The Intel 10th Gen CPUs are finally here. The 1st one in the series we’ll be taking a look at is the top-end Intel Core i9-10900k. This CPU has a base clock of 3.7 GHz and can boost in some cases to 5.3 GHz with the stock all core boost of 4.9GHz. The core count goes up too compared to the previous generation i9 as this puppy also packs hyper-threaded cores under the IHS. The supported memory speed jumps from DDR4-2666 to DDR4-2933. The new 10th gen CPUs from Intel add some new features for enthusiasts that really like to tweak and tune their systems to get the absolute maximum performance. However, the new Intel CPUs will require a new socket which is the Intel LGA1200 as well as beefier VRM to handle a 10 core CPU so, Intel launched a new chipset for the 10th Gen; the Z490. The CPU wars were hot before, and Intel just added more fuel to the fire with their 10th Gen CPUs.
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Product Name/Link to Website: Intel Core i9-10900K
Product was given in exchange for work done to produce this review.
Aside from the core count, the most notable feature on the new Core i9 and Core i7 series of CPUs is Thermal Velocity Boost. Sounds cool right? Well, it is with some caveats. First off, Thermal Velocity Boost (TVB) is an opportunistic boost feature that will automatically increase clock speeds of single or multiple cores above the Turbo Boost frequencies. This feature allows the i9-10900k to hit 5.3 GHz which is above the Turbo boost frequency of 5.2 GHz. However, there is a set of requirements that must fall in line for TVB to activate. Temperature and power budget needs a bit of headroom. According to Intel, TVB needs a temperature of 70°C or lower AND when there is a bit of headroom left in the power budget.
In conjunction with TVB, Intel has implemented Turbo Boost Max 3.0. This was first seen on Core-X CPUs. This allows the CPU to identify the best performing cores and increase the frequency of them. The two best cores are selected for improved single and dual-core performance. Keep in mind that Turbo Boost 3.0 AND TVB work together to hit that magical 5.3 GHz on the i9-10900K
The Intel 10th Gen line up is flush with CPUs. They brought back Hyper-Threading on all of the 10th gen desktop CPUs except for the Celerons. This means the i9 series is 10 cores/20 threads, the i7 series is 8 cores/16 threads, the i5 series is 6 cores/12 threads, and the i3 series is 4 cores/8 threads. The Pentium CPUs are 2 cores/4 threads.
At launch, the i9-9900k ran hot. Most reviewers mentioned the higher temperatures as well as the lack of a stock cooler. Let’s be honest, Intel’s stock coolers are barely able to do the job on a 6-core CPU let alone an 8-core. The i9-10900k has a thinner die. This should equate to better heat transfer to the IHS (integrated heat spreader) on top of the CPU and allow the cooler to do an overall better job of cooling the processor.
While not a brand new architecture, the 10th gen Intel CPUs, at least on paper, should bring more performance to the table. Keep in mind, that Intel is still using a Skylake derived architecture. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as they can continue to increase performance and keep moving the ball forward.