The perfect for a silent server! Do you want a high-performance processor, capable of increasing frequency, offering many cores, but always remaining energy efficient? The Intel Core i7-9700T might be for you. We tested it to measure the impact of its 35 watt TDP on its performance. For years, Intel has segmented its range of processors into several families. If the general public is familiar with high-frequency capable “K” models unlocked for overclocking, there are many more. In particular “T” processors aiming at low consumption and minimal heating.

This, despite sometimes high characteristics. This is particularly the case with the Intel Core i7-9700T, which is limited to a TDP of 35 watts, which can even be reduced to 25 watts by integrators if they wish. Perfect for passive machines and other compact uses where you sometimes need high frequency or many cores. But in practice, what does such a processor give?

Reduced frequency and voltage

Let’s start with a tour of the characteristics of this 9700T. It is an 8C / 8T type processor, similar to a classic i7-9700: 12 MB of cache, same memory controller and graphics part (UHD 630) and activated features. In reality, only its operating frequencies change.

Limited to 35 watts of TDP rather than 65 watts, it can only climb to 4.3 GHz against 4.7 GHz for its big brother. Its base frequency, the theoretical lower limit at Intel, is announced at 2 GHz rather than 3 GHz. If the TDP is reduced to 25 watts, it drops to 1.5 GHz. At the start of the multi-core test the frequency is stable at 3.6 GHz, it then goes up to 2.9 GHz

Thus, when few cores are active, the processor will be able to climb up to 4.3 GHz. But if ever the load increases, the frequency decreases gradually, much faster than with a classic i7-9700. In practice, it is initially limited to 3.6 GHz, before moving to 2.9 GHz and staying there. We still regret that Intel does not detail these frequency steps precisely in the technical characteristics of its chips.

Its voltage is 0.84 V at rest and never exceeds 1.17 V according to the readings we made with HWiNFO64. When all of her cores are charged, she is in the 0.9 / 1.0 V range.

6 Core processor level performance

To find out what was in his stomach, we compared him with the Intel Core i5-8400 and i7-8700 that we had at our disposal. They are limited to 6 cores, with 6 or 12 threads and at different frequencies. But also AMD Ryzen 5 1600AF (Zen +) and 3600 (Zen 2). The test machine and the protocol are detailed here.

When few cores are active, the Core i7-9700T is not in the lead but is still well placed. Notably thanks to its 4.3 GHz frequency, lower than that of models like the i7-8700 or the Ryzen 5 3600 from AMD. With several active cores, it is closer to the i5-8400.

The latter is only 6C / 6T type however, but its much higher frequency when all used allows it to offer better results. We confirm the previous results. A processor that is similar to the 8400 or 8700 depending on the situation, AMD Zen 2 processor remaining in the lead.

Very good energy efficiency, despite the 14 nm

But what if we dwell on its consumption? To find out, we divided our results in Cinbench R20 by the number of watts consumed at the outlet. We thus obtain a score indicating the number of points that can be generated per watts consumed.

The preceding results take on a whole new dimension. Indeed, if the figures at rest are similar to another Intel processor, in load we do not exceed 51 watts on a core and 71 watts on all the cores. This is half of what is needed for a similar machine based on the Ryzen 5 1600AF.

You save 40 to 50 watts compared to higher processors, or about a third of the machine’s consumption and as much less heat dissipation. This makes it the most energy efficient processor, even surpassing the Ryzen 5 3600 yet engraved in 7nm.

With this chip, Intel is therefore keeping its initial promise: to focus on low consumption while being able to offer a good level of performance, without it being exceptional.

A processor for very targeted needs

In the end, what to think of this Core i7-9700T? Rather good, if we choose it for what it is: an eight-core processor that will be more at the level of a six-core model in practice, but with lower consumption and heating, which can be used in constrained environments (passive, mini PC, etc.).

Its only flaw is, as often, its price. Offered at 400 euros, it’s a little more than a classic Core i7-9700, double the Ryzen 5 3600 from AMD, currently at 185 euros. The latter has also felt the vein, not offering low consumption references on its latest generations, but to reduce the TDP in a software way, via Ryzen Master. A solution that does not only have advantages.

Indeed, it will only work on Windows, the tool having its own constraints such as requiring that virtualization be disabled. We would have preferred the generalization of an option in BIOS / UEFI. Thus, the user will not have a perfect solution to eat.

The “T” series Core processors will be a good turnkey solution, easy to implement and go anywhere, but expensive. Otherwise, we can try to adjust the voltage and BIOS / UEFI parameters to reduce overheating, without achieving a similar result.

In AMD, the Windows user limited to office automation or games will appreciate the power saving mode, unusable in other situations. While waiting for the configuration of the TDP from the motherboard to become the norm, it will therefore be necessary to choose sides and make their choices.

Note also that the Core i7-10700T on LGA-1200 socket is now official and should be available within a few weeks or months in Europe. A model that will upgrade to 8C / 16T, with a maximum frequency of 4.5 GHz, a cache of 16 MB and still a TDP of 35 watts. It will for the first time be accompanied by a Core i9, the 10900T: 10C / 20T, up to 4.6 GHz, 20 MB of cache and still the same TDP.