You can always tell when Intel feels remotely threatened by a competitor. It tends to react in a knee jerk fashion, spewing processor models on to the market whether they make a whole lot of sense or not. Intel even tends to launch CPU models whether it can actually supply them or not, but that’s another subject I’ll probably delve into at another time.
After getting beaten by AMD’s Ryzen 3000 series for the better part of a year, Intel has finally reacted and is officially launching it’s 10th Generation Core Desktop Processors. We’ll touch on the other models only slightly. This review is of the Intel Core i9-10900K desktop CPU only. We were sent two review CPUs. The Intel i9-10900K and the Core i5-10600K. You can see Brent’s review of that CPU here. We will get to the other models over time. There simply isn’t enough time allocated before these launches to do the entire series in one go, assuming we’d ever get the entire lineup at once.
For those of you who are familiar, Intel’s been pummeled by the Ryzen 3000 series for quite some time. It’s then mainstream flagship, the Core i9-9900K was bested in virtually any test outside of the gaming arena. The general consensus was that Intel largely lost that battle despite still being able to claim that it’s 9900K and later 9900KS models were the world’s fastest gaming processors. Intel held this title solidly, but only by an aggregate amount of around 5-6% across the board. Some specific games saw larger gaps in performance favoring Intel while others showed smaller ones. However, in general terms it was Intel’s last bastion of dominance.
In multi-threaded workloads, we saw the 9900K get absolutely destroyed in any workload that could make use of more than 8 threads. I say 8 threads because, after that, Intel had to depend on logical processors where AMD’s 3900X and 3950X had more cores and even more threads after that. There were even times where the much lower-priced 3700X and 3800X processors weren’t far behind or were ahead of Intel as well but at a cost that was substantially less. Intel reacted with price cuts, but it’s fair to say that enthusiasts largely favored AMD for price/performance or raw performance unless gaming was their only goal.
Even then, AMD’s platform has a much longer life span to it and an actual upgrade path. Intel’s LGA 1151 socket was known to be at the end of the line when CPU’s like the 9900KS were launching. This is a problem shared by Intel’s HEDT flagship, the 10980XE. X299 is rather long in the tooth as is LGA 2066. AMD’s AM4 is still going strong and represented a better investment that was surely worth a slight trade-off in gaming performance when we are talking about 6% or less of a difference. A difference largely obfuscated by GPU performance anyway.