Core i9-9900K takes eight cores, 16 threads, and solder to 300-series mobos


At its Performance Unleashed event this morning, Intel announced three new product families. For most PC builders and enthusiasts, the trio of ninth-generation CPUs for Intel's 300-series LGA 1151 platforms will likely be of the greatest interest.

The long-rumored and long-leaked Core i9-9900K is Intel's first 5-GHz CPU to ship in volume, and it'll bring eight Skylake cores and 16 threads to Z370 and Z390 motherboards. The ninth generation of Core desktop CPUs also marks the long-requested return of solder as the thermal interface material (or TIM) beneath those chips' integrated heat spreaders (IHS), enhancing heat transfer from the chip to the heatsink above. That solder should let builders keep overclocked ninth-gen systems both cool and quiet without resorting to delidding and repasting.

Base
clock
speed
(GHz)
Peak
single-core
boost
speed
(GHz)
Cores/
threads
TDP L3
cache
Memory
support
Suggested
price
i9-9900K 3.6 5.0 8/16 95 W 16 MB Dual-channel
DDR4-2666
$488
i7-9700K 3.6 4.9 8/8 12 MB $374
i5-9600K 3.7 4.6 6/6 9 MB $262

To get that combination of peak single-core performance, multi-threaded grunt, and overclocking prowess, however, builders will need to pony up. At $488 for the i9-9900K, Intel is giving builders what they want, but it's clearly not attempting to engage AMD on core count for the dollar. Instead, thanks to Skylake's continued superiority in performance and clock speed, the company is positioning the i9-9900K at the top of the heap for eight-core, 16-thread chips.

Within Intel's product line, the i9-9900K comes in at $100 less than the Skylake-X i7-7820X commanded at launch. Even with half the memory channels of that part and no AVX-512 support, it's hard to complain about the company making eight of its best client cores available on mainstream motherboards for what may be the lowest price ever for such a complement. Intel also let slip that it expects an all-core Turbo Boost speed of 4.7 GHz from the i9-9900K. No matter how you slice it, this chip will be formidable. We'll be testing the i9-9900K and will be able to say just how formidable it is soon.

Moving down the stack, the i7-9700K offers eight cores and eight threads running at a 4.9-GHz peak single-core speed. It has the same soldered IHS as its i9 sibling. This is the first Core i7 desktop CPU we've seen without Hyper-Threading in years, and it'll be interesting to see just how that omission affects performance. Intel doesn't seem to expect the drop in overall thread count to harm the 9700K versus the 8700K too much, though, as it's pricing the ninth-gen part at only a small premium versus the i7-8700K's $359-$370 range.

At the base of the ninth-gen stack, the i5-9600K offers six cores and six threads with a 4.6-GHz single-core peak speed. A 300-MHz peak single-core boost and a soldered IHS will be the primary benefits buyers will enjoy versus the i5-8600K, and they only add $5 to the 9600K's suggested price versus its predecessor. We expect buyers who care more about peak speed and overclocking headroom than absolute multithreaded grunt will find a lot to like in the i5-9600K, even versus AMD's Ryzen 5 chips.

All ninth-gen processors will work in existing Intel 300-series motherboards, as well as just-introduced Z390 boards. Stay tuned for our review of Intel's latest and greatest.

Tip: You can use the A/Z keys to walk threads.
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