Our Verdict
The world’s speediest gaming processor, then one that Intel will hang all its marketing on, however when it involves real-world performance it generally does not really make a whole lot of sense as the Comet Lake CPU to drop into your gaming PC.

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Last updated on January 22, 2022 2:51 pm

Fastest gaming performance
Overclocking potential
GPU has much larger impact on fps
Top performance requires power
For your delight and delectation, I show you the Intel Core i9 10900K. It is the top desktop CPU in the 10th Gen Intel Comet Lake lineup and represents the 1st time the business has jammed 10 processing cores right into a single mainstream processor.

So yes, rejoice, for Comet Lake has finally hit the desktop, admittedly a good while directly after we were expecting to start to see the latest 14nm silicon from the big blue chip making machine. But Intel is promising us the ‘world’s most effective gaming processor’ so we have to be pleased about this, right?

Okay, so yes, these 10th Gen processors are another 14nm ‘Lake’ generation, and yes, we remain waiting on Intel to get its 10nm desktop shiz together, but that is a new selection of high-end CPUs, which genuinely cements the ageing Core architecture as the speediest gaming silicon on earth.

And, since there is certainly a lot that’s familiar about the underlying technology within the brand new Core i9 10900K, additionally, there are some fresh ideas baked in to the top chip, and in to the extended Comet Lake CPU lineup too. Not least which may be the unshackling of the HyperThreading chains, allowing every 10th Gen processor to double the thread-count from every individual CPU core.

That is unquestionably due to the increased competition in the processor world. Given that AMD’s Ryzen is a lot more than simply a vague annoyance for Intel it’s an authentic competitor for the hearts and minds of PC gamers and content creators-not to say server operators too.

But though Intel is currently having to fight by increasing both core and thread counts of its long-lived 14nm architecture, it’s still got raw gaming performance sewn up, and the 10900K is further proof that.

Core i9 10900K specs
The headline spec of the 10900K may be the chip’s core-count. With a complete 10 CPU cores in the centre of it this is actually the first time, beyond the high-priced X-series chips, that Intel has were able to squeeze that lots of cores into one mainstream CPU. Throw in HyperThreading and you get 20 threads of processing power and, taking into consideration the high clock speeds mounted on this deca-core chip, they are able to process a lot.

The bottom clock looks just a little miserly at 3.7GHz, but realistically you are not likely to see that in actual operation. Although same could possibly be said of the top-end 5.3GHz clock speed, delivered with a blend of Turbo Boost Max 3.0 and Thermal Velocity Boost. Those a set of technologies adopted by Comet Lake’s Core i9 processors, that offer higher frequencies if the thermals and power delivery allow.

Turbo Boost Max 3.0 in addition has traditionally only been on the X-series CPUs, and works on a per-chip basis, highlighting which will be the best cores in your unique package and putting the focus on them to provide the highest performance. That may get the 10900K to 5.2GHz, but it’s Thermal Velocity Boost that’s designed to take it to 5.3GHz. Providing the chip is running below 70°C, and there is some turbo power available, TVB will let you reach the frequency promised land.

Inside our testing we only ever saw that 5.3GHz peak for a pico-second occasionally during resolutely single-core operations. Generally workloads predicated on a core working solo would visit a 5.2GHz clock speed, with all-core functions running at a good 4.9GHz, regardless if there is significant thermal and power headroom. That’s still a lttle bit of a intensify from the 4.7GHz of the Core i9 9900K, but an all-core step down from the 5GHz of the limited edition, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Core i9 9900KS.

So much of why is the 10-core 10900K tick, and why is it the world’s most effective gaming processor™, is right down to the energy it consumes. Forget all of the noises Intel is making about targeting sustainable PCs, this Core i9 chip is centered on unreasonable power and the 125W TDP is your first hint at that. Actually, all of the K-series overclocking processors in the Comet Lake range have a 125W TDP, from Core i5 or more.

But that 125W figure is merely area of the story. Because of all Intel’s Boost-y shenanigans there are multiple different power limits, which 125W is merely the first. When it had been being really pushed in my own test system the 10900K was drawing almost 200W in to the package itself. For short-term turbo performance the chip can draft to 250W of power so that you can hit its peak frequencies. That is all that PL1, PL2, Tau stuff you may have read about before launch, and it shows the very best Comet Lake processors need that extra capacity to have the ability to keep taking this 14nm architecture forward in performance terms.

Of course a fresh CPU requires a new chipset, particularly if you’re Intel, and with Comet Lake comes the brand new Z490 platform using its new LGA 1200 socket. Physically the CPUs and socket look almost identical to the prior generations, and the excess 49 pins is there to boost power delivery for these hungry, hungry 10th Gen CPUs… and for future features.

Tantalisingly, the LGA 1200 socket and Z490 motherboards turn to be compatible with another generation of Intel CPUs too, those from the Rocket Lake range. Yes, another ‘Lake’, and yes another 14nm production process. But that one could possibly be different if the rumours should be believed. The speculation is that Rocket Lake will include a ‘back port’, or new configuration, of the Willow Cove design arriving at the advanced 10nm Tiger Lake mobile chips arriving later this season. That may make it the 1st time a desktop Intel CPU has already established a Core architecture update in lots of a long year. It will also include Intel Xe graphics silicon baked in too.

(Image credit: Future)
Core i9 10900K performance
There’s no getting from it, the brand new Comet Lake flagship is damned fast. When compared to previous incumbent of any office of world’s most effective gaming processor, the i9 9900KS, the 10900K either beats it or smashes it atlanta divorce attorneys gaming benchmark we threw its way. Due to the fact generally conditions the clock speeds aren’t that dissimilar, and core counts generally don’t make an enormous difference to gaming performance, that’s somewhat of a surprise.

But the 10900K is currently the go-to gaming CPU for the human with the innate have to have the absolute most effective version of everything, whether it makes as a lot of a notable difference to gaming as chip makers may have you think. That’s because really it is the graphics card which has the call over what type of frame rate performance you’ll get out of your rig.