You SHOULDN’T Buy an i9-10900K – Intel i9-10900K Review (2022)

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Intel’s new i9 is here along with the rest of the 10th gen line up – all sporting pain-in-the-ass names, this one is the 10900K I will henceforth refer to as “the new i9” or the “10th gen i9”. Intel claims it’s the “WORLDS FASTEST GAMING PROCESSOR”, and while they aren’t wrong, they also are. Sorta. It’s complicated. So, does Intel’s highest end offering reign supreme over their rivals in red, or have they fallen short? Lets find out. But first, if you haven’t already, consider subscribing for more videos like this one every Monday, Wednesday and Friday!

So, Intel’s latest and greatest, the new and shiny i9 is dressed to impress. Sporting 10 cores and 20 threads, up to 5.3GHz on two cores, and 4.9GHz on all cores and a shockingly attractive price tag of $488, it doesn’t look too bad does it? Well, lets play spot the difference. Which of these chips is the new i9, and which is the old one? If you are having a hard time picking, you aren’t alone. The chips, despite needing a new motherboard to accommodate the 49 extra, currently inactive and pointless, pins in the new socket, seem to be almost identical.

And the similarities don’t end on the outside. On the inside, this is the same 14nm process node as the last 4 generations of Intel CPUs, the same monolithic design and architecture, and oh… it’s literally the same CPU as last year, with 2 more cores glued on. It’s got the same amount of cache per core, the new i9 now has 20MB of “Smart Cache” instead of last year’s 16MB, but that works out to 2MB per core and, well, 2+2.

Intel has added something this year though, even more complicated Turbo Boosting. Last gen we had 2 boost frequencies to care about, single core, and all core. Simple, right? Well, now we’ve got to know the Turbo Boost 2.0 speed, Turbo Boost MAX 3.0 speed, the all core, and now the “Thermal Velocity Boost Single/All core” speed. Basically, it’ll run at 4.8GHz most of the time all core, and might occasionally jump to 5.3GHz on one of the two “preferred” cores, but really it’ll be 5.1-5.2.

So, it’s not “new”, but more cores and higher boost means it’s faster right? Well, lets take a look, starting with gaming. These are all ran at 1440p max/ultra settings with an RTX 2080ti.

BFV 1440p UltraAVGLow
10900K OC147.7130.54
COD MW 1440p MaxAVGLow
10900K OC145.51123.6
PUBG 1440p UltraAVGLow
10900K OC161.42117.8
Fortnite 1440p EPICAVGLow
10900K OC160.04116.88

Premiere Pro (s)Blender (s)Cinebench SingleCinebench MultiPower (W)Max temp (C)
10900K 5.1GHz769119520649228597

Productivity wise, it’s a different story. The i9 may have 2 more cores glued on and a higher clockspeed, but it’s still not as fast as the 12 core 3900X. In premiere at stock settings, it’s around 2% faster than last year’s i9, the 9900K, but the 3900X is still 3.6% faster than that. If you overclock the new i9 you do beat the 3900X there as premiere cares more for fast cores, than more of them, but we will cover more about that in a minute.

When it comes to blender and the BMW render test not even a 5.1GHz all core overclock squeezing 285W of power draw can beat the 145W the Ryzen chip needs. It’s close, within a second, but still, Ryzen is faster here, and importantly, for less money.

The trend continues with Cinebench. Single thread shows it’s a match for the 3900X which is impressive, although overclocked you do get a little more performance and a 2% lead, but when it comes to multithreaded, man, Intel loses big time. The Ryzen chip is a full 15% faster, and even when you OC the i9, Ryzen is still ahead by 9%. Mental.

Like I mentioned earlier, what’s more impressive is that the Ryzen chip peaked at 145W of power draw, and on the “normal” setting on the 240mm AIO I was using to cool it, peaked at 79°c, whereas the new i9 at stock drew 220W of power, remarkably if you break down both the new and old i9 chips of power per core, it’s practically identical at 22W per core, really proving the idea this is just last years model with 2 more cores. Going back to the temps, it peaked at 92°c, and while overclocking I had to set the AIO to max pump and fan speed to keep it from thermal throttling, and even then sat at a toasty 96°c. Oh, and if you are confused why the old i9 that drew 40W less power ran hotter, that’s because the new one now used solder to transfer heat between the die and the IHS, rather than thermal paste.

So, don’t buy the new i9, buy the old one right? Oh wait isn’t there that… what was it called again? Oh, yeah, competition! Yes, AMD. That’s the one. Their Ryzen chips are a sight for sore eyes here. Going so long without competition has clearly made Intel drop the ball, because for less money you can buy the 3900X, get 2 more, non-glued-on cores, and sure you drop a couple percent worth of FPS in games, but you gain that back, and more in places, in productivity.

Oh, and there is the upgrade path. Now I know some people are a bit salty about AMD axing support for 4th gen Ryzen on B450 boards, but if you are planning on getting the new i9, you need a new motherboard anyway and now that B550 is here, you have at least one more generation of Ryzen you can upgrade to, plus a freaking 16 core option if you really need. It seems like Intel is forcing the new boards so they can sell next year’s chips with the tag line “you don’t even need a new motherboard, this just drops in and gives you PCIe Gen 4 support” – which while true, AMD already offers ‘real’ gen 4 on both B550 and X570 today, and that’s not to mention if you want this i9, you NEED a mid to high end board with great power delivery to support pulling nearly 300W through it. Need a space heater anyone?

So lets round up. Is it the ‘worlds fastest gaming CPU’? Sure, why not. But honestly, at well over 100FPS at 1440p who cares? If you do, and you have more money than sense, go for it. Pick one up, and live happy. But for the rest of us who have to work for a living, it just doesn’t make sense. If gaming is your sole objective and you want the best today, last year’s i9 can be found for a lot less, and a light overclock gets you all the performance you could want, and certainly all the new i9 could offer you too. If you want to game and work, create or anything else, Ryzen is the better place to head. For less money you get more cores, and more performance, and extra scalability with that 16 core waiting in the wings.

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