It’s now confirmed (sort of) that Intel’s next generation Core i9 8-core CPU will be backwards compatible with their existing Z370 motherboards. The revelation comes via a host of new BIOS updates delivered by MSI and Asus recently, as they get their current high-end boards ready for the Coffee Lake refresh.
Intel Core i9 8-Core Coffee Lake Compatible with Z370 Mobos?
The Chinese site Expreview has dug into the BIOS 1602 update for the Asus TUF 370-Pro Gaming motherboard, and according to their finding, the microcode update includes built-in support for the 906EC ID. This is the same CPU ID that was found in a previous Intel XTU defect fix doc, and is linked to the new Coffee Lake 8-core CPU.
Prior to this digging by Expreview, MSI also hinted at something similar. The Taiwanese manufacturer delivered a bunch of new BIOS updates for their existing Z370 motherboards with description “Support New Generation CPU!”
But, how do we know that the description refers to Core i9? I mean Intel did confirm that they are going to launch a range of new processors, but there is no mention of a Core i9 so far.
Core i9-9900K – The New Generation CPU, Launch expected on 1st August
A couple of weeks ago, two of Intel’s official documents leaked online that confirmed the existence of their new Coffee Lake refresh CPUs. However, as reported by the previous release notes of the AIDA64 benchmark, the leaked documents only included a select list of Core i5 and Core i3 CPUs, and no Core i7 or Core i9 branding.
Now there have been multiple rumors about Core i7-9700K and Core i9-9900K processors launching this year. The latest of these rumors pegged the release date at August 1, however, the sources are still dubious.
What gives us hope is the fact that the Core i5 and Core i3 refresh aren’t really a new generation of processors (in reference to the MSI BIOS description). Of course, some media outlets refer them to as 9th Gen CPUs, but they are still Intel Coffee Lake chips, with no big improvements over predecessors except for a slight increase in the clock speeds.
In my opinion, despite the 9000-series monikers, they’re still going to exist as 8th Gen CPUs. The lineup will include a new Core i9, featuring eight cores and 16 threads, which could be the one being referred to as a “new generation” processor by MSI.
It’s also worth noting that the MSI BIOS update has only hit the Z370 boards so far. No H370 mobo has received it, indicating it wasn’t specifically meant for the refresh chips.
What about the Z390 motherboards then?
The question now is, if the new 8-core chips drop into the existing Z370 boards, then who’s going to upgrade to the Intel Z390?
In this regard, it’s important to know when Z390 boards are going to hit the market. Unfortunately, we don’t have this info at the moment, but if some fresh Intel roadmap docs from VideoCardz are to be believed, the Z390 chipset will debut around Q3 of this year.
The roadmap also shows Coffee Lake CPUs getting replaced in Q4. Which should mean that Intel is planning to release the Z390 a few months before the launch of its new processors in an attempt to convince more people to upgrade to its offering.