Today, April 30th, 2020 at 9am EST Intel once again announces the fastest gaming processor in the world. At the pre-briefing it was quite obvious that Intel isn’t just adding cores, but is also keeping its gaming crown jewels. Intel and AMD throw blows back and forth when it comes to productivity and gaming performance, and for now Intel’s i9-10900K seems to keep the gaming crown in Intel’s possession, while increasing core counts at the same time along with processor frequency.
Comet Lake CPUs will not work with existing Z300 series motherboards, so if you buy a 10th generation CPU you will need a new LGA1200 400-series chipset motherboard. In general it looks like Intel has brought some features such as Turbo Boost Max 3.0 from their X-series platform to the mainstream Z-series. Boosts of up to 5.3GHz are possible with Thermal Velocity Boost and the CPU will rank the cores and boost up the best with TBM3. DDR3 support goes up to 2933MHz, you can get a flagship with 10 cores and 20MB of L3 cache, and there are some interesting new overclocking knobs.
Information about the new motherboards also goes live at the same time this article does, and we have a few with us now so look forward to reviews. On the new platform you get a lot of new things such as a new 2.5Gbit LAN controller meant to replace Intel’s 1Gbit, more integrated newer generations of USB, rudimentary PCI-E 4.0 hardware (optional), and on many boards one of the M.2 slots is routed to the CPU for future CPU generations with PCI-E 4.0.
Intel also talked about how important single core performance is to gaming (they said a majority of games rely heavily on single core performance) and how their aim was to provide the best performance by focusing on that, while also increasing core count to help in games where core count does matter.
We find some really interesting new overclocking knobs. For starters, you can choose which cores can utilize hyper threading (HT), so you can disable HT on your best core and get a higher overclock. They also added in PCI/DMI bus overclocking, although we aren’t sure how useful this will be. Hopefully, they will be decoupled as we know from prior experience that overclocking the PCI-E bus can cause issues with PCI-E devices. There is also a pretty interesting voltage/frequency (V/f) curve control, which is quite interesting. We are told that the V/f curve for the 10900K is similar to that of the 9900K, so we are looking at similar voltages for similar clocks.
Here we see something interesting, Intel has upgraded its manufacturing process to produce a silicon die with a lower z-height (vertical height). Intel is right in that the copper in the internal heat spreader (IHS) is a better conductor of heat than silicon, and we did watch some videos where overclockers would grind down the top of their silicon dies after de-lidding the IHS, so it’s possible Intel decided to do that. They also increased the copper thickness in the IHS, and it’s a good thing as the copper from the IHS should absorb the heat better and spread it out better. We also have to give Intel some credit for adding more copper as copper isn’t cheap. They also kept the metal solder thermal interface material (STIM).
We have seen Turbo Boost Max 3.0 on Intel’s X-series for quite a while, and now we get it on their S-series mainstream desktop parts. We are not 100% on how they are implementing it and whether it’s software driven or BIOS driven, or if you require a driver, but time will tell.
Intel has also announced performances increases across multiple games. They have also worked closely with developers to specifically optimize the gaming performance of their new Comet Lake 10th Generation Core processors.
Here we can see that all the top of the line SKUs. While the 8 core /16 thread CPUs will cost roughly the same as current offerings, the new top of the line 10-core/20 thread CPU will cost $488, with a small discount if you go for the model without an integrated iGPU (KF suffix). As before, only K-SKUs will officially support overclocking. We should also mention Intel is publishing all core Turbo frequencies, and for the 10900K, it’s 4.8GHz, with a TB3 of 5.2GHz. The interesting news is if you are able to keep your CPU core temperature at or below 70C and you have the power budget, the Thermal Velocity Boost will take all cores to 4.9GHz and a single core to 5.3GHz. That feature is only on the 10-core (i9) models. We can also see that Intel is publishing higher TDP numbers than before, but we will remind you that TDP figures are typically based on non-Turbo numbers. One reason for the new socket is to increase power delivery to the CPU, and we have seen numbers for increased CPU VRM requirements for Comet Lake, and needless to say they are higher than Coffee Lake requirements.
Below are all the other desktop processors Intel is launching along with the new i9 and i7 Comet Lake SKUs. Needless to say, this is a pretty big launch.
It’s amazing to think that just a few years ago the top of the line mainstream desktop processor you could buy was a 6 core/12 thread model, and now they are half the price.
We also see a bunch of Pentium series CPUs launched, and their prices are quite attractive.
Intel is also taking aim at SFFPCs and low-power PCs with whole stack of 35W TDP processors. It’s amazing that these days you can get 10 high performance x86 Intel cores at a 35W TDP. Stay tuned for our review of the Core i9-10900K!