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Intel Core i5-8600K Review: Coffee Lake's Jolting Value

Scientific & Engineering Computations, HPC Performance

For these tests, we’re using the SPECwpc benchmark suite for workstations with its wide variety of tasks. It measures a number of very different mathematical computations optimized for parallelization. They typically make heavy use of available memory bandwidth and cache, plus expose issues with latency.


The pre-Euler3D CFD test (Computational Fluid Dynamics benchmark) runs very well on AMD's CPUs, suggesting scaling based predominantly on core count. It is interesting, however, that the overclocked Intel CPUs don't seem to benefit as much from higher operating frequencies.


In this benchmark, a mathematical operation is performed on two functions (convolution), which results in a third function. Performance scales according to core count. Clock rate has far less impact, which gives AMD the advantage.


This test is based on the finite element method for three-dimensional structural computations. Intel’s higher frequencies help Core i7-8700K secure the win. Meanwhile, a lack of Hyper-Threading punishes Core i5.

Poisson's Equation

Poisson's Equation is a second-order partial differential equation widely used in physics for boundary value problems.

Both of Intel's new six-core models serve up compelling performance, though overclocking doesn't yield explosive gains. What's more, the -8600K cannot catch Ryzen 7 1700. On paper, AMD's chip is more expensive. But when you factor in a cheaper motherboard and bundled cooler, it'd actually save you money.

Sequential Reweighted Message Passing (SRMP)

These are algorithms for discrete energy minimization. The workload benefits from core count, clock rate, and architectural improvements, it appears. For some reason, though, AMD's Ryzen 7 and 5 just don't show well, even though our logs show them to be fully utilized.

Kirchhoff Migration

The earth’s subsurface structure can be determined via seismic processing. One of the four basic steps in this process is the Kirchhoff Migration, which is used to generate an image based on the available data using mathematical operations.

This benchmark and its underlying computations turn out to be a great fit for AMD, particularly when the Ryzen 7 1700 is overclocked.

The Core i5-8600K struggles in many of these tests due to its lack of Hyper-Threading. If it had simultaneous multi-threading, however, it'd basically be as fast as Core i7-8700K. If you run a lot of professional software, take the step up and go for Core i7 or one of the higher-end Ryzen chips. Core i5-8600K is serviceable in workstation apps, but it's really meant for gaming and desktop productivity.


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Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.