CPU Reviews

Intel's 10th-generation Comet Lake CPUs show up – but only on paper for now

Well, from a purely technical point of view, Comet Lake-S is actually the generation 9.5 and not the tenth, because the real changes concern the base and the chipset rather than the actual piece of silicon. But that together with the Z490 chipset, which is also officially launched today, you can read something like a small evolution in the article Intel's new 490 chipset in detail and in practice with a Z490 I Aorus Ultra from Gigabyte, which has also just gone online.

I wrote the separate article because I have the chipset, also with regard to the following 11. generation, already much more exciting. Because right now, and here I come back to Comet Lake-S with the new flagship Core i9-10900K, Intel is looking for its salvation in the frantic flight forward. Or, better and more correctly, in the flight to the top – at least as far as the bar numbers are concerned. You advertise with up to 5.3 GHz and the fact that about 60% of all games are still optimized for single-cores. However, one certainly does not forget unselfishly that the trend is clearly going in a different direction.

The Core i9-10900K with its 10 cores or 20 threads is quite a technical feat in terms of optimizing the old manufacturing process and achieving very high clock rates (under certain conditions). It goes without saying that you had to draw all available registers for this, because you have simply reached a limit at Intel that you can no longer break with this process structure. On the contrary, it is always amazing to see how far Intel has managed to get with it.

Need is notoriously inventive and so one searches for the last little thing, which could still be optimized somehow. Ergo the Die becomes flatter once again, while the strength of the substrate remains the same. However, in order to remain compatible with the rest of the base superstructure such as the coolers, the heat spreader becomes correspondingly thicker. Intel believes that copper is the better heat conductor and hopes to reduce the sum of all thermal resistances up to the CPU surface of the IHS. This may well make sense if you look at AMD's experience with the coolability of the current Ryzen CPUs.

Power comes from fuel, so you pump the CPU properly and pump it with energy. The slide below shows the performance growth from an Intel perspective, although of course it should also be mentioned that you now give the individual performance classes more cores/threads and also more clocks. Then, as you can see below in the slide, the increases are also plausible. But it is almost amusing to consider how much AMD must have put pressure on competitor Intel with its current Ryzen CPUs to jump over its eternal shadow and, in return, to slash prices. This is called free market and proper competition – thank you for that!

The cherry-picking of the games shown in the presentation is relatively short and it remains to be seen whether it really gives the Intel CPUs such a benefit as shown here graphically.

This also applies to Intel's example of the Unreal Engine, because a platform will hardly be able to afford to install CPU-exclusive features in such a way that it becomes impossible for the competitor to successfully master such games. This is crying out, even in the long run, for a test.

Intel summarizes the well-known innovations on a slide, where the new memory support up to DDR4 2933 is also advertised (which should only put a tired smile on the face of most of them), the new Turbo Boost Max technology must not be missing, the Smart Cache is mentioned and the remaining features of the Z490 chipset are included wordlessly in the enumeration list. From this point of view, the sensation remained and remains of course.

Let's call it fair evolution instead of revolution. Finally, the three slides with the list of all soon-to-be available CPUs of the 10th place show where the performance classes have been partially boosted. Generation:

The power-saving variants must not be missing, here they are:

The video of the Z490 chipset can be found here:

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About the author

Igor Wallossek

Editor-in-chief and name-giver of igor'sLAB as the content successor of Tom's Hardware Germany, whose license was returned in June 2019 in order to better meet the qualitative demands of web content and challenges of new media such as YouTube with its own channel.

Computer nerd since 1983, audio freak since 1979 and pretty much open to anything with a plug or battery for over 50 years.

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