In November of 2008, Intel launched their first-generation Core I7 processor with the I7 920. This was a 45 NM quad core, hyper-threaded processor with a base frequency of 2.67 GHz. Since then, each generation saw the process node shrink and the frequency increase ever so slightly. Around the 6th generation, enthusiasts started complaining that there really wasn’t a huge difference generation to generation. Sure, there would be a 5-10% increase in performance and the frequency would also increase. But, nothing to get really excited over, not to justify the cost of the upgrade for many people. Then, In October of 2017, Intel made waves in the enthusiast and gaming community with the launch of their first ever consumer hex-core processor, the i7 8700k. This was by far the best consumer grade processor for gaming Intel had ever released, until today.
On October 8th, 2018, Intel officially launched their first consumer 8 core, 16 thread processor with the 9th generation Core I9 9900k. This is also the first consumer I9 processor. Built on their 14 nm++ process, the 9900k is Intel’s first processor to hit 5.0 GHz straight out of the box, most likely on a single core. The 9900k sports a base clock of 3.6 GHz. However, all 8 cores can boost to 4.7 GHz. The 9900k has a TDP of 95 watts and has 16 MB of Intel Smart Cache. Using Unified cache, each of the 8 cores on the 9900k can use 16 MB of cache.
Along with the 9900k, Intel also announced two other processor in the 9th generation of Core Processors alongside the I9 9900k. These are the I7 9700k and I5 9600k. Both are also 95-watt chips. The 9700k sporting 12 MB of cache, a base clock of 3.6 GHz and a boost clock of 4.9 GHz. The I5 9600k has 9 MB of cache, a base clock of 3.7 GHz and a boost clock of 4.6 GHz. Neither the I7 9700k nor the I5 9600k support hyper-threading this generation, only the I7 9900k. All three processors support dual channel DDR4-2666 MHz memory, both Optane SSDs and memory, and up to 40 PCIe lanes. The 9th generation Core Processors are compatible with the Z370 chipset as well as the all new Z390 chipset. To use a 9th generation Core Processor on the Z370 Chipset will require a bios update.
Along with the 9th generation Core Processors comes a new chipset as well. Intel’s new Z390 Chipset is designed to get optimal performance from the 9th generation processors. Although many of the specifications are the same as the Z370 chipset, there are a few key differences. The first difference is the Z390 supports USB 3.1 gen 2 with transfer speeds up to 10 GB/s, that’s double the speed of USB 3.1 Gen one at 5 GB/s. The other main difference in Intel’s integrated AC-Wireless with support for Gigabit speed. All 9th generation processors feature a soldered thermal interface material or STIM. STIM is a solder based thermal interface material, or TIM, between the integrated heat spreader, or IHS and processor die. STIM provides increased thermal conductivity between the CPU die and the integrated heat spreader. Also, heat dissipation is improved, allowing for more thermal headroom and higher overclocks.
Pre-Orders of the I9 9900k are up on Amazon as of 10/8/2018 for the price of $529.99 USD. Amazon also has both the I7 9700k and the I5 9600k up for pre-order now. The I7 9700k will set you back $399.99 USD and the I5 9600k is selling for only $279.99 USD. The Processors will ship on 10/19/2018. One thing I did notice is the 9th gen processors are much more available at launch than the 8th gen processors were. For that, we thank you Intel. So, get you processors ordered while you still. This is one generation I don’t think you’ll want to pass over. Also, watch out for our full review of the 9900k coming soon!