Intel’s new i9-10900K—fast, yes; competitive, not so much

Enlarge / Intel’s shiny new 5.3—ish, maybe, but probably not—GHz CPU is seen here running on a Gigabyte AORUS Z490 Master board, on a Praxis wetbench chassis, with the excellent NZXT Kraken fluid cooler. (credit: Jim Salter)

We finally got our grubby paws on the flagship SKU of Intel’s new Comet Lake desktop processors—the (sorta) 5.3GHz, (well over) 125W TDP i9-10900K. Intel’s extremely lackluster performance marketing led us to believe the processor would probably be little if any improvement over last year’s i9-9900K—but, happily, that’s not the case.

The more troubling thing for Team Blue is that it isn’t only competing with its own CPUs. Intel’s real competition isn’t itself, it’s AMD—and for now at least, the company is still struggling to keep its head above water.


Specs at a glance: Core i9-10900K, as tested
OS Windows 10 Professional
CPU 10-core Intel Core i9-10900K—expected retail ~$525
RAM 64GB Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 3200—$400 at Amazon
GPU Intel UHD 630 onboard iGPU
HDD Samsung 860 Pro 1TB SSD—$275 at Amazon
Motherboard Gigabyte AORUS Z490 Master—$390 on Amazon
Cooling NZXT Kraken X63 fluid cooler with 280mm radiator—$150 at Amazon
PSU EVGA 850GQ Semi Modular PSU—$130 at Amazon
Chassis  Praxis Wetbench test chassis—$200 at Amazon
Price as tested ≈$2,060

Intel’s new flagship i9 desktop CPU is, as you would expect, very fast indeed. Also as you would expect, for the most part its Ryzen 9 3950X equivalent kicks sand in its face and runs away laughing.

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