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

Great balance between price and performance

Editor's Choice

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.

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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.

It's also noteworthy that AMD has launched its Ryzen 3000-series processors. The updated Ryzen line-up employs a smaller 7nm process that should confer power and price benefits. It'll also wield the new Zen 2 microarchitecture, which is expected to boost performance while Intel remains mired in a derivative of the seven-year-old Skylake design. These chips have now taken our Best CPUs list by storm, so be sure to head there for a list of the latest leading processors.

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

Test System & Configuration
HardwareIntel LGA 1151 (Z390)Intel Core i9-9900K, i7-9700K, i5-9600K, i7-8700K, i5-8600K, i5-8400MSI MEG Z390 Godlike2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2667 & DDR4-3466Intel LGA 2066Intel Core i9-7820XMSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC4x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2666, DDR4-3200AMD Socket AM4 (400-Series)AMD Ryzen 7 2700X, Ryzen 5 2600XMSI X470 Gaming M7 AC2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 @ DDR4-2933All SystemsEVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FE 1TB Samsung PM863SilverStone ST1500-TI, 1500WWindows 10 Pro (All Updates)
CoolingCorsair H115i


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Paul Alcorn

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.