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Intel announces 9th generation and X-series desktop processors

As reported earlier, Intel revealed the expected 9th generation and X-Series CPUs via its livestream event. Intel showcased its Core i7, Core i5 and Core i9 series desktop processors followed by its X-series lineup. The pre-recording livestream can be seen here:

The new Extreme Edition LGA2066 socketed CPUs announced are as follows:

  • Core i9-9980XE
  • Core i9-9900X

With five more SKUs.

The presentation for the Core i7 and Core i5 was done off-stream according to some sources, but Intel did highlight Core i9-9900K:

  • Core i9-9900K
  • Core i7-9700K
  • Core i5-9600K

The content below emphasizes its processor and the Intel Z390 chipset. Exaggeration and vague explanation is the highlight of any CPU and GPU marketing, unfortunately. Fortunately, its filtered out and organized accordingly.

The story about soldered IHS (or STIM)

The much-appreciated inclusion is the soldered IHS (Intel is marketing that as ‘STIM’). Until now Intel has been criticized for downgrading soldered option to thermal paste under its IH since its Ivy-Bridge and continued until the 8th generation Coffee Lake CPUs. The successors of the TIM-applied CPUs supposedly improved its thermal conductivity- or that’s what the marketing materials claimed at the time. It wasn’t good enough to solve the problem permanently. Once, Intel even recommended not to overclock its Core i7-7700k since various users noticed increased heating after few months of usage. The situation forced many overclocking enthusiasts to void the warranty by delidding its desktop processors and using thermal pastes and even liquid metal. It would have been better if those generation CPUs used liquid metal, instead. AMD Ryzen and Ryzen 2 CPUs have soldered-on integrated heatsinks. So Intel had to do something permanent. Soldered IHS for the best possible heat transfer is a permanent solution. Hopefully, TIM paste should be the thing of the past for Intel.

The Core i9-9900K

After the Core i9 promo video, Intel says it ‘broke the laws of physics‘ for this 5 GHz processor. It would be interesting if they said how did they manage to do that? The Core i9-9900K is an eight-core 16-thread CPU with base/boost clock of 3.8 GHz/5 GHz. It is still very impressive to maintain all this with a 95-watt TDP rating. But implying its boost clock like a base clock doesn’t feel right. Again- marketing. Such wording needs to stop. Intel, don’t ruin your own moment!

Intel called its Core i9-9900K as ‘The best gaming processor in the world- period!”. This is in reference to gaming, streaming and recording workloads performed simultaneously. It was said they compared with previous generation CPUs and AMD (calling them as ‘the other guys’) in its internal testing. Of course, independent review websites will bare all of its performance capabilities eventually. It supports dual channel DDR4 MHz with native support up to 2,666MHz and Intel UHD 630 on-chip graphics. The PCIe 3.0 support is up to 40 lanes. Based on Amazon’s listing, it does work with any 300 series chipset motherboards (highly likely with a UEFI update) along with the Intel Z390 which will be released with it. It doesn’t list any feature limitation when using with the older platform.

As reported earlier, Intel’s 9th generation Core i9 9900K is a flagship with an unlocked CPU. The pricing is set at $488, This is the updated pre-order price in Amazon US:

In the UK, Overclockers are taking in pre-orders of the Core i9-9900K for £ 599.99.

Mainstream- Core i7 9700K and Core i5-9600K

SKU i9-9900K i7-9700K  i5-9600K
Base/Boost Clock 3.6GHz/ 5.0 GHz 3.6 GHz/ 4.9 GHz 3.7GHz/ 4.6GHz
Core/Threads 8C/16T 8C/8T 6C/6T
TDP 95W
Smart Cache 16MB Cache 12MB Cache 9MB
OC Unlocked
PCIe 3.0 Support Up to 40 PCIe lanes
MSRP $488 $374 $262

One of the sour parts is the absence of Hyper-Threading for all of its maintain CPUs except the Core i9-9900K and X-series processors. It is confusing to see a feature which was available in its previous generation lineups between Core i5 to Core i7, is now only limited to Core i9.

The pre-order options for the Core i7-9700K and Core i5-9600k are as follows but it is very recommended not to buy any CPUs before reviews from independent websites are out!

In the UK, Overclockers is taking the pre-orders of the Core i7-9800K for £499.99 and the Core i5-9600K for £389.99.

Intel Z390 Chipset

The Intel Z390 chipset is just a refresh with added support. It includes CNVi WiFi which was introduced in the Intel B360, H370 and the H310. The Z370 did not get that treatment since it came out at an earlier date. Compared to traditional WiFi specification this is extended up to 160MHz. Additionally, it includes six USB 3.1 Gen 2 native ports, which B360 had 12, B360 and H370 have four native support. It just too bad Intel’s B series does not have an overclock support like AMD’s B series counterpart. Come on, Intel! The other team doing it! It will be just like the good ol’ glorious LGA775 days! 

The X-Series/ Extreme Edition CPU Lineups

It shows the X-series CPUs which ranges between eight-core-16-thread CPUs to 18-cores-36-threads towards gamers. Prices for these X series range between $589 and $1,979.

SKU i9-9980XE i9-9960X i9-9940X i9-9920X i9-9900X i9-9820X i7-9800X
Base/Boost Clock 3.0/4.5 GHz 3.1 GHz/ 4.5 GHz 3.3GHz/ 4.4GHz 3.5GHz/ 4.5GHz 3.3GHz/ 4.4GHz 3.3GHz/ 4.2GHz 3.8GHz/ 4.5GHz
Core/Threads 18C/32T 16C/32T 14C/28T 12C/24T 10C/20T 10C/20T 8C/16T
TDP 165W
Smart Cache 24.75MB 22MB 19.25MB 19.25MB 19.25MB 16.5MB 16MB
OC Unlocked
PCIe 3.0 Support Up to 68 lanes
MSRP 1,979 $1,684 $1,387 $1,189 $989 $889 $589

The Core i7-9800X is very comparable with the Core i9-9900K. But with the X299, you get up to 68 lanes. Naturally, the X299 motherboard is an expensive option. All of these CPUs support dual channel natively up to 2666MHz kits.

Calling out ‘tech and gaming sites’ claiming public report as a ‘leak’

Intel did not share any benchmarks in the livestream but it does have an internal performance and comparison report. The in-game benchmarks and performance tests conducted may have been optimized for Intel processors. Take Intel’s word for it:

Its report is hidden away in plain sight. An easter-marketing-egg?? Not really hidden away. Already a games website used the benchmark from that and made graphs without realizing those are calculated at maximum specifications- and not just 1080p. It is not a leak. It is not breaking the NDA- its just publishing public results published by a company commissioned by Intel. Very suspicious. Again- marketing!

Internal comparison report overview

Principled Technologies, who is commissioned for this testing, used benchmarks like SYSMark and MobileMark. It also used 19 games for testing. For those without an in-game benchmark, Intel used highest frame rate (against average) as its mode of comparison. In total, up to 19 games were used for game performance testing. They are as follows:

War™: WARHAMMER II Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Fortnite
Gears of War 4 World of Tanks
War Thunder Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
Ashes of the Singularity PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)
 Forza Motorsport 7 The rise of the Tomb Raider
Assassin’s Creed: Origins Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Far Cry 5 Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Grand Theft Auto V
Final Fantasy XV

This test included the Core i9 9900K (The only 9th generation compared in the report), Core i7 8700K, i7-8086K and Ryzen 7 2700K, Threadripper 2990WX and 2950X CPUs. No test results using the Core i7 and i7 9700K and 9600K is strange and disheartening. Take Final Fantasy XV benchmark with a bag of salt since it was proven misleading.

Why not use the currently available ‘Shadow of the Tomb Raider’? That is anybody’s guess. It is understandable for AC: Odyssey since it was released via Steam a few days ago.

The common component specifications are as follows:
  • Graphics: GTX 1080Ti
  • Memory: 4x 16GB DDR4
    (speed ranging between 2666MHz and 2933MHz depending on the CPU limitation)
  • SSD: Samsung 970 Pro SSD
  • OS: Windows 10 1803 build

Upon further digging, its 8th generation testing was done on the ASUS Prime Z370-A motherboard, while the i9-9900K is done on the MSI X390-A Pro. The 9th gen X series testing is done on the ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe with 1503 BIOS update. The 8th generation mainstream CPUs are tested on the existing ASUS Prime Z370-A motherboard with 1406 update.

For AMD, however…

Error in AMD Ryzen Motherboard naming

The amusing part in this test report is that the AMD Ryzen and Threadripper CPUs are tested using Intel motherboards. Whoops! Happens to the best of us!

Marketing corrections that need to be done by every processor and graphics chip maker

The report is appreciated to an extent. It carries some useful information, including UEFI and in-game setting. It would be nice to see AMD and Nvidia follow this direction since many marketing presentations create trust issues with its consumers. But Intel needs to work on a lot if it gains consumer’s trust enough for a pre-order.

Intel needs to use 1440p as a mainstream resolution for gaming. It should only consider average FPS for evaluating performance. There are tools better than FRAPS as it does not work with DX12 and Vulkan API. It also should have not excluded Core i7-9700K and Core i5-9600K from its CPU presentation in the livestream. Everyone who buys a high-performance computer is not a streamer. Not all gamers are streamers. Many are content creators. The absence of Core i7 and Core i5 Hyper-Threading doesn’t look good when AMD Ryzen 2nd gen R5 and R7 have Simultaneous Threading (SMT) enabled. Right now, Intel has an active competition. The last it should do is cut off an instruction set for two of its series which was always enabled until now.

Lack of PR and plenty of marketing wizardry

Intel’s PR contacts are very fluid and communication with its agency contacts are unrealistically slow and provide a vague mechanical response (depending who is handling its communication from to time). To put into context, it was Acer India who sent the first email for Intel 9th generation. The ‘headless chicken’ act doesn’t look good after a few years. We’ll put out a word through social media or use a contact I met who showed more optimism towards desktop processors in the past. That’s the best that can be done.

At the end of the promo video shown in the stream, Intel indicated the Core i9-9900K has the same results as the Core i7-8700K and the i7-8086K on Middle-Earth- Shadow of Mordor. It performs lesser against Core i9-9980XE Extreme Edition in ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’. According to the reports, all in-game testing is done using the 1920 x 1080 resolution Those games without a built-in tool is tested using FRAPS.

Excessive marketing discourages everyone!

Since benchmarks and graphs are used with a marketing twist by everyone before the product launch, people don’t believe unless websites publish full reviews where users can compare it against each other. The salty taste left behind by RTX 2080 and the lack of RTX supported games at launch is overshadowed by its predecessor’s flagship- the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. Sources have said AMD did the same in its VEGA 56 when compared to GTX 1070 in a test bench over here. I’ve read a couple of promoters/shills make exaggerated marketing claims in written and video format. Its unfortunate to see someone who is an integral part of the community for a long time is now hitting below the belt. Nobody is doing a revolution or being for the game when such practices are done.  I hope the laws of physics are doing fine!

The point is, marketing is ruining the enthusiast’s enthusiasm. Somewhere and somehow, someone has to stop doing that. You’re taking pre-orders with that level of marketing. You’re consumers, too!

Intel announces 9th generation and X-series desktop processors from hardware

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