What just happened? Despite an early October release date, a Vietnamese store has taken to listing the upcoming 9th generation Intel Core processors. And yes, you'll notice that Intel's retail branding is using the "Core i9+", "Core i7+", (and so forth) naming scheme which means these are Optane-optimized CPUs.

Hanoi Computer, a tech retailer in Vietnam, has started listing the 9th generation Coffee Lake-R processors from Intel, which was expected to be announced on the 1st of October. We've moved on from rumor to confirmation, it seems.

While the listing includes the usual higher-end suspects such as the Core i9+ 9900K, the Core i7+ 9700K, and the Core i5+ 9600K, we also get some details on the rest of the line-up: the i5+ 9600, i5+ 9500, i5+ 9400 and i3+ 9100. Previous leaks had mentioned a Core i5 9300 CPU, but this one was nowhere to be found on the Vietnamese site. Thanks to the spec list we can finally confirm previous informations and begin drawing an idea of what to expect performance-wise.

Our first impression is that the 9th Gen CPUs are looking like tweaked 8th Gen cores, with little in the way of architectural improvements and a token 100/200MHz clock boost over the previous generation. This will hardly make you run out and grab one from a store shelf. It's rather disappointing, to be honest.

So here's what's on offer:

The well-known "K"-rated parts, which, we've been told, will sport soldered heat spreaders, match previous leaks we'd reported on.

  Core i9+ 9900K Core i7+ 9700K Core i5+ 9600K
Base Clock 3.6GHz 3.6GHz 3.7GHz
Turbo Clock 5GHz 4.9GHz 4.6GHz
Core 8 8 6
Threads 16 8 6
iGPU UHD 630 UHD 630 UHD 630
iGPU Clock 350MHz/1.2GHz 350MHz/1.2GHz 350MHz/1.15GHz
L2 Cache 2MB 2MB 1.5MB
L3 Cache 16MB 12MB 9MB
Memory Support DDR4-2666 DDR4-2666 DDR4-2666
TDP 95W 95W 95W

At 3.6GHz, the 9900K will sport a lower base clock than the inevitable AMD Ryzen 2700X, but it sports higher boost clocks. It is almost guaranteed the 9900K will carry a much higher premium than the 2700X. On the other hand, price-wise, Intel will almost certainly position the Core i7+ 9700K directly against the 2700X. The Core i5+ 9600K with six physical cores might face off with the Ryzen 2500X spec-wise, but pricing is hard to determine. If properly priced, it might be the best seller of the lot.

When we get to the mid/low range, however, things get fuzzy.

  Core i5+ 9600 Core i5+ 9500 Core i5+ 9400 Core i3+ 9100
Base Clock 3.1GHz 3GHz 2.9GHz 3.7GHz
Turbo Clock 4.5GHz 4.3GHz 4.1GHz -
Core 6 6 6 4
Threads 6 6 6 4
iGPU UHD 630 UHD 630 UHD 630 UHD 630
iGPU Clock 350MHz/1.15GHz 350MHz/1.15GHz 350MHz/1.15GHz 350MHz/1.15GHz
L2 Cache 1.5MB 1.5MB 1.5MB 1MB
L3 Cache 9MB 9MB 9MB 6MB
Memory Support DDR4-2666 DDR4-2666 DDR4-2666 DDR4-2400
TDP 65W 65W 65W 65W

While the remainder of the line-up does have some high-boosting CPUs, we see too many SKUs built on minor clock differences (100MHz). Creating these many SKUs, especially when you are supply constrained, might come back to bite you in the behind. The quadcore i3+ 9100 is an exception as it boasts no turbo boost, but has a relatively high base clock, in line with its predecessor, the Core i3 8100.

So, what can we add, other than looking at the specs? Pricing. Pricing will be key to determine what happens to this generation of Intel CPUs. More so than architectural improvements. Thanks to AMD's Ryzen, consumers have come to expect a lot of CPU for a little money, and this is an area where Intel is infamously unwilling to concede. Unfortunately, the site did not provide any price listings for the entries (you need to request a quote). We'll still have to wait for October 1st for prices and performance benchmarks to trickle in.