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Intel 9th-generation CPUs: Everything you need to know about Intel’s new desktop chips

Intel 9th-generation CPUs: Everything you need to know about Intel’s new desktop chips


The newest vary of processors is right here – however what’s actually new within the Espresso Lake refresh?

  • Greater clock speeds
  • Core i7 will get extra bodily cores
  • Safety towards safety flaws
  • Similar GPU as final yr
  • Similar 14nm course of as final yr
  • Similar inner design as final yr

Intel has unveiled the primary of its 9th-generation processors, but when you have been anticipating massive issues then put together to be disillusioned: they’re very comparable to the Eighth-generation fashions. They do nevertheless introduce some manufacturing modifications that ought to ship a efficiency increase, so if you’re out there for a desktop PC, the new choices are properly value testing.

What you need to know

Intel has formally launched ten 9th-generation processors. All are desktop fashions, however they divide into two ranges. Mainstream customers and players get what’s referred to as the “Coffee Lake Refresh” – a reputation which if something oversells the chips, because the CPU and GPU cores are precisely the identical as discovered on final yr’s Espresso Lake fashions. Nevertheless, clock speeds are greater, and the Core i7 has extra bodily cores than earlier than. They’re supported by the new Z390 chipset, which additionally introduces a couple of technical advances.

In the meantime, for skilled creators demanding excessive desktop efficiency, there’s a variety of new X-series chips. These too use the identical inner designs as final yr’s X-series chips; these have been based mostly on the Skylake-X core, so this yr’s crop is the Skylake-X Refresh.

Mainstream product vary

Unexpectedly, Intel’s preliminary tranche of mainstream 9th-generation chips doesn’t embrace a Core i3 processor. That’s presumably as a result of the emphasis is on efficiency, which isn’t a key consideration for lower-tier chips. As an alternative, the corporate has prolonged the vary upwards, providing the primary Core i9 chip for normal desktop motherboards.

Mannequin Core i5-9600Okay Core i7-9700Okay Core i9-9900Okay
Course of 14nm 14nm 14nm
Base velocity three.7GHz three.6GHz three.6GHz
Max all-core turbo velocity four.3GHz four.6GHz four.7GHz
Max single-core turbo velocity four.6GHz four.9GHz 5GHz
Cores 6 eight eight
Hyper-Threading N N Y
GPU UHD Graphics 630 UHD Graphics 630 UHD Graphics 630
L3 Cache 9MB 12MB 16MB

For the Core i5-9600Okay, all that’s new is the clock velocity: final yr’s Core i5-8600Okay had a base velocity of three.6GHz, with all-core and single-core maximums of four.1GHz and four.3GHz respectively. The new mannequin isn’t an enormous step up, however it’s exhausting to complain as the worth has barely modified in any respect: the i5-9600Okay launches at $262 within the US, versus $257 for the older mannequin.

It’s an analogous story with the new Core i7. Though the bottom clock is right here barely down on final yr’s flagship i7-8700Okay (from three.7GHz to three.6GHz), all-core and single-core turbo speeds are up, from four.3GHz and four.7GHz respectively. There’s additionally been a big change to the core configuration: the place the i7-8700Okay had six cores servicing twelve threads, the new mannequin has no Hyper-Threading however eight bodily cores. The impact of this can rely very a lot on the workload, however with 33% extra silicon within the package deal we’d anticipate to see an general efficiency achieve. It’s launching at $374, barely up from final yr’s $359.

With the Core i9 we’re in considerably uncharted waters, since all earlier Core i9 fashions have been Skylake-X chips with very totally different (and far more costly) architectures. Take a look at the specs although and it’s clear what we’re coping with: it’s principally the identical because the Core i7, with the addition of Hyper-Threading, extra L3 cache and a tiny velocity increase. In case there was any doubt about who it’s aimed toward, Intel is pitching it as “the best gaming processor in the world.”

It’s value mentioning that, like all Okay-suffixed processors, these chips include turbo speeds unlocked. To an extent, subsequently, the marketed greater clock speeds aren’t all that significant. Nevertheless, for the new chips Intel has additionally made a big change in its manufacturing course of, utilizing “STIM” – soldered thermal interface materials – as an alternative of low cost thermal paste to join the cores to the heat-spreader on prime of the chip. This could allow extra environment friendly cooling, serving to 9th-generation chips to hit greater speeds than their predecessors.

The new chips additionally embrace hardware measures to handle the just lately found “Spectre” and “Meltdown” exploits. In earlier Espresso Lake chips these patches have been carried out within the firmware, and will scale back general system efficiency by a number of proportion factors. That slowdown is now successfully eradicated, giving 9th-generation chips one other small efficiency benefit.

Z390 chipset

To accompany the new desktop chips, Intel has additionally launched the new Z390 chipset. That is largely the identical as final yr’s Z370 – the unique Espresso Lake chipset – however options two enhancements. First, it comes with built-in help for six USB three.1 Era 2 ports supporting switch speeds of up to 10Gbits/sec, as already discovered on newer Espresso Lake chipsets.

Extra distinctively, Z390 additionally consists of built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi as normal. We’ve seen loads of premium motherboards the place producers have added their very own wi-fi controllers, however shifting this function into the chipset is a possible game-changer, pointing in the direction of a future the place it turns into a regular function on all desktop motherboards.

If you don’t need to splash out on a new high-end motherboard, nevertheless, you don’t have to: present chipsets and boards designed for Espresso Lake may also work with Espresso Lake Refresh processors.

Fanatic product vary

The very first thing you may discover about Intel’s new X-series chips is that they’ve seemingly skipped a era: the mannequin numbers have leapt from the 7000s straight to the 9000s, bringing the high-end vary into line with the mainstream.

In actuality, although, little or no has modified. The Skylake-X core is strictly as chunky and highly effective because it ever was, and the primary distinction between fashions stays the core rely (together with the quantity of L3 cache out there to service these cores). Costs are all however equivalent too, beginning at $589 for the lone Core i7 mannequin, and scaling from $898 up to $1979 for the varied Core i9 choices.

Mannequin Core i7-9800X Core i9-9820X Core i9-9900X Core i9-9920X
Course of 14nm 14nm 14nm 14nm
Base velocity three.8GHz three.3GHz three.5GHz three.5GHz
Max all-core turbo velocity four.4GHz four.1GHz four.4GHz four.4GHz
Max single-core turbo velocity four.5GHz four.2GHz four.5GHz four.5GHz
Cores eight 10 10 12
Hyper-Threading Y Y Y Y
GPU None None None None
L3 cache 16.5MB 16.5MB 19.25MB 19.25MB
Mannequin Core i9-9940X Core i9-9960X Core i9-9980X Excessive Version
Course of 14nm 14nm 14nm
Base velocity three.3GHz three.1GHz 3GHz
Max all-core turbo velocity four.4GHz four.4GHz three.8GHz
Max single-core turbo velocity four.5GHz four.5GHz four.5GHz
Cores 14 16 18
Hyper-Threading Y Y Y
GPU None None None
L3 cache 19.25MB 22MB 24.75MB

The important thing distinction between this crop of processors and the final is that, as with the mainstream chips, speeds are modestly up throughout the board – which might be once more down to the wonders of STIM.

Worth and competitors

The 9th-generation processors revealed thus far characterize a reasonably broad sweep, overlaying worth factors from $262 up to almost $2,000. The thought is evidently that each desktop consumer – from residence hobbyists to devoted players and demanding professionals – ought to find a way to discover an Intel chip to match their price range, relatively than being tempted away by AMD’s disruptive Ryzen platform.

Whether or not the new chips are a sensible purchase is more durable to say. Intel’s costs have a tendency to work out larger on a per-core foundation than AMD’s, however its cores are individually extra succesful – so your greatest purchase very a lot is determined by the actual type of work you have to do. The new Core i7-9700Okay might shake issues up with its eight bodily cores, nevertheless: for reasonably demanding house and workplace customers it guarantees the perfect of each worlds.


The arrival of a new era of CPUs used to be like Christmas coming early, nevertheless it’s onerous to get excited about yet one more repackaging of Intel’s 14nm core. It’s an honest core, to ensure, and we perceive the immense challenges the corporate faces in producing even quicker, even smaller designs. Even so.

Nonetheless, the change to STIM ought to assist these chips run quicker and overclock higher than ever, and it’s good that the efficiency hit from safety updates is now minimised as properly. To succeed in a correct verdict we’ll have to wait till we now have the chips in entrance of us: the mainstream fashions are due to ship in mid-October, with the X-series fashions anticipated throughout November. Since costs have barely modified, nevertheless, any enchancment in any respect is a bonus – so for now the ninth era will get a provisional thumbs-up.



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