almost i9-10900K, only cheaper / Processors and memory

almost i9-10900K, only cheaper / Processors and memory

As part of a joint partnership project, Intel® sent a Core ™ i9-10850K processor to 3DNews Lab, and it’s a rather cryptic model. It almost does not differ in specifications from the flagship Core i9-10900K processor, so it does not look like an addition or further development of the lineup, but rather like a veiled attempt to reduce the price of the flagship overclocking ten-core processor. Indeed, the official cost of the Core i9-10900K is $ 488, and the Core i9-10850K, which is only 100 MHz slower, costs 7% less – $ 453. But in reality, the price gap may turn out to be even more significant: if you focus on Russian stores, then by opting for the Core i9-10850K instead of the flagship, you can save up to 5 thousand rubles.

The fact that Intel valued the insignificant 100 MHz at such a tangible amount unwittingly makes us assume that the Core i9-10850K was born (three months after the Core i9-10900K) not so much for some technological reasons, but for marketing reasons. At the very least, the potential difficulties with the selection of ten-core chips capable of operating at frequencies up to 5.3 GHz are most likely far from being of primary importance here. Intel itself says that the Core i9-10850K was created “by popular demand from workers.” But the most likely version seems to be that with the release of such a version of the CPU, the company “adjusted” its price list to market realities, first of all, in order to oppose something weighty to the popular 12-core processor of a competitor, which consistently occupies a leading position in retail sales. Indeed, the Ryzen 9 3900X is now significantly cheaper than the Core i9-10900K, which probably makes many people choose it over Intel’s ten-core, even though the latter offers definitely better gaming performance. The new Core i9-10850K has a good chance to at least temporarily correct this imbalance.

You just need to make sure that buying a Core i9-10850K instead of a Core i9-10900K does not become a source of disappointment for end users. There is a widespread theory that Intel sends semiconductor crystals with poorer silicon quality to weaker processors. And if this is the case, then enthusiasts who want to save money and opt for the Core i9-10850K will face not only slightly reduced performance in nominal mode, but also with weak overclocking potential. And this flaw for someone may turn out to be so serious that the proposed budget savings will no longer compensate for it.

Therefore, we decided to dispel all doubts with practice and conduct detailed testing of the Core i9-10850K. Within the framework of this article, we will answer two main questions: how much is the cheaper ten-core processor actually slower than the older model in the nominal mode, and whether it has any noticeable deterioration in terms of overclocking potential or something else.

⇡ # More about Core i9-10850K

It would be strange to expect any revolutionary innovations from the Core i9-10850K. This is another member of the Comet Lake family, all members of which are based on the Skylake microarchitecture and are manufactured using the 14 nm ++ process technology. All its basic properties do not differ from those of the Core i9-10900K and were discussed in detail in the corresponding review. In the same way as the flagship, the new ten-core processor has free multipliers and supports overclocking, has an internal thermal interface solderand is supplied without a complete cooling system.

The following table will give more details on what the spec promises for the Core i9-10850K. For clarity, the new product is compared in performance with two other 10-core Comet Lake generation – Core i9-10900K and Core i9-10900.

Core i9-10900K (F) Core i9-10850K Core i9-10900 (F)
Platform LGA 1200 LGA 1200 LGA 1200
Technological process, mm fourteen fourteen fourteen
Kernels / threads 10/20 10/20 10/20
Frequency (nominal / turbo), GHz 3.7 3.6 2.8
Frequency max. turbo 1 core, GHz 5.3 5.2 5.2
Frequency max. turbo all cores, GHz 4.9 4.8 4.6
L3 cache, MB 20 20 20
TDP, W 125 125 65
Memory DDR4-2933 DDR4-2933 DDR4-2933
PCIe Lines 16 x Gen3 16 x Gen3 16 x Gen3
Price $ 488 $ 453 $ 439
Price without chart (F) $ 472 $ 422

If we talk about the part of the characteristics that directly affect the performance, then there are few differences between the Core i9-10850K and the Core i9-10900K. You may have noticed that the turbo frequencies of the new ten-core processor are 100 MHz lower, but this is mainly due to the fact that the Thermal Velocity Boost technology does not work, which adds an additional 100 MHz in the flagship processor when the chip temperature is below the threshold of 70 degrees. In other words, the Core i9-10900K is faster in nominal mode only if quality cooling is used.

Much more significant is the fact that the Core i9-10850K lags behind at the base clock frequency. According to the current definition of Intel, this frequency sets the point to which the processor is obliged to enter the limits of the thermal package defined for it. And this means that, all other things being equal, the Core i9-10850K can be hotter than the older model, since its heat dissipation can reach 125 W at a lower frequency. However, Intel apparently believes that the $ 35 savings will make buyers forgive the new product for this feature.

Speaking about the price, it is necessary to point out that for the Core i9-10850K there is not yet a cheaper version without a graphics core (-KF), and it is not clear if it will appear at all. Even without that, the Core i9-10850K is invading Core i9-10900 price territory. The difference in price of these processors is only $ 14, and the new representative in the model line looks clearly more interesting due to both higher clock frequencies and overclocking capabilities. Obviously, for most buyers, the Core i9-10850K will be a more rational purchase, unless it is about building an economical or relatively compact system.

However, the acquisition of the Core i9-10850K can plunge the user into additional costs in an indirect way. First, this processor comes without a cooler, and you can’t get off with a simple cooling system. Secondly, for the Core i9-10850K, the same PL1 and PL2 consumption limits are set as for the older processor. Therefore, it is allowed to take up to 250 W from the power system on the motherboard (at loads lasting up to 56 seconds), and even more when the Multi-Core Enhancements function is enabled. It turns out that for such a processor, as for the Core i9-10900K, you need an advanced motherboard with a good voltage converter.

Everything said in the previous paragraph can be easily confirmed with one screenshot – the monitoring data of the Core i9-10850K when operating in nominal mode in the Cinebench R20 rendering test with the Multi-Core Enhancements functionality enabled (that is, with the PL1 and PL2 consumption limits removed). We tested a liquid-cooled processor with a 280mm NZXT Kraken X62 radiator, but this did not prevent the processor from heating up to 80 degrees, which is natural given its real power consumption at 200W.

In reality, in nominal mode, the Core i9-10850K consumes slightly less electricity and dissipates a little less heat compared to the flagship model. But we are not talking about any fundamental changes: this is also a hot and therefore not the easiest processor to use, like the Core i9-10900K.

⇡ # Overclocking

Overclocking limits are one of the most important questions for potential buyers of the Core i9-10850K. It is hard to believe that Intel can sell a processor of exactly the same quality as the Core i9-10900K, but cheaper. It seems much more logical to assume that lower quality semiconductor crystals fall into the Core i9-10850K and therefore the limits of its overclocking will be somewhat narrower.

This assumption is supported by the statistics of the Silicon Lottery store, which deals with pre-sale sorting of processors by their overclocking potential. According to the experience of its specialists, it is typical for the Core i9-10900K and Core i9-10900KF to achieve a frequency of 5 GHz at a voltage of 1.17 V, and Core i9-10850K processors are more often able to provide stability at a frequency not higher than 4.9 GHz.

However, our experience does not fully intersect with these conclusions. A copy of the Core i9-10850K that came to us overclocked without any problems to 5.1 GHz (with a frequency reduction of 100 MHz under AVX load), that is, at least not weaker than the Core i9-10900K. However, to get this result, we had to use higher voltage levels VCORE – on this basis, the quality of silicon in the Core i9-10850K is really worse. Nevertheless, having an effective cooling system, overclocking results are quite typical for the flagship Comet Lake from the new ten-core processor.

More specifically, it was possible to achieve stability from the Core i9-10850K at a frequency of 5.1 GHz under normal load and 5 GHz under AVX load (using the AVX Offset option) when setting the voltage in the motherboard BIOS (ASUS Maximus XII Hero) VCORE equal to 1.45 V, with the simultaneous transfer of the Load-Line Calibration function to Level 4. Thanks to this approach, the real voltages under load on the processor turn out to be noticeably lower, and the voltage value depends on the actual power consumption and processor frequency.

This approach is good because it allows you to get different levels VCORE at frequencies of 5 and 5.1 GHz. For example, when the processor operates at 5.1 GHz with a load that does not include AVX commands, its real voltage is 1.275 V, power consumption is at 255 W, and heating (when using the NZXT Kraken X62 LSS) does not go beyond 90 degrees border.

If the load changes to one that uses AVX / AVX2 instructions, then the voltage VCORE drops to 1.225 V, which is enough to maintain stability at 5 GHz. But power consumption still rises to 315 W, and the temperature of the processor cores rises to 95 degrees.

It is worth mentioning separately that all the temperature and CPU power consumption indicators described above were measured in the Prime95 30.3 stress test, which means they represent the upper practical limit. In real use, of course, the situation will be simpler, which allows us to assert that the described overclocking of the Core i9-10850K to 5-5.1 GHz is quite possible to use on an ongoing basis.

⇡ # Description of the test system and testing methodology

To put the final point in the study of the Core i9-10850K, you need to touch on the issue of its performance. For comparison, we took two of its closest relatives: the flagship Core i9-10900K processor, which costs 7% more, and the non-overclocker Core i9-10900 processor, which is 3% cheaper, but somehow surpasses the main character of this review. by model number. In other words, in the tests we will try to understand which of the ten-core Comet Lake on the market is the most interesting in terms of performance and other consumer characteristics.

The test system includes the following components:

  • CPU:
    • Intel Core i9-10900K (Comet Lake, 10 cores + HT, 3.7-5.3 GHz, 20 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i9-10900 (Comet Lake, 10 cores + HT, 2.8-5.2 GHz, 20 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i9-10850K (Comet Lake, 10 cores + HT, 3.6-5.2 GHz, 20 MB L3);
  • CPU cooler: NZXT Kraken X62;
  • Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi) (LGA1200, Intel Z490);
  • Memory: 2 × 16 GB DDR4-3600 SDRAM, 16-19-19-39 (G.Skill TridentZ Neo F4-3600C16D-16GTZNC);
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti (TU102, 1350/14000 MHz, 11 GB GDDR6 352-bit);
  • Disk subsystem: Samsung 970 EVO Plus 2TB (MZ-V7S2T0BW);
  • Power supply: Thermaltake Toughpower DPS G RGB 1000W Titanium (80 Plus Titanium, 1000W).

Since we are talking about upper-level systems in this material, all processors worked with the active Multi-Core Enhancements function, that is, with the PL1 and PL2 consumption limits turned off. Most motherboards based on the Intel Z490 chipset are transferred to this state, and this is how they are most likely to be used by real users. The configuration of the memory frequency and timings in the test system was carried out using the XMP profile.

Testing was performed on Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (v2004) Build 19041.208 using the following set of drivers:

  • Intel Chipset Driver 10.1.18295.8201;
  • NVIDIA GeForce 451.67 Driver.

Description of the tools used to measure computational performance:

Complex benchmarks:

  • Futuremark PCMark 10 Professional Edition 2.1.2177 – testing in scenarios Essentials (typical work of the average user: launching applications, surfing the Internet, video conferencing), Productivity (office work with a word processor and spreadsheets), Digital Content Creation (digital content creation: editing photos, nonlinear video editing, rendering and visualization of 3D models).
  • 3DMark Professional Edition 2.11.6846 – testing in the Time Spy Extreme 1.0 scene.


  • 7-zip 19.00 – testing the speed of archiving. The time taken by the archiver to compress a directory with various files with a total volume of 3.1 GB is measured. The LZMA2 algorithm and the maximum compression ratio are used.
  • Adobe Photoshop 2020 21.2.1 – performance testing for graphics processing. This measures the average execution time of the Puget Systems Adobe Photoshop CC Benchmark 18.10 test script, which simulates typical processing of a digital camera image.
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic 9.3 – performance testing in batch processing of a series of images in RAW format. The test scenario includes post-processing and export to JPEG at 1920 × 1080 resolution and maximum quality of two hundred 16MP RAW images taken with a Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera.
  • Adobe Premiere Pro 2020 14.3.1 – performance testing for non-linear video editing. This measures the render time to YouTube 4K of a project containing HDV 2160p30 footage with various effects applied.
  • Blender 2.83.3 – testing the speed of the final rendering in one of the popular free packages for creating three-dimensional graphics. The time taken to build the final pavillon_barcelona_v1.2 model from Blender Benchmark is measured.
  • Topaz Video Enhance AI v1.3.8 – performance testing in an AI-based program to improve video detail. The test uses the original video at 640 × 360, the resolution of which is doubled using the Theia-Detail model: UE, P.
  • V-Ray 4.10.03 – testing the performance of the popular rendering system using the standard V-Ray Benchmark Next application;
  • x265 3.2 + 9 10bpp – testing the speed of video transcoding to H.265 / HEVC format. For performance evaluation, the original 2160p @ 24FPS AVC video file is used, which has a bitrate of about 42 Mbps.


  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. 1920 × 1080 resolution: Graphics Quality = Ultra High. 2560 × 1440 resolution: Graphics Quality = Ultra High.
  • Civilization VI: Gathering Storm. 1920 × 1080 resolution: DirectX 12, MSAA = 4x, Performance Impact = Ultra, Memory Impact = Ultra. 2560 × 1440 resolution: DirectX 12, MSAA = 4x, Performance Impact = Ultra, Memory Impact = Ultra.
  • Far Cry 5. Resolution 1920 × 1080: Graphics Quality = Ultra, HD Textures = On, Anti-Aliasing = TAA, Motion Blur = On. 2560 × 1440 resolution: Graphics Quality = Ultra, Anti-Aliasing = Off, Motion Blur = On.
  • Hitman 2. Resolution 1920 × 1080: DirectX 12, Super Sampling = 1.0, Level of Detail = Ultra, Anti-Aliasing = FXAA, Texture Quality = High, Texture Filter = Anisotropic 16x, SSAO = On, Shadow Maps = Ultra, Shadow Resolution = High. 2560 × 1440 resolution: DirectX 12, Super Sampling = 1.0, Level of Detail = Ultra, Anti-Aliasing = FXAA, Texture Quality = High, Texture Filter = Anisotropic 16x, SSAO = On, Shadow Maps = Ultra, Shadow Resolution = High.
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider. 1920 × 1080 resolution: DirectX12, Preset = Highest, Anti-Aliasing = TAA. 2560 × 1440 resolution: DirectX12, Preset = Highest, Anti-Aliasing = Off.
  • Total War: Three Kingdoms. 1920 × 1080 resolution: DirectX 12, Quality = Ultra, Unit Size = Extreme. 2560 × 1440 resolution: DirectX 12, Quality = Ultra, Unit Size = Extreme.
  • World War Z. Resolution 1920 × 1080: DirectX11, Visual Quality Preset = Ultra. 2560 × 1440 resolution: DirectX11, Visual Quality Preset = Ultra.

In all gaming tests, the results are the average number of frames per second, as well as 0.01-quantile (first percentile) for the FPS values. The use of 0.01-quantile instead of the minimum FPS indicators is due to the desire to clear the results from random performance spikes that were provoked by reasons not directly related to the operation of the main platform components.

⇡ # Performance in complex tests

Three very similar processors take part in today’s testing, so it is not surprising that the results of their comparison can be predicted in advance: the differences in benchmarks are unlikely to exceed a few percent. Comprehensive test PCMark 10, which simulates the user experience in typical scenarios, fully confirms this hypothesis. The Core i9-10850K lags behind the flagship sibling by about 1.5%, but at the same time it is 1.3% higher than the Core i9-10900. Qualitatively, all this can be described by the phrase “almost the same.”

About the same words can be repeated about the results in 3DMark, especially if you look at the overall Time Spy score. At the same time, in the processor subtest, the performance of the Core i9-10850K is closer to the level of the Core i9-10900K, which reflects the 100-MHz gap in the frequencies of the Core i9-10850K and Core i9-10900K over the entire load range, while the 65-watt Core i9 -10900 with a load on all cores lags behind the Core i9-10850K in frequency more – by 200 MHz.

⇡ # Application performance

On average, in resource-intensive applications, the Core i9-10850K lags behind its older brother by the expected and unobtrusive 1-2%. And it again turns out to be much closer to the flagship deca-core than the processor with the higher model number – the Core i9-10900. In other words, in terms of performance, the new Core i9-10850K was placed in a 4 percent gap between the Core i9-10900K and the Core i9-10900, but not in the middle, but clearly closer to the flagship.


Photo processing:

Working with video:

Video transcoding:


⇡ # Performance in games. 1080p tests

At this point, it is already very clear what we are dealing with, so the proximity of the bars in the diagrams below is unlikely to come as a surprise to anyone. The difference in frame rates between systems based on the Core i9-10900K and Core i9-10850K does not exceed half a percent. При этом преимущество Core i9-10850K над Core i9-10900 чуть заметнее – оно составляет 1,5 %. Но в конечном итоге все три эти процессора обеспечивают примерно одинаковый и исчерпывающий уровень игровой производительности в разрешении Full HD, для которого мощность CPU имеет довольно-таки заметное значение.

⇡#Производительность в играх. Тесты в разрешении 2160p

В случае переключения разрешения на 4K, роль процессора в игровой производительности ослабевает, и результаты Core i9-10900K, Core i9-10900 и Core i9-10850K сближаются сильнее. Здесь, пожалуй, можно даже говорить о том, что для игровых систем, рассчитанных на 4K, все три процессора почти эквивалентны.


Окончательно прояснить сущность Core i9-10850K должны тесты энергопотребления. По ним можно определить, насколько сильно этот процессор отличается от других десятиядерников Intel по характеристике «производительность на ватт», и имеет ли смысл смотреть в сторону Core i9-10850K тем пользователям, которых волнует экономичность.

На диаграммах ниже приводится полное потребление систем без учёта монитора и КПД блока питания, измеренное на выходе из БП. И показанные на них значения энергопотребления выглядят немного неожиданно. Core i9-10850K закономерно ожидаемо оказался экономичнее, чем Core i9-10900K, но вместе с этим он показал примерно равное энергопотребление с Core i9-10900, который функционирует на более низких частотах. Из этого можно сделать вывод, что для создания Core i9-10850K компания Intel использовала кремний с более низкими токами утечки. Однако, возможно, нам просто повезло с конкретным экземпляром CPU.

Впрочем, в любом случае весьма отрадно, что максимальное потребление Core i9-10850K ниже, чем у Core i9-10900K, на целых 11 % при том, что разница между ними в производительности не превышает 1,5 %. Это значит, что Core i9-10850K гораздо интереснее с точки зрения энергоэффективности и пресловутого коэффициента «производительность на ватт». Иначе говоря, новый десятиядерник – это помимо всего прочего и энергетически оптимизированная версия флагмана.


Несмотря на то, что Core i9-10850K появился позднее остальных представителей модельного ряда Comet Lake, был выпущен без особого шума и фактически повторил спецификации Core i9-10900K с небольшим ухудшением по тактовой частоте, из него получилось весьма интересное предложение. Секрет привлекательности – в цене: Core i9-10850K дешевле флагманской модели на 7 % без какой-либо весомой потери и в производительности, и в частотном потенциале, доступном через разгон. А по некоторым характеристикам он даже лучше: например, согласно нашим тестам, Core i9-10850K оказался ощутимо энергоэффективнее старшего десятиядерного Comet Lake, который в своё время шокировал нас своей способностью потреблять до 300 Вт в номинальном режиме.

Всё это значит, что если подходить к выбору процессора рационально, то по совокупности факторов Core i9-10850K выглядит привлекательнее, чем Core i9-10900K. Если вы хотите купить десятиядерник Intel со свободным множителем, а это на данный момент – лучший вариант для игровых систем высокого уровня, то Core i9-10850K станет отличным выбором. С одной стороны, его отставание от флагмана сравнимо с погрешностью измерений, а с другой – он определённо быстрее неоверклокерского Core i9-10900, к которому вплотную приближается по цене. Жаль только, что Core i9-10850K не предоставляет дополнительной возможности сэкономить и не имеет (пока?) удешевлённой модификации без графического ядра. Но даже и без этого его цена всё равно ниже, по сравнению не только с Core i9-10900K, но и с Core i9-10900KF.

Более того, произошедшее пополнение модельного ряда Comet Lake позволяет говорить о принципиальном переформатировании его верхней части. Старший Core i9-10900K теперь вполне может утратить свой массовый статус и перейти в категорию премиальных моделей для бескомпромиссных энтузиастов вроде того, каким в прошлом был процессор Core i9-9900KS. Роль же флагманского процессора «для нормальных людей» вполне может взять на себя новый Core i9-10850K – ему она определённо по плечу. Главное, чтобы Intel внезапно не передумала и не прекратила его поставки.

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