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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  • Spunjji - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    Yeah, this is the bit that gets me most. Intel fans will justify their purchase into a dead architecture that somehow requires a new motherboard with "I replace the board anyway", not ever seeming to notice how that means they could have just as easily moved to a more cost-effective and future proof platform with AMD.
  • A5 - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    AM4 doesn't have much runway left at this point (probably the same lifespan as LGA1200). Let's not pretend any different.

    AM5 will probably be a better buy if you're one of the like 2% of people who actually replace a CPU instead of doing a system rebuild though.
  • wilsonkf - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    If you buy AM4 now, you can upgrade to 16+ core Ryzen 4 or 5 two to three years later, and the system could last till 2027.

    LGA1200 will not support the next CPU arch. Maybe Intel could push Rocket Lake-S to 5.5Ghz+ to edge out Zen2+, but the heat ... It is like AM3+. Yea you could upgrade to FX9590...
  • alufan - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    aww cmon lets not talk out of our rear to make it look like they are making a decent offer AM4 has been able to take all the Ryzen chips so far and will take the next chip as well, show me where Intel has ever done that and offered the new features and performance with a new chip including this room heater, this is 2014/5 tech stuff with a new motherboard take your blinkers off nothing has changed apart from AMD forcing intels hand
  • WaltC - Sunday, May 3, 2020 - link

    Zen 3 will likely sit on the AM4 bus--enabling users with the ability to upgrade their CPU to Zen 3, should the upgrade in their opinion be warranted. With Intel in this case, what's notable, but not really in a positive way, is that these CPUs are barely a step up from Intel's last gen--more like a sideways step--so who wants to buy into a new mobo just to run yesterday's CPUs? It's not the question of replacing the mobo so much as it is having nothing much to put into the new mobo after you buy it, imo.
  • Spunjji - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    It's how many different things about A5's comment that were just plain daft. They didn't say much, and yet squeezed in so much disinformation...
  • Spunjji - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    Who's "pretending any different"? There's at least one more CPU line to come on AM4, which is one more than you get on 90% of Intel platforms.

    In point of fact, Intel hasn't offered a platform with even remotely similar longevity to AM4 since the 440BX, and even then a lot of its useful life was via unsupported mods and certainly wasn't intentional.
  • Spunjji - Monday, May 4, 2020 - link

    Citing stats that are the result of a decision as proof of the worth of the decision is always a dodgy proposition too... I think many more people would upgrade their CPU *if they could*. But they don't expect to, because they can't, so they don't.

    Regardless, this is a site for enthusiasts, after all, not 90% of the market. Dumb argument is dumb.
  • BenSkywalker - Saturday, May 2, 2020 - link

    AMD needs quite a bit more work on their platform to be as smooth as Intel. One downside to all the Ryzen hype is non apologists buying the platform.

    Boot times are comically slow without diving into the UEFI, even with a good NVME drive default boot was *significantly* slower than an ancient Pentium G with SSD and under no circumstances can I get it to boot faster then a very old 4570k system.

    Can't read RAM properly, no matter the setting can't get the RAM to run its rated and supported speed by default. 3200 running at 2133 using every setting except manual which resultsin a 10%-15% performance penalty.... Do we need to bring dip switches back for AMD? Reading RAM and setting it properly too much to ask from a high end chipset in 2020?
  • WaltC - Sunday, May 3, 2020 - link

    Sorry, but not a single thing you've written applies to my AMD systems...;) Your generalizing about all AMD systems is very amusing--considering I haven't had a single problem you relate. I boot to desktop Win10x 64 in ~10 seconds, from a cold boot. You find that comical, I gather. You don't have to "dive into the UEFI" at all...;) You simply do what Win10 has mandated for years and format your drive as GPT/UEFI --which is done automatically by Win10 install--no intervention needed by the user. As for your ram problems--I have no idea what your are talking about--I run XMP effortlessly--always have--since my first Zen1, actually. Right now my DDR4 runs at 3733Mhz with 100% stability on my 3900X system. I was running XMP 2.0 3200MHz with my older Zen1 R5 1600 with perfect reliability.I'm guessing that one of two things, or maybe both, are germane to you: you don't have an AMD system and you are relating info from posts you have read which you believe is true; or you have no clue as to how to setup your AMD system...;)

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