CPU’s are one of the smallest parts of your PC, so it’s ironic that they’re also one of the most important, and depending on your beast possibly one of the most expensive. The new 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10900k and i5-10600k processors are no different.
They can also be one of the more confusing purchases to make as it can be difficult to know what you’ll actually be getting out of it.
That’s why when I started to test out these new CPUs I tried to give them functional tests. I ran these all under the same conditions on both the new i5 and i9 cores, as well as my own older i7-8700 unit. However, the i5 and i9 were using a superior motherboard to mine which was provided to help test the units.
10th Gen Intel Core i9 and i5 Review
To start with, I ran all the chips in a somewhat idle mode. I think it’s pretty rare that anyone’s computer is ever truly not doing anything so I ran Chrome and Spotify just as background operations. This is an attempt to create some normalcy in how these would be behaving on a day to day basis.
Obviously none of these CPUs should have any trouble dealing with this and they all handled it in stride. However, even with just this simple test I was already able to observe some differences in power. The i9 utilisation was three times lower than the i5, and both the 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs easily beat out my older i7 chip. It was an interesting piece of data to look at but in terms of what it meant for an end-user it’s almost nothing, and it should be. There didn’t feel like any discernible difference because each and every one of these chips should be able to complete this task easily.
The second test was one many will probably be a bit more interested in, and that’s gaming. Again, under as similar conditions as possible, I tested all the CPUs running a game of Overwatch. During the heat of a game, the new i9 and i5 units were running the same number of processors but because of the i9’s superiority, this means it was at around half the utilisation. I continued to run tests in other conditions while the game was running.
This included monitoring the start-up, training modes, and on different heroes and the data remained pretty consistent. My i7 sat quite comfortably and rather fittingly between the two 10th Gen Intel Core units in terms of performance.
Once more the tangible difference between these cores was limited. Overwatch is a fairly old game that is incredibly well optimised and it should run just fine on much worse CPUs than something like a 10th Gen Intel Core chip. It’s definitely encouraging to see how little trouble these CPU’s went to with the i9 not even bumping over 20% of its total power. The most impressive thing I will note is that while using the two newer CPUs, the fans on my Graphics Card didn’t even bother spinning up. The implication is that the i9 and i5 Comet-lake chips were able to take some of the heavy lifting from my card.
This made me want to really test the CPUs and the best way I know how to do this is with video rendering. I loaded up the same video with multiple layers for all the cores and maxed them all out to see how they would perform. For this all cards were going as hard as they possibly could and the notable difference here is speed and it was impressively notable.
The video was about 5 minutes long and takes about 7 minutes or so to render on my i7. Thankfully it performed the worst of the bunch – which I honestly wasn’t sure about. Video rendering is one of the places where extra cores can be super beneficial and having an older but higher numbered graphics card can pay off compared to the new models. Comet-lake wanted to prove that it’s true to its name and blitzed my CPU. Even the i5 shaved about sixth of the total rendering time off and the i9 took it to about two-thirds.
That’s a decent chunk of time saved for people who are spending a lot of time potentially not being able to use their PCs thanks to making videos. However, once again, it is worth noting that all the cards performed the task – just some took a little longer than others.
I kept testing by playing games, streaming, and generally using my PC the way I normally would. The same patterns kept emerging where all the cards would do the job, it just depends on how well you want it done. Simpler tasks would see less difference in comparison but if you genuinely want the best experience possible, the speed was notable the more intense tasks got.
That’s honestly the meat and bones of the CPU discussion. If you need intensive tasks like video rendering or streaming done quickly while still having room for other things, it’s worth dropping some money on something like the 10th Gen Intel Core i9. If you can wait then absolutely save yourself the cash and get something a bit less intense but you may notice the toll.
What I will say is the new series of intel chips absolutely handled everything I threw at them and if I was looking at a new PC I’d be aiming for one of these, rather than grabbing something from the previous gen. For the most part they did most tasks better than my older CPU, even the 10th Gen Intel Core i5 which is great because it’s exactly what you want when you upgrade to the next generation.
The 10th Gen Intel Core i9 and i5 were provided by Intel for this review.