The Intel Core i7-8700K leads the pack of a new generation of Coffee Lake-S desktop processors with six-cores, 12-threads and higher frequencies than any of AMD’s Ryzen 7 processors. After testing the processor for a week, the new flagship chip is everything we’ve ever wanted from Intel with stellar gaming experiences, hyper-threading performance that outpaces Ryzen and plenty of room for overclocking.
Pricing and availability
Priced at $359 (about £270, AU$460), the Intel Core i7-8700K aims to take on AMD’s best Ryzen 7 processors including the $399 (£319, AU$499) 1700X and $499 (£399, AU$649) 1800X.
Though this processor comes with two fewer cores than its rivals, the 8700K pulls ahead with higher base and boost frequencies of 3.7 and 4.7GHz, respectively.
A hexacore mainstream processor is a big step forward for Intel, who previously placed anything with more than four-cores within its high-end-desktop (HEDT) E- and X-series ranges.
Speaking of which, Intel’s current six-core i7-7800X Skylake-X CPU might come super close in price at $379 (£349, AU$495), but those X299 motherboards come at a higher premium than the new Z370 standard. Unfortunately, if you’re thinking about moving on up to Coffee Lake-S, you’re definitely going to have to buy a new motherboard, as older the Z270 platforms don’t support latest generation’s higher power delivery demands.
While we’re tallying up the extra expenses, bumping up the core count has resulted in a small price increase. The Kaby Lake processor the 8700K replaces, the Intel Core i7-7700K, was a teensy bit more affordable at $349 (£299, AU$459).
Features and chipset
Intel worked some form of black magic to squeeze 18-cores into the tiny Intel Core I9 7980XE and some of that witchcraft has found its way into the Intel Core i7-8700K. Despite packing in two more cores than we ever saw on Kaby Lake, the processor package hasn’t grown by a single millimeter.
While that’s impressive, it’s also slightly annoying that this new generation of CPUs still demands us to buy into a whole new motherboard.
Furthermore, the Z370 platform isn’t really that much of a step up from Z270. You still only have support for dual-channel memory and, out of the 40 available PCIe lanes, only 16 are directly connected to the CPU. The other 24 PCIe lanes share a single DMI 3.0 connection to the CPU, which means you can only squeeze out the full potential of two graphics cards. Or one GPU and two M.2 NVMe SSDs.
Thankfully, Z370 does have a silver lining of adding official support for DDR4 2,666MHz memory. Up from the 2,400MHz frequency seen on Z270 – and improved power delivery for some of the greatest overclocking we’ve seen on a mainstream processor.
Performance Intel Core i7-8700K
The Core i7-8700K brings Intel’s multi-core performance up to and well above the high benchmark Ryzen has set this year.
This chip soundly overtook AMD’s competing Ryzen 7 1700X in Geekbench 4, with a score several thousands of points higher – by extension, this makes the previous-generation Intel Core i7-7700K’s multi-core numbers look like a joke.
What’s even more impressive is Intel’s latest part beat the pants off its predecessor in all our single-core tests, too.
All of this processing power also ends up helping the 8700K convert video as fast as some of the industry’s most overpowered CPUs, like the Intel Core i9-7980XE and AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X though these aforementioned chips will still win any hyper-threading race through sheer brute force.
In terms of gaming performance, by our testing, you’re not going see a huge improvement. Compared to the Intel Core i7-7700K, the shiny new hexa-core successor increased frame rates across the board, with the greatest improvement seen in titles running at Full HD and Ultra quality settings.
Full Spec can be seen here: