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Intel Core i7-10700K Review: Taking the Gaming Shine Off Core i9

Core i9 gaming at Core i7 pricing

(Image: © Intel)

Our Verdict

The Core i7-10700K essentially matches the Core i9-10900K's gaming performance after overclocking, but for $100 less. However, AMD alternatives are better for productivity work.

For

  • Lower per-thread pricing
  • Turbo Boost Max 3.0
  • Excellent gaming performance
  • High overclocking headroom
  • Reasonable cooling requirements

Against

  • No bundled cooler
  • PCIe 3.0 interface
  • Requires new motherboard
  • Not much faster than Core i5 (in gaming)

Intel's Comet Lake has cratered into the market, bringing more threads to the company's Core i5 and i7 lineups along with more cores for the halo Core i9 family. In response to AMD's unrelenting pressure, Intel's revamped lineup offers more threads for the same pricing as previous-gen models. The Core i7-10700K slots in with eight cores and 16 threads for and MSRP of $374 / $349 (without GPU), though current street prices are higher. In fact, the 10700K offers the same number of cores and threads as the previous-gen Core i9-9900K, but for $114 less, making it a contender for our list of Best CPUs.

As expected, Intel reserved the best features for its halo Core i9-10900K, like support for its Thermal Velocity Boost that triggers higher boost speeds if the chip runs below a certain temperature. However, the Core i7-10700K still marks the debut of Turbo Max 3.0 to the Core i7 family. This tech targets the 10700K's two fastest cores, which peak at 5.1 GHz, with lightly threaded workloads to improve snappiness. That results in a surprisingly close competition for gaming supremacy between the Core i7-10700K and the Core i9-10900K. 

The Intel Core i7-10700K also comes with a 3.8-GHz base clock that, paired with its 16 threads, improves its standing against price-comparable Ryzen processors in threaded desktop PC applications, while the snappy single-threaded performance gives it an outright win in lightly-threaded apps. The Core i7-10700K also proves to be a nimble overclocker that doesn't generate an untenable amount of excess heat, so off-the-shelf water coolers can unlock big gains. 

Overall, the Core i7-10700K gives you nearly the same gaming performance as the Core i9-10900K, but for $110 less, and overclocking eliminates any meaningful difference in gaming performance between the chips. You also get extremely competitive single-threaded performance at stock settings. 

AMD isn't sitting still, though. The company recently announced a new line of Ryzen XT processors that should bring slight performance improvements over the existing chips. Still, more importantly, the pending chips have resulted in lower pricing on the existing processors. The competing $300 Ryzen 7 3700X isn't as adept in gaming and only holds a slight edge in creativity applications, so it slots in as a lower-cost alternative. Meanwhile, the Ryzen 9 3900X retails for a fantastic $415, and its 12 cores offer far more performance in threaded workloads, making it the go-to productivity chip. 

The Core i7-10700K leads in gaming, but cost-conscious shoppers may prefer Intel's own Core i5-1600K, which is a better value for lower-cost gaming rigs. This leaves the Core i7-10700K as a good choice for high-end gaming machines, and it definitely takes the shine off Intel's Core i9-10900K (and its egregious power consumption) for overclocking enthusiasts and the frame-rate obsessed. 

Intel Core i7-10700K Specifications and Pricing

MSRP/RetailCores / ThreadsBase / Boost GHz$-Per-Core / Per ThreadL3 CacheTDPPCIeMemoryGraphics
Ryzen 9 3950X $749 / $70016 / 323.5 / 4.7~$44/~$2264105W24 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200N/A
Ryzen 9 3900X$413 / $41912 / 243.8 / 4.6~$35/~$1764105W24 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200N/A
Core i9-10900K / KF$488 (K) / $472 (KF)10 / 203.7 / 5.3~$49/~$24 / ~$47/~$2420125W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2933UHD 630 - 1.2 GHz (non-F only)
Core i9-9900K / F$488 / $5248 / 163.6 / 5.0~$61/~$311695W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666UHD 630 - 1.2 GHz (non-F only)
Core i7-10700K / KF$374 (K) / $349 (KF)8 / 163.8 / 5.1~$47/~$23 / ~$44/~$2216125W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2933UHD 630 - 1.2 GHz (non-F only)
Core i7-9700K$374 / $3708 / 83.6 / 4.9$~47/~$471295W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2666UHD 630 - 1.2 GHz (non-F only)
Ryzen 7 3800X$399 / $3298 / 163.9 / 4.5~$41/~$2132105W24 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200N/A
Core i7-10700 / F$323 / $298 (F)8 / 162.9 / 4.8~$40/~$20 / ~$37/~$191665W16 Gen3Dual DDR4-2933UHD 630 - 1.2 GHz (non-F only)
Ryzen 7 3700X$329 / $2758 / 163.6 / 4.4~$34/~$173265W24 Gen4Dual DDR4-3200N/A

The Comet Lake architecture, which comes with the 14nm++ process, is yet another Skylake derivative, meaning most performance gains come from added features and clock rate improvements. We've covered the finer details here

The biggest change to the Core i7 series comes in the form of more threads at the same price points as previous-gen i7 models, which equates to a lower price-per-thread. Intel's graphics-less F-series 10700K also stands out with a $25 discount. 

The 10700K doesn't have a direct Ryzen 3000 competitor on the pricing front yet, with the ~$415 Ryzen 9 3900X serving as a step up with 12 cores and 24 threads, while the $329 Ryzen 7 3800X lands at a lower price point. We expect that to change when AMD releases its Radeon XT models, with the $399 Ryzen 7 3800XT serving as the 10700K's direct competitor. 

In many respects, the Core i7-10700K is similar, if not better, than the previous-gen Core i9-9900K. Both chips come with eight cores and 16 threads, but the 10700K has higher 3.8 / 5.1 GHz base/boost clocks, while the Core i9-9900K tops out at 3.6 / 5.0 GHz. Both chips have the same 4.7 GHz all-core boost. 

Turbo Boost MatrixBase (GHz)Turbo Boost 2.0 (single-core) Turbo Boost 3.0 Max (Dual-Core)Thermal Velocity Boost (TVB - Single Core) All-Core BoostTVB All-core
Core i9-10900K / KF3.7 GHz5.1 GHz5.2 GHz5.3 GHz4.8 GHz4.9 GHz
Core i7-10700K3.8 GHz5.0 GHz5.1 GHzN/A4.7GHzN/A
Core i7-9700K3.6 GHz4.9 GHzN/aN/A4.6 GHz
Core i9-9900K / F3.6 GHz5.0 GHzN/A N/A4.7 GHzN/A

The Core i7-10700K gains the extra 100 MHz in boost frequency over the 9900K via Intel's Turbo Boost Max 3.0 tech, which targets the two fastest physical cores (identified during the binning process) and targets them with lightly-threaded applications.

Active Cores1-234 - 56 - 8
Core i7-10700K5.14.94.84.7
Core i9-9900K5.04.84.74.7

Intel fabs both the Core i9-9900K and Core i7-10700K with a similar process and architecture, but the 10700K consists of the ten-core die with two cores fused off to create an eight-core part. Intel gives the 10700K a 125W TDP rating, which is a substantial increase over the 9900K's 95W. Intel specs the TDP rating at base clocks, so the company made a few alterations, including pairing a thinner die and copper integrated heat spreader (IHS) with solder TIM to help accommodate the higher heat output. Intel also bumped up the PL2 (Power Limit 2) rating that reflects power draw during boost activity to 229W, which is a big jump over the 9900K's 119W rating. 

Intel bumped up its memory support over the previous-gen models from DDR4-2666 to DDR4-2933, a minor improvement, and you'll need a Z490 motherboard with the LGA1200 socket to accommodate the chip. Luckily, all 115x cooling solutions are compatible.  As with the chip's other ratio multipliers, Intel fully enables memory overclocking on Z-series motherboards, but you'll lose that functionality on the B- and H-series. Be sure to price in a Z-series board and a cooling solution, preferably liquid, if you're off to the overclocking races. Meanwhile, AMD allows overclocking on all but its A-Series motherboards. 

The Core i7-10700K doesn't come with a boxed cooler like the competing Ryzen chips, but mid-range air coolers should be sufficient for stock operation, and even some overclocking. Serious overclockers should plan on a 240mm or greater all-in-one cooler, but the overclocking results we'll outline on the following pages are pretty impressive. 

  • jgraham11
    Wow that's high power consumption! Good thing you are running liquid cooling! Compare that to the AMD 3700X at half the power!

    Look at the shorter tests, the Intel systems seems to do better until their turbo runs out. AMD seems to do better with anything that takes more time.

    I realize that both AMD and Intel systems are overclocked but the AMD systems seem to do better with memory tuning, maybe instead of just using PBO (a one click solution), take the same time you use for the Intel processors and put that into the memory. AMD would show even better in games and anything that was memory intensive.

    1440p gaming would be more relevant! I do realize it doesn't make for good looking graphs but 1080p is not the typical use case for this CPU and comparable GPU.

    Good review overall. Pretty fair way of presenting the information. Good memory choices. Efficiency focus was great to see.

    Way better than the typical casting AMD CPUs in bad light, for example where Toms put the 3400G ($159) against the Intel 9700k($379.00).
    Reply
  • RodroX
    Good review, too bad at this price point you only show 1920x1080p game results.

    I understand thats the only way to keep GPU from been a "bottleneck", but if I was to spend this much money I would aim for playing at 1440p High details.

    I still think that no matter what you wana play, the resolution and/or refresh rate, at this point in time the best bang for the buck for ultrafast FPS is the Core i5 10600K + high speed memory, and you feel like it some quick brainless overclocking.

    Other than that just pick the Ryzen your wallet can buy and be happy.
    Reply
  • DrDrLc
    Look... Can we actually get gaming benchmarks with modern games and at higher resolutions?

    Intel keeps on saying that they are better for gaming because of single-threaded 1080p benchmarks, but we don't game like that with 2080ti cards. We don't build $2000 machines with one of the most expensive gaming cards to run 1080p ffs.

    Are you going to give us next gen graphics card benchmarks only at 1080p?

    If not, can we actually see what this new CPU will look like in comparison to others at resolutions that we use? We've been watching all the review sites doing this for three or four years now... It's Intel's marketing strategy, and you are letting them do it, and playing along! It's a problem, because we don't have any reviews that actually show us what to buy for the way that we actually play games. These are reviews are actually useless for gamers.
    Reply
  • barryv88
    I find it downright shocking to see that popular hardware review sites such as Tom's are still harping so much on HD gaming results.
    Yes, game results at HD are less GPU bound, but it only paints Intel in a good picture while hiding a rather shocking truth - that AMD is incredibly gaming competitive at the world's sweet spot for gaming resolutions. Q H D. (Typically 2560x1440).Tom's explicitly stated in the past that QHD is the best area for gaming given that screens today with G/Fsync/144hz+ options cost less than $500 and are very affordable in general, today. 4K is still too high for most GPU's to handle, meaning that QHD fills a good middle ground at the end of the day, beating HD at higher image quality.

    Really Tom's, get your act straight. It's time to nudge your audience towards higher gaming echelons.
    Start publishing QHD CPU results in addition as this will entice people to make the switch towards higher res gaming but also this - AMD Ryzen CPU's in general are less than 5% slower than Intel chips at QHD or 4K FPS. Intel is therefore NOT the indisputable king as no god given person can tell such a small difference in high res FPS. Enough with the gaming myths! Ryzen CPU's tend to pack more cores that actually makes them far more future prove. If most of those cores sit idle in today's gaming, who cares? Wouldn't you rather have enough cores in reserve for more future demanding games and enjoy streaming/recording quality with extra muscle under the hood to enjoy less stutter? Call me stupid, but to me this actually makes Ryzen a better gaming choice.

    Your article adds to this whole HD stagnation thing that's been going on for over 10 years. Over 90% of steam players still game at HD. It's time to give em reason to make the next push - QHD and then 4K.
    Make a start. I challenge Paul Alcorn to do a "world sweet spot QHD CPU FPS" article. Get around 10 people or so to game on both Intel and AMD machines. Gather the results and lets see if Intel still holds the crown.
    Reply
  • Drunk Canuck
    The only downside is how hot the 10700K gets. When I got mine, I ran a stress test at stock and it hit 74 degrees with a Fractal Celsius S24 AIO with my case open (Define R6) for maximum airflow and all fans running. It gets into the mid 80's when the case is closed. I'd assume I'd get those temperatures with the case open when overclocking and that's a bit much.

    I will say this though, my new system runs Doom Eternal really well. Basically everything cranked to high or ultra at 2K resolution with a GTX 1070.
    Reply
  • milleron
    This year, many will be building new computers mostly dedicated to Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. In the past, flight sims were more likely to be CPU-bound than GPU-bound, but it's not clear that that's any longer the case. Is there any way to predict before final release of this much-anticipated game whether it will benefit more from single-core clock speed or multi-threading? Would anyone hazard a guess on whether to plan an Intel or Ryzen build?
    Reply
  • RodroX
    milleron said:
    This year, many will be building new computers mostly dedicated to Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. In the past, flight sims were more likely to be CPU-bound than GPU-bound, but it's not clear that that's any longer the case. Is there any way to predict before final release of this much-anticipated game whether it will benefit more from single-core clock speed or multi-threading? Would anyone hazard a guess on whether to plan an Intel or Ryzen build?

    You should wait for reviews when its launched.

    Other than that this is the best you can check right now: https://www.pcgamer.com/microsoft-flight-simulator-system-requirements/
    Im guessing any Ryzen 5/7 3xxx will play nice, probably thye Ryzen 7 3700X could be a cheaper, yet very good option vs the i7 10700K.

    And if rumors becomes true the new Ryzen 4xxx could be a new jewel for gaming. But that wont be out till atleast the end of september.
    Reply
  • st379
    There are still 1080p 240hz monitors that are being sold.
    1080p ultra is very realistic, Paul did not test it at 1080p low he tested it on max settings.
    It is not like some review sites that test at 720p low or even worse at 480p.
    This is a cpu review not a gpu.
    In gpu review I would expect it to be tested in 1080p up to 4k, maybe even 8k.
    Reply
  • RodroX
    st379 said:
    There are still 1080p 240hz monitors that are being sold.
    1080p ultra is very realistic, Paul did not test it at 1080p low he tested it on max settings.
    It is not like some review sites that test at 720p low or even worse at 480p.
    This is a cpu review not a gpu.
    In gpu review I would expect it to be tested in 1080p up to 4k, maybe even 8k.

    True, but it does not change the fact that there are also more and more 1440p monitors sold everyday. And when you spend this amount of money for a CPU many people will also consider a high end GPU with a 1440p monitor for gaming, thus it will be very nice to have those results.
    Reply
  • barryv88
    milleron said:
    This year, many will be building new computers mostly dedicated to Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. In the past, flight sims were more likely to be CPU-bound than GPU-bound, but it's not clear that that's any longer the case. Is there any way to predict before final release of this much-anticipated game whether it will benefit more from single-core clock speed or multi-threading? Would anyone hazard a guess on whether to plan an Intel or Ryzen build?
    DX12 should remove alot of CPU bottleneck and hopefully we'll see great core scaling if all pans out for the engine. I for one would like to see how the engine handles scenery draw and how smooth everything will translate to FPS.
    Reply