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Review: Intel Core i9-10850K – CPU

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Introduction

The desktop CPU market is warming up nicely as AMD and Intel bring forth new processors in the next six months. Vermeer and Rocket Lake will offer enhanced performance through improvements in architecture, but for now, the mainstream arena is home to Ryzen 3000-series and Intel 10th Gen.

One can make a case for both sets of processors depending upon workload, with AMD typically providing better value at the same core-and-thread count. Intel, meanwhile, generally offers higher gaming framerates at lower resolutions when paired with a beefy graphics card.

At the top end of the current Intel 10th Gen stack is the Core i9-10900K. The chip is capable of boosting a couple of cores to 5.3GHz under a technology called Thermal Velocity Boost. Various other 10900-series parts exist; one without integrated graphics, a couple of 65W offerings, and a 35W model primed for small form factor builds.

It’s to this 10C20T family that Intel has recently introduced the Core i9-10850K. $35 cheaper than the head honcho, its specifications are almost identical, making it an attractive purchase for the enthusiast keen to go down the Intel route. Let’s take a closer look.





























Intel Core 10th Gen product range

Model

Cores / Threads

TDP

L3 Cache

Base Clock

Turbo Clock

All-Core Turbo

IGP

DDR4


Price

Intel Core i9

Core i9-10900K

10 / 20

125W

20MB

3.7GHz

5.2GHz

4.8GHz

Yes

Dual 2933


$488

Core i9-10900KF

10 / 20

125W

20MB

3.7GHz

5.2GHz

4.8GHz

No

Dual 2933


$472

Core i9-10900

10 / 20

65W

20MB

2.8GHz

5.1GHz

4.5GHz

Yes

Dual 2933


$439

Core i9-10900F

10 / 20

65W

20MB

2.8GHz

5.1GHz

4.5GHz

No

Dual 2933


$422

Core i9-10900T

10 / 20

35W

20MB

1.9GHz

4.6GHz

3.7GHz

Yes

Dual 2933


$439

Core i9-10850K

10 / 20

125W

20MB

3.6GHz

5.1GHz

4.8GHz?

Yes

Dual 2933


$453

Intel Core i7

Core i7-10700K

8 /16

125W

16MB

3.8GHz

5.1GHz

4.7GHz

Yes

Dual 2933


$374

Core i7-10700KF

8 /16

125W

16MB

3.8GHz

5.1GHz

4.7GHz

No

Dual 2933


$349

Core i7-10700

8 /16

65W

16MB

2.9GHz

4.8GHz

4.6GHz

Yes

Dual 2933


$323

Core i7-10700F

8 /16

65W

16MB

2.9GHz

4.8GHz

4.6GHz

No

Dual 2933


$298

Core i7-10700T

8 /16

35W

16MB

2.0GHz

4.5GHz

3.7GHz

Yes

Dual 2933


$325

Intel Core i5

Core i5-10600K

6 / 12

125W

12MB

4.1GHz

4.8GHz

4.5GHz

Yes

Dual 2666


$262

Core i5-10600KF

6 / 12

125W

12MB

4.1GHz

4.8GHz

4.5GHz

No

Dual 2666


$237

Core i5-10600

6 / 12

65W

12MB

3.3GHz

4.8GHz

4.4GHz

Yes

Dual 2666


$213

Core i5-10600T

6 / 12

35W

12MB

2.4GHz

4.0GHz

3.7GHz

Yes

Dual 2666


$213

Core i5-10500

6 / 12

65W

12MB

3.1GHz

4.5GHz

4.2GHz

Yes

Dual 2666


$192

Core i5-10500T

6 / 12

35W

12MB

2.3GHz

3.8GHz

3.5GHz

Yes

Dual 2666


$192

Core i5-10400

6 / 12

65W

12MB

2.9GHz

4.3GHz

4.5GHz

Yes

Dual 2666


$182

Core i5-10400F

6 / 12

65W

12MB

2.9GHz

4.3GHz

4.5GHz

No

Dual 2666


$157

Core i5-10400T

6 / 12

35W

12MB

2.0GHz

3.6GHz

3.2GHz

Yes

Dual 2666


$182

Intel Core i3

Core i3-10320

4 / 8

65W

8MB

3.8GHz

4.6GHz

4.4GHz

Yes

Dual 2666


$154

Core i3-10300

4 / 8

65W

8MB

3.7GHz

4.4GHz

4.2GHz

Yes

Dual 2666


$143

Core i3-10300T

4 / 8

35W

8MB

3.0GHz

3.9GHz

3.6GHz

Yes

Dual 2666


$143

Core i3-10100

4 / 8

65W

6MB

3.6GHz

4.3GHz

4.1GHz

Yes

Dual 2666


$122

Core i3-10100T

4 / 8

35W

6MB

3.0GHz

3.8GHz

3.5GHz

Yes

Dual 2666


$122

Core i9-10850K is indeed very similar, and it’s actually simpler to delineate the differences between it and the Core i9-10900K than underscore similarities. The 10850K offers 100MHz less frequency on base, boost, and TVB speeds, which come in at 3.6GHz, 5.1GHz and 5.2GHz, respectively. TVB kicks in if the cooling solution is robust enough to keep load temperature below 70°C. That’s the theory, yet most motherboard manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to run with TVB active all the time.

Armed with such knowledge, the Core i9-10850K ought to be a tad slower in light-load situations, offer practically the same performance when fully loaded, and appreciating it’s pulled from the same wafer line, provide a similar overclocking experience.


























Mainstream Pricing Comparison At Select Points

Price

Intel 10th Gen Core

AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen

$500+

i9-10900K (10/20)

R9 3950X (16/32)

$450-$500


i9-10850K (10/20)

R9 3900X (12/24)

$400-$450

i9-10900 (10/20)

$350-$400

i7-10700K (8/16)

R7 3800X (8/16)

$300-$350

i7-10700 (8/16)

R7 3700X (8/16)

$250-$300

i5-10600K (6/12)

$200-$250

i5-10600 (6/12)

R5 3600X (6/12)

$150-$200

i5-10500 (6/12)

R5 3600 (6/12)

$100-$150

i3-10100 (4/8)

R3 3300X (4/8)

$50-$100

PG G-6600 (2/4)

R3 3100 (4/8)

Is it worth saving $35 for a fraction less on-paper performance? That depends on how badly you want Intel’s current mainstream champ. The truth is the price difference between 10900K and 10850K is much larger than $35/£35. At the time of writing, Scan Computers has a £110 gap between the pair. The same is true over the pond at retailers such as Newegg. Core i9-10850K certainly isn’t cheap at £440, but it tracks rival AMD’s 12C24T Ryzen 9 3900XT real-world asking fee far more closely.

One can now see why the Core i9-10850K exists; to offer the would-be Ryzen purchaser a viable option on the same CPU pricing footing. Like AMD, you’ll have to provide cooling as there is no heatsink in the box. It ought to be capable, too, as while the chip has a nominal 125W TDP, running it at high all-core speeds, as motherboards tend to do when set to auto, causes the processor to pull 175W on its own.

A chip off the old Comet Lake block

Last but not least, anyone contemplating such a chip needs the latest Z490 chipset-based motherboard due to Intel changing form factor from LGA 1151 to LGA 1200.

Enough jibber-jabber, you are only here for the benchmarks…

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Violette Laurent est une blogueuse tech nantaise diplômée en communication de masse et douée pour l'écriture. Elle est la rédactrice en chef de fr.techtribune.net. Les sujets de prédilection de Violette sont la technologie et la cryptographie. Elle est également une grande fan d'Anime et de Manga.

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