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Intel Announces 9th Generation Core CPUs, Eight-Core Core i9-9900K

Intel finally unveiled its new 9th Generation Core processors at its Fall Desktop Launch Event here in New York today. The $488 Core i9-9900K serves as the flagship of the new lineup, offering eight cores and 16 threads. The processors are available for pre-order today, with broad availability on October 19. Intel also released several other additions to its new line of 9th Generation Core processors and announced that the new processors come with Solder Thermal Interface Material (STIM).


The new lineup slots into existing 300-series motherboards after a BIOS update, but Intel's partners also have a slew of Z390 motherboards available, which you can see here.

Intel Coffee Lake Refresh

As expected, Intel splits its families into Core i7 and i5 models, but the 9th Generation Core processors also mark the debut of the new eight-core Core i9 series for the desktop. As per usual, all of Intel's "K" Series processors come with the 14nm++ process, an integrated UHD 630 graphics engine, unlocked multipliers that enable overclocking, and support dual-channel DDR4-2666. Much like the Cascade and Whiskey Lake processors we recently covered, Intel's Coffee Lake Refresh lineup of processors also comes with in-built silicon mitigations for the Meltdown and L1TF (Foreshadow) vulnerabilities.

VulnerabilityCoffee Lake Refresh/Whiskey Lake MitigationCascade Lake Mitigation
Variant 1 (Spectre)Operating SystemOperating System/VMM
Variant 2 (Spectre)Microcode + Operating SystemIn-Silicon + Operating System/VMM
Variant 3 (Meltdown)In-SiliconIn-Silicon
Variant 3aMicrocode + Operating SystemFirmware
Variant 4Microcode + Operating SystemMicrocode + Operating System/VMM
L1TF (Foreshadow)In-SiliconIn-Silicon

The new Coffee Lake Refresh processors come as a response to AMD's Ryzen, which bumped up our expectations for the mainstream desktop to eight cores. Intel's potent Coffee Lake architecture, which the company increased to six cores last year, has retained the lead in the single-threaded applications, like many common desktop applications and gaming, while AMD's Ryzen has generally led in more-intense multi-threaded applications. Intel's 9th Generation Core processors wield the same underlying Coffee Lake micro-architecture, but the addition of two more cores to the flagship should allow the company to leverage its per-core performance advantage to take the lead in multi-threaded applications, too.

ModelCores / ThreadsBase FrequencyBoost FrequencyMemory SupportPCIe LanesCacheTDPPrice
Core i9-9900K8 / 163.6GHz5GHz (1 / 2 Core)4.8GHz (4 Core)4.7GHz (6 / 8 Core)DDR4-26661616MB95W$488
Ryzen 7 2700X8 / 163.7GHz4.3GHzDDR4-296616 + 4 (NVMe)16MB105W$329
Core i7-9700K8 / 83.6GHz4.9GHz (1 Core)4.8GHz (2 Core)4.7GHz (4 Core)4.6GHz (6 / 8 Core)DDR4-26661612MB95W$374
Core i7-8700K6 / 123.7GHz4.7GHzDDR4-26661612MB95W$330
Ryzen 7 27008 / 163.2GHz4.1GHzDDR4-296616 + 4 (NVMe)16MB95W$229
Core i5-9600K6 / 63.7GHz4.6GHz (1 Core)4.5GHz (2 Core)4.4GHz (4 Core)4.3GHz (6 Core)DDR4-2666169MB95W$262
Core i5-8600K6 / 63.6GHz4.3GHzDDR4-2966169MB95W$279
Ryzen 5 2600X6 / 123.6GHz4.2GHzDDR4-296616 + 4 (NVMe)16MB65W$229
Ryzen 5 26006 / 123.4GHz3.9GHzDDR4-296616 + 4 (NVMe)16MB65W$199

$488 Intel Core i9-9900K

The flagship Core i9-9900K comes with eight cores and 16 threads that operate at 3.6GHz during light activity, but boost up to 5GHz on a single core during intense workloads. The processor comes with 2MB of L3 cache per core, totaling 16MB, which is more than Intel's Core i7 and i5 models due to the two additional cores.

Intel's Solder TIM allows the processor to shed heat easier during operation, which helps the Core i9-9900K remain within the same 95W TDP envelope as its predecessors even though it comes with two additional cores. We expect the processor to use Intel's same underlying ring bus architecture, which is an internal high-speed pathway that connects the cores and cache, but we'll share more information as it becomes available.

$374 Intel Core i7-9700K

Intel's Core i7 series has traditionally featured Hyper-threading, which allows one core to execute two software threads simultaneously, thus boosting performance. The Kaby Lake processors came with four cores and eight threads, while the Coffee Lake processors brought that total up to six cores and 12 threads.

But the 9th Generation of Intel's processors features a fundamental shift -- now the Core i7 processors come with eight cores without Hyper-threading. Hyper-threading results in roughly 15-20 percent more performance per core under ideal conditions, so Intel's clever removal of the feature on the Core i7-9700K should make the eight-core, eight-thread processor faster than its 12-threaded predecessor in most workloads. Some applications also offer better performance on cores without Hyper-threading, as context switching and thread migration on Hyper-threaded cores can incur penalties in some workloads, so threads that execute on physical cores can be an advantage in some tasks.

All this means that the Core i7-9700K, which comes armed with eight cores and 3.6GHz/4.9GHz base/boost clocks, should be faster than the previous generation Core i7-8700K, thus allowing Intel to maintain its strictly curated product stack. This processor also comes with Intel's Solder TIM and features a 95W TDP rating. Intel obviously disables some cache on the die, as this eight-core model only comes with 12MB of L3 cache.

$262 Intel Core i5-9600K

The 9th Generation Core i5 series still features the same six physical cores without Hyper-threading as their Coffee Lake counterparts. The Core i5-9600K comes with a 3.7GHz base clock and boosts to 4.6GHz. Like Intel's Core i5 and i7 models, it comes with a 95W TDP. Intel also pairs each core with a 1.5MB of L3 cache, which adds up to 9MB.

Intel's New Packaging and Solder Thermal Interface Material

It seems that Intel is responding to several key tenets of AMD's value proposition. Intel beefed up its packaging, an apparent response to AMD's exotic path-blazing Threadripper packaging, and also replaced its thermal grease with Solder TIM to improve the thermal transfer efficiency between the heat spreader and the die.

Intel also shared some performance benchmarks, which you can see below.

This important step forward should improve overclocking performance for those on the hunt for extreme performance, while also improving thermal performance during typical stock operation, which will improve overall performance by allowing the processors to operate in Turbo Boost more frequently and then maintain the heightened clock speeds for longer periods of time.

ModelCores / ThreadsBase FrequencyBoost FrequencyCacheTDP
Core i9-9900K8 / 163.6GHz5GHz (1 / 2 Core)4.8GHz (4 Core)4.7GHz (6 / 8 Core)16MB95W
Core i7-9700K8 / 83.6GHz4.9GHz (1 Core)4.8GHz (2 Core)4.7GHz (4 Core)4.6GHz (6 / 8 Core)12MB95W
Core i5-9600K6 / 63.7GHz4.6GHz (1 Core)4.5GHz (2 Core)4.4GHz (4 Core)4.3GHz (6 Core)9MB95W
Core i5-96006 / 63.1GHz4.5GHz9MB65W
Core i5-95006 / 63GHz4.3GHz9MB65W
Core i5-94006 / 62.9GHz4.1GHz9MB65W
Core i5-9400T6 / 61.8GHz3.4GHz9MB35W
Core i3-9300TBA (4/4)TBATBA6MB65W
Core i3-9300TTBA (4/4)TBATBA6MB35W
Core i3-91004 / 43.7GHz3.7GHz6MB65W
Core i3-9100TTBA (4/4)TBATBA6MB35W
Core i3-90004 / 43.7GHz3.7GHz6MB65W
Core i3-9000TTBA (4/4)TBATBA6MB35W

Intel hasn't shared details of the full lineup yet, but we have Intel's full lineup of Coffee Lake Refresh processors above. Review embargoes lift on October 19 at 9AM ET.

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.