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Intel Core i9 10900K and Core i5 10600K review: hot to trot

Intel Core i9 10900K and Core i5 10600K review: hot to trot
After two long years, Intel's 10th-generation Comet Lake processors have arrived. These are the first desktop CPUs that Team Blue has released since AMD's immensely popular third-gen Ryzen chips launched in 2019 - and it's clear to see that Intel isn't taking this unprecedented threat lightly. There are spec bumps and new features across the…

After 2 long years, Intel’s 10 th-generation Comet Lake processors have actually arrived. These are the first desktop CPUs that Team Blue has launched considering that AMD’s exceptionally popular third-gen Ryzen chips released in 2019 – and it’s clear to see that Intel isn’t taking this unmatched risk gently. There are spec bumps and new features throughout the whole Core lineup, plus a brand-new Z490 motherboard platform, making this one of the most interesting Intel launches in current memory.

The top chip, the Core i9 10900 K, has moved from eight to ten cores, while every design from the Core i3 up now supports hyper-threading, something that was previously only managed to the greatest tier CPUs in the previous 3 Core generations. Base and turbo frequencies have actually likewise risen significantly, with the flagship Core i9 10900 K topping out at an enormous two-core turbo increase speed of 5.3 GHz – assuming specific power and temperature targets are fulfilled.

It’s a strong bundle that should translate into solid gen-on-gen performance enhancements, however how much faster are these brand-new 14 nm processors – and how do they compare to AMD’s sterling collection of 7nm Zen 2 CPUs? And for system home builders mooting an upgrade, do the efficiency gains here justify the adoption of a 400- series motherboard with a brand new LGA1200 socket – however no PCIe 4.0 support?

Intel has actually chosen to use samples of just two 10 th-gen processors at first: the mid-range Core i5 10600 K (₤275/$275) and the enthusiast-grade Core i9 10900 K (₤530/$530). These two chips must use a good appearance at where the tenth generation is right now, compared to both AMD’s newest and Intel’s own earlier offerings, although we hope to test the Core i7 10700 K (a dead ringer for the last-gen Core i9 9900 K flagship, but at ₤410/$410) and Core i3 10100 (a ₤120/$120 competitor to the Ryzen 3300 X) in due course.

In the meantime though, let’s make hay while the sun shines. We’ll begin with a look at content production work, where we anticipate the higher core and thread counts (for the Core i9 and Core i5, respectively) to supply an obvious boost in multi-threaded applications like video making, but AMD’s Ryzen processors to provide a stern obstacle. Then, we’ll get to indulge our genuine enthusiasm – screening gaming performance – with a comprehensive evaluation of a few of the most punishing areas we have actually found in contemporary and traditional PC games. AMD had the ability to demonstrate huge frame-rate improvements with their third-gen Ryzen chips, so we’re anticipating a big counter-attack from Intel if they wish to hang onto their track record as the best choice for pure gaming.

Processor Cores/Threads Base Clock Single/All Core Turbo TDP Expense
Core i9-10900 K * 10/20 3.7 GHz 5.3 GHz/4.9 GHz 125 W $488
Core i9-10900 † 10/20 2.8 GHz 5.2 GHz/4.6 GHz 65 W $439
Core i7-10700 K * 8/16 3.8 GHz 5.1 GHz/4.7 GHz 125 W $374
Core i7-10700 † 8/16 2.9 GHz 4.8 GHz/4.6 GHz 65 W $323
Core i5-10600 K * 6/12 4.1 GHz 4.8 GHz/4.5 GHz 125 W $262
Core i5-10600 † 6/12 3.3 GHz 4.8 GHz/4.4 GHz 65 W $213
Core i5-10500 † 6/12 3.1 GHz 4.5 GHz/4.2 GHz 65 W $192
Core i5-10400 † 6/12 2.9 GHz 4.3 GHz/4.0 GHz 65 W $182
Core i3-10320 4/8 3.8 GHz 4.6 GHz/4.4 GHz 65 W $154
Core i3-10300 † 4/8 3.7 GHz 4.4 GHz/4.2 GHz 65 W $143
Core i3-10100 † 4/8 3.6 GHz 4.3 GHz/4.1 GHz 65 W $122

Daggers (†) suggest processors with matching ‘T’ versions, which operate at a highly minimized 35 W TDP and lower clockspeeds, for usage in all-in-one desktops – e.g. the 10900 T. As normal, the ‘K’ suffix signifies an unlocked and overclockable CPU.

Before we enter the results, let’s briefly set the scene. We checked each processor on our basic Windows 10 installation, with the most current security patches and chipset chauffeurs set up to fast NVMe storage (specifically the XPG Spectrix S40 G, our choice for best NVMe SSD with RGB).

On the Intel side of things, we tested the 10 th-gen chips on two Z490 motherboards: the high-end MSI MPG Video gaming Carbon Wifi and the ultra-premium Asus ROG Maximus 12 Extreme. Our ninth-gen CPUs were also well dealt with, on an Asus ROG Maximus 11 Extreme. Our AMD benchmarking was performed on the high-end Asus ROG Crosshair 7 X470 motherboard, with extra tests on the mainstream MSI MPG X570 Gaming Plus and the enthusiast-class Asus ROG Crosshair 8.

The Intel chips were cooled by a Gamer Storm Castle 240 mm AiO, with the excellent (and bundled!) AMD Wraith Prism used for our Ryzen screening. Our test rig was finished with 3600 MHz C16 RAM, particularly an effervescent set of G.Skill Trident Z Royal, backed with an 850 W Player Storm power supply and an al fresco test bench in a cool ambient environment.

OK, enough scene-setting. Let’s talk about material development performance. After all, the brand-new 400- series chipsets include a couple of creator-friendly functions such as higher-bandwidth LAN ports and super-quick WiFi 6, but eventually it’s raw processing power that can make the difference in between leaving work early and another late night in the workplace exporting your most current development to YouTube.

To test how appropriate these chips are for creators, we ran each through two simple but illuminating tests: rendering a 3D scene in Movie theater 4D, capably simulated with Cinebench R20, and encoding among our Patreon video files in both h.264 and h.265(HEVC) with Handbrake.

In the Cinebench test, the Core i9 10900 K’s 5.3 GHz clock speed – via Thermal Velocity Boost – allows it to attain the highest single-threaded outcome we’ve ever recorded:545 That’s a five per cent lead over even the overclocked Core i9 9900 KS, which managed 521; on the AMD side of things the closest competitor is the 3900 X and 3950 X at 514, which the Core i9 10900 K defeats by six percent. Naturally, very few material creation work are single-threaded, so let’s look at the multi-threaded results – and here AMD show their strength, with just 6337 for the brand-new 10- core Intel flagship compared to the 12- core 3900 X at 7032 (11 per cent faster) and the 16- core 3950 X at 9249 (46 per cent faster).

The Core i5 10600 K is maybe more interesting, with double the number of threads and faster clock speeds than its last-gen predecessor. That makes this year’s Core i5 a much much better bet for content development jobs that can truly soak that numerous threads – and suggests we could see huge improvements to frame-rates in contemporary video game engines too.

CB R20 1T CB R20 MT HB h.264 HB HEVC HEVC Power Usage
Ryzen 9 3950 X 514 9249 6473 fps 2559 fps 296 W
Ryzen 9 3900 X 514 7032 5180 fps 2029 fps 228 W
Ryzen 7 3700 X 494 4730 3505 fps 1467 fps 152 W
Ryzen 5 3600 X 490 3705 2754 fps 1181 fps 149 W
Ryzen 3 3300 X 503 2577 1889 fps 8.25 fps 120 W
Ryzen 3 3100 449 2328 1732 fps 7.44 fps 118 W
Ryzen 7 2700 X 408 3865 2731 fps 1004 fps 224 W
Ryzen 5 2600 399 2810 2039 fps 7.09 fps 130 W
Core i9 10900 K 545 6337 4555 fps 1943 fps 268 W
Core i5 10600 K 493 3587 2640 fps 1184 fps 177 W
Core i9 9900 K 520 5090 3787 fps 1622 fps 266 W
Core i7 9700 K 486 3759 2877 fps 1312 fps 171 W
Core i5 9600 K 450 2603 2070 fps 9.46 fps 132 W

The Handbrake test produces more fascinating results, as we transcode an MP4 video to h.264 and h.265(HEVC) utilizing the Production Basic preset and CRF 18 quality setting.

Here, the 10900 K almost equalises with the similarly-priced 3900 X, despite having 2 fewer cores and 4 fewer threads, speaking to the exceptional power of a single Intel core. That near-win is of course rapidly moistened by the presence of the 3950 X, which validates its presence at the top of AMD’s product stack with a thrashing of the Core i9 10900 K to the tune of 42 per cent in g.264 and 32 per cent in h.265

Meanwhile in the mid-range, the Core i5 10600 K once again performs respectably with a 25 to 28 percent gen-on-gen leap in encoding performance in our screening. That puts the 10 th-gen Core i5 in the same league as the $249 Ryzen 5 3600 X, a decent outcome given that the Intel chip costs just a bit more.

We also determined power use at the wall throughout the HEVC encode for each of the systems we checked. Here Intel carries out respectably however AMD still leads, with the Core i9 10900 K illustration 268 W – 18 percent more than the 3900 X (228 W) but about 10 percent less than the 3950 X (296 W). It’s a comparable story for the 10600 K, which at 177 W is a little less efficient than the 149 W 3600 X.

So Intel’s tenth-gen chips are considerably more competitive in content development jobs than the company’s ninth-gen offerings, but AMD still keeps the performance-per-dollar crown – which’s not mentioning other aspects that could sway creatives to the red team, like more affordable access to high-speed RAM and support for high-speed PCIe 4.0 drives.

So what about video gaming? Even with AMD’s developments, third-gen Ryzen was not able to prise the mantle of ‘fastest video gaming CPU’ from the 9900 K – and now the 10900 K is here. To see how Intel’s brand-new flagship carries out – and how the 10600 K holds up the mid-range fight – we tested each chip in the most difficult video game scenes we could discover at 1080 p, 1440 p and 2160 p.

To ensure we’re CPU bottle-necked as much as possible, we paired each test rig with the fastest customer GPU, the RTX 2080 Ti. We motivate you to check out other 10900 K and 10600 K reviews, as we can just evaluate a small portion of the gameplay scenarios you might experience – so see what other outlets have come up with to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how these processors perform.

With all that said and done, let’s enter into some game testing – starting with some modern-day marvels of (game) engineering that can bring even a flagship to its knees.

Intel Core i9 10900 K and Core i5 10600 K analysis

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