Should I buy an Intel Core i7 9700 CPU?

Intel Core i7 9700 box
(Image credit: Intel)

A more viable choice for many PC gamers than the pricey i9 alternatives, the i7 9700 is a great processor that offers reliable gaming performance free from system bottlenecks and yet still doesn’t use much more power than its cheaper, less core-laden brethren. Pricing varies, but currently sits around the $280 mark with most retailers.

Yes, this version doesn’t have manual overclocking potential (you’ll want to check out the i7 9700K for that), but if you want a no-strings-attached processor that you can simply chuck into a midrange gaming build and start blasting away in CoD: Cold War, the i7 9700 has you covered.

The i7 9700 does come with a cooler, but be careful—it’s the same basic Intel cooler that comes with the cheaper 9th Gen CPUs, and while the 9700 theoretically shouldn’t get too hot, you might still want to spring for an aftermarket air cooler just to be on the safe side.

What is the Intel Core i7 9700?

It was quite a surprise to the PC-building community when Intel announced that the i7 9700 and i7 9700K wouldn’t have Hyper-Threading technology, but this octa-core processor does still get work done. Individual core performance is solid, with a Turbo Boost clock of up to 4.7GHz, meaning that this CPU excels in both single-core and multi-core workloads.

The i7 9700 ups the cache from the more affordable 9th Gen Intel chips, with a 12MB Intel Smart Cache, but memory support and bus speed are the same as the i5 processors from the same generation. The maximum potential clock speeds here are also lower than those achievable on the 9700K (although that obviously requires a good cooler and some fiddling around in your BIOS).

Intel Core i7 9700 Spec

Base clock: 3.0GHz
Max Boost clock: 4.7GHz
Cores/threads: 8/8
TDP: 65W
Cache: 12MB
Memory support: 128GB DDR4-2666
Bus speed: 8GT/s
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630
Lithography: 14nm
Release date: 23/04/2019
Release RRP: $323

What are the alternatives to the Intel Core i7 9700?

If overclocking is something you’re interested in, the i7 9700K is obviously a better option here, offering greater potential performance while only costing a little more. Alternatively, the i7 9700F ditches the integrated graphics to shave a few more dollars off the price, which may be attractive if you’ve already got a beefy GPU and are just looking for a processor upgrade.

The Ryzen 7 2700X is also a very attractive proposition, as it offers 16 threads via AMD’s SMT tech and a bigger cache, as well as the natty Wraith Prism RGB cooler. It’s also unlocked for overclocking, and while the i7 9700 should be slightly better for gaming, the 2700X is far better value for money right now.

Should I buy the Core i7 9700 and at what price? 

Unless we see some truly stonking sales on the Core i7 9700, it’s tricky to wholeheartedly recommend either it or the 9700F right now. The i7 9700K is the superior chip (even without manually overclocking it) and isn’t much more expensive, and AMD Ryzen 7 2700X is a much better choice if you’re not looking to spend quite as much.

The cheapest Amazon has ever sold the i7 9700 for is $280, so we’d be surprised if it manages to get anywhere near the 2700X’s current price of $218—which is liable to drop over Black Friday weekend too, of course. The 9700 is a decent plug-and-play processor, but it’s certainly not the best of the bunch.