Intel 10th-gen Comet Lake: Everything we know so far

Comet Lake is Intel's second round of 10th-gen processors. Here's what to know

Intel had a rough go of things in 2019, facing stiff competition from AMD’s new Ryzen 3000 processors and Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 8cx. But it began its counterattack with two new ranges of processors. Alongside Ice Lake on mobile, the new 10th-gen Comet Lake chips will increase core counts, clock speeds, and more, to help Intel maintain its competitive edge while we await die-shrunk chips in the years to come.

If you’re interested in buying a new Intel CPU, these are the best ones out there right now.

Availability and pricing

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Intel pledged to release 10s of Comet Lake laptops before the end of 2019, though the broadest of selections will be available later in 2020. Desktop releases are a little less nailed down, though most of Intel’s discussions on the matter suggest we’ll see Comet Lake on desktop before the first half of the year is over, and potentially as soon as April. Some rumors from February 2020 suggest that may come a little later, however, with enthusiast motherboards rumored to only be announced in May.

As for pricing, it will likely run the gamut. Since Comet Lake is expected to replace the entire product lineup, we’ll likely see a wide range of CPUs, costing $100 or so at the bottom end, to more than $500 at the top end. There have been some reports that pricing for the new-generation chips could be slightly higher than the last gen too, but we’ll need to see some more live listings before we can confirm that.

Architecture

Both desktop and mobile lineups of Comet Lake processors are based on the same underlying architecture. This isn’t the 10nm, Sunny Cove design that powers Intel’s Ice Lake CPUs, but more of what has become typically Intel at this point. Like several generations that went before it, Comet Lake will be based on a 14nm process node — another refinement of Intel’s Skylake design. It will, however, be further enhanced to allow for some performance improvements over its eighth- and ninth-generation counterparts.

These chips will need a new chipset, which will be known as the 400-series. That brings with it a number of feature improvements like Thunderbolt 3 technology; more advanced, energy-efficient standby; Wi-Fi 6 support; Bluetooth 5 support; and support for USB 3.2.

Mobile Comet Lake

Intel has made an official announcement about Comet Lake mobile, giving us a much better idea of what to expect from laptops equipped with the new chips. Like their desktop counterparts, they will support exciting new connectivity options thanks to the new chipset, as well as enhanced boost algorithms and increased core-counts. 

The mainstream Comet Lake mobile CPUs will be Intel’s U-Series range, which has the following line up and specifications:

  Cores/Threads Graphics (execution units) Cache Base clock Boost clock (single-core) Boost clock (all-core) TDP
Intel Core i7-10710U 6/12 UHD 620 (24) 12MB 1.1GHz 4.7GHz 1.15GHz 12.5w/25w
Intel Core i7-10510U 4/8 UHD 620 (24) 8MB 1.8GHz 4.9GHz 1.15GHz 10w/25w
Intel Core i5-10210U 4/8 UHD 620 (24) 6MB 1.6GHz 4.2GHz 1.10GHz 10w/25w
Intel Core i3-10110U 2/4 UHD 620 (23) 4MB 2.1GHz 4.1GHz 1.00GHz 10w/25w
Intel Pentium 6405U 2/4 UHD 610 2MB 2.4GHz N/A N/A 12.5w
Intel Celeron 5205U 2/4 UHD 610 2MB 1.9GHz N/A N/A 12.5.w

Most of these chips are to be expected from a new generation of Intel mobile CPUs, but the Core i7-10710U is an intriguing addition. With six cores and 12 threads, it’s by far the most capable multithreaded processor in the lineup. Its boost clock and base clock do suffer a little, however, suggesting that in some scenarios, the Core i7-10510U could be the more capable chip.

The rest of the range has analogs in the previous generation of Whiskey Lake processors and merely receives small clock speed bumps for a slight performance increase.

For more energy-efficient devices, Intel’s Y-Series will pick up the slack, offering more modest core counts and clock speeds, at much lower power and thermal requirement:

  Cores/Threads Graphics (execution units) Cache Base clock Boost clock (single-core) Boost clock (all-core) TDP
Intel Core i7-10510Y 4/8 UHD 615  (24) 8MB 1.2GHz 4.5GHz 3.2GHz 4.5w/7w/9w
Intel Core i5-10310Y 4/8 UHD 615 (24) 6MB 1.1GHz 4.1GHz 2.8GHz 5.5w/7w/9w
Intel Core i5-10210Y 4/8 UHD 615  (24) 6MB 1.0GHz 4.0GHz 2.7GHz 4.5w/7w/9w
Intel Core i3-10110Y 2/4 UHD 615 (24) 4MB 1.0GHz 4.0GHz 3.7GHz 5.5w/7w/9w

Typically Y-series CPUs have been locked at two cores, but this time around Intel offers a number of quad-core options with specifications not too dissimilar to its recent Ice Lake chips. These will still be 14nm, however, and lack the high-end, 11th generation graphics that Ice Lake chips enjoy.

These should still be plenty capable for their size and form, though. Four cores and eight threads at just 4.5w is an exciting prospect, especially considering the 4.0GHz+ boost clocks.

Desktop Comet Lake

Intel hasn’t officially announced Comet Lake desktop specifications, but we do have some leaked slides which suggest an expansive and capable lineup. There are some welcome improvements at the top end, with more cores, threads, cache, and higher clock speeds. But it’s the changes to the midrange which could be most impactful to the average buyer and Intel’s mindshare in 2020.

Cores/Threads Base clock Boost clock (single core/Velocity) Boost clock (all core/Velocity) Cache TDP
Intel Core i9-10900K 10/20 3.7GHz 5.1GHz/5.3GHz 4.8GHz/4.9GHz 20MB 125W
Intel Core i9-10900KF 10/20 3.7GHz 5.1GHz/5.3GHz 4.8GHz/4.9GHz 20MB 125W
Intel Core i9-10900* 10/20 2.8GHz 5.1GHz/5.2GHz 4.5GHz/4.6GHz 20MB 65W
Intel Core i9-10900F 10/20 2.8GHz 5.1GHz/5.2GHz 4.5GHz/4.6GHz 20MB 65W
Intel Core i7-10700K 8/16 3.8GHz 5.1GHz 4.8GHz 16MB 125W
Intel Core i7-10700KF 8/16 3.8GHz 5.1GHz 4.8GHz 16MB 125W
Intel Core i7-10700* 8/16 2.9GHz 4.7GHz 4.8GHz 16MB 65W
Intel Core i7-10700F 8/16 2.9GHz 4.7GHz 4.8GHz 16MB 65W
Intel Core i5-10600K 6/12 4.1GHz 4.8GHz 4.5GHz 12MB 125W
Intel Core i5-10600KF 6/12 4.1GHz 4.8GHz 4.5GHz 12MB 125W
Intel Core i5-10600* 6/12 3.3GHz 4.8GHz 4.4GHz 12MB 65W
Intel Core i5-10500* 6/12 3.1GHz 4.5GHz 4.2GHz 12MB 65W
Intel Core i5-10400 6/12 2.9GHz 4.3Ghz 4.0GHz 12MB 65W
Intel Core i5-10400F 6/12 2.9GHz 4.3Ghz 4.0GHz 12MB 65W
Intel Core i3-10350K 4/8 Unknown Unknown Unknown 8MB 125W
Intel Core i3-10320 4/8 3.8GHz 4.6GHz 4.4GHz 8MB 65W
Intel Core i3-10300 4/8 3.7GHz 4.4GHz 4.2GHz 8MB 65W
Intel Core i3-10100* 4/8 3.6GHz 3.8GHz 4.1GHz 8MB 65W
Intel Pentium G6400* 2/4 3.8GHz 3.2GHz Unknown 4MB 65W
Intel Celeron G5900* 2/2 3.2GHz 3.2GHz Unknown 2MB 65W

* These models will also be available in pre-built systems as a “T” variant. Those will feature the same core counts, but drastically reduced clock speeds to adhere to a mere 35w TDP.

There’s a lot of interesting specifications to unpack here. As WCCFTech highlights, the top-tier 10900K is head and shoulders above the rest, with two extra cores and four more threads than the current-generation 9900K. It doesn’t quite match the 9900KS in all-core boost clock, but its single-core boost clock is 300MHz higher when factoring in Intel’s new “Velocity” boost algorithm, which is said to give greater sustained performance for longer than its traditional Turbo Boost function.

Clock speeds are higher throughout the range, giving almost every chip a 4.0GHz+ turbo frequency and many of them doing so across all cores. Every chip other than the entry-level Celeron enjoys hyperthreading too, which will go a long way to combating AMD’s dominance throughout the entire product range when it comes to multi-threaded performance.

All of this added performance comes at a price though, and for the overclockable “K” chips, that’s TDP. Intel has raised its typical 95W TDP ceiling to 125W with this new generation. That’s in line with its ultra-hot and powerful 9900KS, suggesting that if you want to overclock this generation of CPUs, you’ll want a heftier cooler.

Not pictured here, but all-but-confirmed, is the use of Intel UHD 730 graphics throughout the range. That won’t be as capable as the 11th-generation Iris Plus graphics that debuted with Ice lake, nor the upcoming Xe GPUs Intel is working on, but it should offer a slight bump in performance over the last-generation UHD 630 graphics.

All the F-series variants will not have onboard graphics, however, and should come in slightly cheaper because of it. Some reports previously stated that F chips tend to be slightly better-binned silicon, so it may be better for overclocking, but there’s been no real confirmation of that and certainly no suggestion it will be the case with a new generation of CPUs.

All K-series Comet Lake processors will support new core and memory overclocking, but it seems likely that every Comet Lake CPU will move to a new socket design: LGA 1200. That means that you’ll need to buy a new motherboard if you want to upgrade to Intel’s new desktop CPUs in 2020. It does seem like you’ll be able to recycle your ninth-generation coolers though, as they should be compatible with the new socket.

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