Intel Core i9-10900K and AMD Ryzen 9 3900X Performance Review

In this article, we’re going to review the performance and comparison between the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X and the Intel Core i9-10900K, something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time and yes, we finally did. As many of you know, it’s been a while since Intel launched their 10th generation desktop CPUs but even today, getting a Core i9-10900K is still as hard as ever. Despite that, we thank Intel and a good friend of ours for providing us with the Intel Core i9-10900K processor, making this performance review possible.

to specify

Intel Core i9-10900 K AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
Cores/Threads 10C/20T 12 c / 24 t
Base Clock / Max Boost 3.7 / 5.2 GHz 3.8 / 4.6 GHz
cache 20MB L3 Cache 64MB L3 Cache
memory Dual Channel, DDR4-2933 Dual Channel, DDR4-3200
Integrated graphics Yes, UHD Graphics 630 up to 1.2GHz not available
PCIe 16 slots, PCIe 3.0 24 lanes, PCIe 4.0
TDP 125 watts 105 W
to treat 14 nm 7 nm
Plug LGA 1200 AM4

Unboxing

To start with, we have two variants of the Core i9-10900K with us this time around, the Intel review set and the retail unit for comparison. The review kit came with two of Intel’s latest 10th generation processors, the Core i5-10600K and Core i9-10900K. We’ll leave the Core i5-10600K score aside for now and focus on what the Core i9-10900K can do.

 Intel Core i9 10900K 1

The review kit is definitely something you won’t find in any of the retail stores and the content is very different than what you would get from a physical retail unit of any of the Intel 10th gen processors. Inside the box, you’ll find only Intel’s new 10th generation processors, the Core i9-10900K, and another processor that seems to vary by region—we’ve got a Core i5-10600K in this group, just so you know.

For the retail unit, only the Core i9-10900K made its own packaging, similar to what we saw on the Core i9-9900K at the time. It’s not as fancy as the polyhedral main package like the Core i9-9900K but this time the design is more practical, a convenient case that doesn’t take up unnecessarily much space, and proper padded protection around the actual CPU.

All 10th generation processors now come with a new LGA1200 socket design that fits only on newer Z490, H470, and B460 motherboards, so don’t try to force it on any of your older Intel 300 series motherboards. No need to worry about CPU cooler compatibility, Intel 400 series motherboards will retain the same support for LGA115X coolers, which means existing LGA115X socket CPU coolers will be 100% compatible with the new Intel 400 series motherboards.

System setup test

CPU AMD Ryzen 9 3900X / Intel Core i9-10900K
Motherboard MSI MEG X570 GODLIKE / Gigabyte B550i AORUS PRO AX / ASUS ROG Maximus XII Apex
memory TEAMGROUP T-FORCE XTREEM ARGB DDR4-3200 / G.SKILL Trident Z RGB DDR4-3200 / KLEVV BOLT XR DDR4-3600
Photographers card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER Founders Edition
power supply Enermax Max Titan 1250 Watt
primary storage Corsair Force Gen.4 PCIe MP600 Series 2TB NVMe M.2 SSD
secondary storage WD Black 6TB
CPU cooler Color Master Liquid Master ML360R RGB
the structure Streacom Open Benchtable BC1
Operating System Windows 10 64 bit

Creative workload standard

Cinebench is a real-world cross-platform test suite that assesses the capabilities of your computers by taking advantage of multiple CPU cores and modern processor features. Looking at the numbers we have from both the Cinebench R15 and Cinebench R20, we can see that the Ryzen 9 3900X has an advantage in multi-core tasks, which is understandable given the higher cores and thread count compared to the Core i9-10900K. Although the Core i9-10900K is still better in terms of single-core performance despite having fewer cores than the competing Ryzen 9 3900X.

As its name suggests, the HWBot X265 standard displays 1080p or 4K video using x265/HEVC encoding. It takes advantage of the modern and multiple CPU instruction set, which will put our CPUs to the test. Similar to what we noted in the Cinebench test result, the Ryzen 9 3900X still has the advantage in multi-threading, which is very important at default settings. The difference in performance can be offset by a slight overclock to the Core i9-10900K, since you have a proper cooling solution on your system.

Standard file compression and decompression

For benchmark file compression and decompression, we ran a simple test using the built-in 7-file zip benchmark tool with both a Core i9-10900K and Ryzen 9 3900X. The Core i9-10900K performed surprisingly well in the 7-zip compression benchmark, outperforming the Ryzen 9 3900X by a large margin despite having fewer cores. However, for the decompression standard, it seems to favor the Ryzen 9 3900X with higher core count and thread count.

Synthetic CPU standard

While it’s clear that multi-core and multi-threaded tasks will prefer a CPU with higher core and thread counts, the Wprime 1024M and SuperPi 32M gave us a better look at how the Ryzen 9 3900X and Core i9-10900K behave. As we can see from the results above, the Core i9-10900K completely outperforms the Ryzen 9 3900X when it comes to single-core performance, which is very much in line with our expectations. Of course, this also means that the Ryzen 9 3900X is still better than the Core i9-10900K at most multi-core and multi-threaded tasks, given the higher cores and thread count.

gaming standard

 Intel Core i9 10900K gaming standard with 1080p resolution

 Intel Core i9 10900K 1440p gaming benchmark

 Intel Core i9 10900K Games Benchmark 4K

We ran the tests in 1080p, 1440p, and 4K to see how game benchmarks performed using a GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER with Ryzen 9 3900X and Core i9-10900K. Performance-wise, the Core i9-10900K performs better than the Ryzen 9 3900X by a large margin in most games tested—with AMD-optimized games as the exceptions. Increasing the memory frequency will, of course, improve the overall performance of the Ryzen 9 3900X, but the same applies to the Core i9-10900K.

CPU overclocking

Leaving the CPU overclocking options on default/auto, we can see that 5GHz is a piece of cake for the Core i9-10900K as it can boost up to 5.2GHz (single core) but that depends on the task you’re running . The top-of-the-line Ryzen 9 3900X processor will probably be 4.6GHz at default settings and no more than that regardless of the cooling solution used.

Using a Cooler Master MasterL Liquid ML360R with an ice-packed cooler we can get the Core i9-10900K down to 5.5GHz on all cores at 1.5V, which is able to complete most lightweight tests like Wprime and SuperPi without any kind of performance throttling. We’ve done the same with the Ryzen 9 3900X but can only do 4.5GHz on all cores at 1.46V. The 4.6GHz transition requires 1.58V, which we wouldn’t recommend for 24/7 operation because it’s impractical even if you have a cooling solution capable of taming the Ryzen 9 3900X.

Increase memory speed

Turning to memory overclocking, we must say that the result that you can achieve is highly dependent on the CPU, motherboard, and memory set used. For this test, we’re using ASUS ROG Maximus XII APEX for Core i9-10900K, MSI MEG X570 GODLIKE and Gigabyte B550i AORUS PRO AX for the Ryzen 9 3900X. For the memory kits we are using TEAMGROUP T-FORCE XTREEM ARGB DDR4-3200, G.SKILL Trident Z RGB DDR4-3200 and KLEVV BOLT XR DDR4-3600.

Some additional tweaks are required to the sub-timers and we were able to achieve DDR4-5000 on both systems by the end of testing. This is largely expected for the Core i9-10900K as this has always been Intel’s strong point, but we can’t deny that AMD has come a long way since the first Ryzen CPU was released.

last thoughts

While the Core i9-10900K still leads single-core performance by a large margin, we can’t deny the fact that more games, software, and applications nowadays are slowing down while taking advantage of the higher cores and threads that rely on modern-day CPUs. The Intel CPU will still outperform the Ryzen 9 3900X in most older and newer AAA titles as long as it prioritizes single-core performance more but we may see the advantage fade away if more future AAA titles start harnessing the additional cores and threads for better performance.

Since both the Ryzen 9 3900X and Core i9-10900K come at a fairly high price, the more expensive Core i7-10700K and Core i5-10600K from Intel or the Ryzen 7 3700X and Ryzen 5 3600X seems to be a more reasonable option for gamers who want better Bang for reward in terms of value. If you prefer a higher-end offering, you may want to invest in a high-quality power supply that can efficiently supply the required power, as the Ryzen 9 3900X and Core i9-10900K can easily draw 220 watts or more when the system is at full load. Pair it with high-end graphics cards like the recently released RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 that can easily draw more than 300 watts… well, you can easily do that calculation.

Is Core i9-10900K Worth the Investment? Well, it depends on what purpose you have it for. Gamers may want to look for the more expensive Core i7-10700K and Core i5-10600K or the Ryzen 7 3700X and Ryzen 5 3600X due to the higher price tag, although it is still an option for those who want the best for their system. Enthusiasts looking for the fun of overclocking will find value in this, especially those looking for a high SP value but that’s probably something that doesn’t matter to many people.

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