Intel’s 10th Generation Comet Lake-S Processors Launched

Intel’s 10th Generation Comet Lake S Processors Launched

The news we’ve all been waiting for is finally here - Intel has finally launched its 10th generation processors known as Comet Lake-S. Today, we’re going to have a run-through of all we know so far, what exactly has been revealed, and what we have to look forward to. 

Due to numerous leaks and announcements over the last few months, we’ve pretty much known what to expect before this announcement. This new generation of processors is set to bridge the gap with AMD and pull some customers back who may have been thinking of jumping onto the Threadripper ship. 

We’re pleased to see that Intel has quite a diverse lineup of processors for this generation with some pretty impressive clock speed figures and hyperthreading technology - as well as a welcome price cut. 

Releasing On A Familiar Node

Now, we’ve known for a while now that this 10th-generation of processors were going to be based on the 14nm node. While their competitors have moved to smaller nodes, Intel has drawn some criticism for a continuation of existing improvement rather than evolution

It has been over five years since Intel moved to the 14nm process node. This series of Comet Lake processors is another revision to add to the list

Intel currently isn’t disclosing the transistor count or die sizes that the Comet Lake processors will be using. It appears that these improvements will essentially consist of two further cores added to the existing architecture.

Intel has also managed to make a few more alterations with the release of Comet Lake. The Core i7 and Core i9 models both see an increase in memory support consisting of a jump from DDR4-2666 to DDR4-2933. The Core i5 and Core i3 models will mainly remain with the same DDR4-2666 support. 

Even though we applaud Intel’s commitment to squeezing every last bit of potential from a node, we don’t expect them to be able to continue this for much longer. Hopefully, we’ll get to see what they can achieve on different nodes, in their 11th-generation. 

New Chips, New Motherboards

While this article is primarily about the processors themselves, it’s important to remember the impact they will have on the rest of your build. If you’re going to be heading towards picking up one of these new processors, you’ll have to upgrade your motherboard. 

You’ll have to look for an LGA 1200 interface on a Z490 motherboard to support any of these Comet Lake chips. They won’t be compatible with older motherboards on release. 

Another caveat of this is that Intel has decided to remain on PCIe 3.0 where again, their competitor has moved on to PCIe 4.0 which delivers twice the throughput. Although you’ll be able to pick up some Z490 motherboards with PCIe 4.0 support (for a premium, of course), you won’t be able to use this feature until Intel decides to make the switch. While this is future-proofing in a way, it does sting a little not being able to use it anytime soon.

Intel Comet Lake Specifications

Before we take a look at exactly what we have to look forward to, it’s important to go through the list of processors and some key facts on each of them. 

For those who don’t like tables, look away now. This section is going to be very heavy on the specifications as there’s quite a lot to cover. We’ve split these tables into the different Core offerings where we’ll go through each one. 

A Note On Boost Clocks

It's important to note that Intel has listed quite a few different types of turbo and boost clocks on their slides. Intel lists a base frequency, a turbo, an all-core turbo, a turbo boost 2.0, a turbo boost max 3.0, a thermal velocity boost, and an Intel TVB all-core frequency. 

If that all starts to sound a little bit confusing to you, we don’t blame you. Here’s a brief rundown of what each of these means. 

  • Base frequency - This is the guaranteed frequency you’ll get when not at thermal limits
  • Turbo frequency - This is the frequency when the processor is below turbo power limits and time
  • All-core turbo - This is the frequency all cores should run at during turbo
  • Turbo boost 2.0 - The frequency every core can reach in isolation during turbo
  • Turbo Boost Max 3.0 - The frequency a favored core can hit under full load in isolation during turbo
  • Thermal Velocity Boost - The frequency a favored core can reach under full load in isolation below the specified temperature of 70ºC during turbo
  • Intel TVB All-Core - The frequency the processor should run at when all cores are loaded during turbo and is below the specified temperature of 70ºC

Now that’s over and done with, let’s see just what the Core i9 range has on offer for us in the 10th generation. 

Core i9

 CoresThreadsBase ClockBoost ClockAll Core BoostL3 CacheTDPPCIeMemoryPrice
Core i9-10900K10203.7 GHz5.3 GHz4.9 GHz20 MB125 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2933$488
Core i9-10900KF10203.7 GHz5.3 GHz4.9 GHz20 MB125 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2933$472
Core i9-1090010203.7 GHz5.2 GHz4.6 GHz20 MB65 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2933$439
Core i9-10900F10203.7 GHz5.2 GHz4.6 GHz20 MB65 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2933$422

The Core i9-10900 model comes in at a lower TDP than its bigger brother and features a 3.7 GHz base clock while retaining its 10 cores and 20 thread count. This is also an upgrade of 100 MHz base and 200 MHz boost clock than its previous generation counterpart.
AMD still leads the way in this bracket with the Ryzen 9 3950X maintaining the lead on core counts with its 16 cores and 32 threads. The flagship i9-10900K does have an increased number of cores over its predecessors having a total of 10 cores and 20 threads. 

This is all starting to add up to a bit of great value and is a trend we’ll see throughout the 10th-generation line. 

The F-series models come in at a small discount as they don’t have integrated graphics, but apart from that, they are essentially the same CPU. 

For those interested in the Turbo Boost 3.0 Max speeds, the Core i9 uses this to benefit the two fastest cores with light workloads and enables higher boost frequencies. This results in the i9-10900K being pushed up to a dual-core 5.2 GHz. 

The thermal velocity boost, however, isn’t a guaranteed boost and only applies if the core is running below 70ºC and then it only applies to a single core. The all-core boost for the i9-10900K is an increase of 200 MHz from its previous generation counterpart. The i9-10900 also receives a 100 MHz boost. 

Core i7

 CoresThreadsBase ClockBoost ClockL3 CacheTDPPCIeMemoryPrice
Core i7-10700K8163.8 GHz5.1 GHz16 MB125 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2933$374
Core i7-10700KF8163.8 GHz5.1 GHz16 MB125 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2933$349
Core i7-10700816 2.9 GHz4.8 GHz16 MB65 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2933$323
Core i7-10700F816 2.9 GHz4.8 GHz16 MB65 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2933$298

While features like the TVB and Turbo Boost 3.0 Max are reserved for Core i9 processors, the Core i7 models use standard TB 2.0 clock rates.

The top of this range is the Core i7-10700K which has eight cores and sixteen threads. This is acting as the 10th generation replacement for the 9th generation Core i7-9700K CPU. While it’s priced the same as the previous generation CPU, it comes with double the number of threads which makes for some great value for those considering an upgrade. 

It looks like Intel has managed to increase the base clock speed from the previous generation to 3.8 GHz. This means the Core i7 has a 125 W TDP. Intel has also increased the L3 cache to 16 MB which is 4 MB extra and should become useful for latency-sensitive workloads such as gaming. 

Core i5

 CoresThreadsBase ClockBoost ClockL3 CacheTDPPCIeMemoryPrice
Core i5-10600K6124.1 GHz4.8 GHz12 MB125 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$262
Core i5-10600KF6124.1 GHz4.8 GHz12 MB125 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$237
Core i5-106006123.3 GHz4.8 GHz12 MB65 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$213
Core i5-105006123.1 GHz4.5 GHz12 MB65 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$192
Core i5-104006122.9 GHz4.3 GHz12 MB65 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$182
Core i5-10400F6122.9 GHz4.3 GHz12 MB65 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$157

Serving the majority of the gaming market is the Core i5 selection of processors. The top of this line is the Core i5-10600K which features a base clock of 4.1 GHz with the option to boost up to 4.8 GHz. 

Intel has moved towards increasing the TDP to 125 W for two of these processors which will increase the cooling needs. This could even work against Intel if it ends up pushing those looking for a bargain to find other CPUs without overclocking ability - or even to AMD offerings. 

At the bottom of the series, offering one of the best-valued CPUs in the series is the Core i5-10400F. This replaces the Core i5-9400F chip which was a popular model. It features six cores and twelve threads with 12 MB of L3 cache. 

Intel has left out memory support for DDR4 2666 in this range which means it will match speeds of the -9600 models.

Core i3

 CoresThreadsBase ClockBoost ClockL3 CacheTDPPCIeMemoryPrice
Core i3-10320483.8 GHz4.6 GHz8 MB65 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$154
Core i3-10300483.7 GHz4.4 GHz8 MB65 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$143
Core i3-10100483.6 GHz4.3 GHz8 MB65 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$122

Unfortunately, there is no overclockable Core i3 series this time around. This is especially disappointing as many were glad of the Core i3-9350K’s overclocking capabilities in their builds. Intel could be waiting to see more of what AMD is planning on its budget processors, however, before releasing these overclockable variants. 

These may turn out to be the least popular of the 10th-generation lineup this time around. With AMD’s Ryzen 3 3300X being quite a bit cheaper at only $120 compared to the Core i3-10320, consumers will have to decide if the slightly higher 4.6 GHz boost clock is worth the price. 

Also, it should be noted that Intel’s Core i3 processors all come with integrated graphics whereas AMD’s Ryzen 3 budget chips do not. This could be another feature that pulls over some users, but we expect they’ll wait to see the full benchmarks before they decide.

Pentium Gold And Celeron Refresh

As well as releasing a new Core lineup, Intel has also refreshed both its Pentium Gold and Celeron lineups. These processors are primarily used in lower-end builds but they definitely deserve a mention. 

Intel Comet Lake Pentium Gold 

 CoresThreadsBase ClockL3 CacheTDPPCIeMemoryPrice
Pentium Gold G6600244.2 GHz4 MB58 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$86
Pentium Gold G5600 243.9 GHz4 MB54 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2400$82
Pentium Gold G6500244.1 GHz4 MB58 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$75
Pentium Gold G6400244.0 GHz4 MB58 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$64
Pentium Gold G5400243.7 GHz4 MB58 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2400$64
Celeron G5920243.5 GHz2 MB58 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$52
Celeron G5900243.4 GHz2 MB58 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$42

It appears the Pentium Gold models now come with faster DDR4-2666 memory support as well as a 300 MHz base clock increase. It is nice to see a refresh of these lines, especially as we know that they aren’t Intel’s top priority.

Intel Comet Lake T-Series 

 CoresThreadsBase ClockBoost ClockL3 CacheTDPPCIeMemoryPrice
Core i9-10900T10201.9 GHz4.6 GHz20 MB35 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2933$439
Core i7-10700T8162.0 GHz4.5 GHz16 MB35 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2933$325
Core i5-10600T6122.4 GHz4.0 GHz12 MB35 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$213
Core i5-10500T6122.3 GHz3.8 GHz12 MB35 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$192
Core i5-10400T6122.0 GHz3.6 GHz12 MB35 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$182
Core i3-10300T483.0 GHz3.9 GHz8 MB35 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$143
Core i3-10100T483.0 GHz3.8 GHz8 MB35 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$122
Pentium Gold G6500T243.5 GHz-4 MB35 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$75
Pentium Gold G6400T243.4 GHz-4 MB35 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$64
Celeron G5900T223.2 GHz-2 MB35 W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666$42

The T-series of processors sacrifices some of their clock speeds in order to fit into a lower power envelope than their competitors. These are primarily used for those looking for small-form, efficient builds. 

Increased Power Consumption

Due to the fact that Intel has remained on the 14nm node, these higher core counts and frequencies have all resulted in a large increase in the power consumption of these processors.

Intel has tried to mitigate some of this increased power draw by using thicker integrated heat spreaders and thinning the die, but if you want to run these high-end processors at their peak capacity, you could be looking at a peak power draw of 250 W.

Considering the fact that Intel still doesn’t offer a cooler with its overclockable chips, you’re going to have to make a further investment just to keep the thing cool. It’s a shame Intel hasn’t taken a leaf out of AMD’s book and started to offer coolers on all of their mainstream chips, or at least improve the quality of the bundled coolers they do include. 

On the bright side, if you already have an LGA 115x cooler, this will be compatible with the new LGA 1200 socket motherboards which should save you a bit of money.

Die Thinning

With up to 10 cores working together under an integrated heat spreader, Intel has decided to refine its process by using thinner die for the Comet Lake K series. 

The die has been reduced in z-height or thickness by 300 micro millimeters from 500 to 800 to improve thermal transfer efficiency. This essentially works by lapping the die and a thin layer of silicon is shaved away which rests between the heat-generating compute elements and the Solder TIM. 

This is then paired with a thicker copper integrated heat spreader as copper is three times more efficient at transferring heat than silicon. 

Balancing out the thinner die with a thicker IHS means that it will still adhere to socket z-height dimensions which enables backward compatibility with LGA 11x  coolers and the LGA 1200 interface. 

With Intel using the die thinning method on the K series, what it means for other series isn’t quite clear as of yet.  

Overclocking

Intel has made changes to its PCIe overclocking ability through a new system that lets motherboard manufacturers connect an external clock generator to the PCH. This bypasses the fixed 100 MHz clock and allows for speed increases of up to 104 to 108 MHz.

Intel describes this feature as something only for extreme or professional overclockers to play around with. 

Hyperthreading

Intel’s Comet Lake has an unexpected feature to play around with. You will be able to enable or disable hyperthreading on certain cores. 

Having this much control over your cores could come in handy in a number of different ways. One is that it can reduce heat output and ease cooling requirements. Another benefit is that it can help with overclocking. 

While overclocking, you can identify the weaker cores in your system and then choose to disable hyperthreading on those cores. However, if you do this, you will need to bear in mind that disabling hyperthreading and pushing cores to higher frequencies won’t produce the effect you want - that is if the active threads aren’t targeting those faster cores. 

Whether there is a connection between Intel’s Turbo Boost 3.0 Max and any kind of control over the threads is unclear. This hyperthreading feature can be controlled with Intel’s eXtreme Tuning Utility (XTU), however, you will need to reboot before the threads are enabled or disabled.

This XTU software can also be used to make adjustments to the voltage/frequency curve. This allows you to adjust various points in the curve including points previously not available such as ‘idle’. These features were announced mostly so that motherboard manufacturers could incorporate them as a BIOS feature. 

Intel Comet Lake Vs. AMD Ryzen 

Now that we have a firm list of specifications, it won’t be too long until we start to see some real-world comparisons between Intel’s Comet Lake processors and AMD’s Ryzen processors.

Intel was a little bit coy in their release slides for Comet Lake, opting to benchmark their 10th-generation chips against older Intel generations rather than against their sole rival. Even though these processors offer “up to 18-percent faster performance in 4K video editing”, we’d hope so considering they have a larger core count and hyperthreading throughout. 

Intel also didn’t include any type of information about what systems these tests were performed on, even going as far as to omit the processor from the slide. These performance tests were also performed on games that are heavily optimized for Intel’s architectures which makes this test a lot less meaningful.

How this series of processors stack up against AMD offerings isn’t totally clear right now. It will certainly require some more testing and fair comparisons. 

Intel Comet Lake Price Points

Last year came as a bit of a surprise to many as Intel lowered the prices of its HEDT chips by up to 50%. This was all in an effort to close the distance with the mightily impressive AMD Threadripper chips which saw many consumers switch sides. 

There has been a lot of speculation as to whether Intel was willing to lower these prices on its desktop offerings as well. It may not be apparent at first (especially when looking at a wall of tables) but Intel has reduced the pricing of its Core i9 offerings by around 20% per core and up to 50% per thread on some models. 

This could be a result of them adding two more cores to their flagship i9 processors and enabling hyperthreading throughout the generation, rather than reserving it on the high-end models. 

As the pricing for Comet Lake has remained mainly the same as previous generations, it makes it pretty easy to compare a potential upgrade from the 9th-generation chips. However, you’re getting more value for your money here due to the better performance.

Intel Comet Lake Release Date

With the launch of these processors being in late April, we expect that we could see them start to arrive on shelves sometime around May - perhaps even a bit later if there are any delays. 

We should start to see some pre-orders crop up on online retailers any day now. There also isn’t a lot of information on whether all these CPUs will become available at the same time or if the models further down the range will see staggered releases. 

It is expected that the upcoming Z490 motherboards will likely start to drop either just before, or at the same time as the Comet Lake processors - after all, you will need to pick one up if you want to actually use the 10th-generation technology. 

Final Word

It’s a pretty exciting time in the world of processors lately. With new releases on the way and the fight for increased cores and clock speeds, we aren’t likely to see this end with the current generation of processors. 

With AMD’s 4000 series of desktop processors remaining highly anticipated, we can’t wait to see just what they have in store for us. All in all, it’s an impressive lineup by Intel who is still managing to squeeze out every last drop of performance from the 14nm node. 

It’s a welcome relief to see that the pricing structure is starting to lower towards the same levels AMD has been offering and although we aren’t quite there yet, this is a promising start. 

Are you excited for an upgrade? Can you see yourself picking up any of these processors? Where do you fall on the AMD vs. Intel scale? Let us know down in the comments section below.