INTEL Core i9 10850K Review

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The 10-core, 20-thread Intel Core i9 10850K has arrived in our testing facility, bringing with it virtually similar characteristics as Intel’s flagship Core i9-10900K, which according to our CPU Benchmark Hierarchy currently holds the title of the fastest gaming processor in the world (although by a narrow margin). 

The Intel Core i9 10850K resembles a price reduction that passes for a new product in many ways. Its suggested price of $453 is 7% less expensive than the Core i9-10900K, which is only 100 MHz faster and costs $488. We anticipate the pricing deltas to be much wider at retail given the price gouging we’ve observed on the 10900K as a result of its sporadic availability. The 10850K is now a contender for our ranking of the Best Gaming CPUs as a result.

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When a corporation like Intel develops a CPU design, the production process results in variations in the product’s quality. Others have unexpectedly good voltage characteristics, while certain cores can only operate at a specific frequency.

Minimizing this volatility and raising the peak while managing how much silicon is actually put to use are two objectives of processor design. This is a feature of “binning,” the process of sorting silicon into various “bins” for use in particular products. The Core i9-10850K was created as a result of this procedure, although reluctance.

Intel Core i9 10850K Specifications & Overall

There isn’t a lot to think about here. The base and boost frequencies of the i9-10850K are down 100 MHz overall when compared to the Core i9-10900K. The ten-core, 20-thread device has a base frequency of 3.6 GHz and a peak frequency of 5.2 GHz.

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It’s uncertain if Intel will release a cheaper version of the Intel Core i9 10850K because it hasn’t declared or advertised a variant with no graphics. As you can see, the 10850K has already encroached within the price range of the locked Core i9-10900. The only benefit of the 10900, which costs $14 less and cannot be overclocked, is a base frequency that is 100 MHz higher. The 10850K is therefore a superior investment for the majority of us. 

The Intel Core i9 10850K is listed by Intel with a 95W TDP, which places it in a different TDP range from the Core i9-10900K. That number is mostly meaningless because Intel’s TDP rating only pertains to performance at the base frequency when the CPU isn’t operating at full capacity and it has no direct relationship to power consumption. 

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For a more precise examination of power consumption, we turn to Intel’s power level ratings. The 10850K and Core i9-10900K both have identical power ratings at factory settings of 125W PL1 (power level 1 – at base frequency) and 250W PL2 (power level 2 – at all-core boost frequency). The quality of the motherboard and the BIOS settings will affect performance because motherboard suppliers can and often do disregard those restrictions. 

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The Core i9-10850K features the same ten cores and 20 threads as its more costly brothers, and despite originating from lower-binned rungs of Intel’s production line, it operates at unexpectedly high speeds. It falls only 100MHz shy of the flagship’s 5.2GHz max boost frequency and has the same shortfall on the base frequency and Turbo Boost Max 4 and 2 speeds.

The Core i9-10900K’s all-core boost was 4.9GHz at stock speed in our water-cooled test system, and with the Core i9-10850K fitted, which clocked in at 4.8GHz in Prime95 with AVX instructions, there was once more a 100MHz shortfall.

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Despite our system being water-cooled, temperatures didn’t reach 75°C here.

Intel Core i9 10850K Essential Information

Product Collection10th Generation Intel® Core™ i9 Processors
Code NameComet Lake
Vertical SegmentDesktop
Processor Numberi9-10850KS
Lithography14 nm
Recommended Customer Price$464.00 – $508.00
Use ConditionsPC/Client/Tablet

Intel Core i9 10850K Specifications

Total Cores10
Total Threads20
Max Turbo Frequency5.20 GHz
Intel® Thermal Velocity Boost Frequency5.20 GHz
Intel® Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 Frequency5.10 GHz
Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 Frequency5.00 GHz
Processor Base Frequency3.60 GHz
Cache20 MB Intel® Smart Cache
Buss Speed8 GT/s

Intel Core i9 10850K Performance

The first chart in our album aptly summarizes the situation: When measured as an overall measure (geometric mean) of our gaming test suite, the standard Intel Core i9 10850K and Core i9-10900K give the same performance. Our test suite is designed to expose CPU performance differences rather than graphics card performance differences, but similar patterns should hold true across most titles. The Core i5-10850K also has the same 99th-percentile performance as its more costly cousin, which means it runs games just as smoothly.

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The difference between the two processors is insignificant after overclocking; they operate virtually equally. This does not guarantee that all 10850Ks will have the same overclocking headroom, but it does suggest that the 10850K is positioned higher on Intel’s binning distribution. 

Flipping through the gaming results album reveals some back-and-forth between the stock 10900K and 10850K in the various games, but we can attribute the majority of these deltas to run-to-run variation brought on by the game itself or to dynamic clock and voltage adjustments that can change depending on particular circumstances.

There are a few exceptions: the 10900K succeeds in Ashes of the Singularity and Hitman 2, while the 10850K manages a respectable victory in Final Fantasy XV. However, the overall pattern is clear: these processors perform startlingly similarly in actual gaming situations.

The tendencies are basically the same as what we saw in gaming, but we notice more obvious variances in our flurry of threaded application workloads, as you’ll see in the aggregate measurements at the conclusion of the post. 

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Intel Core i9 10850K Conclusion

For a number of reasons, the Intel Core i9 10850K is an intriguing CPU. First off, it delivers comparable multi-threaded performance for less money than the Ryzen 7 5800X since it has two additional cores. AMD is undoubtedly providing significantly more performance per core in this instance, but Intel has a compelling case in terms of value for money. Even our very small RTX 2070 Super demonstrated a clear edge over the AMD CPUs at 1080p, so it is unlikely to be much slower in games. However, the changes will become less noticeable above this.

While great at launch, Intel’s IPC and single-threaded performance are insufficient to compete with Zen 3. Unlike AMD’s Zen 3 processors, the Core i9-10850K also does not support PCI-E 4 for the most recent SSDs. In our picture editing test, AMD’s CPUs showed huge advantages; these advantages will continue in future games and apps with light threading.

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The Ryzen 5 5600X is a better value for a machine designed only for gaming, while the Ryzen 7 5800X costs more money but offers somewhat more oomph. Even so, the Core i9-10850K delivers amazing performance when overclocked, where it may still compete with AMD’s most recent CPUs if money is an issue.

Intel Core i9-10850K: Pros and Cons

The Intel Core i9-10850K is a 10th-generation desktop processor released in 2020. It boasts 10 cores and 20 threads, making it a powerful option for demanding tasks like gaming, video editing, and 3D rendering. However, like any hardware, it has its strengths and weaknesses. Let’s delve into the pros and cons of the i9-10850K:


  • Strong performance: With 10 cores and high clock speeds (up to 5.2 GHz with Thermal Velocity Boost), the i9-10850K excels in multi-threaded workloads. It handles demanding games, creative applications, and multitasking with ease.
  • Overclocking capability: Unlocked multiplier allows enthusiasts to squeeze even more performance out of the CPU by pushing its clock speeds beyond factory settings. This can further enhance performance for specific tasks.
  • Good value compared to i9-10900K: Offering similar performance to its slightly more expensive sibling, the i9-10900K, the i9-10850K presents a more budget-friendly option for users seeking high-end performance.
  • LGA1200 socket compatibility: The i9-10850K utilizes the LGA1200 socket, compatible with a wide range of motherboards, offering flexibility in system building.


  • High power consumption and heat generation: The i9-10850K has a TDP (Thermal Design Power) of 125W, requiring a capable cooling solution to maintain optimal performance and prevent thermal throttling. This also translates to higher energy consumption.
  • Lack of PCIe 4.0 support: Unlike newer processors, the i9-10850K only supports PCIe 3.0, which might limit the performance of future high-bandwidth devices like NVMe SSDs.
  • Diminishing returns for gaming: While powerful, the i9-10850K’s extra cores might not offer significant benefits in purely gaming scenarios compared to less expensive options like the i7-10700K.
  • Outdated compared to newer generations: Being a 10th generation processor, the i9-10850K is surpassed by newer generations like the 12th and 13th gen in terms of performance and efficiency.

Additional factors to consider:

  • Price: The i9-10850K’s price has fluctuated since its release, so ensure you compare current market prices before making a purchase decision.
  • Future upgrade path: As newer generations offer advancements, consider if the i9-10850K fits your long-term upgrade plans.
  • Specific needs: Evaluate your primary usage scenarios (gaming, editing, etc.) to determine if the i9-10850K’s power aligns with your requirements.


The Intel Core i9-10850K remains a capable processor for demanding workloads, offering strong performance and overclocking potential. However, its high power consumption, lack of PCIe 4.0, and being surpassed by newer generations are noteworthy drawbacks. Carefully weigh the pros and cons, considering your specific needs and budget, before deciding if the i9-10850K is the right choice for you.

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