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
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
Core i5-10500
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
Core i9-10900KF
AnandTech AMD
Ryzen 9 3900X
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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  • ViRGE - Thursday, April 30, 2020 - link

    So if LGA1200 is the same size as LGA115x, does that mean that Intel has made the pins smaller? Or is the 1200 in the socket name a fib?
  • DanNeely - Thursday, April 30, 2020 - link

    At least part of it was by adding pins to previously empty parts of the socket; it might be all of it, but I didn't count the size of full rows/columns to see if they changed. There's a side by side image at the bottom of this page (LGA1200 on the left). You can see more pins on the top outside areas; not enough for the full total but the hole in the center might be a row smaller; which would give plenty of room for the extras.
  • ViRGE - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    Ah, that explains it. Thanks!
  • rrinker - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    Since PCI lanes and stuff all remain the same, I'm willing to bet those extra pins are all power and ground, to support the TVB.
  • NikosD - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    This is the end of the first era of "Ryzen Effect".

    On January 2017 Intel said to the world that the best desktop processor was Core i7 - 7700K a 4C/8T CPU at 350$

    On March 2017 AMD with Zen architecture and Ryzen implementation destroyed 6 years of Core iX pattern with its multi-core, multi-threaded approach.

    A lot of people thought that Intel could react with a "secret weapon" as we were all thinking that a lot of processing power was left on the table from Intel during all those years 2011 - 2017.

    Comet Lake-S even using 14nm (++...+) is essentially a Skylake architecture of 2015 and it's the end of this particular road for Intel.

    A 10C/20T Intel CPU of ~500$ in 2020 versus a 10C/20T Intel CPU of 1700$ in 2017 is the maximum gain for the user after AMD's Ryzen arrival.

    Now the gap closes in all desktop sections Core i3 vs Ryzen 3, Core i5 vs Ryzen 5, Core i7/i9 vs Ryzen 7/9 besides the top 16C/32T

    But from now on Intel has no other moves, regarding 14nm and Skylake architecture.

    Comet Lake-S is the "all in", last card of Intel.

    Next step is either delivering a real new 10nm architecture for the desktop or having the fate of AMD's rough years 2010 - 2017.

    We' ll see...
  • quorm - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    We've been through this before with Pentium 4. The market is different now because OEM sales of machines to individuals are a smaller part of the market due to the increase in data centers, but there's no reason to think Intel will behave any differently.

    They're going to cut all the deals they can and try to maintain their market share. Some of these deals will be of questionable legality. But, there's basically no antitrust enforcement these days.
  • NikosD - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    Intel is already bribing OEMs to ignore Ryzen 4000 in the large laptop segment - it's bigger than desktop actually and exclusively based on OEMs.

    They even have a large amount of money for bribing which they call "marketing budget" which was skyrocketed to a few billion dollars.
  • sonny73n - Sunday, May 3, 2020 - link

    You’re right about Intel bribing OEMs. Last time I went to Best Buy to check out the Dell Ryzen 5 (1st gen) laptop that I was going to purchase. There it was - the newly released Dell Ryzen 5 laptop next to also newly released Intel Core i5 on the display table, but the i5 was in a new chassis which had much slimmer bezels while the Ryzen 5 in a year old chassis with fat bezels. I couldn’t believe the way Dell blatantly exposed their relationship with Intel. Only idiots wouldn’t be able to tell that Intel had bribed Dell. I looked around and found that the only other OEM that had Ryzen in some of their laptops was Lenovo. All other brands like HP, Acer... had only Intel’s.

    Intel, yeah I’m talking to you. I don’t need proof that you’ve been bribing OEMs. What I had seen was enough. Maybe this corrupted government protects you but I had made a promise to myself that I’ll never buy your products again.
  • sonny73n - Sunday, May 3, 2020 - link

    Hey Intel, not just me won’t be buying your products ever again but also my family members, my relatives and my friends too. And I’ll make sure of that.
  • NikosD - Sunday, May 3, 2020 - link

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