Intel i9-9900K CPU Review: Solder vs. Delid, Streaming Benchmarks, & Gaming vs. 2700(X), 8700K, MoreFriday, 19 October 2018
Intel’s i9-9900K’s most boasted feature in all marketing is its solder, so we decided to test thermals with the new soldered interface, then delid the CPU and put thermal paste back on it for more testing. It’s backwards from what we typically do (which is removing paste for liquid metal), so we’ll be looking at soldered vs. paste tests, gaming benchmarks, Blender workloads, overclocking, and livestreaming benchmarks in our review of the i9-9900K today. Benchmarks include comparative testing versus the Intel i7-8700K, AMD R7 2700 (and overclocked/2700X variant), R7 1700, i9-7900X, 7960X, and more. The full list of primarily featured CPUs is below.
We come bearing good news -- sort of. It looks like DRAM prices might drop 5% by end of year, which would sadly be a sharp change of course from previous targets. This coincides with plummeting SSD prices (250GB 860 EVOs now available for $55 on Amazon), though isn't nearly as severe. At this point, we'll take what we can get.
Separately, Intel's 14nm shortage has continued to a point of creating pipeline stalls for some of its motherboard and SI partners. We previously reported on Intel's push to reinvigorate its 22nm process for low-end chipsets. It is now becoming clear why that was a necessity. Other than this, our show notes below recap major industry news for the past two weeks, like tariffs, 8th Gen pricing increases, and more.
After our exhaustive in-person interview with Principled Technologies, published on our YouTube channel, we followed-up via email to clarify some questions that were left unanswered during the initial video. As we noted in the initial interview, we give credit to Principled Technologies for endeavoring to sit down with us for these discussions. We recognize that it is not an easy decision to make – one of ignoring the problem (us showing up unannounced, in this instance) or confronting it – and we appreciate PT’s willingness to partake in a rational discussion about test methodology.
For full details of the interview, check the embedded video below. This written accompaniment aims to address follow-up questions where PT technicians closer to the testing had to be consulted. We are not going to transcribe the 40-minute interview and encourage that you watch the content to gain full perspective on both primary sides of the debate. We have timestamped key points in the video (timestamps are rendered within the video).
Following Intel’s 28C CPU announcement from earlier today, the company also announced its i9-9900K CPU and “9th Gen” desktop CPUs. On stage, Intel dubbed its 9900K “the best gaming processor in the world – period,” before holding up the CPU in new packaging that clearly targets the Threadripper 2 packaging. Intel also declared that “we are breaking the laws of physics to bring you these parts,” which is clearly vehemently false, but we do get the point. The more correct phrasing is that “they’re fast.” We get the point, though.
Intel today announced its Xeon W-3175X 28C/56T CPU, not to be confused with the previously demonstrated 28C HEDT Skylake-X CPU from Computex. The CPU targets workstation users on Xeon platforms. Its intended use is for production, like Blender (a tool we use for our own animations) and other heavily multithreaded render applications. As these are heavily core-dependent, the use case is more pronounced than in production software like Premiere, which is frequency-dependent.
For frequency, the 28C/56T Xeon part operates at a native boost frequency of 4.3GHz – but Intel did not specify if this is single-core or all-core. It’s almost certainly single-core Turbo, leaving us uncertain as to the frequency in all-core boost.
“How frequently should I replace liquid metal?” is one of the most common questions we get. Liquid metal is applied between the CPU die and IHS to improve thermal conductivity from the silicon, but there hasn’t been much long-term testing on liquid metal endurance versus age. Cracking and drying are some of the most common concerns, leading users to wonder whether liquid metal performance will fall off a cliff at some point. One of our test benches has been running thermal endurance cycling tests for the last year now, since September of 2017, just to see if it’s aged at all.
This is a case study. We are testing with a sample size of one, so consider it an experiment and case study over an all-encompassing test. It is difficult to conduct long-term endurance tests with multiple samples, and would require dozens (or more) of identical systems to really build-out a large database. From that angle, again, please keep in mind that this is a case study of one test bench, with one brand of liquid metal.
Other than news that our move into an office is nearly complete -- and that is big news, at least, for us -- the industry has been largely focused on GPUs for the past few weeks. NVidia's remaining 10-series GPU inventory has been purged down-channel to board partners, who are now working to drop 10-series video card prices in fire sales that lead into the RTX 20-series launch. We've also heard of Spectre and Meltdown again (it's been a while), with Intel pushing more microcode updates to assist in mitigating attack vectors. Those updates came with a brief "no benchmarks" clause, but that seems to have been addressed in the time since.
Separately: We'll be at PAX West this weekend for one day (Friday), and will be joining Corsair and PC World on a PC gaming panel at 7:00PM in the Sandworm Theater. Learn more here.
The show notes and article are below the video embed, if you prefer reading.
Intel has provided GamersNexus with a statement that addresses concerns pertaining to a new “benchmarking clause.” This comes after Bruce Perens published a story entitled “Intel Publishes Microcode Security Patches, No Benchmarking Or Comparison Allowed!” As one might expect, the story has exploded online since this publication.
The crux of the issue comes down to Intel’s Spectre and Meltdown microcode updates, which aim to mitigate vulnerabilities and attack vectors that were exposed for nearly all CPUs (since the 90s) late last year. GamersNexus previously worked to interview some of the expert researchers who discovered Meltdown and Spectre, all published in this article. We’d recommend the read for anyone not up-to-date on the attack vectors.
Hardware news for the past week has been largely dominated by GPU rumblings -- a good thing, given the multi-year gap between lion's share holder NVIDIA's Pascal. The company announced its NVIDIA Turing architecture for Quadro cards, an upgrade on Volta, and has teased the GeForce "RTX 2080" gaming graphics card in one of its videos. Turing will be the subject of heavy discussion come Gamescom, based on what NVIDIA has indicated from its public event schedule. On NVIDIA's coattails, Intel has also indicated a desired to push graphics -- with teasers pointing toward potential consumer dGPUs -- by the year 2020.
Intel's 10nm CPUs may have had their last delay -- and it's through the 'holidays' of 2019. Intel's latest earnings call indicates a finalized release target of EOY/holiday of 2019, continuing the saga of 10nm delays since 2015-2016. Note, however, that although TSMC and GF 7nm comparisons are prevalent, it's not as simple as comparing the numbers "7" and "10" -- density matters, as does architecture, and this is something we discussed with David Kanter in an upcoming video interview from GamersNexus.
Other hardware news revolves around a mixture of rumors and actual news, the latter represented by AMD's best quarterly earnings report in 7 years, and the former represented by Intel 9000-series specs and Samsung GPU development.
As always, the show notes are below the video.
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