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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  • just4U - Sunday, May 3, 2020 - link

    lies! that's what you said last decade ;) Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    Future is slowly migrating all the sites they bought from Purch to their internal shared CMS platform. My guess is we get a better comment system whenever Anandtech gets moved over. I don't recall if an ETA has been given yet, but Ryan's comment makes me think Anandtech hasn't been scheduled for migration yet. Reply
  • Tomatotech - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    That's interesting. From a 2018 article:

    "This week U.K. specialist publisher Future announced the purchase of technology platform and publisher Purch for $132.5 million (£101 million), marking Future’s fifth, and largest, acquisition so far.

    The deal means Future, which publishes titles like TechRadar, PC Gamer and T3, will beef up its consumer tech titles by adding Purch’s sites Tom’s Guide, Tom’s Hardware and Top Ten Reviews. Future makes money through display advertising, e-commerce and affiliate revenue and this added scale aims to curry favor with U.S. advertisers in the consumer tech space."
    https://digiday.com/media/future-buys-purch-boost-...

    I guess that means if any of the sites listed above got a brand new comment system in the last year or so, especially if it was rolled out to two or more sites, that indicates what may be in the future for AnandTech. Comments don't seem a big part of AnandTech moneywise so as Ryan & Dan hint at, it may not be for some time.
    Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    Thanks for the update, Ryan! Reply
  • Lord of the Bored - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    I honestly thought it was intentional to keep the stupid flamebait and fanboy wars out.
    In before accusations of bias because you "blocked comments" on the AMD news and not the Intel news!
    Reply
  • whatthe123 - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    If this didn't need a new socket it would be pretty interesting since it's essentially a price cut for everything to make room for their 10 core. The fact that a new motherboard is required and the 10900K drains even more power than a high end GPU really takes the wind out of it, though. Wonder how far people will have to go with their water cooling just to keep that thing from throttling like mad. Reply
  • Spunjji - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    Everyone would need to - depending on your definition of throttling, of course. Intel get around that accusation by only deeming it to be "throttling" when the CPU goes below its base clock - but, of course, they advertise the single-core boost as the headline figure.

    There's no way anything other than the most absurdly massive air-cooler can sustain a CPU pulling 2-300W at below 70 degrees C.
    Reply
  • quorm - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    Yes, something like the Noctua NH-U14S could handle it, but the pricing is comparable to using a closed loop. Reply
  • Qasar - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    with the u14s, you dont need to place a rad. :-) Reply
  • Spunjji - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    True, but you probably shouldn't really use it in a standard tower either... not if you want the board to stay flat! :D Reply

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