HW News: Intel Comet Lake Desktop CPUs


I used to write bi-weekly blog posts in a series called Glenn’s Tech Insights. Since I’m not doing that any longer, I will continue to write about HW news on a regular basis here.  This week, there is more news about the upcoming release of the new Intel Comet Lake Desktop CPUs

Intel Comet Lake Desktop CPUs

Intel is definitely getting closer to releasing the next generation of mainstream desktop CPUs, as more information starts to leak out. Depending on the source, these new processors are supposed to be officially announced on April 30th, and be available to buy on May 13th. Is this something you should be excited about?

Intel Comet Lake-S Platform
Intel Comet Lake-S Platform

That depends on what is important to you in a mainstream desktop CPU. This new family of 14nm processors is still an evolutionary step from the 2015-vintage Skylake architecture. It will probably be the last 14nm desktop family from Intel, so it is a very mature and optimized process node. Here are a few of the latest stories about Comet Lake-S:

According to what we know right now, there should be some small increases in single-threaded performance compared to the previous generation Intel desktop processors. This can be helpful for some workloads, such as gaming at low resolutions. Intel is also bringing back hyper-threading for the Core i7 and Core i5 SKUs, which can be helpful for more general purpose workloads. The top-end Core i9 SKU will go up to 10C/20T, compared to 8C/16T for the previous generation.

New Motherboards Will Be Required

Unfortunately, these upcoming processors will not work in existing Intel motherboards, such as Z390-based models. If you want an Intel Comet Lake-S desktop processor, you will have to buy a new LGA 1200 socket motherboard, which could cost anywhere from about $150-$200 and up. Initially, the flagship Z490 chipset motherboards will be the only choice, probably coming in at around $200-$300. Later on, there will be lower cost W480, H470, B460, and H410 chipset motherboards available.

If you are thinking of getting a 10C/20T Core i9-10900K processor, you will want to get a good quality motherboard with beefy voltage regulator modules (VRM). This is because that processor is likely to draw around 300 watts of power with all cores running at full turbo boost clock speed.

You will also want a high quality CPU cooler and a high airflow case in order to keep your temperatures low enough to avoid any thermal throttling. If you already have a good CPU cooler and a good case, you should be able to reuse them with Comet Lake-S.

Final Words

This seems to be another small incremental improvement from Intel. For most workloads, these processors will struggle to compete with the current AMD Ryzen 3000 processors. They will be more expensive, use more power, and have lower MT performance than similar AMD offerings. This situation will only get worse when the Zen 3 AMD Ryzen 4000 desktop processors are released later this year.

One big exception will be if your primary use case is gaming at 1080P. If you have the desire and budget to get the absolute highest FPS at 1080P resolution, then using a Comet Lake-S is going to be your best option. In about a month or so, you will be able to build a “high-end” Comet Lake-S gaming rig that will beat anything that AMD has to offer for that specific scenario right now.

Linus Tech Tips recently built a Core i9-9900KS system showing the kind of parts that you might use to do this (with a Z490 motherboard and Comet Lake-S, obviously).

I honestly believe that most people are going to be happier and better off for most scenarios with a new AMD Ryzen 3000 series desktop system compared to an Intel Comet Lake-S system.

If you find this sort of content interesting, please let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Categories HW News, Intel, PC HardwareTags ,

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