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

Core i9 gaming at Core i7 pricing

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Intel Core i7-10700K Overclocking Settings, Power and Thermals

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We dialed in a 5.1-GHz overclock with a 1.36V vCore and left the motherboard to its own devices for LLC control (auto), giving us a steady 1.38V under heavy load. As we did with the Core i9-10900K, we dialed the ring bus multiplier to 48 to improve stability and performance, but that's an optional tweak. We also ran our overclocked configuration with memory at DDR4-3600 with 18-18-18-36 timings. 

The Core i7-10700K proved to be fairly easy to cool with a Corsair H115i 280mm AIO cooler. The chip peaked at 85C during a string of y-cruncher multi-threaded tests, and power peaked at slightly over 250W. That's a new high for Core i7, but you could get away with bulky air coolers if you reign in your maximum frequency targets. 

SIlicon Lottery, a boutique vendor that pre-bins chips, reports that 20% of its samples reached 5.1 GHz on all cores, and more than half can hit 5.0 GHz. However, Silicon Lottery pairs those multi-core boosts with higher four-core boosts of 5.2 and 5.1 GHz, respectively. That means a bit more tuning would likely extract higher clocks with our sample, which we bought at retail.  

There really isn't too much to talk about with our overclocking efforts: The Core i7-10700K is an easy overclocker, and we have little doubt that a bit more tuning could unlock more performance. 

Intel Core i7-10700K Turbo Boost and Thermals

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As per normal for any of our testing of stock settings, we disabled the MCE (Multi-Core Enhancement) feature that amounts to automatic overclocking (Enhanced Multi-Core Performance in Gigabyte's parlance). 

We ran our standard frequency test for lightly-threaded workloads (methodology here). Here we see frequent boost activity to 5.1 GHz during the PCMark 10 tests, and power consumption and thermals weren't really an issue, though we did record a spike to 178W. 

As you can see above, thermals were good with the Corsair H115i, albeit with the fans cranking at full speed, during a string of real-world stress tests that includes multiple instances of the Corona ray-tracing benchmark, x265 HandBrake rendering tests, POV-Ray multi-threaded benchmarks, Cinebench R20 runs, and finally five iterations of the AVX-intensive threaded y-cruncher. 

The Intel Core i7-10700K ran at 4.7 GHz during heavy all-core loads, and temperatures spiked to 76C with the Corsair H115i cooler. Power consumption peaked at 190W, which is well under the PL2 rating of 229W.

Intel Core i7-10700K Power Consumption and Efficiency

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At stock settings, we logged an average of 147W of power consumption for the Core i7-10700K during the AVX-intensive multi-threaded y-cruncher workload, which is 9% less power than the similarly-equipped Core i9-9900K. That's impressive given that both chips run at 4.7 GHz on all cores during the test. As you'll see in the application testing later, the 10700K delivers faster performance, meaning that, compared to its spiritual predecessor, it yields a comparatively solid increase in power efficiency in SIMD workloads. The Core i7-10700K also draws less power than the 9700K, which has the same core count but doesn't come with Hyper-Threading.

We logged similar power consumption during our overclocking efforts, with the 10700K's fixed 5.1 GHz clock rate yielding a maximum of 211W under load, compared to the 9900K's 5.0 GHz overclock that pulled down 206W. As always, take power readings during overclocking with a grain of salt, as fine-tuning and motherboard firmwares have a huge impact here.

As expected, the Core i7-10700K consumes much more power than the Ryzen 3000 chips, but that isn't surprising given their denser and more power-efficient 7nm node. That advantage really shines through when we take a look at power consumption during our HandBrake x264 and x265 workloads. Still, basic power consumption measurements never tell the full story – the Ryzen processors also dominate the renders-per-day efficiency metrics.

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Here, we take a slightly different look at power consumption by calculating the cumulative amount of energy required to perform an x264 and x265 HandBrake workload, respectively. We plot this 'task energy' value in Kilojoules on the left side of the chart.

These workloads are comprised of a fixed amount of work, so we can plot the task energy against the time required to finish the job (bottom axis), thus generating a really useful power chart. Bear in mind that faster compute times, and lower task energy requirements, are ideal. That means processors that fall the closest to the bottom left corner of the chart are best.

Intel's hyper-optimized 14nm++ process can't beat the Ryzen processors in these measurements of power consumed during AVX-accelerated encoding tasks. The 10700K represents a decent step forward from the 9900K, but it's clear there's still a large disparity between the AMD and Intel camps. 

Intel Socket 1200 (Z490)Core i7-10700K, Core i9-10900K
Gigabyte Aorus Z490 Master
2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 - Stock: DDR4-2933, OC: DDR4-3600
AMD Socket AM4 (X570)AMD Ryzen 9 3950X, 3900X, Ryzen 7 3800X; 3700X

MSI MEG X570 Godlike
2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 - Stock: DDR4-3200, OC: DDR4-3600
Intel LGA 1151 (Z390)Intel Core i9-9900K, i7-9700K

MSI MEG Z390 Godlike

2x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4-3200 - Stock: DDR4-2666, OC: DDR4-3600
All SystemsNvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti

2TB Intel DC4510 SSD

EVGA Supernova 1600 T2, 1600W
Open Benchtable

Windows 10 Pro (1903 - All Updates)
Workstation Tests - 4x 16GB Corsair Dominator - Corsair Force MP600
CoolingCorsair H115i, Custom Loop, Noctua NH-D15S

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Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.