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Intel Coffee Lake i7-8700K & i5-8400 Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,410
Location
Montreal
Gaming Performance (Synthetic)

3DMark Fire Strike (DX11)





3DMark Time Spy (DX12)


 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,410
Location
Montreal
Gaming Performance (Battlefield 1 / COD: IW)

Battlefield 1


Battlefield 1 will likely become known as one of the most popular multiplayer games around but it also happens to be one of the best looking titles around. It also happens to be extremely well optimized with even the lowest end cards having the ability to run at high detail levels.

In this benchmark we use a runthough of The Runner level after the dreadnought barrage is complete and you need to storm the beach. This area includes all of the game’s hallmarks in one condensed area with fire, explosions, debris and numerous other elements layered over one another for some spectacular visual effects.





Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare


The latest iteration in the COD series may not drag out niceties like DX12 or particularly unique playing styles but it nonetheless is a great looking game that is quite popular.

This benchmark takes place during the campaign’s Operation Port Armor wherein we run through a sequence combining various indoor and outdoor elements along with some combat.


 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,410
Location
Montreal
Gaming Performance (Deus Ex / DOOM)

Deus Ex – Mankind Divided


Deus Ex titles have historically combined excellent storytelling elements with action-forward gameplay and Mankind Divided is no difference. This run-through uses the streets and a few sewers of the main hub city Prague along with a short action sequence involving gunplay and grenades.




Doom


Not many people saw a new Doom as a possible Game of the Year contender but that’s exactly what it has become. Not only is it one of the most intense games currently around but it looks great and is highly optimized. In this run-through we use Mission 6: Into the Fire since it features relatively predictable enemy spawn points and a combination of open air and interior gameplay.

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,410
Location
Montreal
Gaming Performance (GTA V / Overwatch)

Grand Theft Auto V


In GTA V we take a simple approach to benchmarking: the in-game benchmark tool is used. However, due to the randomness within the game itself, only the last sequence is actually used since it best represents gameplay mechanics.




Overwatch


Overwatch happens to be one of the most popular games around right now and while it isn’t particularly stressful upon a system’s resources, its Epic setting can provide a decent workout for all but the highest end GPUs. In order to eliminate as much variability as possible, for this benchmark we use a simple “offline” Bot Match so performance isn’t affected by outside factors like ping times and network latency.

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,410
Location
Montreal
Power Consumption & Overclocking

Power Consumption


I don’t typically dedicate a whole page to power consumption but there’s a pretty substantial story lurking behind the numbers you see below and how they directly relate to TDP claims from both Intel and AMD. Without getting too technical, the way these two companies go about measuring TDP is fundamentally different from one another.

What you need to know is that TDP values are a universally poor way to determine actual power consumption for end users since they are simply thermal design guidelines that are given to system integrators. As I say in every review, TDP is not actual power consumption so don’t take it as such.

As both Intel and AMD recommend, the best way to measure true power deltas between processors is via a simple (yet calibrated) power meter plugged into the wall outlet. That’s exactly what we do but add in a controlled 120V power input to eliminate voltage irregularities from impacting the results.


Intel's Coffee Lake processors are fabricated with on a refined 14nm++ process node which allows them to attain similar TDP levels as their predecessors despite offering more cores / threads. It seems like that's exactly what happened with these CPUs.

The i5-8400 consumes about as much power as the i5-7500 but it also offers substantially more performance in some instances. The same can be said about the comparison between it and AMD's Ryzen 5 1500X but in that comparison the Intel part comes out well ahead in the performance per watt category.

That i7-8700K also pulls ahead of the 1700-series in perf per watt statistics but not quite as convincingly. It does however offer up some very competitive numbers against the i7-7700K and i7-7740X.


Overclocking Results



Intel’s Coffee Lake processors incorporate a number of additional advances specifically meant for enhancing their overclocking capabilities but many of those were already available in Kaby Lake CPUs. For example, per core overclocking and real time memory latency control were rolled into later BIOS updates for Z270 motherboards but broader PLL trim options are new. However, features like enhanced memory capabilities could allow all of these newer processors to hit record high DRAM frequencies.

I had some initial worries that Intel’s already-high frequencies would directly lead to limited overclocking headroom, especially when syncing all cores to the same speed. However, my overclocking journey with the i7-8700K was pretty straightforward and all that was needed for a stable 5GHz on all cores was a multipler change and a bump in CPU voltages to 1.40V in the BIOS. ASUS’ own internal Dual Intelligent Processors 5 program actually allows you to do this with the click of a button but I found it did increase the voltages a bit more than necessary. Basically, the process followed closely in the footsteps of Kaby Lake.

Going beyond the 5GHz mark wasn’t too much of a problem either and even though I was using a Noctua NH-U12S with the single fan’s speeds set at a constant 60%, temperatures never went above 80°C. I had set a hard limit of 1.45V and with that, the best I was able to achieve on all cores with complete 24/7 stability was 5.145GHz. That’s a pretty respectable result when you consider this particular i7-8700K hovered around 4.325GHz (note a previous version of this review incorrectly showed 4.1GHz here) with all its cores loaded.

Meanwhile memory overclocking seemed to be limited by the kit being used rather than any controller bottleneck. I was easily able to hit 3900MHz, though timings needed to be loosened a bit. With that added to the already-impressive CPU frequency, every program received a substantial performance improvement. I’ll be exploring how this stacks up to some older processors (read: Sandy Bridge) next week. Until then, I think the results speak for themselves; while the lack of overclocking on Intel’s i5-8400 is disappointing, the unlocked Coffee Lake processor shouldn’t have any trouble consistently hitting clock speeds of 5GHz and beyond.

 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,410
Location
Montreal
Conclusion; Intel Comes Roaring Back

Conclusion; Intel Comes Roaring Back


Over the last few processor reviews I’ve done, the conclusion usually boiled down to me stating that summing things up would prove to be a challenge. That won’t happen this time because Intel made it pretty easy for me. Coffee Lake may not be revolutionary in any way but it is evolutionary enough that the i7-8700K and i5-8400’s performance results tell some very, very convincing narratives.

Let’s start things off with the most obvious comparison in this article: the i7-8700K versus AMD’s Ryzen 7 1700X and 1700. At $360 Intel’s newest K-series flagship strides right into the $70 gap between those two processors yet ends up wiping the floor with both in gaming and real world scenarios. Many times the 8700K even remains ahead of the $500 8-core, 16-thread 1800X while making due with substantially fewer on-die resources. Like it or not, clock speeds count and we’ve just seen that Intel’s 700MHz to 1GHz frequency advantage is paying massive dividends.

With the Intel Z370 and AMD X370 platforms being quite evenly matched in their capabilities, we have to turn towards overclocking and here too Intel holds a distinct edge. Whereas most Ryzen 7 processors top out between 3.9 to 4.1GHz on a good air cooler or AIO, I was able to hit 5.125GHz on Coffee Lake without all that much effort. Meanwhile, memory frequencies have long been a pain point for AMD’s Ryzen architecture while the 16GB kit on Z370 pushed against the 3700MHz mark. You can take this to the bank too: even when operating at 4GHz, a 1700X would have difficulty keeping up with a stock 8700K.

Things do turn a bit odd when it comes time to look inwards towards Intel’s own lineups and compare the i7-8700K to its stable mates. Dare I say it but this processor may be too good and could end up cannibalizing cross platform sales. Where this leaves Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X is anyone’s guess but despite a premium pricing structure, they’re obviously one to two generations behind despite being tied at the hip to Intel’s high end desktop platform. Luckily the i9-7900X put in a good showing –particularly in real world scenarios- but there’s no doubt in my mind that the i7-7740X is already living on borrowed time.

While the i7-8700K is an awesome processor, it does come at a pretty high price. That’s where the i5-8400 steps into the equation. This little $185 processor’s six cores and other various Coffee Lake-specific improvements propel it to some downright impressive showings. In most situations it came out ahead of Intel’s i5-7600K, a CPU that until yesterday was being sold for $50 more and there were even some instances where it matched the 7700K and 7740X. Now granted, the 8400 can’t overclock at all but with such strong performance results one has to wonder if the i5-8600K’s $80 premium wouldn’t be better spent on other components like a GPU update.

At $185 Intel is obviously targeting this processor right at the not-so-tender underbelly of AMD’s Ryzen 5 lineup. Around that price point we have the extremely well endowed $190 4-core, 8 thread 1500X and the 12 thread Ryzen 5 1600. Both of those CPUs have been hailed as some of the best price / performance options being offered. Despite costing five bucks less than the 1500X, the i5-8400 easily beats it cleanly in every single benchmark other than a few outlying decryption scenarios. As a matter of fact, Coffee Lake’s high clock speeds end up winning the day against the Ryzen 5 1600 in some key bellwethers like gaming, Adobe Premier rendering and GIMP photo manipulation.

Intel’s quad core, eight thread layouts have been leading the upper end of their mid-tier charge for the last seven years. To many potential buyers the lack of advancement in that area was justification enough to hold onto their still-competitive Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge and Haswell processors. But with Coffee Lake there’s now more reason than ever to look into upgrading. The i7-8700K now offering 12 threads at a price that’s only a few bucks more than what an i7-2700K cost back in 2011 and Z370 motherboards house more than enough connectivity for pretty much anyone.

Even if you can’t stomach that $360 price tag, I highly recommend checking out the i5-8400. It may be one of the most surprising processors launched in the last half decade and I wouldn’t be shocked if it became the sleeper hit for this particular generation.

As for the whole Intel versus AMD question, it looks like Coffee Lake has convincingly won this round. Granted, Intel may still take some well-deserved lumps for not offering unlocked multipliers on their entire lineup but that’s a minor issue for a niche market rather than a fundamental problem. Because when the numbers are calculated, there’s absolutely no doubt that right now the i7-8700K and i5-8400 are the value leaders in their respective segments.
 

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