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Intel Unveils 10th Generation S-Series Processors: 10 Cores, 20 Threads, Under $500

And a suite of other improvements

Christopher Coke Updated: Posted:
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Intel announced today their latest series of desktop processors, headlined with the brand new Core i9-10900K. The new line of CPUs will push both core counts and frequencies in Intel’s line-up, while also lowering prices. We were invited to a closed-door briefing last week and are ready to share the details.

Starting with the headliner, Intel’s new flagship processor, the Core i9-10900K will feature 10 cores and 20 threads of processing power. Even with the plentiful core count, the processor is pushing the boundaries of speed with a base clock of 3.8 GHz and a maximum Thermal Velocity Boost of 5.3 GHz (TVB is also exclusive to the i9 segment). The all-core clock is also quite high 4.8 GHz with a maximum TDP of 125W, which will likely benefit from a quality CLC. It will come to market at $488 and Intel repeatedly stressed that they believe this CPU will set records and become the best gaming processor in the world.

Looking further down the line-up, the i7-10700K drops two cores and four threads for a total of 8C/16T, but hems close in frequencies with a base clock of 3.8 GHz and a maximum boost 5.1 GHz, with the all-core frequency max topping out at 4.7 GHz. The i5-10600K will feature 6C/12T with a base speeds of 4.1 GHz and a maximum boost of 4.8 GHz, an all-core 4.5 GHz, with a lower 65W TDP. They will launch at $374 and $262 respectively.

Intel 10th Generation Processors Compared 1

Intel 10th Generation Processors Compared 2

Intel 10th Generation Processors Compared 3

Intel 10th Generation Processors Compared 4

The entire 10th Generation will feature up to 40 PCIe lanes and opens up hyperthreading for all but the most entry-level Celeron processor, a stark about-face from the limited hyperthreading of 9th gen, and significantly increases the utility of the S-Series product stack.

Thermal Improvements

Intel also touted several other improvements in our briefing. One of the most noteworthy is that Intel seems to have heard gamers’ concerns about the rising thermals and have shifted to a new “thin die” design. As you can see in the picture above, the new design reduces the thickness of the die and increases the HIS to provide better thermal performance.

This will likely prove important, as the 10th generation also enhances the “knobs” available for overclockers. Users will now be able to enable or disable hyperthreading on a per-core basis. Additionally, users will now have PEG/DMI overclocking, and enhanced voltage and frequency controls. Intel’s Extreme Tuning Utility has also been given a facelift and offers additional controls over the prior version.

Intel’s 10th generation also bring Turbo Boost Max 3.0 down to the i9 and i7 lines. Previously only available on Intel’s Xeon CPUs, Turbo Boost Max 3.0 enhances single-core performance by identifying “favored cores” which can offer the best and most efficient performance. It then shifts single-core workloads to that core, offering up to 15% improved performance.

Along with these CPUs will come the new Intel 400 Series chipset, though information was limited. Notably absent from the presentation was any information on PCIe 4.0, for example, and when asked I was told that Intel isn’t commenting at this time. It is likely we will find out more as we approach launch.

This launch is shaping up to be quite interesting. Intel rightly asserted the value of offering a high frequency for sheer gameplay performance, and it does seem likely that the new Core i9-10900K will become the best gaming CPU on the market. With AMD offering higher core counts and lower prices, however, the decision isn’t as clear cut as it may have been in past years. One thing is certain, we’ll have to look more deeply at these CPUs when they launch and see for ourselves just how they compare.


Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight