Wednesday, May 20, 2020 May 20, 2020 at 06:00AM - Intel Core i9 10900K and Core i5 10600K review: hot to trot

After two long years, Intel's 10th-generation Comet Lake processors have arrived. These are the first desktop CPUs that Team Blue has released since AMD's immensely popular third-gen Ryzen chips launched in 2019 - and it's clear to see that Intel isn't taking this unprecedented threat lightly. There are spec bumps and new features across the entire Core lineup, plus a new Z490 motherboard platform, making this one of the most interesting Intel launches in recent memory.

The top chip, the Core i9 10900K, has moved from eight to ten cores, while every model from the Core i3 up now supports hyper-threading, something that was previously only afforded to the highest tier CPUs in the past three Core generations. Base and turbo frequencies have also risen substantially, with the flagship Core i9 10900K topping out at a massive two-core turbo boost speed of 5.3GHz - assuming certain power and temperature targets are met. There are other fascinating changes here as well that aren't so visible on a spec sheet, such as silicon thinning to boost heat dissipation on unlocked 'K' processors and a more feature-rich overclocking suite that includes per-core hyper-threading controls.

It's a solid package that should translate into solid gen-on-gen performance improvements, but how much faster are these new 14nm processors - and how do they compare with AMD's sterling collection of 7nm Zen 2 CPUs? And for system builders mooting an upgrade, do the performance gains here justify the adoption of a 400-series motherboard with a brand new LGA1200 socket - but no PCIe 4.0 support?

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