Test Setup

For general performance testing, we use the same basic test setup for both CPU and motherboard evaluation making the results comparable. Each test is run multiple times to ensure accuracy. The middle result is used in each case. The following system configurations were used for all benchmarks and general testing.

Test Setup Table

Motherboard

We want to give a big thank you to MSI for providing us a full retail Z490 motherboard to use in time for the launch of the Intel 10th Gen CPUs. We are using an MSI MPG Z490 GAMING CARBON WIFI motherboard.  This motherboard from MSI will retail with an MSRP of $269.99. You can see pictures and read more about the motherboard here. We are using the latest BIOS on the motherboard as provided by MSI. The BIOS version is 123. This BIOS is newer than what was provided when the board shipped. We will have a full review of this motherboard in the future.  

Platform Setup

Due to potential scheduler improvements with Windows 10 that have happened over time as well as other tweaks we are using the latest build available at the time of this writing. For reference, the current Windows 10 build is 1909. We are using Windows 10 Professional for reference. All the latest patches have been applied and the driver versions are noted in the specifications. These are the newest drivers at the time of this writing.

All systems were freshly formatted, and all the latest drivers and OS patches were used. All the systems were updated to their latest BIOS revisions. Finally, for the Intel system, I did install the CPU microcode updates relevant to that CPU. It’s important to note that build 1909 does contain improved mitigations for several security flaws on Intel processors. However, I did not go out of my way to download any additional or optional mitigation patches. Hyperthreading (SMT for AMD) also remained enabled for all testing.

We are using the performance power plan on all our test configurations. Essentially, we created a “best case” scenario for each system outside of the hardware configurations. For the hardware, it was impossible to use the same memory modules on all the test systems due to the nature of memory compatibility on different motherboards. That said, we were able to use common frequencies and keep the timings relatively close for the most part. The memory timings and the speeds we used are referenced in the specifications table above.

Furthermore, several tests have been updated, added, and replaced. Benchmark numbers from previous CPU and motherboard reviews are therefore not necessarily comparable.

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8 Comments

  1. So the memory on the Zen system was 3200 or 3600? I know the kit was 3600 but I am just double checking.
  2. It was set to DDR4 3200MHz speeds which is our testing standard for everything unless otherwise noted. If you look at the specification table, I list the part number for the RAM and then the speed used. That’s how I do it for all of these.
  3. It was set to DDR4 3200MHz speeds which is our testing standard for everything unless otherwise noted. If you look at the specification table, I list the part number for the RAM and then the speed used. That’s how I do it for all of these.

    Oof missed that. Was the platform unable to hit 3600?

  4. Oof missed that. Was the platform unable to hit 3600?

    Yes, it can easily hit DDR4 3600MHz speeds and more. I’ve addressed the Ryzen 3000 / X570 memory speeds in previous CPU and motherboard review articles. Given the time allotted for getting the 10900K review done by the embargo date, I was not able to retest the 3900X and 9900K under overclocked conditions. Even if I had, memory overclocking is handled separately as we try to keep that variable out of the benchmarks unless that’s what we are testing.

  5. Good review and well written. Nothing stood out as a glaring inconsistancy.

    It will be interesting to see what happens to code that has been heavily optimized for a 10+?? year old instruction set actually has to run on something new.

    This is what AMD is doing and I think that is a large reason so many of the normal work and Gaming examples were performing better on Intel. (Other than raw execution speed)

    I might be way off base in thinking that coders are using older optimizations that simply don’t exist on the newer AMD silicone.

  6. Intel has always pushed software companies to optimize for Intel silicon going back at least as long as I’ve worked with computer hardware. There are all kinds of SDK’s and programs for doing that. Intel even mentions this in the product brief we got. What little there was of it anyway. But this is one reason why I think that Intel achieves so much despite the lack of cores and threads compared to AMD. Sure, clock speed and cache are part of that too, but I think that optimization for Intel silicon comes into play in cases where we know something is multi-threaded, but Intel still manages to pull a big win vs. AMD.

    It’s worth noting that Ghost Recon Breakpoint was optimized for AMD silicon and it shows. The results between the 9900K and the 3900X are quite similar. The only reason why the Core i9 10900K beats either of them comes down to clock speed and additional cache. That and the extra threads don’t really matter. If I recall correctly, Ghost Recon Breakpoint only sees 12t or at least, that’s all it shows in the in-game performance metrics. Something like that.

  7. I find the 400 fps difference in Doom quite huge for the little difference between the CPU’s but I guess the average tells another story and the min’s are even stranger.

    Any chance of a quick retest when the new doom patch hits next week orso to see if that did anything?

  8. I find the 400 fps difference in Doom quite huge for the little difference between the CPU’s but I guess the average tells another story and the min’s are even stranger.

    Any chance of a quick retest when the new doom patch hits next week orso to see if that did anything?

    Yes. I’d have looked more into the anomalous performance if I had the time. That said, its easily something I could have done differently. Those are Frameview captures of manual run throughs. I could have done something with the camera, or did something slightly different that caused that in some of the runs. If you run into a wall and stare at it in most games your FPS shoots up, or if you explode an enemy at point blank, it can drop substantially. That’s why I prefer canned benchmarks for these types of things, but not every game that people are interested in has built in tools for that.

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