MSI has offered some insight into Intel's Comet Lake-S in the latest edition of the live-streamed MSI Insider, and, more specifically, into the binning process and overclocking potential of the processors.
MSI's Eric Van Beurden and Michiel Berkhout dived into their take on various SKUs of the Comet Lake-S lineup and the results of tests done in-house of the unlocked Core i5-10600, Core i7-10700, and Core i9-10900 models.
After testing, MSI found that the chips could be broken down into three different categories - level A, level B, and level C. Level A included CPUs that hit overclocking potential higher than what Intel is advertising. Level B grouped chips that fell within the parameters of Intel's specifications. And, finally, Level C consists of CPUs that fell below the threshold of what Intel is promising.
For the sake of clarity, it's worth noting that Intel's specifications aren't exactly the be-all and end-all. Instead, they offer a guide as to what motherboard manufacturers can expect from Comet Lake-S chips in terms of overclocking headroom. We aren't looking at stock speeds, but rather the potential to push the cards above and beyond.
MSI's testing showed that classification differed significantly between models. For example, 27% of Core i9-10800K and KF fell into Level A, while only 2% of Intel's Core i5-10600K and KF hit the threshold for level A. Intel Core i7-10700K/KF improved marginally on the i5-10600K/KF hitting 5% for level A.
The percentage seemed to drop as MSI went down the lineup of Comet Lake-S SKUs with i9 performing best, followed by i7, then i5 chips.
For level B, the situation improved considerably with 58% and 52% of Core i7-10700K/KF and Core i5-10700K/KF hitting level B, respectively. 35% of Core i9-10900K/KF were classified as level B. Rather worryingly, nearly a third of all Intel Comet Lake-S chips fell into level C: 31% of Core i5-10600K/KF, 32% of Core i7-10700K/KF, and 27% of Core i9-10900K/KF.
The main takeaway is that with a Core i9-10900K/KF, you are far more likely to hit a higher binned chip than with the other SKUs, but prospects plummet rapidly the further down the food chain.
To highlight the disparity between level A and level C bins, MSI also offered results for average voltage vs. package power. The results did, however, show that overclocking above 5 GHz should be relatively easy with Comet Lake-S chips.