2020 saw a great deal of hardware launch from Intel and AMD alike. From Intel, we had the ever-memorable 10000 series of processors, which brought an extensive range of CPUs to market, as well as breaking past the 5.0GHz mark with their Turbo and "Thermal Velocity" boost modes. As such, we saw several particularly good processors for the gaming scene.
The best performer of those processors was of course the i9-10900K, which prior to the launch of AMD's 5000 series at the close of last year, was top of the charts when it came to delivering hundreds of frames in many popular titles. However, the 10900K had, and still has, one major pitfall for many gamers. And that's the price tag.
With the arrival of AMD's 5000 series and the omnipresent stock availability issues that plagued the end of last year (and will likely continue into this one), a fair few debates have been rekindled, with many pointing to the 10900K as the only logical conclusion. But the thing is, that just isn't true.
What many may have missed amongst all the excitement of last summer, was the arrival of the i9-10850K. It sort of appeared suddenly, and without any real press coverage, largely being covered by tech-tubers and a handful of tech news outlets.
In essence, the 10850K should be the logical choice for anyone considering a 10900K, and for two simple reasons. One: they are essentially the exact same processor. And two: the 10850K is around £100 cheaper. Yes, that's right, the 10850K performs nigh identically to the 10900K and for significantly less. That also means you'll have an extra £100 to put towards a robust cooling solution, such as the NZXT Kraken X73 360mm AIO, or even a motherboard with improved VRMs to keep power delivery under control, in order to keep the processor consistently hitting that 5.0GHz+ mark.
If you're wondering just how identical these two processors are, well, the 10850K runs at 3.7GHz up to 5.2GHz, versus the 10900K which runs from 3.8GHz up to 5.3GHz; indeed, the only notable difference between these two chips is a measly 100MHz on the base and boost clocks. This makes the 10850K a fantastic choice for a high-end gaming CPU, since it now offers an even better value proposition than AMD's previous 10900K competitor, the 3900X (which is now well over the £400 mark).
For us, this makes the 10850K the true flagship gaming CPU from Intel, and what's more, unlike AMD's most recent CPUs, and even the 10900K (depending on where you look), it's actually available to buy right now.
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