Comet Lake-S may require hefty CPU coolers: Core i9-10900F shown to have a 170 W PL1 (TDP) and 224 W PL2 for a 4.6 GHz all-core boost
Now that the Intel 10th gen Comet Lake-H processors are out, it is time to look forward to the impending launch of the Comet Lake-S processors for desktops. Comet Lake-S is expected to launch soon, so it is no surprise to see these processors popping-up on various benchmark sites. The latest such reveal details some interesting aspects of the Core i9-10900F — a 10-core 20-thread processor without an iGPU.
Recently, a Weibo post has surfaced showing the Core i9-10900F in action under an AIDA64 CPU stress test. The processor seems to have hit 4.6 GHz on all cores but operates at significantly high TDP. According to the HWiNFO64 data, the maximum PL1 of the Core i9-10900F was 170 W while the PL2 was 224 W. The PL1 limit is what Intel advertises as the TDP and is calculated at base clocks. For this processor to maintain a 4.6 GHz all-core boost, it would have to ramp up the TDP to 224 W. Contrast this with the 105 W TDP rating for the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X with 12 cores that hits a peak TDP of 146 W during an all-core boost up to 4.2 GHz.
Although Intel and AMD use different methods and meanings for TDP measurement, a 170 W TDP for a consumer desktop CPU is definitely on the higher side. Though a heavily binned chip, even the limited edition 8-core Core i9-9900KS could manage an all-core 5 GHz boost at 170 W PL2. In fact, a comparison table on the same Weibo post recommends a five-heatpipe tower for even the 10th gen Core i5 Comet Lake-S chips and a 240 mm AiO radiator solution for the Core i7 and Core i9 unlocked versions.
To be honest, it is still remarkable that Intel has been able to squeeze the maximum out of their now-ageing 14nm process. Besides, most enthusiasts who use these flagship Intel chips also factor-in some form of improved cooling in their budget. However, the fact that Intel looks to be struggling to optimize power draws and cooling does not bode too well, especially when conservative options are available from the competition.
A report by ComputerBase back during CES 2020 said that motherboard OEMs ready with Z490 models were unhappy with Intel's delay in announcing Comet Lake-S. Apparently, the flagship 10-core Comet Lake-S processors weren't ready for primetime due to thermal and power consumption issues, which could also be the reason why Comet Lake-H topped out at eight cores max.
Going by the Core i9-10900F's PL values, it looks like Intel may have hit the limit for optimizing Comet Lake-S's power consumption and would prefer to just go ahead with whatever the best they could do till now. Any further delay will risk being outclassed by the upcoming AMD Zen 3 Ryzen 4000 desktop CPUs, which are expected to use a further refined 7nm++ process with prominent IPC gains over Zen 2.