The Competition

So here’s the big question – how does Intel’s hardware stack up against the Zen 2 processors from AMD. For this, we’re going to do some price-to-price comparisons.

At ~$430, the Core i9-10900F goes up against the R9 3900X

Battle at ~$430
Intel
Core i9-10900F
AnandTech AMD
Ryzen 9 3900X
$422 Price $432
14++ Lithography 7nm
10C / 20T Cores 12C / 24T
2.8 GHz Base Frequency 3.6 GHz
65 W TDP 105 W
5.1 GHz Favored Core (TB3) 4.6 GHz
2 x DDR4-2933 DRAM Support 2 x DDR4-3200
PCIe 3.0 x16 PCIe Support PCIe 4.0 x24


In this instance, Intel has the higher turbo favored core and lower TDP, but AMD has the much higher base frequency, PCIe 4.0 support, and faster memory.

At ~$180, the Core i5-10500 and i5-10400F go up against the popular Ryzen 5 3600:

Battle at ~$180
Intel
Core i5-10500
Intel
Core i5-10400F
AnandTech AMD
Ryzen 5 3600
$192 $152 Price $173
14++ 14++ Lithography 7nm
6C / 12T 6C / 12T Cores 6C / 12T
3.1 GHz 2.9 GHz Base Frequency 3.6 GHz
65 W 65 W TDP 65 W
4.5 GHz 4.3 GHz Favored Core (TB3) 4.2 GHz
2x DDR4-2666 2x DDR4-2666 DRAM Support 2x DDR4-3200
PCIe 3.0 x16 PCIe 3.0 x16 PCIe Support PCIe 4.0 x24

The Core i5-10500 has the higher turbo frequency, but don’t forget this is Zen 2 vs Skylake, and Zen 2 has the higher IPC, so that turbo deficit in frequency might actually still be a win for AMD. The fact that the base frequency is in AMD’s favor considerably, plus the DDR4 support and PCIe support, means that the AMD chip is likely the option here. The i5-10400F is in a similar boat, but at least the deficits it does have come with a price reduction.

How about some halo against halo comparison? The Ryzen 9 3950X and 3900X vs the Core i9-10900KF ?

Halo vs Halo
Intel
Core i9-10900KF
AnandTech AMD
Ryzen 9 3900X
AMD
Ryzen 9 3950X
$472 Price $432 $722
14++ Lithography 7nm 7nm
10C / 20T Cores 12C / 24T 16C / 32T
3.7 GHz Base Frequency 3.8 GHz 3.5 GHz
125 W TDP 105 W 105 W
5.2 GHz Favored Core (TB3) 4.6 GHz 4.7 GHz
4.8 GHz All-Core Turbo (TB2) 4.0 GHz 3.9 GHz
250-350W ? All-Core Turbo Power 136 W 125 W
2x DDR4-2933 DRAM Support 2 x DDR4-3200 2 x DDR4-3200
PCIe 3.0 x16 PCIe Support PCIe 4.0 x24 PCIe 4.0 x24

Some users will state that the 3900X is the better comparison, only being $40 cheaper, so I’ve included it here as well. Ultimately the thing mainly going for the new hardware is that turbo frequency, up to 5.2 GHz on favored core or 5.3 GHz when under 70ºC. Just looking at the raw CPU data on paper, and some might consider the 10900 series a raw deal.

It should be noted that Intel has different PL2 recommendations for each of the overclockable processors:

  • Core i9-10900K: TDP is 125 W, PL2 is 250 W, Tau is 56 seconds
  • Core i7-10700K: TDP is 125 W, PL2 is 229 W, Tau is 56 seconds
  • Core i5-10600K: TDP is 125 W, PL2 is 182 W, Tau is 56 seconds

Normally the recommended PL2 value is 1.25x the TDP, but in this case Intel is increasing the recommended values. This won’t stop the motherboard manufacturers from completely ignoring them, however.

Also, PL2 and Tau are based on a comparative power load that is defined as a function of a power virus, typically 90-93% or so. This means a complete power virus will go beyond this.

Final Thoughts

Intel is caught between a rock and a hard place. With its main competitor offering sixteen cores on its mainstream platform and on a better process node, Intel’s struggles with its 10nm process means that the company has to rely on old faithful, 14nm, another time. Unfortunately old faithful is showing its age, especially combined with the fifth generation of Skylake, and all Intel can do is apply new optimizations to get the best out of the chip.

This is to be fair, if I was in Intel’s shoes, what I would probably be doing as well. Rearchitecting production lines to start testing for favored cores isn’t as straightforward as users might think, and then adding in more control logic for Thermal Velocity Boost also means expanding out the firmware and driver support too. Adding in things like DMI/PEG overclocking, per-core HT selection, and VF curves, help with keeping the platform interesting.

In an ideal world, on the desktop Intel would be on its second generation of 10nm hardware by now. We would also be on Ice Lake or a post-Ice Lake microarchitecture, and this would be the suitable entry point for PCIe 4.0 connectivity. As it stands we need to wait, and now we have a new motherboard line with partial PCIe 4.0 support for a product that doesn’t exist yet. Unfortunately this is where I think Intel has made its biggest mistake, in having a new socket/chipset combination straddle the generations between PCIe 3.0 and PCIe 4.0. This is going to create a lot of confusion, especially if some of the new motherboards that are designed to meet ‘PCIe 4.0 specification’ end up not working all that well with the future Rocket Lake product. It’s not a hurdle I would like to come across if I was in the target market for this hardware. I would have, if possible, used the previous socket for another generation and then made the change over for PCIe 4.0 and a new socket with Rocket.

While Intel is announcing the hardware, the exact time it will be on shelves is unknown. Typically with these launches we will have a sense of when review samples will be arriving and when the hardware will go on shelves. At this point I still have open questions with Intel as to when that is – I guess that the online retailers will know when their stock is in place and it will be shown on their websites today.

Socket, Silicon, Security, Overclocking, Motherboards
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  • Kevin G - Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - link

    Can you point me toward a 10 Gbit NIC than to only uses a single PCIe 3.0 lane? I won’t hold my breath as that doesn’t exist.

    Signs are pointing toward a 2022 release for PCIe 5.0 on the desktop.

    On the server side PCI3e 5.0 was due... this year with the IBM POWER10. That chip has been delayed to 2021 so who knows who will be fired in that segment as it looks like both Intel and AMD are gearing for PCIe 5.0 based servers next year.
    Reply
  • Bp_968 - Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - link

    This. I notice most people seem to assume the next level of PCIe is only useful for its maximum bandwidth. I feel like they miss the potential cost savings on lane usage. If a CPU maker can halve the number of lanes they have on a CPU that will lower costs. If modern GPUs easily run on 4x PCIe5 lanes then 8 external lanes could end up being plenty for most systems (1 4x a 2x and 2 1x slots) though I expect SSDs to be eating 4 lanes of pcie4 for many systems in the next few years. Reply
  • Quantumz0d - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    Yeah

    2017 Ryzen was a boon to the industry, they crushed the X99 HW-E lineup and brought down the prices of the HEDT CPUs. Ryzen performance was crap and had tons of issues with the BIOS and Windows Scheduler on top due to the NUMA design, and the TR was a big disaster which couldn't scale up, Zen+ was a significant upgrade but ended up a minor improvement this is where X470 was also neglected and lost many features vs Intel SKUs for Mobos due to lack of trust on the AMD by OEMs, the CCX design was the Achilles heel along with pathetic memory controller.

    Still the 2700X couldn't beat a 7700K in gaming and also productive loads but due to the Multi core design for cheap it heavily made the PC DIY market flourish that was a great thing which AMD did and still had the memory controller weakness.

    Ryzen perfected the processor design with the Zen2, which is where exactly AMD started exactly to put a dent into Intel, that was the key aspect fro AMD in my opinion and it came in 2019, and the TSMC 7nm which helped them to cram more tech and the biggest improvement was due to the removal of that CCX hops and the weak IMC, it improved on every single flaw and made it big, 3600 finally beat 7700K in gaming and every single workload and made the 8700K almost in reach, but the 3700 and up beat 8700K and yet the HW-E on the other hand scaled pretty well, along with 2600K too while the Ryzen 1000 and Ryzen 2000 are pretty much meh.TR 3000 kicked out X399 (shameless name copy) and made that platform EOL and users got abandoned, look at HW-E still it scales well in games, thanks to Ring Bus. X299 CSL also couldn't do anything to the mainstream SKUs but it could do great OC at the power expense and only for Enthusiasts tbh. While the TRX series was super expensive and very limited core lineup due to their 3950X at 16C (still cannot scale like Intel in gaming but everything else it's a beast) also to note the AM4 life, it's superb to think about the socket compatibility scaling so well but the unfortunate part is due to the VRM cheapness on X470 the Higher SKUs of Ryzen 3000 are crippled by many and eventually a new chipset based one was needed.

    Then now again Intel is adding 2 more cores to the same 2015 uArch and 2014 14nm node vs 2020 TSMC 7nm+ Ryzen 4000 expecting to still have that Gaming Performance crown at the expense of insane power, another final Ring Bus card.

    Next year Rocket Lake S is coming with 14nm++ again, there's no 10nm it's failed completely but it's a new uArch again, which no one knows about the Bus, if it's Mesh or Ring.
    Reply
  • Kevin G - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    The ring bus on Haswell-E should actually be a limiter to performance vs. Sky Lake’s tile based topology. Simply put you need fewer hops to a cache location in Sky Lake, all other things being equal. The big asterisk for Sky Lake is that each core has less L3 cache that is barely bigger than the L2 cache. The L3 is now a victim cache where as previously the L3 would mirror the contents of the L2 in Haswell. The result is that often both the L2 and L3 caches has to be queried in Sky Lake to get data. This takes power. Had Intel used the same inclusive cache design with respect to L3 at a decent size (4 MB?), the tile based design would be seen in a far greater light as the benefits would be easier to spot.

    The presumption Intel was going to take the tile design was to use smaller tiles (3x3 with lots of cache?) made using 10 nm and just tie them together with EMIB. 14 nm would have still been used for the memory controller, PCIe controllers and UPI but on their own tiles. This is effectively the inside-out version of AMD’s current chiplet strategy. This never materialized on the CPU side but Intel did leverage EMIB like their do some FPGA designs they inherited from the Altera acquisition.
    Reply
  • Galid - Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - link

    That was a pretty good amount of good info but I have something To add. Intel wins when you put the cpu on gaming workloads AND bound the cpu usage. Example: rtx 2080 ti in 1080p. And even then, lets take a 3600 non-x vs 9900k. You will gain 9% fps in 1080p, 3% fps in 1440p and .6% fps in 4k buying a 9900k instead of a 3600. Now, lets take steam hardware survey and take for a fact that 99% of the gamers dont need those small fps for 2.5x the price of that 3600. I do not consider that a win in my world.

    https://www.techpowerup.com/review/amd-ryzen-5-360...

    Or else, we could say: every car in the world loses because there's porsche 918 spyder that exists!! Well man, all I want to do is my everyday life, I do not belong to a race track(e-sports).

    Still I beleive that my honda accord is a winning design that outsells porsche 918 by.... inimaginable amount. And lets me do everything I need.
    Reply
  • Deicidium369 - Saturday, May 2, 2020 - link

    LMAO... Do you write your own material or do you have a ghost writer - most people cannot be that funny. Reply
  • Lord of the Bored - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    Pot, meet kettle. Reply
  • Korguz - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    your one to talk Deicidium369, 90% of whar you type is fiction, personal anti amd bs, and no proof what so ever of that fiction, maybe you should become a writer of fiction books Reply
  • twtech - Monday, May 11, 2020 - link

    The only thing Intel is currently winning at is top-end desktop gaming FPS if you're willing to pay a premium for it, and don't mind the power consumption. So if you want that, the 10900K is on top there.

    At everything else, AMD is winning, because they are ahead in performance per watt, number of cores, price/performance, etc. So laptops, value gaming, high-end productivity and workstations, servers, etc.
    Reply
  • Middleman - Saturday, May 9, 2020 - link

    Intel Released SkyLake X in 2017, my 7820x 8 core still beats AMD 3700X that was released in 2019. 7820X cost $600 and the 10core was $1000 USD.

    In terms of value I've had a rocking CPU for 2.5 years and will get my money's worth when I upgrade to the next HEDT. AMD is garbage.
    Reply

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