Intel i7 9700K release date, specs, price, and performance

Intel will soon launch the first Core i7 CPU without Hyper-Threading in living memory. Here's what to expect

Intel i7 9700K

Intel’s i7 9700K is launching on October 19, for those not paying attention to their calendars, that’s tomorrow people! This high-end CPU is usually the holy grail for gaming performance, however, the i7 9700K isn’t like most i7 chips before it. No, this time Intel’s switched off Hyper-Threading, the tech that doubles the threads to every physical core, leaving this eight-core chip equally threaded this time around.

And there’s also a new top CPU in town. Despite historically taking the top spot, the i7 9700K won’t be the flagship of the mainstream product stack. Instead, Intel’s i9 9900K, with eight-cores and 16-threads will be taking that accolade. This chip is the only eight-core mainstream CPU from Intel to feature Hyper-Threading, and it looks gamers may have to part with even more cash for the privilege of those extra threads.

Both eight-core chips retain the LGA 1151 socket support. That means they will be compatible with current Coffee Lake motherboards – Z370, H370, H310, etc. – but also a new chipset, Z390, ready to go day one as the new eight-core chips launch.

The i9 9900K, and i5 9600K, too, will launch at that time, making up the first 9th Gen CPUs from Intel. All will feature in-silicon fixes for security vulnerabilities found within Intel’s entire product stack this year. These fixes patch up the speculative execution bugs that, pre-mitigation, were vulnerable to nefarious actions.

VITAL STATS

Intel i7 9700K release date
The i7 9700K will launch on October 19 alongside the i9 9900K and i5 9600K.

Intel i7 9700K specs
The Intel i7 9700K will be an eight-core / eight-thread CPU. Boost clocks are just below 5GHz, at 4.9GHz, and base clocks sit at 3.6GHz. That should mean 5GHz+ will be a realistic overclocking goal for most chips, regardless of the silicon lottery.

Intel i7 9700K pricing
The i7 9700K will be priced at, somewhere in the region of, $374. That’s just a touch more than the current 8th gen i7 8700K CPU goes for right now, at around $360.

Intel i7 9700K performance
Early benchmarks and reviews indicate a slight bump over the i7 8700K when it comes to gaming performance. However, the bump up to eight cores alone will offer plenty of raw performance for multitasking, too.

Intel i7 9700K release date

The i7 9700K will launch on October 19. That’s almost exactly a year after the launch of the first Coffee Lake desktop chips last year. Intel announced the launch date at an Intel 9th Gen launch event in NYC, alongside new X-series chips debuting in November.

Intel i9 9900K

Can't sacrifice threads? The i9 9900K is the new flagship CPU from Intel, featuring eight cores and 16 threads.

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There have been various benchmarks and leaks regarding these chips in recent weeks, but, if that wasn’t convincing enough, El Chapuzas Informatico published a review of an early sample of the chip mid-September.

There have been recent rumours that Intel is combating a shortage of 14nm chips. While Intel has denied claims it is outsourcing production to rival foundries, there’s still a chance that stock could be pretty slim once the i7 9700K launches. Last year’s launch was subsequently described as a ‘paper launch’ with stock not arriving in volume until November / December, and the upcoming launch could play out similarly.

Intel i7 9700K specifications

Intel i7 9700K specs

The early review confirms all of the specs we were expecting to see with the i7 9700K. It’s a eight-core chip with eight-threads, and features a base clock of 3.6GHz and a boost clock of 4.9GHz. It also comes with 12MB of L3 cache, Intel HD Graphics 630, and support for the same 16 PCIe lanes we’ve had in the mainstream for quite a while.

Cores Threads Base Turbo Cache TDP Price
New – Core i9 9900K 8 16 3.6GHz 5GHz 16MB 95W $488
New – Core i7 9700K 8 8 3.6GHz 4.9GHz 12MB 95W $374
Core i7 8700K 6 12 3.7GHz 4.7GHz 12MB 95W $359
Core i7 8700 6 12 3.2GHz 4.6GHz 12MB 65W $303
New – Core i5 9600K 6 6 3.7GHz 4.5GHz 9MB 95W £262
Core i5 8600K 6 6 3.6GHz 4.3GHz 9MB 95W $257
New – Core i5 9600 6 6 3.1GHz 4.5GHz 9MB 65W TBD
Core i5 8600 6 6 3.1GHz 4.3GHz 9MB 65W $213
New – Core i5 9500 6 6 3GHz 4.3GHz 9MB 65W TBD

It’s also built upon the same 14nm process node that Intel has been utilising since Broadwell, and the same architecture with minimal changes in use since Skylake. There are, however, some changes to the silicon in the form of security vulnerability fixes, which Intel has put in place to mitigate the Foreshadow, Spectre, and Meltdown bugs made public earlier this year.

Intel i7 9700K pricing

Intel i7 9700K pricing

Intel’s eight-core / eight-thread i7 9700K chip will launch at $374. That’s just slightly higher than the price of the hexacore i7 8700K at launch.

But ye’ be warned. Pricing for Intel’s i7 8700K skyrocketed due to dreadfully low stock levels at launch. Pricing slowly levelled out across the next few months following release, however, if reports of Intel’s 14nm shortage are true – which seems quite likely considering the abundance and veracity of said rumours – the i7 9700K could be met with similar supply woes in October.

Intel i7 9700K performance

Intel i7 9700K performance

The top mainstream i7 from Intel has always been untouchable when it comes to pure gaming performance. Intel’s single core performance just can’t be beat. As such, the i7 9700K offers more of the same single-threaded performance we’ve come to expect from Chipzilla these last few years.

That means gaming performance, and speed in applications that don’t take advantage of multiple threads, will be some of the best we’ve seen. The 4.9GHz Turbo clock looks to be only for one core, but that should be plenty to keep frame rates high and allow your GPU to run free rein without ever running into any performance bottlenecks.

But in applications that make the most out of everything your CPU can offer, the i7 9700K actually has less threads on offer that its predecessors, the i7 8700K – at eight to twelve, respectively. Has that drastically affected performance?  Apparently not as greatly as it might seem on the face of things.

The top mainstream i7 from Intel has always been untouchable when it comes to pure gaming performance

Despite the lack of Hyper-Threading, the i7 9700K still has two extra, physical cores. That’s a lot of extra horsepower that’s actually built onto the chip, and real cores trump threads any day – especially since they’re clocked higher, too.

The review over at El Chapuzas Informatico shows the 9700K beating the i7 8700K consistently throughout synthetic benchmarks, if only by a little bit on occasion, but falling short of the Ryzen 7 2700X. It looks like this eight-thread chip just can’t keep up with the red team’s 16-threaded flagship in multi-threaded tasks.

Under gaming workloads when it comes to either the Intel’s eight-core versus AMD’s eight-core, the i7 9700K versus the hexacore i7 8700K, or even Intel’s latest versus the four-core Skylake i7 6700K, the difference is often only a couple of frames here or there.

Realistically, those extra cores won’t make a drastic difference to gaming performance, and the difference we’re seeing in early performance benchmarks is likely just as much due to the clockspeed bump as it is the extra cores. If you absolutely must have the very best i7, however, the i7 9700K seems to be coming out on top every time – if only by a small margin.

These benchmarks were carried out on a GTX 1070, so we’ll have to wait and see if the delta between chips increases with Nvidia’s latest RTX 2080 Ti in the hot seat.

A lot of current games see fairly diminishing returns on core counts as they reach double digits, and, as such, that means the difference between the i7 9700K and i7 8700K isn’t quite as great as the when going from four cores to six with the Kaby Lake to Coffee Lake generational jump.

Maybe that’ll all change in the near-future as game engines start to take advantage of multi-threaded processors a little more. But, with the Steam Hardware Survey only showing a small minority of gamers taking the plunge on six-core and up chips, sweeping change might take some time.