When building a gaming PC, you generally are looking for three things. Making a build that can play any game on the market on high-to-ultra settings with at least 60 frames per second, being careful not to make the build overkill and thus spend money unnecessarily, and at the same time make sure that the new generation of games, that is just around the corner, will play decently on your machine – in other words, future-proof your purchase.
Choosing a processor to fit these criteria is not an easy task. Intel has three CPU’s that theoretically will do the job, though some better than others. The Intel i7-8700K, the i7-9700K, and the i9-9900K.
This article will compare the specifications, the gaming benchmarks, and the price of each, and will help you find the right choice for your new gaming setup in 2020.
8700k vs 9700K vs 9900K: Price & Specifications
First, let us start with what all three of the processors have in common.
All three processors use a 300 series socket type (LGA 1151), all three have the same thermal design power of 95 Watts, and they all have a max number of PCIe lanes: 16. Additionally, all three have the same DDR4 2666 memory type with 2 memory channels, and finally, they all use an integrated Intel UHD 630 graphics card.
The maximum RAM these processors can support is 64GBs, and they all also have the same 14nm structure.
The clocking speeds that these processing units can reach are also very similar, as the i7 8700K has an operating frequency (OF) of 3.7 GHz and a max turbo frequency (MTF) of 4.7 GHz. The i7 9700K has an OF of 3.6 GHz and an MTF of 4.9 GHz, and finally the i9 9900K has an OF of 3.6 GHZ and an MTF of 5.0 GHz. Where they differ most is in their respective count of cores, threads, and, of course, the price.
8700K vs 9700K vs 9900K: Gaming Benchmarks
All these advertised specifications are great, but what do they translate to in regards to actual speeds and benchmarks, when it comes to gaming?
Well, firstly, it is necessary to mention that current generation games do not use hyperthreading, as they will mostly use up to 4 cores – or 8 threads – at a time. This means that 8 cores and 8 threads is more than enough for the current generation of games. Of course, that may change with the next generation of consoles that are set to release at the end of 2020. The Xbox One Series X, which has released its specifications, will feature an 8 core 3.8 GHz AMD Zen 2 architecture, which allows for 3.66 GHz of simultaneous multi-threading (SMT) a.k.a. hyperthreading. The only processor of the aforementioned three Intel CPUs that cannot utilize hyperthreading, is the i7-9700K.
That being said, when comparing the i7-9700K to the i9-9900K, the benchmarks show almost negligible differences. Single core performance is the same, dual core performance is the same, quadcore performance has the i9-9900K ahead by less than 1%, and octa core performance has the i7-9700K ahead by close to two percent. Where the i9-9900K outperforms the i7-9700K significantly, is the 64-Core multi core speeds, where it shows a 36-38% increase in benchmarked speeds – but it you are not planning to use your build for work, this will not interest you much.
When comparing the i7-9700K with the i7-8700K, the differences are much greater. The i7-9700K outperforms it’s predecessor by over 12% in average user benchmarks, reaching 28% faster octa-core speeds.
Benchmarks run by gamersnexus.net, which are run using the same GPU and cooling system for all three processors, show that the differences when running the game Assassin’s Creed: Origins (which makes use of additional threads) at 1080p, between the i9-9900K and the i7-9700K is at about 8 fps on average (135 fps for the i9, 126.7 fps for the i7), while the i7-8700K trails at 113 fps, a decrease of over 13 fps in comparison to the i7-9700K. At 1440p, the i9-9900K clocks in at 121.6 fps, a more pronounced difference with the i7-9700K which has 114.2 average fps, and the i7-8700K at 110.9 fps. All values are for stock speeds for the three processors.
When it comes to popular competitive online games, such as League of Legends, DOTA 2, Fortnite, Overwatch, or Counter Strike: Global Offensive, the differences are negligible, as the all three processing units, when paired with a competent GPU, such as an RTX 2060S and above, will run the game at well over the 144 fps you’d want in order to take advantage of a 144 Hz monitor.
Out of the three processors, at the current prices, it seems the i7-8700K is the least capable. Currently, the i7-8700K is more expensive than the i7-9700K, and despite the difference in price, it currently underperforms in testing. If the price were to drop in the near future, and it becomes cheaper than the i7-9700K, then there is a debate to be had in regards to which would be a better buy. The differences in benchmarks between i7-8700K and the i7-9700K are there, but they are not overly pronounced. The extra 4 threads are great, but the difference of 6-and-8 cores is more crucial in regards to gaming.
Hyperthreading is great for different types of workloads, but since games do not currently take advantage of hyperthreading – and may not do so for a good year or two into the new console generation – it really isn’t something that will make a difference in terms of gaming benchmarks, and may even hinder your setup with unwanted excess heat.
If you are looking to enjoy the current generation of games, or just want to play the competitive genres of MOBAs, online-shooters, and so forth, then the i7-9700K is a great processor for its price. The differences it has with the i9-9900K are insignificant for gaming, so in that regard it does have a better money-to-value ratio currently. If you want to future proof your PC, want to edit videos and create digital art on the side, or don’t mind the $140 price difference, then the i9-9900K is the way to go.
- i7-8700K: Underperforms vs the newer 9th Gen Intel processors
- i7-9700K: Best value processor for the money, similar gaming performance to the i9-9900K
- i9-9900K: The processor out of the bunch for future-proofed builds, reaps the benefits over the 9700K in video editing and workstation tasks – despite similar gaming performance.