Intel Core i9-10900K CPU Review

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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