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, although Intel has yet to publish an official price, expect to see the 10850K priced a bit lower than the $488 10900K.
|Intel 10th Gen Comet Lake
Core i9 and Core i7
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 while Intel’s figures don’t include a TDP rating, we’re confident that it’s the same 125 Watts as the company’s other high-end K-series parts. 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. Pricing is a bit more unclear however, as Intel’s announcement doesn’t include an official MSRP. While Intel will need to price it under the $488 of the 10900K, street pricing is a whole other matter. With the 10900K in short supply and even the i7-10700K going for over $400, early retail listings have been inconsistent. We’ll know more for sure once wide sales begin, but it’s hard to imagine the 10850K going for less than $450.