Intel Core i9-10900K CPU Review: Comet Lake Paints a Target on AMD’s Matisse


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As we notify time, after no puny amount of hypothesis as to its total efficiency and strength consumption, the Intel Core i9-10900K and related remainder of the 10th Generation desktop family are up for review. It’s a serious moment for Intel, given the dominant residence AMD has seized in the desktop market as a total.

In the three years since AMD launched its first-generation Ryzen CPUs, AMD and Intel have established a response sample with each assorted. When AMD took the lead with the Ryzen 1800X, Intel replied with the Core i7-8700K — a six-core CPU with efficiency solid ample to buy the overall efficiency crown motivate from the eight-core Ryzen 7 1800X.

Then, in 2018, we seen the 2700X buy motivate the overall efficiency crown from the 8700K. “Now now not a challenge,” acknowledged Intel, unleashing the Core i9-9900K, an eight-core CPU at a considerably higher stamp, but with some indispensable efficiency chops of its have. Then, closing summer, AMD launched the new Ryzen 3000 family of CPUs on 7nm… and Intel held its fireplace. While the 2 companies tangled in the HEDT segment closing yr, with Intel slashing prices and AMD launching new 32-core CPUs, things on the frequent shopper desktop front had been comparatively quiescent.

Properly. They’ve till now. Here’s where the new CPUs attain in, now not decrease than in belief.

For deal of of the closing yr, AMD had has a lead on Intel when it involves strength consumption (even if this varies a exiguous essentially based on chipset), total series of CPU cores, efficiency per greenback, and, in many workloads, absolute efficiency. Intel’s lengthy discontinuance on 14nm has made it gradually tougher for the company to compete in opposition to AMD’s advancing microarchitecture and job node transitions.

Gaming is one in every of the closing predominant class wins under Intel’s belt, even if the company has maintained a solid residence in ingenious purposes like Adobe Ingenious Cloud as properly. AMD and Intel had been most incessantly tied at 4K since 2017, equipped that you just employ settings that in fact tax a GPU, but at 1080p Intel has maintained a modest invention. AMD’s 7nm Ryzen slice motivate into Intel’s 1080p efficiency management, and the 10900K’s excessive clock tempo (5.3GHz) is an effort to earn some of that management.

A photograph released on April 30, 2020, shows a die from a 10th Gen Intel Core processor. (Source: Intel Corporation)

The query for Intel, on the other hand, is whether or now not or now not the 10900K can calm squeeze meaningful efficiency enhancements out of its 14nm node. Back in 2018, Intel managed to defeat AMD’s 1800X with a CPU that became packing two fewer cores, however the challenge has changed since then. The 3900X goes to be the predominant challenge for Intel’s Core i9-10900K, and while the 10900K can have the upper standing clock tempo, it lacks the additional core/thread count.

In most cases speaking, we’d are anticipating the Ryzen CPUs to dominate in rendering and multi-threaded application tests, but Intel to continue to guide when it involves raw gaming efficiency. At the an identical time, it’s certain that physics is now not going to allow Intel to continue to ramp clock speeds on this fashion. The corporate has taken to shaving 300 microns of fabric off the tip of its CPUs in converse to reinforce their thermal transfer characteristics. When Intel is lapping its have die to reinforce thermal transfer, the company is bumping up in opposition to the predominant limits of its have manufacturing capabilities.

Unusual Generation, Unusual Platform

With the open of 10th Gen on desktop comes the inevitable must migrate to a obvious CPU socket. This time around, Intel and various OEMs are straight-up promising that Z490 boards will likely be upgradeable to future Intel chips with beef up for components like PCIe 4.0. As soon as you happen to think in regards to the rumors, right here is Rocket Lake — Intel’s next-generation CPU microarchitecture with backported components supposed for 10nm sooner than that job node got caught.

Thus, you’ll ponder about loads of Z490 motherboards promoting components like PCIe 4.0 beef up this generation. That doesn’t point out that Intel is supporting PCIe 4.0 now — trusty that board vendors are already promoting capabilities which that you just would possibly well well’t even enable but.

I will keep in mind that Intel famous a brand new CPU socket for Comet Lake / Rocket Lake, if handiest on myth of I if reality be told don’t ponder the company ever remotely expected to pack 10 cores into its desktop socket on 14nm. At the an identical time, AMD has been offering the higher total strengthen path.

The huge majority of X370 motherboards and every X470 motherboard is apt of stepping from an eight-core Ryzen 1xxx or 2xxx CPU as a lot as a Ryzen 3000. AMD has trusty offered that this can beef up Zen 3 on X470 and B450 motherboards, even if the scuttle to unlocking that beef up will require some effort and dealing out of the job to traverse. AMD’s AM4 beef up has now not been profitable — now not every X370 or B350 motherboard got upgraded to beef up Ryzen 3000 — nonetheless it’s been stronger than what Intel has equipped. This has been a historical energy of AMD’s platforms as a total, nonetheless it historical for the period of the Bulldozer period when there wasn’t in fact the leisure to reinforce to. With Ryzen now in-market for several years, this lend a hand has emerged all but again.

Because of the Instances Past Our Regulate…

My have plans to fresh a chunky dispute of strength consumption knowledge between Ryzen and Intel had been foiled by the premature demise of a 1250W PSU I’d been utilizing to standardize all of my strength consumption tests.

Topping that off, all of our sport benchmarks are unaccountably unhurried. Our trying out continuously locations the Core i9-10900K late the Core i9-9900KS, 9900K, and 9700K. In accordance with Intel and assorted reviewers we reached out to, these results are atypical and unexpected. A imprint-new UEFI from Gigabyte for our Z490 Grasp motherboard did now not clear up the challenge.

As you learn this, I’ll be busily engaged in a single in every of two endeavors: Retesting a new OS set up on this motherboard or Sorting out a new OS set up on an Asus motherboard. Either way, I’ll have a chunky, up up to now suite of sport benchmarks on hand as quickly as likely.

Vitality consumption tests… I admit, I even need to pick out out out what I’m doing about those. I don’t have comparative knowledge on any of my currently-alive take a look at PSUs (I’m utilizing my 2d backup PSU, a 750W Antec).

Take a look at Setup

All of our benchmarks had been mosey on a Gigabyte Aorus Z490 Grasp motherboard with 32GB of Wanted DDR4-3600 RAM. Windows 1909 became earn in with all patches and updates, alongside Nvidia driver 445.87 with a 1TB Samsung 970 EVO earn in.

Non-Gaming Benchmark Results

Our non-gaming benchmark results are offered under. Gaming tests TBA.


In the Blender 1.0Beta2 benchmark, the 10900K establishes what’s going to snappy change into a sample. While it affords a solid efficiency enchancment over the Core i9-9900K, 10 cores of Skylake-period 14nm aren’t ample to match 12 7nm Ryzen CPU cores. Formally, the 3900X is a $500 CPU, but Amazon currently coincidentally has the CPU for $409.

I’ve mixed the Cinebench results on myth of they level in roughly the an identical route. The Core i9-10900K ekes out roughly 5 p.c more single-thread efficiency and improves considerably on the Core i9-9900K’s multi-threaded scores. The positive aspects right here are coming from more aggressive clocking as well to the 1.25x enchancment in core count between the 2 chips.

But while the Core i9-10900K’s efficiency positive aspects are solid, they don’t match the Ryzen 9 3900X’s total efficiency. In both conditions, AMD holds the lead.

Previously listed Handbrake results eradicated for erratic efficiency pending additional investigation.

Corona Render is an Intel-capable application, and the Core i9-10900K’s efficiency displays this, with the 10-core CPU coming in just 5 seconds late the 12-core 3900X. It’s one in every of the strongest showings for the 10900K, nonetheless it isn’t a select.

Our MSVC 2019 Qt collect take a look at hands the Core i9-10900K a tie in opposition to the Ryzen 9 3900X:

While the Ryzen 9 3950X retains the overall efficiency lead, the Core i9-10900K’s 10 cores select the day over the Ryzen 9 3900X — by the barest whisker.

Gaming Benchmarks

Change 1 (12: 30 PM, 5/20): After a chunky Windows reinstall on the Gigabyte Z490 Grasp failed to clear up any complications — it in fact left me a exiguous bit slower than sooner than — I’m going to take a look at involving to the Z490 Asus board.

Change 2 (4: 05 PM, 5/20): Reinstalling on an Asus motherboard improved the challenge but did now not unravel it. Game results from retesting are under:

At the starting put, this fragment of the review confidently predicted that Intel would decide the gaming benchmark fragment. Things haven’t played out that way. My preliminary Gigabyte benchmarks had been decrease than expected, so I reinstalled Windows from scratch this morning and retested the board. No loyal enchancment.

After this, I swapped to an Asus Z490 ROG Maximus XII Hero (WiFi), up up to now to the UEFI the company had sent over this past weekend, reinstalled Windows, patched up, and retested. The staunch knowledge is, efficiency no doubt improved as a results of these changes.

The inferior knowledge is, it didn’t strengthen by ample to match old CPUs like the Core i9-9900K or Intel’s fastest 9700K. I’m conscious that assorted reviewers have considered assorted results — results that earn the Core i9-10900K before assorted CPUs in gaming benchmarks — but I even need to review the CPU essentially based on what I’ve in my idea considered, and what I seen from the Core i9-10900K did now not match those figures.

Here’s to now not dispute that the Core i9-10900K’s gaming efficiency is either inferior or unhurried — it’s neither — but we’re calm seeing efficiency components that need explaining.

The Core i9-10900K is an graceful gaming CPU, by any measure — nonetheless it isn’t the most continuously-fleet CPU in our take a look at suite. That belongs to the Core i7-9700K. I’m calm begin to the muse that the Core i9-10900K can carry up the tempo it needs through UEFI updates or assorted troubleshooting fixes, but our fresh platform trusty isn’t quite as swiftly because the ninth Gen CPUs we’ve tested beforehand.

Preliminary Conclusion: Skylake’s Swan Song

The Core i9-10900K is a step ahead for Intel. At $488, it’s a considerably higher buy than the Core i9-9900K, which became itself an graceful CPU. Its single-threaded efficiency is graceful and it’s apt of punching above its weight class generally. Skylake became an graceful CPU structure in 2015 and it stays an graceful structure in 2020.

And but, for all these components — and for the predominant time, arguably, since Ryzen launched — Intel can’t claim to have reclaimed the overall pole residence the vogue it can well well with the Core i7-8700K or Core i9-9900K when those parts debuted. I are anticipating the Core i9-10900K to abet management in areas where Intel has been main and to compete more effectively with the 3900X than its predecessor, but up to now as matching or main AMD’s 12-core CPU? On your total, it doesn’t. And while neither Intel nor AMD have made guarantees about future motherboard beef up beyond the parts they belief to open next, in case you had to bet on which company would present beef up for a wider vary of CPU cores over a longer timeframe, you’d bet on AMD. Even assuming that our gaming numbers also can also be increased, right here is a CPU that’s going to allure to a really explicit segment.

The bottom line is this: The Core i9-10900K is a sturdy, fleet CPU, and an illustration of how exiguous gas Skylake and Intel’s 14nm collectively have left in the tank. Rocket Lake, when and if it arrives, will supposedly give us new architectural enhancements that would possibly maybe well well breathe some new lifestyles into the node, however the 10900K illustrates that Skylake has taken Intel up to now as it can well.

Comet Lake would possibly maybe well well paint a aim on AMD’s Matisse, nonetheless it doesn’t topple its rival — and while it undoubtedly improves Intel’s total residence, it doesn’t originate so that you just can the an identical degree because the 9900K and 8700K did once they arrived, relative to AMD.

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