Intel this morning is taking the wraps off of a new Core i9 processor that it’s adding to its family of Comet Lake desktop CPUs. Taking its place as the closest thing to a budget option in the i9 pile, the i9-10850K is a slightly lower-clocked version of Intel’s flagship 10-core i9-10900K processor. Overall the chip is clocked 100MHz slower than the 10900K in every aspect, from base clocks to turbo clocks, a rather small increment at a time when Intel’s chips boost to over 5000Mhz. Meanwhile, bulk pricing for the 10850K is $453/chip, shaving off $35 from the 10900K.

Intel 10th Gen Comet Lake
Core i9 and Core i7
AnandTech Cores Base
Core i9
i9-10900K 10C/20T 3.7 5.1 4.8 5.2 5.3 4.9 125 630 $488
i9-10900KF 10C/20T 3.7 5.1 4.8 5.2 5.3 4.9 125 - $472
i9-10900 10C/20T 2.8 5.0 4.5 5.1 5.2 4.6 65 630 $439
i9-10900F 10C/20T 2.8 5.0 4.5 5.1 5.2 4.6 65 - $422
i9-10900T 10C/20T 1.9 4.5 3.7 4.6 - - 35 630 $439
i9-10850K 10C/20T 3.6 5.0 4.7 5.1 5.2 4.8 125 630 $453
Core i7
i7-10700K 8C/16T 3.8 5.0 4.7 5.1 - - 125 630 $374
i7-10700KF 8C/16T 3.8 5.0 4.7 5.1 - - 125 - $349
i7-10700 8C/16T 2.9 4.7 4.6 4.8 - - 65 630 $323
i7-10700F 8C/16T 2.9 4.7 4.6 4.8 - - 65 - $298
i7-10700T 8C/16T 2.0 4.4 3.7 4.5 - - 35 630 $325

Aside from clockspeeds, the Core i9-10850K is a fairly unremarkable processor within Intel’s larger lineup. The chip features the same fully-enabled 10-core configuration as the 10900K, as well as Comet Lake’s full UHD 630 integrated GPU. The unlocked chip also features the same Thermal Velocity Boost (TVB) capabilities as the flagship i9, and like company’s other high-end K-series parts, this is nominally a 125 Watt TDP processor. So for all practical purposes this is a 10900K clocked 100MHz lower, and that’s it.

More curious, perhaps, is why Intel is even bothering to release the chip. While the company does keep a fairly fine-grained and highly-binned product lineup, 100MHz is a small difference even by Intel’s usual standards. On paper at least, the 10850K will deliver better than 97% of the 10900K’s performance; so Intel has created a SKU that’s not even 3% different from its other full-TDP i9 parts.

Our best guess at this point is that, having pushed its 14nm process and Skylake CPU architecture as far as it can go with its fifth rendition, that the company has been amassing chips that can’t quite reach the 10900K’s lofty clockspeeds. Judging from overclocking results as well as ongoing issues with retail shortages, Intel is seemingly playing on the very far edge of their frequency rage, so even 100MHz in headroom can make the difference between whether a chip passes validation or not. Though any kind of de facto price cut is also undoubtedly helpful for Intel against AMD’s highly-competitive Ryzen 3000 series lineup.

Moving on, today’s processor release isn’t just an OEM release, but is a retail release as well. Listings for the BX8070110850K began appearing for the chip even before today’s announcement, confirming that the chip will soon be for sale as a proper boxed CPU release. Intel's official bulk pricing for the chip is $453, which is $35 less than the $488 10900K. But as always, it should be noted that Intel's list price is in quantities of 1000, so individual chip pricing will be higher. And with the 10900K in short supply and even the i7-10700K going for over $400, I wouldn't be too surprised to see the 10850K start at well over list price once it hits the major retailers.

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  • eastcoast_pete - Monday, July 27, 2020 - link

    Ryan, with Intel's offerings getting more diverse, one aspect I keep wondering about is just how much real estate (transistor count or square mm) the respective iGPU occupies, and how much of the TDP it consumes. Do you or Ian have any data on this? Could make for an interesting article! Thanks!
  • flgt - Monday, July 27, 2020 - link

    Interesting times. I guess the bottom line is that despite having inferior parts and fab process, Intel still has immense manufacturing capability. They can still sell these odd models because they are able to put parts in sockets and get systems sold. AMD is going to be fundamentally limited by the amount of fab utilization they can get hold of. And they have to compete with Apple's ambitions backed by 10's of millions in smart phone chips. Even if Intel got there through questionable business practices, they are still one of the last few standing and they will be rewarded for it.
  • gizmo23 - Monday, July 27, 2020 - link

    Intel i7-7700K released Q1 2017. 4 cores 8 threads 4.2 / 4.5 GHz.
    This article: "a fairly unremarkable processor" ... "fully-enabled 10-core configuration" 10 cores 20 threads 3.6 / 5.0 GHz.
    How times have changed...
  • Peskarik - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - link

    I have been true to Intel for a long time. But there is nothing future-proof coming out of Intel these days. When are the new AMD processors out? I can't wait, I want to build a new system but not with yesterday's reheated leftovers.
  • Beaver M. - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - link

    Still a lot of reliability, optimization and compatibility problems with AMD.
    Thats why I will rather get a used 9900K or something for 2 years, until Intel finally gets their 10 nm chips out.
  • Alistair - Thursday, August 27, 2020 - link

    there are zero problems with AMD cpus, they are not complicated driver wise like GPUs, what nonsense
  • blzd - Thursday, July 30, 2020 - link

    i9-10850KF for $442 incoming? Come on Intel, you know you want to!

    Desperate measures on top of desperate measures but you can't blame them for trying.

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