Intel Comet Lake vs. Ice Lake

The two-horse CPU race between AMD and Intel is more exciting than ever. AMD's powerful Ryzen 3000 processors ignite a fire under Intel that we haven't seen in years. To combat AMD's new edge, Intel has two brand new CPU lines that will expand its portfolio by the end of 2020: Ice Lake and Comet Lake.

In short, Comet Lake now covers desktops and laptops with high, mid and entry CPUs. Ice Lake is currently only available on laptops and offers excellent performance and battery life. This family is based on the second generation 10nm process from Intel (10nm +) after the short Cannon Lake in 2018. However, Comet Lake remains on the refined 14nm process node from Intel.

Given that both now appear in very different types of laptops, it's important to know the difference between the two outside of jargon. So how do they measure themselves against each other? Read on to find out.

Availability and pricing

Walden Kirsch / Intel Corporation

Laptops with 10 nm Ice Lake CPUs were launched in summer 2019. These include Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, Razer Blade Stealth, HP Specter x360 13, Dell XPS 13 and many more. The "U" on the processor label means "Ultra-Low-Power", which means that a balanced relationship between power and battery is sought. The "Y" chips do the same thing, but usually have lower base speeds.

Laptops with 14 nm Comet Lake "U" and "Y" arrived in the same period and packed more core and threads at the top. Intel didn't release its H-series chips until early April 2020, followed by desktop processors later this month. These latter chips are now replacing Coffee Lake's entire ninth generation desktop CPU range.

Intel is not expected to release a 10 nm desktop processor until 2021 or even 2022. We therefore do not expect Ice Lake to be seen on desktops next year or so.

Comet Lake's desktop processors range from $ 42 for low-end Celeron chips to the ten-core i9-10900K for a heftier $ 488. With the high-end core i9-10980HK for laptops, you can get back $ 583 before even configuring the portable PC. The Intel Celeron 5205U laptop chip has a suggested price of $ 107.

Ice Lake's smaller portfolio is slightly less dramatic in pricing, with chips just over $ 400. Some of the chip tours are currently not publicly available. It is reserved for the manufacturers.

Architecture

In many cases, laptops with Comet Lake and Ice Lake compete directly for user interest and money. However, they have significantly different technologies, particularly with regard to the underlying architecture.

Ice Lake is Intel's first commercial 10nm processor line – the previous Cannon Lake never became mainstream. This is the first shrink that Intel has successfully completed in almost five years, and it's a big one.

The Sunny Cove architecture that drives Ice Lake CPUs opens up a number of new instructions that can significantly speed up the legacy code by promoting parallel operation. It also reduced the effective access latencies and improved the cache over older core designs. In combination with the switch to the expanded version of the 10 nm process node from Intel, this leads to a strong increase in single-thread and multi-threaded performance for mobile Ice Lake CPUs compared to eighth-generation Whiskey Lake chips.

Ice Lake also introduced the 11th generation Iris Plus graphics from Intel, which offers a significant increase in 3D performance compared to 9th generation 3D predecessors such as the UHD 620 graphics core. It also supports faster memory than previous architectures up to 3,733 MHz without overclocking.

Comet Lake is a little different. It is based on the latest expanded version of Intel's 14nm process, which has been updated every year since Skylake's 2015 debut. It's still faster than what we've seen on eighth and ninth generation Intel CPUs, but it doesn't have the same underlying hardware revolutions as Ice Lake. It is more of an evolution of what is already available.

However, it benefits from the new 400 series chipset, which offers features such as support for Thunderbolt 3, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5 and USB 3.2.

Laptop CPUs

Dell 2019 XPS 13 2 in 1 (2019) ratingRich Shibley / Digital Trends

On the front of the laptop, both Ice Lake and Comet Lake are much more detailed and are implemented directly by Intel itself with official announcements and specifications. While Comet Lake and Ice Lake desktop desktop chips could be a year or two apart, Intel partners are now selling Ice Lake laptops right next to Comet Lake laptops.

This may make the Intel laptop market pretty confusing, but there are plenty of options for potential buyers. But how can you as a consumer know which processor you get when you buy a new laptop? Does it have Intel Ice Lake or Comet Lake?

Just look at the processor name. Both have "10" as the first two digits after Core i5 or Core i7. This number shows the generation: in this case the 10th generation. However, you should pay close attention to the suffix that indicates the underlying architecture.

For example, if the processor ends up with a "G7" or "G5", it is a 10 nm Ice Lake chip. If you see an "H", "U" or "Y" at the end, it is a 14 nm Comet Lake chip.

At a deeper level, the "G5" specifically refers to the "graphics" of Ice Lake, while the Comet Lake suffixes range from high performance to ultra-low power. Comet Lake can also have more than one suffix, like HK, which means the chip is powerful and unlocked.

After this short CPU lesson has been cleared, all mobile 14nm Comet Lake CPUs are available here:

Comet Lake H series

Cores
/ threads
graphic
(EUs)
Cache base
Clock
Boost
Clock

(Single)
Boost
Clock

(everything)
graphic
Boost
Clock
TDP
Core i9-10980HK 8/16 UHD 630
(24)
16 MB 2.4 GHz 5.3 GHz 4.4 GHz 1.25 GHz 45w
Core i9-10885H 8/16 UHD 630
(24)
16 MB 2.4 GHz 5.3 GHz 4.4 GHz 1.25 GHz 45w
Core i7-10875H 8/16 UHD 630
(24)
16 MB 2.3 GHz 5.1 GHz 4.3 GHz 1.2 GHz 45w
Core i7-10850H 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12 MB 2.7 GHz 5.1 GHz 4.4 GHz 1.15 GHz 45w
Core i7-10750H 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12 MB 2.6 GHz 5.0 GHz 4.3 GHz 1.15 GHz 45w
Core i5-10400H 4/8 UHD 630
(24)
8 MB 2.6 GHz 4.6 GHz 4.4 GHz 1.1 GHz 45w
Core i5-10300H 4/8 UHD 630
(24)
8 MB 2.5 GHz 4.5 GHz 4.2 GHz 1.05 GHz 45w

Comet Lake U series

Cores
/ threads
graphic
(EUs)
Cache base
Clock
Boost
Clock
(Single)
Boost
Clock
(everything)
graphic
Boost
Clock
TDP
Core i7-10810U 6/12 UHD 620
(24)
12 MB 1.1 GHz 4.9 GHz n / A 1.15 GHz 15w / 25w
Core i7-10710U 6/12 UHD 620
(24)
12 MB 1.1 GHz 4.7 GHz 3.2 GHz 1.15 GHz 15w / 25w
Core i7-10610U 4/8 UHD 620
(24)
8 MB 1.8 GHz 4.9 GHz n / A 1.15 GHz 15w / 25w
Core i7-10510U 4/8 UHD 620
(24)
8 MB 1.8 GHz 4.9 GHz 3.7 GHz 1.15 GHz 15w / 25w
Core i5-10310U 4/8 UHD 620
(24)
6 MB 1.6 GHz 4.4 GHz n / A 1.15 GHz 15w / 25w
Core i5-10210U 4/8 UHD 620
(24)
6 MB 1.6 GHz 4.2 GHz 3.8 GHz 1.1 GHz 15w / 25w
Core i3-10110U 2/4 UHD 620
(24)
4 MB 2.1 GHz 4.1 GHz 3.2 GHz 1.0 GHz 15w / 25w
Pentium 6405U 2/4 UHD 610
(12)
2 MB 2.4 GHz n / A n / A 0.95 GHz 12.5 w
Celeron 5205U 2/2 UHD 610
(12)
2 MB 1.9 GHz n / A n / A 0.9 GHz 12.5 w

Comet Lake Y series

Cores
/ threads
graphic
(EUs)
Cache Basic clock Boost
Clock
(Single)
Boost
Clock
(everything)
graphic
Boost
Clock
TDP
Core i7-10510Y 4/8 UHD 620
(24)
8 MB 1.2 GHz 4.5 GHz 3.2 GHz 1.15 GHz 4.5 W / 7 W / 9 W.
Core i5-10310Y 4/8 UHD 620
(24)
6 MB 1.1 GHz 4.1 GHz 2.8 GHz 1.05 GHz 5.5 W / 7 W / 9 W.
Core i5-10210Y 4/8 UHD 620
(24)
6 MB 1.0 GHz 4.0 GHz 2.7 GHz 1.05 GHz 4.5 W / 7 W / 9 W.
Core i3-10110Y 2/4 UHD 620
(24)
4 MB 1.0 GHz 4.0 GHz 3.7 GHz 1.0 GHz 5.5 W / 7 W / 9 W.

A notable change from previous generations of Intel Mobile Chips are the increased core numbers and clock speeds. However, there is a bigger difference between the two Comet Lake mobile chips compared to the Ice Lake.

Here are all previously announced Ice Lake mobile 10nm CPUs.

Ice Lake U series

Cores
/ threads
graphic
(EUs)
Cache Base clock Boost
Clock
(Single)
Boost
Clock
(everything)
graphic
Boost
Clock
TDP
Core i7-1068NG7 4/8 Iris Plus
(64)
8 MB 2.3 GHz 4.1 GHz 3.6 GHz 1.1 GHz 28w
Core i7-1065G7 4/8 Iris Plus
(64)
8 MB 1.3 GHz 3.9 GHz 3.5 GHz 1.1 GHz 15w / 25w
Core i5-1038NG7 4/8 Iris Plus
(64)
6 MB 2.0 GHz 3.8 GHz 3.2 GHz 1.05 GHz 28w
Core i5-1035G7 4/8 Iris Plus
(64)
6 MB 1.2 GHz 3.7 GHz 3.3 GHz 1.05 GHz 15w / 25w
Core i5-1035G4 4/8 Iris Plus
(48)
6 MB 1.1 GHz 3.7 GHz 3.3 GHz 1.05 GHz 15w / 25w
Core i5-1035G1 4/8 UHD
(32)
6 MB 1.0 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.3 GHz 1.05 GHz 15w / 25w
Core i3-1005G1 2/4 UHD
(32)
4 MB 1.2 GHz 3.4 GHz 3.4 GHz 0.9 GHz 15w / 25w

Ice Lake Y series

Cores
/ threads
graphic
(EUs)
Cache base
Clock
Boost
Clock
(Single)
Boost
Clock
(everything)
graphic
Boost clock
TDP
Core i7-1060G7 4/8 Iris Plus
(64)
8 MB 1.0 GHz 3.8 GHz 3.4 GHz 1.1 GHz 9w / 12w
Core i5-1030G7 4/8 Iris Plus
(64)
6 MB 0.8 GHz 3.5 GHz 3.2 GHz 1.05 GHz 9w / 12w
Core i5-1030G4 4/8 Iris Plus
(48)
6 MB 0.7 GHz 3.5 GHz 3.2 GHz 1.05 GHz 9w / 12w
Core i3-1000G4 2/4 Iris Plus
(48)
4 MB 1.1 GHz 3.2 GHz 3.2 GHz 0.9 GHz 9w / 12w
Core i3-1000G1 2/4 UHD
(32)
4 MB 1.1 GHz 3.2 GHz 3.2 GHz 0.9 GHz 9w / 12w

Outside of shrinking and architectural changes, there are some obvious specification differences between these two CPU lines, indicating how they might compete against each other in certain scenarios. The Ice Lake CPUs all have much more powerful 11th generation graphics with a much larger number of execution units. That should make Ice Lake chips far more powerful gaming CPUs without dedicated graphics.

However, Comet Lake's clock speeds are much higher, which highlights the problems Intel (and AMD) faced when trying to get high frequencies from 10nm and sub-10nm components. This may mean that Comet Lake performs better in some scenarios where clock speed can make a big difference – certain games and software applications can stand out there. Ice Lake's IPC improvements will make up for this in other cases, however, and make the potential performance difference between these two processor generations an interesting match at the same time.

Desktop CPUs

Intel finally launched its Comet Lake-S desktop CPU family in late April 2020. So far, 10nm Ice Lake desktop chips will not be mentioned in the near future, although 10nm Alder Lake-S is likely in sight for desktops in 2021 under the 12th generation Intel Core banner.

Here in the present we have a huge selection of Comet Lake S chips available. Because there are so many, we have divided the new CPU family into groups:

Comet Lake-S Core i9 / Core i7

Cores
/ threads
graphic
(EUs)
Cache base
Clock
Boost
Clock
(Single)
Boost
Clock
(everything)
graphic
Boost
Clock
TDP
i9-10900K 10/20 UHD 630
(24)
20 MB 3.7 GHz 5.3 GHz 4.8 GHz 1.2 GHz 125w
i9-10900KF 10/20 UHD 630
(24)
20 MB 3.7 GHz 5.3 GHz 4.8 GHz n / A 125w
i9-10900 10/20 UHD 630
(24)
20 MB 2.8 GHz 5.2 GHz 4.5 GHz 1.2 GHz 65w
i9-10900F 10/20 UHD 630
(24)
20 MB 2.8 GHz 5.2 GHz 4.5 GHz n / A 65w
i9-10900T 10/20 UHD 630
(24)
20 MB 1.9 GHz 4.6 GHz 3.7 GHz 1.2 GHz 35w
i7-10700K 8/16 UHD 630
(24)
16 MB 3.8 GHz 5.1 GHz 4.7 GHz 1.2 GHz 125w
i7-10700KF 8/16 UHD 630
(24)
16 MB 3.8 GHz 5.1 GHz 4.7 GHz n / A 125w
i7-10700 8/16 UHD 630
(24)
16 MB 2.9 GHz 4.8 GHz 4.6 GHz 1.2 GHz 65w
i7-10700F 8/16 UHD 630
(24)
16 MB 2.9 GHz 4.8 GHz 4.6 GHz n / A 65w
i7-10700T 8/16 UHD 630
(24)
16 MB 2.0 GHz 4.5 GHz 3.7 GHz 1.2 GHz 35w

Comet Lake-S Core i5 / Core i3

Cores
/ threads
graphic
(EUs)
Cache base
Clock
Boost
Clock
(Single)
Boost
Clock
(everything)
graphic
Boost
Clock
TDP
i5-10600K 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12 MB 4.1 GHz 4.8 GHz 4.5 GHz 1.2 GHz 125w
i5-10600KF 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12 MB 4.1 GHz 4.8 GHz 4.5 GHz n / A 125w
i5-10600 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12 MB 3.3 GHz 4.8 GHz 4.4 GHz 1.2 GHz 65w
i5-10600T 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12 MB 2.4 GHz 4.0 GHz 3.7 GHz 1.2 GHz 35w
i5-10500 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12 MB 3.1 GHz 4.5 GHz 4.2 GHz 1.5 GHz 65w
i5-10500T 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12 MB 2.3 GHz 3.8 GHz 3.5 GHz 1.5 GHz 35w
i5-10400 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12 MB 2.9 GHz 4.3 GHz 4.0 GHz 1.1 GHz 65w
i5-10400F 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12 MB 2.9 GHz 4.3 GHz 4.0 GHz n / A 65w
i5-10400T 6/12 UHD 630
(24)
12 MB 2.0 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.2 GHz 1.1 GHz 35w
i3-10320 4/8 UHD 630
(24)
8 MB 3.8 GHz 4.6 GHz 4.4 GHz 1.5 GHz 65w
i3-10300 4/8 UHD 630
(24)
8 MB 3.7 GHz 4.4 GHz 4.2 GHz 1.5 GHz 65w
i3-10300T 4/8 UHD 630
(24)
8 MB 3.0 GHz 3.9 GHz 3.6 GHz 1.1 GHz 35w
i3-10100 4/8 UHD 630
(24)
6 MB 3.6 GHz 4.3 GHz 4.1 GHz 1.1 GHz 65w
i3-10100T 4/8 UHD 630
(24)
6 MB 3.0 GHz 3.8 GHz 3.6 GHz 1.1 GHz 35w

Comet Lake-S Pentium Gold / Celeron

Cores
/ threads
graphic
(EUs)
Cache base
Clock
Boost
Clock
(Single)
Boost
Clock
(everything)
graphic
Boost
Clock
TDP
Pentium Gold G6600 2/4 UHD 630
(24)
4 MB 4.2 GHz n / A n / A 1.1 GHz 58w
Pentium Gold G6500 2/4 UHD 630
(24)
4 MB 4.1 GHz n / A n / A 1.1 GHz 58w
Pentium Gold G6500T 2/4 UHD 630
(24)
4 MB 3.5 GHz n / A n / A 1.05 GHz 35w
Pentium Gold G6400 2/4 UHD 610
(12)
4 MB 4.0 GHz n / A n / A 1.05 GHz 58w
Pentium Gold G6400T 2/4 UHD 610
(12)
4 MB 3.4 GHz n / A n / A 1.05 GHz 35w
Celeron G5920 2/2 UHD 610
(12)
2 MB 3.5 GHz n / A n / A 1.05 GHz 58w
Celeron G5900 2/2 UHD 610
(12)
2 MB 3.4 GHz n / A n / A 1.05 GHz 58w
Celeron G5900T 2/2 UHD 610
(12)
2 MB 3.2 GHz n / A n / A 1.0 GHz 35w

At the top of the list is the ten-core CPU from Intel, the unlocked i9-10900K. It has a base clock of 3.7 GHz and a maximum single-core boost clock of 5.3 GHz. It contains UHD 630 graphics with 24 execution units that reach up to 1.2 GHz. At the end of the list is the dual-core Celeron G5900T, which chugs at 3.2 GHz without boost. The Comet Lake S family now offers a total of 32 processors to choose from.

The new chips include the ability to turn hyperthreading on and off from core to core. The idea is to disable hyperthreading on inactive cores, which results in less heat and less power consumption. This means that all cores that are currently using hyperthreading can remain in turbo mode for longer. Hyperthreading controls are provided through the BIOS, not through the operating system.

Recent benchmarks show that the i9-10900K, Intel's flagship chip with ten cores, competes in the 3DMark Fire Strike Physics test against the 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X CPU from AMD. When overclocking at 5.1 GHz, it was only a few points ahead of the AMD chip. It is noteworthy that it outperforms the previous Intel champion, the Core i9-9900K, and sells at a similar recommended price.

If the Ice Lake ever arrives on the desktop, we expect its 10nm chip shrink and Sunny Cove core improvements to significantly increase the instructions per clock (IPC) above Comet Lake and increase the number of cores. However, as we saw with mobile Ice Lake CPUs and the Intel Ryzen 3000, higher clock speeds may be difficult to find, since chips with 10 nm and below are usually more difficult to push to such frequencies.

Overall, they should be much faster than Comet Lake chips, but since they may never see the light of day, we reserve the right to make a judgment for the time being.

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