Intel Comet Lake Core i9-10900K, Core i7-10700K, Core i5-10600K CPU Review Ft. ASRock Z490 Taichi, ASUS ROG Maximus XII HERO & Gigabyte Z490 Vision G

May 20
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Intel has come a long way with its mainstream desktop processor platform. The platform has largely seen stagnation in terms of core and thread count over many generations since the first Core series CPU that launched back in 2010 but in 2017 brought a big change to Intel's desktop strategy. What seemed to be a generational core clock bump has now turned into a generational core count bump while still delivering incremental clock speed improvements.

The main reason for this stagnation has been Intel's reliance on its 14nm process node and Skylake architecture which has served the desktop space since 2015 and still live on. Intel's 10nm process dilemmas and inefficient architecture which couldn't keep up with Skylake in mainstream desktop space only made things worse for Intel along with a re-emerged AMD who went guns blazing in the desktop market with its Ryzen CPUs, delivering advanced architectures while utilizing bleeding-edge process nodes.

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The 9th Generation lineup, while good in its own perspective, has been facing two major issues since launch. One of the issue and an ongoing one is the competitive threat from AMD's Ryzen processors which aren't only tackling Intel in terms of pure core count but also in terms of IPC which has exceeded Skylake levels and also pricing in which AMD has simply made Intel's once iconic Core i5 and Core i7 lineups disappear from the game. One of the key backlashes that Intel CPUs received from the tech community was the lack of multi-threading support on several 9th Generation CPUs where they faced severe performance degradation against Ryzen parts when compared in multi-threading workloads.

There's one key department however where Intel still holds the lead which is due to the process maturation of the 14nm node over the years. In terms of clock speeds, Intel has taken the battle to AMD which makes sense in a way since while their remerged rival can beat them in terms of price, cores, they can surely flex their muscles in terms of clock speeds but even that wasn't a big savior for Intel with 9th Generation CPUs.

Intel 10th Gen vs AMD Ryzen 3000 Desktop CPU Prices:

Intel CPUCores / ThreadsClocks (Max)Price (MSRP)Prices (Newegg)Clocks (Max)Cores / ThreadsAMD CPU
N/AN/AN/AN/A$737.99 US4.7 GHz (105W)16/32AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
Intel Core i9-10900K10/205.3 GHz (125W)$488 US (K)
$472 US (KF)
$489.99 US4.6 GHz (105W)12/24AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
Intel Core i7-10700K8/165.1 GHz (125W)$374 US (K)
$349 US (KF)
$344.99 US4.5 GHz (105W)8/16AMD Ryzen 7 3800X
Intel Core i7-107008/164.8 GHz (65W)$323 US
$298 US (F)
$298.99 US4.4 GHz (65W)8/16AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
Intel Core i5-10600K6/124.8 GHz (125W)$262 US (K)
$237 US (KF)
$204.99 US4.4 GHz (95W)6/12AMD Ryzen 5 3600X
Intel Core i5-105006/124.5 GHz (65W)$192 US$189.99 US4.2 GHz (65W)6/12AMD Ryzen 5 3600
Intel Core i5-104006/124.3 GHz (65W)$182 US
$157 US (F)
$179.99 US4.1 GHz (65W)6/6AMD Ryzen 5 3500X
Intel Core i3-103004/84.4 GHz (65W)$143 US$119.99 US4.3 GHz (65W)4/8AMD Ryzen 3 3300X
Intel Core i3-101004/84.3 GHz (65W)$122 US$99.99 US3.9 GHz (65W)4/8AMD Ryzen 3 3100

So this year, Intel has decided to go all out with its last Skylake architecture-based 14nm family. Offering the highest clock speeds, the highest number of cores/threads with SMT enabled across all Core CPUs and better cores/$, perf/$ values than the previous generation. So for this review, I will be taking a look at three 10th Gen Comet Lake-S processors.

The processors include the Core i9-10900K 8 Core, Core i7-10700K 8 Core, and the Core i5-10600K 6 core chips. The processors will be tested on three of the latest Z490 motherboards, the ASRock Z490 Taichi, the ASUS ROG Maximus XII HERO, and the Gigabyte Z490 Vision G.

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Intel Z490 Express Chipset - The Top 400-Series PCH

The introduction of Z490 marks the end of the Z390 and Z370 series. While those chipsets featured inter-compatibility with 8th and 9th Generation CPUs, the Z490 chipset only supports the 10th Gen lineup for now. The new chipset adds in a range of features that expand upon from the Z390 PCH and can also handle increased I/O. So it isn't just a new chipset follow up for a new line of CPUs but its actually slightly more, something that I'd personally call an evolution of the Z490 platform in all the best ways possible.

Intel Z490 Platform Features:

The 10th gen desktop platform has a range of new features that mainly include:

  • Support for LGA 1200 Intel Core / Pentium Gold / Celeron Processors
  • First Intel Core i9 Desktop Processor With 10 Cores / 20 Threads
  • First Intel Core i9 Desktop Processor With Up To 5.30 GHz Clocks (TVB)
  • TDP Support Up To 125W
  • DDR4-2933 Support For Core i9 & Core i7 Desktop Processors
  • Support For Intel Wireless (CNVi)
  • 10 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports
  • 6 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports
  • IRST 17 for PCIe storage RAID on CPU & PCH Support
  • Hardware-Level PCIe Gen 4 Integration from various board vendors
  • Up To 6 SATA III ports
  • Optane Memory Ready
  • Thunderbolt 3.0

Intel Desktop Platform Chipset Comparison

Chipset NameCoffee Lake S (KBL-R) PCH / Z370 PlatformCoffee Lake S (CNL-H) PCH / 300 Series (Z390/H370, B360, Q370, H310)Comet Lake-S (CML-S) PCH / 400 Series (Z490)
Process Node22nm14nm14nm
Processor8C, 6C, 4C (6 Consumer SKUs at Launch)
Enhanced IA and Memory Overclocking
Gen 9 Intel Graphics GT2 (Up To 24 EUs)
Consumer Only
8C, 6C, 4C, 2C (Full corporate/consumer SKU stack at launch)
Enhanced IA and Memory Overclocking
Gen 9 Intel Graphics GT2 (Up To 24 EUs)
Corporate/vPro & Consumer
10C, 8C, 6C, 4C, 2C (Full corporate/consumer SKU stack at launch)
Enhanced IA and Memory Overclocking
Gen 9 Intel Graphics GT2 (Up To 24 EUs)
Corporate/vPro & Consumer
MemoryUp To DDR4-2666 (Native)Up To DDR4-2666 (Native)Up To DDR4-2933(Native)
Media, Display & AudioDP 1.2 & HDMI 1.4
HDCP 2.2 (HDMI 2.0a w/LSPCON)
HEVC & VP9 10-bit Enc/Dec, HDR, Rec.2020, DX12
Integrated Dual-Core Audio DSP
DP 1.2 & HDMI 1.4
HDCP 2.2 (HDMI 2.0a w/LSPCON)
HEVC & VP9 10-bit Enc/Dec, HDR, Rec.2020, DX12
Integrated Dual-Core Audio DSP
SoundWire Digital Audio Interface
DP 1.2 & HDMI 1.4
HDCP 2.2 (HDMI 2.0a w/LSPCON)
HEVC & VP9 10-bit Enc/Dec, HDR, Rec.2020, DX12
Integrated Dual-Core Audio DSP
SoundWire Digital Audio Interface
I/O & ConnectivityIntegrated USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
Thunderbolt 3.0 (Alpine Ridge)
Integrated USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
Integrated Intel Wireless-AC (Wi-Fi / BT CNVi)
Integrated SDXC 3.0 Controller
Thunderbolt 3.0 (Titan Ridge) w/ DP 1.4
Integrated USB 3.2 Gen 2
Integrated Intel Wireless-AC (Wi-Fi / BT CNVi)
Integrated SDXC 3.0 Controller
Thunderbolt 3.0 (Titan Ridge) w/ DP 1.4
StorageNext Gen Intel Optane memory
PCIe 3.0, SATA 3.0
Next Gen Intel Optane memory
PCIe 3.0, SATA 3.0
Next-Gen Intel Optane memory
PCIe 3.0, SATA 3.0
SecurityIntel SGX 1.0Intel SGX 1.0Intel SGX 1.0
Power ManagementC8 SupportC10 & S0ix Support for Modern StandbyC10 & S0ix Support for Modern Standby
Launch201720182019

Meet The LGA 1200 Socket - 10th Generation Support & Onwards

As mentioned earlier, LGA 1151's reign is finally over and the LGA 1200 socket is here now. The new socket definitely adds more pins to the socket but the dimensions and most of the physical looks of the socket remain unchanged. The new LGA 1200 socket does offer more pin connections to the CPU, allowing for more communication channels with the board itself and accommodate electrical pin configurations that are required to support 10th Gen CPUs.

While the LGA 1200 socket has the same dimensions as the LGA 1151 socket (37.5mm x 37.5mm), the socket keying has shifted to the left side and Comet Lake is no longer electrically or mechanically compatible with Coffee Lake motherboards. So this is some bad news for those who may try to put an LGA 1151 CPU on the LGA 1200 socket for science! Some details of the new LGA 1200 package and socket for Comet Lake:

  • Comet Lake will transition to a higher pin-count package
  • Comet Lake LGA will not have backward compatibility with legacy platforms
  • No changes to ILM dimensions or thermal solution retention
  • Comet Lake LGA improves power delivery and support for future incremental I/O features
  • Pin 1 orientation remains the same, but socket keying has shifted left

Cooler Compatibility With LGA 1200 Socket

Keeping the same dimensions has some advantages in the form of cooler compatibility. All users who are running the LGA 1151 socket or even LGA 1150 boards can use the same cooler on the Z490 boards without any hassle. The socket has the same dimensions and no changes are made aside from the ones I just mentioned above which don't affect cooler compatibility. The socket assembly and mounting remain the same.

Intel does offer a separate boxed cooler but it will be a much better choice to get an AIB cooling solution since those offer better cooling performance. It is recommended for the unlocked SKUs that users run them on a high-end air cooler or liquid cooling solution. Custom loop cooling will deliver even better results.

Products mentioned in this post

ASRock X570
ASRock X570
USD 224.99
ASRock Z490 Taichi
ASRock Z490 Taichi
USD 369.99
ASUS ROG Maximus XII HERO
ASUS ROG Maximus XII HERO
USD 399.99

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