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
Conclusion - The 10th Gen CPUs
Intel's 10th Generation Desktop CPUs are finally here and their main competitor, the AMD Ryzen 3000 series has been out for almost a year now. The Intel 10th Gen Desktop CPUs remain largely similar to the 9th Generation Desktop CPUs in terms of process and architecture but Intel tried to give its best with its last Skylake revision.
Aside from the nominal clock speed improvements, consumers should expect simultaneous multi-threading enabled across all desktop 'Core' parts and each Core series segment now offering more performance value than its predecessor. Intel tried to market its 9th Generation Desktop CPUs as the best gaming chips but in everything aside from games, the Ryzen 3000 CPUs simply dominated them with better multi-threading performance. Intel only released the Core i9 SKUs with SMT and while they were deemed as great gaming chips, the lead isn't worth an upgrade for users who are running a Gen, or two, older CPU.
Intel has also released its first 10 core and 20 thread mainstream desktop CPU, the Core i9-10900K which we had a taste of in this review so let's talk about how each Intel CPU fared against its older predecessor and AMD Ryzen 3000 competitor.
Intel Core i9-10900K vs AMD Ryzen 9 3900X (The Enthusiast $450-$500 US Segment Battle)
The Intel Core i9-10900K is the flagship of the lineup but despite its upgrade to 10 cores and 20 threads, it still couldn't best AMD's Ryzen 9 mainstream chips in terms of core count. The AMD Ryzen 3000 CPUs scale up to 16 cores and 32 threads with the Core i9-10900K's competitor, the Ryzen 9 3900X, offering 12 cores and 24 threads at a similar price point. The issue is once again with an aging 14nm architecture and Intel's reliance on monolithic designs for mainstream parts rather than a chiplet infrastructure that AMD has gone with.
With that said, Intel's Core i9-10900K blazes past the competition with up to 5.3 GHz (single) and 4.9 GHz (all-core boost clocks). The way these frequencies operate is very dependent on the cooling & the type of motherboard you're running. The TVB (Thermal Velocity Boost) implementation will only come in to play when the chip is operating under 70C at load and well keeping this beast of a chip is a really hard job which is only possible with high-end AIO liquid coolers or custom-loop solutions.
In terms of performance, the Intel Core i9-10900K is the new dominant force in gaming benchmarks, leading all performance metrics, but while this statement is true of it being the world's fastest gaming CPU, it seems like its competitors or even the rest of the 10th Gen processors that I got to test were not that far behind. In multi-threaded workloads, I saw a definite increase over the Core i9-9900K/KS & you do get close to a Ryzen 9 3900X but ultimately, in a majority of tests, the Ryzen 9 3900X does fair much better due to its higher core and thread count.
Intel's Core i9-10900K is hands down the fastest gaming processor on the planet.
Now we have to talk about the elephant in the room, the thermals, and power numbers. Just like the increase in clock speeds, the TDP scales up to 125W (PL1) & 250W (PL2) and so does the total power consumption which peaks at around 400W, almost 60W higher than the Ryzen 9 3900X. It looks like the thermals aren't that great either which, as explained earlier, need much better AIO coolers to stay under optimal running frequencies. You have to keep that in mind especially if you plan on overclocking the 10900K which does yield some good results when pushed to 5.2 GHz all-core frequencies but you'd see some heavy throttling at stock configuration if you aren't keeping this chip properly cooled.
Over the Core i9-9900K, the Core i9-10900K offers a great upgrade with more cores, more threads, even faster clock speeds, and impressive gaming performance. The additional cores & threads do translate into better multi-threading performance, outperforming the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12 core CPU in many workloads. But as Intel's reliance on 14nm increases, so do the thermals which are at their worst since the first Skylake CPU back in 2015 and power consumption figures that are going to cause a huge surplus of watts in your power bills. The Core i9-10900K, especially the KF variant, offers slightly better value than the Ryzen 9 3900X in terms of overall performance so if you are in the market for a fast gaming setup with lots of cores/threads on a mainstream platform, the Core i9-10900K is the chip for you.
Intel Core i7-10700K vs AMD Ryzen 7 3700X (The High-End $300-$350 US Segment Battle)
Next up, we have the Core i7-10700K which is essentially a slightly faster Core i9-9900Ks for around $350 US (KF variant). The Intel Core i7-10700K is not much different than its Coffee Lake sibling but costs $150 US less which is great considering the Core i9-9900KS was the fastest gaming processor after the Core i9-10900K. Now the Core i9-9900KS is replaced by the Core i7-10700K for a cheaper price point and if you take a closer look, you'd see some key differences which might impact its use in a normal gaming workload scenario.
The Core i7-10700K has an increase of 44% in its PL2 wattage rating, all the way up from 159W (i9-9900K) to 229W (10700K). It has an increase Tau of 56 seconds which means that the CPU will be able to retain its PL2 rated boost clocks for a longer duration compared to 28 seconds on the Core i9-9900KS. If you take only these two things into consideration, the Core i7-10700K is an impressive processor, more so due to the fact that it is priced quite reasonably against the Ryzen 7 series line.
The Intel Core i7-10700K is the best 8 core processor for gamers and productivity usage. With clock speeds exceeding 5 GHz, the 10700K is one of the best 8 core chips for under $400 US.
The Intel Core i7-10700K scales well ahead of the Ryzen 7 3700X, almost reaching AMD Ryzen 9 3900X caliber performance which is impressive for this $350 US chip. The gaming performance keeps up with the much faster Core i9-10900K. For those who have been running an older 6 core part, the 8 core Core i7-10700K would offer a decent upgrade path now that the configuration is well below $400 US. AMD still offers the cheapest 8 core offerings with much better thermals and power numbers but Intel has the faster chip this time around.
Even overclocking the i7-10700K was a total breeze as I hit 5.2 GHz across all cores without a hiccup. That said, a good cooler will make you go long ways with the Core i7-10700K which is currently Intel's best 10th Gen CPU option to look out for.
Intel Core i5-10600K vs AMD Ryzen 5 3600X (The Mainstream $200-$250 US Segment Battle)
The Core i5-10600K is the cheapest unlocked SKU that Intel is offering this time around. The Core i5-10600K blows away its predecessor simply due to the fact that it has both higher clock speeds out of the box and an SMT enabled design which the 9th Gen Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs lacked.
It won't be a surprise if the Core i5-10600K comes close to the Core i7-9700K in many benchmarks but unfortunately, I didn't have these two 9th Gen CPUs at the time of conducting this review. I did have the Core i7-8700K which makes more of a sense for comparison since this chip hit retail at around $400 US and featured similar specs with SMT enabled.
Blazing past the competing 6 core processors, the Core i5-10600K offers incredible performance for under $300 US with gaming capabilities on par with the Core i9-9900KS.
AMD should be thanked once again for bringing the price of Intel's 6 core CPU down from $400+ to around $250 and the main reason has been the remarkable sales figures of the Ryzen 5 series that have nearly disrupted the Core i5 segment. So the main battle here is between the Core i5-10600K and the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X. I am pleased to say that after benchmarking through various tests, the Core i5-10600K is the faster chip of the two, even displacing the once flagship Core i7-8700K at a much lower price point.