chase the rabbit.'