10th-gen CPU buyers guide

If your brain broke this morning when Intel announced its 10th-gen Comet Lake laptop CPUs, which will sell alongside its 10th-gen Ice Lake chips, we understand.

Among the two different manufacturing processes (one advanced and one very refined) as well as very different graphics cores, core counts and power levels, it’s confusing enough to make you want to switch to a Windows on ARM laptop (just kidding, we’re not that frustrated). Even Intel itself admits there “might be some confusion” between its different 10th-gen  CPUs.

How to use our chart

On the far left are the individual model numbers of each new 10th-gen CPU. As you look across the table, you’ll see important performance criteria and how we’re rating each CPU model. As you move from left to right, ask yourself how important each criterion is for what you do or might do, and note how it balances against the other CPUs.

New instructions

With the 10th-gen Ice Lake CPUs, Intel has added support for AVX512 instructions, which can speed up deep learning and AI functionality. This can manifest in photo applications that can detect faces faster and with more accuracy. We call features like AVX512 “future proof,” because the truth is the vast majority of applications today don’t use the new instructions. If you buy into the new feature, it’ll likely take months if not years for them to be used. Is it worth it? One example of “future proofing” was the SSE support in the Pentium III. It offered minimal practical benefits when launched in 1999 but rapidly became worth its weight in gold once MP3 encoders supported it. With 10th gen, only the 10nm-based Ice Lake CPUs have AVX512.

Quick Sync video encoding performance

Quick Sync is specialized video encoding hardware in Intel CPUs with integrated graphics support. The 10th-gen Ice Lake features Intel’s newest encoding engine, which can be dramatically faster especially with newer HEVC/H.265 CODECs. Applications will need to be updated to support the faster performance. If video conversion using the newest formats is important to you, the 10th-gen Ice Lake should rank higher.

Multi-core workloads like video editing

More cores are generally going to be better for most advanced content creation chores such as video editing, 3D modelling, or advanced photo tools that support the additional cores. You might also want to look to multi-core performance CPUs if you like to run multiple apps that are CPU-intensive at the same time. A CPU with more cores tends to outperform one with fewer cores when multi-tasking heavily, so look to the CPU with the most cores for that job. In this case, it’s the Core i7-10710U.

However, if your idea of multi-tasking is having Chrome open alongside Outlook, Word, and Excel, then a quad-core or even dual-core would likely be perfectly fine, as long as it’s paired with enough RAM and an SSD.

Single-core workloads like photo editing or Office

Most applications, even new ones, usually don’t take advantage of multi-core CPUs. These apps instead tend to get more performance from just a core or two running at very high clock speeds or with greater efficiency. Yes, Megahertz still matters. For this category, we rate the CPUs with the highest clock speeds, and the capability to actually hold them at the top. In this case, the 10th-gen Comet Lake CPUs that can hit 4.9GHz and 4.7GHz are likely to outpace the 10th-gen Ice Lake chips by a step or two.

Gaming and graphics performance

Gaming and graphics performance is pretty straightforward. The CPUs with the best graphics performance will give you smoother gaming or prettier graphics. With this generation, the 10th-gen Ice Lake chips with the “G7” rating get the highest rating. In fact, it can be on a par with some discrete graphics chips. We’re rating the graphics performance of the 10th-gen Comet Lake CPUs as “adequate,” because for the most part, it’s the same as previous 8th-gen, 7th-gen, and 6th-gen laptops in graphics performance.

Battery life

Our last category is how we’d rate each CPU model based on battery life. We say this with the caution that battery life of a laptop is a recipe based on each individual laptop design including the screen quality and type, the screen resolution, the battery size, and the tuning by the laptop vendor. Still, the CPUs we rate as the best are the ones intentionally tuned to lower power consumption. For 10th-gen Comet Lake, it’s the Y series of CPUs and the power-sipping dual-core 10th-gen Ice Lake CPUs.

Abigail Smith is an inventive person who has been doing intensive research in particular topics and writing blogs and articles on  Printer Customer Support and many other related topics. He is a very knowledgeable person with lots of experience. If you’re not running A/V protection right now and you want more than what Windows Defender offers, this is a great buy.

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