Intel Comet Lake vs. Ice Lake

Intel’s last-generation lineup included Comet Lake and Ice Lake processors, with the former available on desktop and mobile and the latter exclusively in laptops. Even with the release of new processors on desktop and mobile, there’s still a reason to stick with one of Intel’s last-gen parts, and in this Intel Comet Lake versus Ice Lake comparison, we’re going to help you choose between them.

Both lines fall under the Intel 10th-gen banner, but there are some significant differences between them. Comet Lake marks the fourth optimization of Intel’s 14nm process, while Ice Lake chips use Intel’s new 10nm process. On top of that, both series of processors are available in mobile configurations, but only Comet Lake chips are available on desktop. We likely won’t see 10nm processors on desktop until 2022.

To help you decide between the two, we’ve rounded up every chip available in Comet Lake and Ice Lake, and in this guide, we’ll compare the lines directly so you can find the best processor for you.

Availability and pricing

Walden Kirsch/Intel Corporation

Laptops with 10nm Ice Lake CPUs launched in the summer of 2019. These include Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 3, the Razer Blade Stealth, the HP Spectre x360 13, Dell’s XPS 13, and many more. The “U” in the processor label translates to “ultra-low power,” meaning it targets a good balance of performance and battery. The “Y” chips do the same but typically have lower base speeds.

Laptops with 14nm Comet Lake “U” and “Y” arrived in the same time frame, packing more core and threads at the higher end. Intel didn’t release its “H” series chips for laptops until early April 2020, followed by desktop processors later that month. These latter chips now replace the entire ninth-gen Coffee Lake range of desktop CPUs.

Intel isn’t slated to release a 10nm desktop processor until 2021 or even 2022, so we don’t expect to see Ice Lake on desktops anytime in the next year or so.

Comet Lake desktop processors range from $42 for low-end Celeron chips up to the ten-core i9-10900K for a heftier $488. Meanwhile, the high-end Core i9-10980HK for laptops can set you back $583 before you even configure the portable PC. Intel’s Celeron 5205U laptop chip has a suggested price of $107.

Ice Lake’s smaller portfolio is a bit less dramatic in pricing, with chips reaching just above $400. Some of the chip pricing isn’t currently available to the public; it’s reserved for manufacturers.

Architecture

In many cases, laptops with Comet Lake and Ice Lake compete directly with one another for user interest and dollars. But they have distinctly different technologies powering them, most notably when it comes to their underlying architectures.

Ice Lake is Intel’s first commercial, 10nm line of processors — the previous Cannon Lake never went mainstream. That’s the first die shrink that Intel has successfully completed in almost five years, and it’s a big one.

The Sunny Cove architecture that powers Ice Lake CPUs opens up a number of new instructions that can significantly accelerate legacy code by encouraging parallel operation. It also lowered effective access latencies and enhanced the cache over older core designs. Combined with the shrink to the enhanced version of Intel’s 10nm process node, that results in a big increase in single-threaded and multi-threaded performance for Ice Lake mobile CPUs over eighth-generation Whiskey Lake chips.

Ice Lake also introduced Intel’s 11th-gen Iris Plus graphics, which offer a significant uptick in 3D performance over ninth-gen predecessors like the UHD 620 graphics core. It also supports faster memory than previous architectures up to 3,733MHz without overclocking.

Although you can still find laptops with Ice Lake chips, most manufacturers have pushed ahead to Intel’s Tiger Lake platform. Tiger Lake improves Ice Lake’s design even further, using the same 10nm process while improving the speed of CPU cores. Tiger Lake chips also come with Intel Xe integrated graphics, and they’re solid for light gaming.

Comet Lake is a little different. It’s built on the latest enhanced version of Intel’s 14nm process that’s been refreshed each year since Skylake’s 2015 debut. It’s still faster than what we’ve seen in Intel’s eighth- and ninth-gen CPUs, but it doesn’t have the same, underlying hardware revolutions that Ice lake has. It’s more of an evolution of what’s already available.

It does, however, benefit from the new 400-series chipset, which introduces features like support for Thunderbolt 3, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, and USB 3.2.

Intel offers its Rocket Lake desktop processors now, too, but they show little improvement over Comet Lake. Rocket Lake is built on the same 14nm process, and the CPUs in the range come with high power and thermal demands.

Laptop CPUs

Dell 2019 XPS 13 2 in 1 (2019) review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Intel led with the mobile market first for its 10nm processors in the form of Ice Lake. The problem: Both Ice Lake and Comet Lake share the same processor generation. Usually, you can note the processor generations by the number that leads the processor name — for example, a i9-9900 and i9-10900 are from ninth-gen and 10th-gen, respectively. Because Ice Lake and Comet Lake share a generation, you can’t use that number to tell the difference between them.

For the current mobile processor market, you want to look at the end of the processor name instead. Ice Lake and Comet Lake use different naming schemes to differentiate each product line. For instance, if the processor has a “G7” or “G5” at the end, it’s a 10nm Ice Lake chip. If you see an “H,” “U,” or “Y” at the end, it’s a 14nm Comet Lake chip.

On a deeper level, the “G5” specifically refers to Ice Lake’s “graphics,” whereas the Comet Lake suffixes range from high-performance to ultra-low-power. Comet Lake may have more than one suffix, too, like “HK,” meaning the chip is high-performance and unlocked.

With that brief CPU lesson out of the way, here are all of the 14nm Comet Lake mobile CPUs now available:

Comet Lake H-series

Cores
/threads
Graphics
(EUs)
Cache Base
clock
Boost
clock

(single)
Boost
clock

(all)
Graphics
boost
clock
TDP
Core i9-10980HK 8/16 UHD 630
(24)
16MB 2.4GHz 5.3GHz 4.4GHz 1.25GHz 45W
Core i9-10885H 8/16 UHD 630
(24)
16MB 2.4GHz 5.3GHz 4.4GHz 1.25GHz 45W
Core i7-10875H 8/16 UHD 630
(24)
16MB 2.3GHz 5.1GHz 4.3GHz 1.2GHz 45W
Core i7-10850H 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12MB 2.7GHz 5.1GHz 4.4GHz 1.15GHz 45W
Core i7-10750H 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12MB 2.6GHz 5.0GHz 4.3GHz 1.15GHz 45W
Core i5-10400H 4/8 UHD 630
(24)
8MB 2.6GHz 4.6GHz 4.4GHz 1.1GHz 45W
Core i5-10300H 4/8 UHD 630
(24)
8MB 2.5GHz 4.5GHz 4.2GHz 1.05GHz 45w

Comet Lake U-series

Cores
/threads
Graphics
(EUs)
Cache Base
clock
Boost
clock
(single)
Boost
clock
(all)
Graphics
boost
clock
TDP
Core i7-10810U 6/12 UHD 620
(24)
12MB 1.1GHz 4.9GHz n/a 1.15GHz 15W/25W
Core i7-10710U 6/12 UHD 620
(24)
12MB 1.1GHz 4.7GHz 3.2GHz 1.15GHz 15W/25W
Core i7-10610U 4/8 UHD 620
(24)
8MB 1.8GHz 4.9GHz n/a 1.15GHz 15W/25W
Core i7-10510U 4/8 UHD 620
(24)
8MB 1.8GHz 4.9GHz 3.7GHz 1.15GHz 15W/25W
Core i5-10310U 4/8 UHD 620
(24)
6MB 1.6GHz 4.4GHz n/a 1.15GHz 15W/25W
Core i5-10210U 4/8 UHD 620
(24)
6MB 1.6GHz 4.2GHz 3.8GHz 1.1GHz 15W/25W
Core i3-10110U 2/4 UHD 620
(24)
4MB 2.1GHz 4.1GHz 3.2GHz 1.0GHz 15W/25W
Pentium 6405U 2/4 UHD 610
(12)
2MB 2.4GHz n/a n/a 0.95GHz 12.5W
Celeron 5205U 2/2 UHD 610
(12)
2MB 1.9GHz n/a n/a 0.9GHz 12.5W

Comet Lake Y-series

  Cores
/threads
Graphics
(EUs)
Cache Base clock Boost
clock
(single)
Boost
clock
(all)
Graphics
boost
clock
TDP
Core i7-10510Y 4/8 UHD 620
(24)
8MB 1.2GHz 4.5GHz 3.2GHz 1.15GHz 4.5W/7W/9W
Core i5-10310Y 4/8 UHD 620
(24)
6MB 1.1GHz 4.1GHz 2.8GHz 1.05GHz 5.5W/7W/9W
Core i5-10210Y 4/8 UHD 620
(24)
6MB 1.0GHz 4.0GHz 2.7GHz 1.05GHz 4.5W/7W/9W
Core i3-10110Y 2/4 UHD 620
(24)
4MB 1.0GHz 4.0GHz 3.7GHz 1.0GHz 5.5W/7W/9W

A noticeable change over previous generations of Intel mobile chips are the increased core counts and clock speeds. But there is a greater difference between both of Comet Lake’s ranges of mobile chips when compared directly with Ice lake.

Here are all the Ice Lake 10nm mobile CPUs

Ice Lake U-series

Cores
/threads
Graphics
(EUs)
Cache Base clock Boost
clock
(single)
Boost
clock
(all)
Graphics
boost
clock
TDP
Core i7-1068NG7 4/8 Iris Plus
(64)
8MB 2.3GHz 4.1GHz 3.6GHz 1.1GHz 28W
Core i7-1065G7 4/8 Iris Plus
(64)
8MB 1.3GHz 3.9GHz 3.5GHz 1.1GHz 15W/25W
Core i5-1038NG7 4/8 Iris Plus
(64)
6MB 2.0GHz 3.8GHz 3.2GHz 1.05GHz 28W
Core i5-1035G7 4/8 Iris Plus
(64)
6MB 1.2GHz 3.7GHz 3.3GHz 1.05GHz 15W/25W
Core i5-1035G4 4/8 Iris Plus
(48)
6MB 1.1GHz 3.7GHz 3.3GHz 1.05GHz 15W/25W
Core i5-1035G1 4/8 UHD
(32)
6MB 1.0GHz 3.6GHz 3.3GHz 1.05GHz 15W/25W
Core i3-1005G1 2/4 UHD
(32)
4MB 1.2GHz 3.4GHz 3.4GHz 0.9GHz 15W/25W

Ice Lake Y-Series

Cores
/threads
Graphics
(EUs)
Cache Base
clock
Boost
clock
(single)
Boost
clock
(all)
Graphics
boost clock
TDP
Core i7-1060G7 4/8 Iris Plus
(64)
8MB 1.0GHz 3.8GHz 3.4GHz 1.1GHz 9W/12W
Core i5-1030G7 4/8 Iris Plus
(64)
6MB 0.8GHz 3.5GHz 3.2GHz 1.05GHz 9W/12W
Core i5-1030G4 4/8 Iris Plus
(48)
6MB 0.7GHz 3.5GHz 3.2GHz 1.05GHz 9W/12W
Core i3-1000G4 2/4 Iris Plus
(48)
4MB 1.1GHz 3.2GHz 3.2GHz 0.9GHz 9W/12W
Core i3-1000G1 2/4 UHD
(32)
4MB 1.1GHz 3.2GHz 3.2GHz 0.9GHz 9W/12W

When it comes to core counts and clock speed, Intel’s 14nm Comet Lake chips are a clear winner here. The Core i7-1065G7 and Core i7-1068NG7 leading the Ice Lake product line both top out at four cores and eight threads, while the i9s that top the Comet Lake pile clock in at eight cores and 16 threads. A shrink in die size could lead to better overall performance, but that’s not the case here.

Benchmarks for the i7-1065G7 put it roughly on-par with Comet Lake’s i5-10210U. Stepping back a generation, any competing ninth-gen i7 from the H-Series can match or beat the fastest Ice Lake chips. This story is further confirmed with benchmarks for the i9-10980HK, showcasing that its eight cores and 16 threads can hold up in a mobile setting, even when tuned to blistering clock speeds.

Ice Lake stands out in the graphics department. Although the on-board Iris Plus graphics aren’t going to beat a discrete GPU, they’ve still put up some decent performance numbers. To be clear, you won’t achieve great gaming results with Ice Lake or Comet Lake alone. However, Ice Lake is much better equipped to handle light gaming, and the Iris Plus graphics can even maintain playable frame rates in a few recent AAA games at low settings.

Desktop CPUs

Intel finally launched its Comet Lake-S desktop CPU family at the end of April 2020. So far, there’s no mention of 10nm Ice Lake desktop chips in the near future, though 10nm Alder Lake-S is likely what’s on the horizon for desktops in 2022, falling under the 12th-gen Intel Core banner.

Here in the present, we now have a huge lineup of Comet Lake-S chips at our disposal. Because there are so many, we broke the CPU family into groups:

Comet Lake-S Core i9 / Core i7

Cores
/threads
Graphics
(EUs)
Cache Base
clock
Boost
clock
(single)
Boost
clock
(all)
Graphics
boost
clock
TDP
i9-10900K 10/20 UHD 630
(24)
20MB 3.7GHz 5.3GHz 4.8GHz 1.2GHz 125W
i9-10900KF 10/20 UHD 630
(24)
20MB 3.7GHz 5.3GHz 4.8GHz n/a 125W
i9-10900 10/20 UHD 630
(24)
20MB 2.8GHz 5.2GHz 4.5GHz 1.2GHz 65W
i9-10900F 10/20 UHD 630
(24)
20MB 2.8GHz 5.2GHz 4.5GHz n/a 65W
i9-10900T 10/20 UHD 630
(24)
20MB 1.9GHz 4.6GHz 3.7GHz 1.2GHz 35W
i7-10700K 8/16 UHD 630
(24)
16MB 3.8GHz 5.1GHz 4.7GHz 1.2GHz 125W
i7-10700KF 8/16 UHD 630
(24)
16MB 3.8GHz 5.1GHz 4.7GHz n/a 125W
i7-10700 8/16 UHD 630
(24)
16MB 2.9GHz 4.8GHz 4.6GHz 1.2GHz 65W
i7-10700F 8/16 UHD 630
(24)
16MB 2.9GHz 4.8GHz 4.6GHz n/a 65W
i7-10700T 8/16 UHD 630
(24)
16MB 2.0GHz 4.5GHz 3.7GHz 1.2GHz 35W

Comet Lake-S Core i5 / Core i3

Cores
/threads
Graphics
(EUs)
Cache Base
clock
Boost
clock
(single)
Boost
clock
(all)
Graphics
boost
clock
TDP
i5-10600K 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12MB 4.1GHz 4.8GHz 4.5GHz 1.2GHz 125W
i5-10600KF 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12MB 4.1GHz 4.8GHz 4.5GHz n/a 125W
i5-10600 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12MB 3.3GHz 4.8GHz 4.4GHz 1.2GHz 65W
i5-10600T 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12MB 2.4GHz 4.0GHz 3.7GHz 1.2GHz 35W
i5-10500 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12MB 3.1GHz 4.5GHz 4.2GHz 1.5GHz 65W
i5-10500T 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12MB 2.3GHz 3.8GHz 3.5GHz 1.5GHz 35W
i5-10400 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12MB 2.9GHz 4.3GHz 4.0GHz 1.1GHz 65W
i5-10400F 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12MB 2.9GHz 4.3GHz 4.0GHz n/a 65W
i5-10400T 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12MB 2.0GHz 3.6GHz 3.2GHz 1.1GHz 35W
i3-10320 4/8 UHD 630
(24)
8MB 3.8GHz 4.6GHz 4.4GHz 1.5 GHz 65W
i3-10300 4/8 UHD 630
(24)
8MB 3.7GHz 4.4GHz 4.2GHz 1.5 GHz 65W
i3-10300T 4/8 UHD 630
(24)
8MB 3.0GHz 3.9GHz 3.6GHz 1.1 GHz 35W
i3-10100 4/8 UHD 630
(24)
6MB 3.6GHz 4.3GHz 4.1GHz 1.1GHz 65W
i3-10100T 4/8 UHD 630
(24)
6MB 3.0GHz 3.8GHz 3.6GHz 1.1GHz 35W

Comet Lake-S Pentium Gold / Celeron

Cores
/threads
Graphics
(EUs)
Cache Base
clock
Boost
clock
(single)
Boost
clock
(all)
Graphics
boost
clock
TDP
Pentium Gold G6600 2/4 UHD 630
(24)
4MB 4.2GHz n/a n/a 1.1GHz 58W
Pentium Gold G6500 2/4 UHD 630
(24)
4MB 4.1GHz n/a n/a 1.1GHz 58W
Pentium Gold G6500T 2/4 UHD 630
(24)
4MB 3.5GHz n/a n/a 1.05GHz 35W
Pentium Gold G6400 2/4 UHD 610
(12)
4MB 4.0GHz n/a n/a 1.05GHz 58W
Pentium Gold G6400T 2/4 UHD 610
(12)
4MB 3.4GHz n/a n/a 1.05GHz 35W
Celeron G5920 2/2 UHD 610
(12)
2MB 3.5GHz n/a n/a 1.05GHz 58W
Celeron G5900 2/2 UHD 610
(12)
2MB 3.4GHz n/a n/a 1.05GHz 58W
Celeron G5900T 2/2 UHD 610
(12)
2MB 3.2GHz n/a n/a 1.0GHz 35W

Comet Lake chips include the ability to toggle hyperthreading on and off on a core-by-core basis. The idea is to disable hyperthreading on inactive cores, which translates to lower heat and lower power draws. Toggling also allows all cores currently using hyperthreading to remain in turbo mode for more extended periods. Hyperthreading controls are provided through the BIOS, not in the operating system.

Recent benchmarks show Intel’s flagship ten-core chip, the i9-10900K, going head to head with AMD’s Ryzen 9 3900X 12-core CPU in the 3DMark Fire Strike Physics test. It pulled just a few points ahead of AMD’s chip when overclocked at 5.1GHz. What’s notable is that it outperforms Intel’s previous champion, the Core i9-9900K, while selling at a similar suggested price.

Any hopes for Ice Lake on desktop are all but dead. Intel is hard at work on Alder Lake, which should mark the company’s first desktop die shrink in many years.

When it comes to Comet Lake versus Ice Lake, the truth is that each is a great option in certain situations. Comet Lake is still great on desktop, even though Intel Rocket Lake is already here. For mobile, we recommend going for a Tiger Lake laptop over an Ice Lake one. Tiger Lake features the best chip specs for laptops right now and much improved graphics.

There is no clear winner between these two chips, even if you happen to discover options that give you a choice between the two. Both have their respective benefits. To ensure you get the best chip for your needs, figure out how important it is that your computer multitasks without lag. For example, when you’re gaming or editing videos and photos, you don’t want other tasks to lag. You also don’t want to drain your laptop’s power quickly. Remember that if you don’t frequently use the battery, you won’t need to worry about the battery lifespan.

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