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Intel Core i7-8700K review: A superfast CPU

While Intel’s Core i7-7800X offers an overclockable and affordable way to get six cores and 12 threads, all eyes have been on the mainstream Core i7-8700K instead, and for several reasons. The 7800X’s quad-channel memory support isn’t a feature that will benefit gaming-focused enthusiasts, or even most content creators, and X299 chipset motherboards are also much more expensive than their Z370 counterparts. The Core i7-7800X itself might be a little cheaper than its Coffee Lake sibling, but the total system cost will end up being much higher.

READ NEXT: The best AMD and Intel processors from GBP99 Also, while the Skylake-X Core i7-7800X was a much better overclocker than its Broadwell-E predecessor, managing to hit 4.8GHz relatively easily, the Core i7-8700K managed to get to the magic 5GHz figure with the same effort. Ultimately, the poor old Core i7-7800X has been trounced in more than one area, and even AMD’s Ryzen 7 CPUs are having a tough time usurping Intel’s new flagship mainstream CPU.

The fact that the Core i7-8700K can reach such high frequencies, and also sports Hyper-Threading, means it’s a match for AMD’s eight-core CPUs. In fact, by offering faster frequencies across the board at stock speed and when overclocked – it has a maximum turbo frequency of 4.7GHz – the Core i7-8700K is one of the best CPUs for lightly threaded applications and games as well. It also has 12MB of L3 cache – 50% more than the Core i7-7800X, although the latter has four times as much L2 cache.

Even so, the Core i7-8700K is a beast of a CPU and the only saving grace for AMD is that, despite it receiving a GBP30 price cut since we first reviewed it a few months ago, AMD has been even more aggressive with its pricing, with the eight-core, 16-thread Ryzen 7 1800X now retailing for just over GBP300 inc VAT. The Core i7-8700K justifies its price with its superfast performance, though. Its RealBench system score of 182,794 was the fastest we’ve seen, and it also topped the table once overclocked, with a massive lead over every other CPU once we’d hit 5GHz using a VCORE of 1.28V.

The Ryzen 7 1800X and Ryzen 7 1700 were quicker at stock speed in our heavily multithreaded Handbrake video-encoding test and Cinebench, but the Core i7-8700K wasn’t far behind. Also, once we’d overclocked the Intel CPU, it turned the tables in the former and was barely 100 points behind in the latter. Once overclocked, it was also much faster than the overclocked AMD chips in our heavily multi-threaded Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation game test, as well as the image editing and multitasking tests.

Intel Core i7-8700K review: Verdict

Ultimately, if you want the best overall performance and don’t want to invest in a high-end desktop system, the Core i7-8700K is the fastest CPU around, and is supremely lustworthy as a result.

However, it doesn’t have everything its own way. AMD’s Ryzen 7 CPUs offer much better value for money if your top priority is heavily multi-threaded workloads, where they were faster at stock speed and when overclocked in several tests. Also, if you just want a gaming CPU, the Core i3-8350K costs half the price but performs similarly in lightly threaded tasks.

The asking price of GBP350 inc VAT is certainly lofty for a mainstream desktop CPU, but if you’ll be throwing a range of tasks at your PC, and want a large range of motherboard options, as well as cheaper system costs compared with AMD’s X399 or Intel’s X299 chipset motherboards, the Core i7-8700K is worth the extra cash.

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