We have with us for review the Intel Core i7-10700 processor. Today's processor specimen is the non-K, non-unlocked variant of the Core i7-10700K. This chip has a fascinating specifications sheet because it is an 8-core/16-thread processor with 16 MB of L3 cache, which matches last generation's Core i9-9900, yet the 10700 has the "Core i7" rating. At a price of US$335, this puts it in the league of the Ryzen 7 3700X and 3800X. Compared to the $400-ish Core i7-10700K, this 65 W TDP rated part has slightly lower clock speeds and tight power management out of the box. The retail package also includes a cooler, which adds to its value.
The Core i7-10700 processor in this review is based on the 10th generation Core "Comet Lake" microarchitecture by Intel, which is possibly the final refinement of the "Skylake" core design the company has been lugging along for half a decade, on the 14 nm-class silicon fabrication process due to major hiccups with its 10 nm silicon fabrication node. Before AMD "Zen" made landfall in 2017, Intel had 4-core/8-thread processors leading its mainstream-desktop (LGA115x) platform, which the company has since significantly upgraded generation over generation with increasing core and thread counts per dollar, besides higher clock speeds.
The 10th generation Core i7 "Comet Lake" desktop processor lineup consists of 8-core/16-thread processors, a doubling in thread count over the 9th generation Core i7 8-core/8-thread parts as the company enabled HyperThreading across the entire lineup. The Core i9 lineup is led by 10-core/20-thread parts; the Core i7 is 8-core/16-thread, the Core i5 6-cores/12-threads, and the Core i3 4-core/8-thread.
This is our first 10th generation Core i7 review. We have both the i7-10700 and the i7-10700K with us, but chose to run with the former because the other 10th generation Core processor reviews so far revealed that with Intel relaxing power limits and Tau control for motherboard manufacturers, letting them come up with some of the most innovative clock-speed and power-management technologies, even the non-K parts have a lot of untapped potential. We got our first hint of this in our i5-10400F review, where loosely enforced custom power limits enabled a small but tangible performance boost. This made us curious: is there a processor that's held back by its power management so much that enthusiasts could gain free performance by unlocking those limits?
The Core i7-10700 ticks at 2.90 GHz and has a maximum boost frequency of 4.80 GHz. Unlike the 10th generation Core i5 Series, it also features favored cores and Turbo Boost Max 3.0 technology. However, unlike the Core i9, it loses out on Thermal Velocity Boost. Favored cores is a technique of improving single-threaded performance by identifying the two best-performing cores on the silicon at the time of manufacture, marking them out on the micro-code, and exposing them to aware operating systems (Windows 10 1709 or later, and Linux Q1 2018 kernels and later). By virtue of their physical superiority, these cores are able to sustain higher boost clocks better, so the OS prioritizes traffic to them.
In this review, we put the Core i7-10700 through its paces across four data points (that's around 300 tests). The first one (green bar) represents the processor out of the box, untouched, with the motherboard BIOS respecting Intel specs, and at our default memory configuration for CPU reviews. The second configuration (brown bar) sees the memory running at DDR4-2933, which is the maximum possible memory clock on mid-range B460 chipset motherboards. The third data point (blue bar) sees us relaxing the power limits to enable the maximum turbo frequency available for this processor. The final data point (red bar) has us eke out the highest possible manual overclock for this multiplier-locked processor by driving BCLK (base clock) up to 103 MHz (beyond which Intel processors are programmed to crash). We find out if with a little effort, you can potentially save yourself $80 by choosing this processor over the i7-10700K (more if you don't intend to use aftermarket cooling) to spend the savings elsewhere, such as a faster graphics card or a bigger SSD.