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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  • MDD1963 - Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - link

    I've never forgiven Intel for causing the death of boy! Nor should you! :)
  • Deicidium369 - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    AMD are budget parts... always have been always will be. No one bribed anyone - Dell is not seeing a clamoring for AMD systems - so, yes, there will always be more Intel systems than AMD systems - 90%+ of the market vs 10% of the market.
  • close - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    @Deicidium369, indeed they are budget parts, the fact that they are also faster is just a bonus right?

    Budget parts... pff... people really got used to paying $800 for a 5 year old quad-core CPU that's crippled by security fixes.

    I'd love to say people are on Intel's payroll but the truth is that they're just ignorant, uninformed, and generally about as smart as a horse's ass (meaning they can spew manure).
  • Spunjji - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    Deicidium showing his whole ass here.

    "Dell is not seeing a clamoring for AMD systems" is broken logic. They see demand for *systems*, it's up to them to decide what they offer the vast majority of their customers who have no instinctive CPU brand preference and shop primarily by design and cost. Dell, for their part, have decided to offer sub-par designs with AMD CPUs and prioritise development of Intel devices. That would have made sense back when AMD were indeed a sub-par budget option, but that time has been passing for the past 3 years and is now very much behind us.

    Dell, HP and others did the same thing back in the Netburst era, and zealots like you were posting the same junk back then, too. "AMD are budget parts... always have been and always will be" - you know, except for when ClawHammer arrived as the first 64bit x86 compatible chip and massively outclassed the Netburst competition, or when the Athlon 64 X2 was the first monolithic dual-core desktop CPU and utterly trounced the Netburst competition, or even that time when Zen 2 released and made utter mincemeat of Intel's multiple-rehashed Skylake line-up... 🤦‍♂️
  • twtech - Monday, May 11, 2020 - link

    If Dell would offer Threadripper workstations, I'd push for getting them for our developers.
  • Lord of the Bored - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    "1 GHz"
    Always have, my ass.
  • Korguz - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    hey deicidium, how about for once, you post a source for your bs claims and personal opinions ? you claim others are amd fan boys, but guess what you are clearly and intel shill as you never post any proof at all to back up your bs
  • Spunjji - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    Intel's "Marketing Development Funds" go further than just the OEMs - they also pay resellers to prioritise and promote Intel products to their customers.

    I know this because I used to work for a large EU IT reseller and they'd regularly pass on freebies to salespeople - Intel NUCs and suchlike - that Intel would give them as kickbacks for every device (server, notebook, workstation) they sold with an Intel CPU inside. Much like a supermarket rewards scheme, really.

    AMD were, of course, attempting similar things - but obviously working with a far lower budget and thus unable to compete on an equal footing. This was during the 'dozer years when their products were at a disadvantage too, but I have no reason to assume that the situation has altered substantially since then.
  • dromoxen - Sunday, May 3, 2020 - link

    Jo blow cares not a jot whether She gets an intel or Amd .. and corporates are more welded into the intel side . But the rest ... its a lot more open now than in the past, esp seeing that Laptops are being made with Amd Cpu and quality parts. AMD could even start getting a rep for having "good" laptops due to the better gfx .. But all sales will be down for 1-2 years.
  • Deicidium369 - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    Intel because Intel has an UNBROKEN history since the beginning of the PC market. So nothing being welded to. AMD is inconsistent - hit or miss products, no viable product for close to a decade.

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