Today is a big day for AMD, as its Ryzen 5000-series releases to retail to much anticipation. Anyone who can make do without the latest and greatest, however, would be wise to scour the web for deals on slightly older hardware, and if you want to go with the blue team, the Core i7 9700K is making a strong case for itself. Or rather, Amazon is making a case for the 9700K, selling it for $282.99 right now.
That's about $100 below Intel's recommended custom price, which is actually the price for vendors who buy in bulk. It's no longer worth that much, and more recently it fell to around $300, prompting Jacob to ask the question, 'Should I buy an Intel Core i7 9700K?', to which the answer is 'maybe'.
Intel Core i7 9700K | 8 Cores, 8 Threads | 3.6GHz to 4.9GHz | $282.99
The Core i7 9700K may not be the latest and greatest slice of silicon, but it was only a short time ago when it ranked as Intel's second-best CPU. Now it's selling for well south of $300, offering more bang for buck than ever before.
Here's the thing—Intel has moved on to Comet Lake and will release Rocket Lake next year, while AMD is kicking off its Zen 3 party today. However, the 9700K (Coffee Lake) is still a good performing CPU. It gets overshadowed by newer silicon, but it was not that long ago when it was Intel's second best desktop processor. And now it's selling at its lowest price ever.
What you get with the 9700K is eight cores and eight threads (no Hyper-Threading, sadly) clocked at 3.6GHz to 4.9Ghz, 12MB of L3 cache, and a 95W TDP. The newer Core i7 10700K (one of the best CPUs for gaming) gets you Hyper-Threading, so eight cores and 16 threads, but it also costs almost $100 more.
That said, if you're mainly concerned about single-threaded performance, the 6-core/12-thread Ryzen 5 5600X ($299) paired with a B550 or X570 motherboard is probably the smarter play. You could also make an argument for building around an 8-core/16-thread Ryzen 7 3700X for around $305, which gets you an upgrade path to Zen 3.
The point is, there is no right or wrong answer, just different options. And at $282.99, the 9700K is definitely one of them, with strong single-threaded performance for gaming and very good multi-threaded capabilities.