It looks like users are having some fun with apparent engineering samples of Intel's upcoming 9th generation Core i7-9700K processor. We've spotted a handful of leaks already, the latest of which purportedly shows the 8-core chip being overclocked to 5.5GHz in current generation Z370 Express chipset motherboard.
Before we get to the overclock, let's cover what we know (or think we know) about the forthcoming CPU. The Core i7-9700K is one of a handful of processors billed as 9th generation parts built on a 14 nanometer++ manufacturing process, also known as Coffee Lake Refresh. It has 8 cores and 8 threads (no Hyper Threading support, in other words) clocked at 3.6GHz, and can boost up to 4.6GHz on all available cores, or 4.9GHz when utilizing a single core. 12MB of L3 cache and a 95W TDP round out the spec sheet.
For comparison, Intel's 8th generation Core i7-8700K (14nm) is a 6-core/12-thread part clocked at 3.7GHz to 4.7GHz, also with 12MB of cache and a 95W TDP. So with the Core i7-9700K, users will be getting more physical cores, less threads, and slightly lower clocks, along with some optimizations and refinements underneath the hood.
There is a leaked slide from Intel making the rounds that indicates its 9th generation lineup will finally return to using a solder thermal interface material between the integrated heatspreader (IHS) and CPU die. This is something that overclockers and enthusiasts have long been wanting Intel to do. It's also the reason why hardcore overclockers have taken to removing the IHS from 8th generation CPUs, a process known as delidding, and replacing Intel's solderless TIM with alternative solutions.
This seems to be having an immediate impact on overclocking results, if the results shared by Chinese-language website ZOL are any indication. The first screenshot shows the Core i7-9700K CPU running in an ASRock Z370 Professional Gaming motherboard with 16GB (2x8GB) of G.Skill DDR4-2133 RAM. It's presumably air or liquid cooled, as opposed to anything exotic like LN2.
A subsequent screenshot shows the chip overclocked to 5,553.7MHz on all eight cores, and benchmarked in Cinebench R15. Have a look:
In theory, Intel's return to using solder should enable higher overclocks than its 8th generation processors. While it's obviously far too early to make draw any conclusions, leaks like these are very encouraging.
It will also be interesting to see if Intel's upcoming Z390 chipset for its 9th generation CPUs yields any additional benefits to overclocking.
As to the performance numbers in Cinebench R15, we plotted the leaked scores with our own collection of benchmark results. Bear in mind that we don't know if the overclock is (A) legitimate and (B) stable. That said, the purported Core i7-9700K running at 5.5GHz nudged ahead of our own scores for AMD's Ryzen 7 2700X in both the single-core and multi-core tests.
This doesn't mean much until the chip is actually released and we have a chance to test it ourselves. However, it's nice to have some context when viewing this sort of thing.
Hopefully we won't have to wait much longer to find out. The latest rumors point to Intel launching its 9th generation processors in October.