The Core i9-10850K (via @TUM_APISAK) has popped up in a benchmark database, implying that Intel isn't ready to move on from Comet Lake yet. Assuming that the chip isn't an OEM part, Intel might even be readying a Comet Lake refresh to ward off AMD's recent Ryzen 3000XT lineup. As with all unannounced chips, we aren't sure if it will come to market, or if it will have the same specifications, but the part does look promising.
You don't really need to be a genius to see that the Core i9-10850K is practically a Core i9-10900K with a bad disguise. The unannounced processor comes with an identical 10-core, 20-thread configuration as the Core i9-10900K. The Core i9-10850K packs 20MB of L3 cache and 256KB of L2 cache per core. This design aligns perfectly with the specifications for a Comet Lake. There's no doubt that the Core i9-10850K is a close relative to the Core i9-10900K.
The Core i9-10850K differentiates itself from the Core i9-10900K with the lower clock speeds. The 10-core processor reportedly arrives with a 3.6 GHz base clock, which is just 100 MHz lower than the Core i9-10900K. The different Geekbench 5 submissions showed the Core i9-10850K boosting up to 5.18 GHz so it's close enough to call it 5.2 GHz.
|Processor||Cores / Threads||Base Clock (GHz)||TBMT 3.0 Clock (GHz)||TVB Clock (GHz)||L3 Cache (MB)||TDP (W)|
|Core i9-10900K||10 / 20||3.7||5.2||5.3||20||125|
|Core i9-10850K*||10 / 20||3.6||5.2||?||20||?|
*Specifications are unconfirmed.
For the meantime, let's remove the cooling and the motherboard's power delivery subsystem as factors. It would appear that the Core i9-10850K doesn't feature Thermal Velocity Boost (TVB) and would explain why the 10-core part maxes out at 5.2 GHz, instead of 5.3 GHz like the Core i9-10900K.
In a nutshell, the Core i9-10850K is technically a Core i9-10900K with a 100 MHz lower base clock and the lack of TVB. It's not even outrageous to imagine that the Core i9-10850K is built with subpar silicon that didn't make the cut for the Core i9-10900K.
We can't discard the possibility that the Core i9-10850K is for Intel's OEM clients, but that seems to be unlikely given that the processor is a K-series chip. We don't see the Core i9-10850K being an OEM part unless some brand is planning to offer an overclockable prebuilt system. The odds are that the Core i9-10850K should hit retail.
The Core i9-10850K's biggest appeal would be its price tag. For a bit of context, the Core i9-10900K has a MSRP of $499. In reality, the 10-core chip retails for $529.99 if you can find it in stock, of course. We can picture the Core i9-10850K thriving if Intel shaves off $30 to $50 off the price of what a Core i9-10900K would cost. Being an unlocked processor, it would be easy to overclock the Core i9-10850K to meet or even surpass the performance of a stock Core i9-10900K.
On paper, the Core i9-10850K appears to be an enticing option, and we do hope that Intel brings it to the market.