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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  • Kevin G - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    Not yet as the consumer versions of Xeons tend to lag behind their consumer versions. Question is how long this time.
  • isthisavailable - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    Aaaand a new socket...again!
  • watzupken - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    This is likely the last of the CPU with the now aged Skylake architecture. Intel have squeezed both the 14nm along with this old CPU for too many years now. This product range simply just shows how backward Intel is when it comes to power efficiency, as compared to AMD. The desperation from Intel to try to retain their single core performance have drove them to feed a chip that much power just to keep up with competition.
    Unfortunately based on my experience with Ice Lake CPU, I don't think 10nm is going to save Intel as well. Because 14nm is so advance now, it is overshadowing the benefits of 10nm when it comes to clockspeed. From a power standpoint, I feel the 10nm is not ready for a high TDP chip. Even on the i5 Ice Lake U processor, I would have thought the thermals are better. However I was surprised that at idle, the temps are registering between 50 to 60 degs, and 94 degs at load. Granted that this is very subjective to the PC maker's cooling solution, but for a "15W" chip, it is still very toasty. Not to mention the extremely low base clockspeed as compared to even the Whiskey Lake U chips does highlight some teething issues with the 10nm.
  • mat9v - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    Since Intel lowered density at 14nm+ step then 14nm+++ is more like 16nm then 14nm anyway.
    It is THE reason that they are able to squeeze so much clock out of it.
  • Spunjji - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    Good luck explaining that to Deicidium 😆
  • Korguz - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    even if you did explain it to Deicidium369, with sources for that proof, he would still come up with his personal opinions and bs, while being insulting, condasending, and calling people names, as that is all he has.
  • dwade123 - Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - link

    Higher FPS > higher Cinebench numbers. AMD wins in areas nobody cares about hahahaha
  • Korguz - Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - link

    oh, you mean like how the intel side did the SAME thing when it was winning in cinebench ?
  • Oxford Guy - Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - link

    So, does all this factory overclocking compensate for all of the slowdowns from the security flaw patches?

    Too bad for Intel that it has competition that has made its CPUs obsolete.

    When AMD was stuck on Piledriver for so many years, Intel had no competition. There was no reason to guy an AMD FX except for rare edge cases (if one had access to a Microcenter and picked up an 8320E an a UD3P board for practically no money).

    Now, edge cases are all Intel has in the desktop space. The laptop space is rapidly closing for them, too.
  • 06GTOSC - Wednesday, May 6, 2020 - link

    Please tell me the new Intel slogan is "It's Turbo Time"

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