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Intel Comet Lake vs. Ice Lake

Jon Martindale
·16 min read

There’s a lot happening in the CPU market in 2020. AMD is pushing ahead with Ryzen 4000, targeting desktop and mobile, while Intel’s 11th-generation Tiger Lake should show up in laptops before the end of the year. For now, though, the two main mobile CPU options for Intel fans are Comet Lake and Ice Lake.

Both lines fall under the Intel 10th-gen banner, but there are some significant differences between them. Comet Lake marks the fourth optimization for Intel’s 14nm process, while Ice Lake chips use Intel’s new 10nm process. On top of that, both series of processors are available in mobile configurations, but only Comet Lake chips are available on desktop. We likely won’t see 10nm processors on desktop until 2021.

To help you decide between the two, we’ve rounded up every chip available in Comet Lake and Ice Lake, and in this guide, we’ll compare the lines directly so you can find the best processor for you.

Availability and pricing

<span class="credit">Walden Kirsch/Intel Corporation</span>
Walden Kirsch/Intel Corporation

Laptops with 10nm Ice Lake CPUs launched in the summer of 2019. These include Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 3, the Razer Blade Stealth, the HP Spectre x360 13, Dell’s XPS 13, and many more. The “U” in the processor label translates to “ultra-low power,” meaning it targets a good balance of performance and battery. The “Y” chips do the same but typically have lower base speeds.

Laptops with 14nm Comet Lake “U” and “Y” arrived in the same time frame, packing more core and threads at the higher end. Intel didn’t release its “H” series chips for laptops until early April 2020, followed by desktop processors later that month. These latter chips now replace the entire ninth-gen Coffee Lake range of desktop CPUs.

Intel isn’t slated to release a 10nm desktop processor until 2021 or even 2022, so we don’t expect to see Ice Lake on desktops anytime in the next year or so.

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

Ice Lake’s smaller portfolio is a bit less dramatic in pricing, with chips reaching just above $400. Some of the chip pricing isn’t currently available to the public; it’s reserved for manufacturers.

Architecture

In many cases, laptops with Comet Lake and Ice Lake compete directly with one another for user interest and dollars. But they have distinctly different technologies powering them, most notably when it comes to their underlying architecture.

Ice Lake is Intel’s first commercial, 10nm line of processors — the previous Cannon Lake never went mainstream. That’s the first die-shrink that Intel has successfully completed in almost five years, and it’s a big one.

The Sunny Cove architecture that powers Ice Lake CPUs opens up a number of new instructions that can significantly accelerate legacy code by encouraging parallel operation. It also lowered effective access latencies and enhanced the cache over older core designs. That, combined with the shrink to the enhanced version of Intel’s 10nm process node results in a big increase in single-threaded and multi-threaded performance for Ice lake mobile CPUs over eighth-generation Whiskey Lake chips.

Ice Lake also introduced Intel’s 11th-gen Iris Plus graphics, which offer a significant uptick in 3D performance over 9th-gen predecessors like the UHD 620 graphics core. It also supports faster memory than previous architectures up to 3,733MHz without overclocking.

Comet Lake is a little different. It’s built on the latest enhanced version of Intel’s 14nm process that’s been refreshed each year since Skylake’s 2015 debut. It’s still faster than what we’ve seen in Intel’s eighth and ninth-gen CPUs, but it doesn’t have the same, underlying hardware revolutions that Ice lake has. It’s more of an evolution of what’s already available.

It does, however, benefit from the new 400-series chipset, which introduces features like support for Thunderbolt 3, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, and USB 3.2.

Laptop CPUs

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

Intel led with the mobile market first for its 10nm processors in the form of Ice Lake. The problem: Both Ice Lake and Comet Lake share the same processor generation. Usually, you can note the processor generations by the number that leads the processor name — for example, a i9-9900 and i9-10900 are from ninth-gen and 10th-gen, respectively. Because Ice Lake and Comet Lake share a generation, you can’t use that number to tell the difference between them.

For the current mobile processor market, you want to look at the end of the processor name instead. Ice Lake and Comet Lake use different naming schemes to differentiate each product line. For instance, if the processor has a “G7” or “G5” at the end, it’s a 10nm Ice Lake chip. If you see an “H,” “U,” or “Y” at the end, it’s a 14nm Comet Lake chip.

On a deeper level, the “G5” specifically refers to Ice Lake’s “graphics,” whereas the Comet Lake suffixes range from high-performance to ultra-low-power. Comet Lake may have more than one suffix, too, like “HK,” meaning the chip is high-performance and unlocked.

With that brief CPU lesson out of the way, here are all of the 14nm Comet Lake mobile CPUs now available:

Comet Lake H-series

Cores
/threads

Graphics
(EUs)

Cache

Base
clock

Boost
clock

(single)

Boost
clock

(all)

Graphics
boost
clock

TDP

Core i9-10980HK

8/16

UHD 630
(24)

16MB

2.4GHz

5.3GHz

4.4GHz

1.25GHz

45W

Core i9-10885H

8/16

UHD 630
(24)

16MB

2.4GHz

5.3GHz

4.4GHz

1.25GHz

45W

Core i7-10875H

8/16

UHD 630
(24)

16MB

2.3GHz

5.1GHz

4.3GHz

1.2GHz

45W

Core i7-10850H

6/12

UHD 630
(24)

12MB

2.7GHz

5.1GHz

4.4GHz

1.15GHz

45W

Core i7-10750H

6/12

UHD 630
(24)

12MB

2.6GHz

5.0GHz

4.3GHz

1.15GHz

45W

Core i5-10400H

4/8

UHD 630
(24)

8MB

2.6GHz

4.6GHz

4.4GHz

1.1GHz

45W

Core i5-10300H

4/8

UHD 630
(24)

8MB

2.5GHz

4.5GHz

4.2GHz

1.05GHz

45w

Comet Lake U-series

Cores
/threads

Graphics
(EUs)

Cache

Base
clock

Boost
clock
(single)

Boost
clock
(all)

Graphics
boost
clock

TDP

Core i7-10810U

6/12

UHD 620
(24)

12MB

1.1GHz

4.9GHz

n/a

1.15GHz

15W/25W

Core i7-10710U

6/12

UHD 620
(24)

12MB

1.1GHz

4.7GHz

3.2GHz

1.15GHz

15W/25W

Core i7-10610U

4/8

UHD 620
(24)

8MB

1.8GHz

4.9GHz

n/a

1.15GHz

15W/25W

Core i7-10510U

4/8

UHD 620
(24)

8MB

1.8GHz

4.9GHz

3.7GHz

1.15GHz

15W/25W

Core i5-10310U

4/8

UHD 620
(24)

6MB

1.6GHz

4.4GHz

n/a

1.15GHz

15W/25W

Core i5-10210U

4/8

UHD 620
(24)

6MB

1.6GHz

4.2GHz

3.8GHz

1.1GHz

15W/25W

Core i3-10110U

2/4

UHD 620
(24)

4MB

2.1GHz

4.1GHz

3.2GHz

1.0GHz

15W/25W

Pentium 6405U

2/4

UHD 610
(12)

2MB

2.4GHz

n/a

n/a

0.95GHz

12.5W

Celeron 5205U

2/2

UHD 610
(12)

2MB

1.9GHz

n/a

n/a

0.9GHz

12.5W

Comet Lake Y-series

Cores
/threads

Graphics
(EUs)

Cache

Base clock

Boost
clock
(single)

Boost
clock
(all)

Graphics
boost
clock

TDP

Core i7-10510Y

4/8

UHD 620
(24)

8MB

1.2GHz

4.5GHz

3.2GHz

1.15GHz

4.5W/7W/9W

Core i5-10310Y

4/8

UHD 620
(24)

6MB

1.1GHz

4.1GHz

2.8GHz

1.05GHz

5.5W/7W/9W

Core i5-10210Y

4/8

UHD 620
(24)

6MB

1.0GHz

4.0GHz

2.7GHz

1.05GHz

4.5W/7W/9W

Core i3-10110Y

2/4

UHD 620
(24)

4MB

1.0GHz

4.0GHz

3.7GHz

1.0GHz

5.5W/7W/9W

A noticeable change over previous generations of Intel mobile chips are the increased core counts and clock speeds. But there is a greater difference between both of Comet Lake’s ranges of mobile chips when compared directly with Ice lake.

Here are all the Ice Lake 10nm mobile CPUs announced so far.

Ice Lake U-series

Cores
/threads

Graphics
(EUs)

Cache

Base clock

Boost
clock
(single)

Boost
clock
(all)

Graphics
boost
clock

TDP

Core i7-1068NG7

4/8

Iris Plus
(64)

8MB

2.3GHz

4.1GHz

3.6GHz

1.1GHz

28W

Core i7-1065G7

4/8

Iris Plus
(64)

8MB

1.3GHz

3.9GHz

3.5GHz

1.1GHz

15W/25W

Core i5-1038NG7

4/8

Iris Plus
(64)

6MB

2.0GHz

3.8GHz

3.2GHz

1.05GHz

28W

Core i5-1035G7

4/8

Iris Plus
(64)

6MB

1.2GHz

3.7GHz

3.3GHz

1.05GHz

15W/25W

Core i5-1035G4

4/8

Iris Plus
(48)

6MB

1.1GHz

3.7GHz

3.3GHz

1.05GHz

15W/25W

Core i5-1035G1

4/8

UHD
(32)

6MB

1.0GHz

3.6GHz

3.3GHz

1.05GHz

15W/25W

Core i3-1005G1

2/4

UHD
(32)

4MB

1.2GHz

3.4GHz

3.4GHz

0.9GHz

15W/25W

Ice Lake Y-Series

Cores
/threads

Graphics
(EUs)

Cache

Base
clock

Boost
clock
(single)

Boost
clock
(all)

Graphics
boost clock

TDP

Core i7-1060G7

4/8

Iris Plus
(64)

8MB

1.0GHz

3.8GHz

3.4GHz

1.1GHz

9W/12W

Core i5-1030G7

4/8

Iris Plus
(64)

6MB

0.8GHz

3.5GHz

3.2GHz

1.05GHz

9W/12W

Core i5-1030G4

4/8

Iris Plus
(48)

6MB

0.7GHz

3.5GHz

3.2GHz

1.05GHz

9W/12W

Core i3-1000G4

2/4

Iris Plus
(48)

4MB

1.1GHz

3.2GHz

3.2GHz

0.9GHz

9W/12W

Core i3-1000G1

2/4

UHD
(32)

4MB

1.1GHz

3.2GHz

3.2GHz

0.9GHz

9W/12W

When it comes to core counts and clock speed, Intel’s 14nm Comet Lake chips are a clear winner here. The Core i7-1065G7 and Core i7-1068NG7 leading the Ice Lake product line both top out at four cores and eight threads, while the i9s that top the Comet Lake pile clock in at eight cores and 16 threads. A shrink in die size could lead to better overall performance, but that’s not the case here.

Benchmarks for the i7-1065G7 put it roughly on-par with Comet Lake’s i5-10210U. Stepping back a generation, any competing ninth-gen i7 from the H-Series can match or beat the fastest Ice Lake chips. This story is further confirmed with benchmarks for the i9-10980HK, showcasing that its eight cores and 16 threads can hold up in a mobile setting, even when tuned to blistering clock speeds.

Ice Lake stands out in the graphics department. Although the on-board Iris Plus graphics aren’t going to beat a discrete GPU, they’ve still put up some decent performance numbers. To be clear, you won’t achieve great gaming results with Ice Lake or Comet Lake alone. However, Ice Lake is much better equipped to handle light gaming, and the Iris Plus graphics can even maintain playable frame rates in a few recent AAA games at low settings.

Desktop CPUs

Intel finally launched its Comet Lake-S desktop CPU family at the end of April 2020. So far, there’s no mention of 10nm Ice Lake desktop chips in the near future, though 10nm Alder Lake-S is likely what’s on the horizon for desktops in 2021, falling under the 12th-gen Intel Core banner.

Here in the present, we now have a huge lineup of Comet Lake-S chips at our disposal. Because there are so many, we broke the CPU family into groups:

Comet Lake-S Core i9 / Core i7

Cores
/threads

Graphics
(EUs)

Cache

Base
clock

Boost
clock
(single)

Boost
clock
(all)

Graphics
boost
clock

TDP

i9-10900K

10/20

UHD 630
(24)

20MB

3.7GHz

5.3GHz

4.8GHz

1.2GHz

125W

i9-10900KF

10/20

UHD 630
(24)

20MB

3.7GHz

5.3GHz

4.8GHz

n/a

125W

i9-10900

10/20

UHD 630
(24)

20MB

2.8GHz

5.2GHz

4.5GHz

1.2GHz

65W

i9-10900F

10/20

UHD 630
(24)

20MB

2.8GHz

5.2GHz

4.5GHz

n/a

65W

i9-10900T

10/20

UHD 630
(24)

20MB

1.9GHz

4.6GHz

3.7GHz

1.2GHz

35W

i7-10700K

8/16

UHD 630
(24)

16MB

3.8GHz

5.1GHz

4.7GHz

1.2GHz

125W

i7-10700KF

8/16

UHD 630
(24)

16MB

3.8GHz

5.1GHz

4.7GHz

n/a

125W

i7-10700

8/16

UHD 630
(24)

16MB

2.9GHz

4.8GHz

4.6GHz

1.2GHz

65W

i7-10700F

8/16

UHD 630
(24)

16MB

2.9GHz

4.8GHz

4.6GHz

n/a

65W

i7-10700T

8/16

UHD 630
(24)

16MB

2.0GHz

4.5GHz

3.7GHz

1.2GHz

35W

Comet Lake-S Core i5 / Core i3

Cores
/threads

Graphics
(EUs)

Cache

Base
clock

Boost
clock
(single)

Boost
clock
(all)

Graphics
boost
clock

TDP

i5-10600K

6/12

UHD 630
(24)

12MB

4.1GHz

4.8GHz

4.5GHz

1.2GHz

125W

i5-10600KF

6/12

UHD 630
(24)

12MB

4.1GHz

4.8GHz

4.5GHz

n/a

125W

i5-10600

6/12

UHD 630
(24)

12MB

3.3GHz

4.8GHz

4.4GHz

1.2GHz

65W

i5-10600T

6/12

UHD 630
(24)

12MB

2.4GHz

4.0GHz

3.7GHz

1.2GHz

35W

i5-10500

6/12

UHD 630
(24)

12MB

3.1GHz

4.5GHz

4.2GHz

1.5GHz

65W

i5-10500T

6/12

UHD 630
(24)

12MB

2.3GHz

3.8GHz

3.5GHz

1.5GHz

35W

i5-10400

6/12

UHD 630
(24)

12MB

2.9GHz

4.3GHz

4.0GHz

1.1GHz

65W

i5-10400F

6/12

UHD 630
(24)

12MB

2.9GHz

4.3GHz

4.0GHz

n/a

65W

i5-10400T

6/12

UHD 630
(24)

12MB

2.0GHz

3.6GHz

3.2GHz

1.1GHz

35W

i3-10320

4/8

UHD 630
(24)

8MB

3.8GHz

4.6GHz

4.4GHz

1.5 GHz

65W

i3-10300

4/8

UHD 630
(24)

8MB

3.7GHz

4.4GHz

4.2GHz

1.5 GHz

65W

i3-10300T

4/8

UHD 630
(24)

8MB

3.0GHz

3.9GHz

3.6GHz

1.1 GHz

35W

i3-10100

4/8

UHD 630
(24)

6MB

3.6GHz

4.3GHz

4.1GHz

1.1GHz

65W

i3-10100T

4/8

UHD 630
(24)

6MB

3.0GHz

3.8GHz

3.6GHz

1.1GHz

35W

Comet Lake-S Pentium Gold / Celeron

Cores
/threads

Graphics
(EUs)

Cache

Base
clock

Boost
clock
(single)

Boost
clock
(all)

Graphics
boost
clock

TDP

Pentium Gold G6600

2/4

UHD 630
(24)

4MB

4.2GHz

n/a

n/a

1.1GHz

58W

Pentium Gold G6500

2/4

UHD 630
(24)

4MB

4.1GHz

n/a

n/a

1.1GHz

58W

Pentium Gold G6500T

2/4

UHD 630
(24)

4MB

3.5GHz

n/a

n/a

1.05GHz

35W

Pentium Gold G6400

2/4

UHD 610
(12)

4MB

4.0GHz

n/a

n/a

1.05GHz

58W

Pentium Gold G6400T

2/4

UHD 610
(12)

4MB

3.4GHz

n/a

n/a

1.05GHz

35W

Celeron G5920

2/2

UHD 610
(12)

2MB

3.5GHz

n/a

n/a

1.05GHz

58W

Celeron G5900

2/2

UHD 610
(12)

2MB

3.4GHz

n/a

n/a

1.05GHz

58W

Celeron G5900T

2/2

UHD 610
(12)

2MB

3.2GHz

n/a

n/a

1.0GHz

35W

Comet Lake chips include the ability to toggle hyperthreading on and off on a core-by-core basis. The idea is to disable hyperthreading on inactive cores, which translates to lower heat and lower power draws. Toggling also allows all cores currently using hyperthreading to remain in turbo mode for more extended periods. Hyperthreading controls are provided through the BIOS, not in the operating system.

Recent benchmarks show Intel’s flagship ten-core chip, the i9-10900K, going head to head with AMD’s Ryzen 9 3900X 12-core CPU in the 3DMark Fire Strike Physics test. It pulled just a few points ahead of AMD’s chip when overclocked at 5.1GHz. What’s notable is that it outperforms Intel’s previous champion, the Core i9-9900K, while selling at a similar suggested price.

As for Ice lake, if it does ever arrive on desktop, we’d expect its 10nm+ die shrink and Sunny Cove core improvements to bring significant increases to instructions per clock (IPC) over Comet Lake, as well as boosting core counts. However, as we’ve seen with Ice Lake mobile CPUs and Intel’s Ryzen 3000, higher clock speeds may be hard to find, as 10nm and below chips tend to be harder to push to such frequencies.

Overall they should be far faster than Comet Lake chips, but since they may never see the light of day, we’ll reserve judgment for now.

The bottom line on Comet Lake versus Ice Lake is that each is ideal for various scenarios. Despite a vast lineup of chip options, availability may be the most significant factor in your buying decision. Though we can expect Ice Lake on desktops sometime beyond 2021, exclusive deals for manufacturers may inhibit the average consumer from purchasing. For now, selecting a laptop with the best chip specs for your needs is your only option.

If you manage to find options that offer a choice between these two chips, the takeaway is that there is no clear winner between the two. Each version has its advantages. Rank your priorities based on how important it is for your machine to multitask (i.e., gaming or video editing), perform simple tasks like photo editing, or conserve power (i.e., extended battery life.) It doesn’t matter how long the battery life is on one chip if you won’t regularly use the battery.