Intel finally launches the next-gen Comet Lake processors. This new flagship CPU is sure to be a hit with gamers and enthusiasts alike. This article will compare the Core i9-10900K to its predecessor, the Core i9-9900K, which was launched in October 2018.
Apart from the two additional cores, which you may have already heard about, how does 10900K improve on other specs? This will be discussed, as well as pricing and the important issue of performance levels in comparison to the 9900K.
We have not had the opportunity to benchmark the Core i9-10900K yet as Intel just announced it. We will now compare the specifications, features, price, performance, and other details based on what Intel has given us.
We will update this article when we have actually tested the Core i9-10900K, and run our benchmarks on the flagship chip.
Prices and availability
What price is Intel charging for its new, sparkly-colored flagship computer? The RCP pricing listed for the Intel Core i9-10900K – that is, the amount charged to manufacturers for 1000 units of tray CPUs – is $488. This is the exact same price as the RCP price for the 9900K.
A 10900KF version is also available, which does not have integrated graphics but is identical otherwise and costs $472 (around PS380 or AU$725).
Keep in mind, however, that this price is not the retail price consumers will pay. We don’t yet know this – and we still don’t know when these CPUs will be available on shelves. However, punters will be able to purchase them when they do. The price will be higher than what manufacturers or resellers are willing to pay.
The Core i9-9900K is currently available for $525. This includes around PS420 and AU$810. In the US. We’ll also update this article with preorder prices for the 10900K once they are available. For obvious reasons, the price of the 9900K is likely to drop once the new Comet Lake flagship is available.
However, the main news about Intel’s volume-purchasing pricing price is that it’s the same. So those who are looking to get a price reduction – considering the pressures from AMD Ryzen 3000 CPUs– won’t find one by the RCP.
However, price-cutting wasn’t an option and it is encouraging to see that the price has not been increased. The 9900K processor was priced at about 45% higher than the 8700K flagship, even though it was a Core i7 component.
The socket taxes’ are another consideration when purchasing the Core i9-10900K. This means that you won’t be able to just plug a 10900K into an Intel motherboard with the LGA 1200 socket. Manufacturers have already revealed various Z490 models.
If you are upgrading your current PC, the cost to buy a new motherboard will be an additional expense. It also means that it will take more time and effort to install and connect everything. If you are specifically considering upgrading from the 9900K or 10900K, then the cost is very high given the performance gains.
A flagship CPU is a good choice, especially if you are looking for a high-end motherboard.
The newly revealed Asus ROG Maximus XII Hero Z490 motherboard has a higher price than the Maximus XI (Z390). However, the price for the Z490 boards (which have much lower price increases, but still increased a little) has gone up by a few hundred dollars.
The first major difference between the Core i9-10900K and the Core Core is the fact that the former has 10 cores (20-threads), while the latter had 8 cores (16-threads).
The Comet Lake10900K has a base clock of 3.75GHz, Turbo to 5.1GHz on single-cores, and an all-core boost to up to 4.8GHz.
The base clock on the 9900K is 3.6GHz, Turbo to 5GHz on single-core, and all-core boost up to 4.7GHz. So the 10900K bumps up the speed by 100MHz with all those specifications. This is a modest increase but it’s to be expected as Intel continues to push its 14nm process to gain more speed gains at ever-more difficult times.
The Core i9-10900K is equipped with Intel’s Thermal Velocity Boost technology (TVB), which allows it to reach a maximum speed of 5.3GHz for a single core and 4.9GHz for all cores.
The problem is that TVB can only be activated and maintained while CPU temperatures remain low enough. This means that it will only be effective for short-term bursty workloads. Its performance will depend on your cooling system.
The 10900K also has the benefit of Intel’s Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0. This allows for the 5.1GHz Turbo (on Boost 2.0), to be pushed a little further to 5.2GHz in some workloads and scenarios. Boost 3.0 identifies and utilizes the fastest CPU cores to provide better performance in single-core or dual-core workloads – without any voltage increase.
The overall picture shows that we have gained two cores with 10900K. However, clocks are not much faster than the 9900K. While 5.3GHz is certainly an impressive headline speed for a processor out-of-the-box, we need to remember that the TVB tech that powers this boost is situational and temporary. This means that you might not see 5.3GHz very often or for very long.
The fact is that the 10900K will still be able to hit it at times after being installed on your computer. Turbo Boost Max 3.0 can also be used for light-threaded tasks.
While we have seen the specs, the real meat of the battle between Coffee Lake and Comet Lake flagships is their actual performance – early benchmarking has already shown that.
Intel has released its benchmarks to show what it calls the ‘world’s fastest gaming processor’. It also noted that 60% of games were still optimized for single-core, which suggests that gamers are extremely important given the chip’s high clock speeds.
Intel compared the Core i9-10900K and the 9900K in internal testing across a variety of games. They either measured frames per second or used an in-game benchmarking tool if one was available.
Both systems were identical (using an RTX 2080T GPU), except that they had different motherboards. The company used 2933MHz RAM, which Comet Lake supports, and 2666MHz memory with the 9900K (32GB RAM in each case). The CPUs were water-cooled, although the exact cooling method was not specified. Tests were done at Full HD resolution using Windows 10’s November 2019 Update.
Mount & Blade 2. Bannerlord at 1080p with high graphics settings was found to be ‘up to’ 33% faster when measured frame-rate with 10900K compared to the 9900K. This is quite a remarkable gain.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne saw a 13% frame per second (FPS), gain, while PUBG saw a 10% increase in FPS. These are some solid gains. Intel also did a 4K video editing comparison using Adobe Premiere CC, where it found that the 10900K was up to 18% faster than the 9900K.
Bannerlord is an eye-opening result. According to what we know, this game can be quite CPU-intensive, so it is likely that this is showing the benefits of those additional two cores. The full 10 cores are being pushed hard by the most taxing scenarios in Bannerlord. This is an “up to” figure and not an average FPS. Looking at the other results it seems to be an anomaly. (Intel did not provide figures for all the games it tested but did include them in its press kit. If they were as impressive and well-respected as Bannerlord, however, they didn’t.
It is important to consider the company’s internal testing carefully, as it can influence how things are assembled or cherry-picked. We look forward to getting our hands on the Intel Core i9-10900K to test it out and compare our benchmarking with Intel’s. We mentioned at the beginning of this article that we will update this article when we have our results.
Intel Core i9-10900K vs Intel Core i9-9900K – Is it worth the upgrade
Is it worth spending 10900K on a Core i9-9900K if you already have one? It is not.
The clock speed increases in the 10900K are very minor. Furthermore, the headline-grabbing 5.3GHz speed may be of questionable value for real-world use. Even though there are some performance improvements, they are still quite modest compared to the 9900K. This is aside from Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord which, as we have already discussed, can be considered an outlier.
As an upgrade choice, the expense of paying for the 10900K and a new Z490 motherboard is not worth it.
It’s quite different for people who have been using older processors. The new Comet Lake flagship CPU is still affordable and delivers 10-cores with promising early benchmarks. There are also some intriguing features on the overclocking front that may be appealing to enthusiasts.
These people may find the Core i9-10900K to be a great choice. However, we reserve our final judgment until we have done our own evaluation of the processor in terms of power consumption, benchmarking, and cooling requirements. This is especially important considering that some rumors claimed that power issues are a problem with the 10900K. We must also compare this CPU with AMD’s Ryzen chips like the Ryzen 9 3900X, which is competitively priced.