Intel Core i3-8350K Review

While the Coffee Lake-based Core i7 and i5 CPUs benefit from 50% more cores, Intel's newest Core i3 CPUs enjoy an even more significant makeover. Previous i3s featured two Hyper-Threaded cores. But these Coffee Lake models come with four physical cores (and no Hyper-Threading), making them more capable in the tasks Core i3s once struggled with.

In fact, that jump from two to four cores puts Core i3 on the same level as prior Kaby Lake-based Core i5 CPUs. Better still, Intel's official pricing suggests the company now sells quad-core processors where its dual-core chips were once found. There's just one problem: shortages are causing prices to spike, negatively affecting Intel's value story. Hopefully that's rectified sooner than later.

The Core i3-8350K already has its work cut out: we weren't impressed by last generation's Core i3-7350K, which was too expensive, required a premium Z270-equipped motherboard for overclocking support, and didn't include a cooler. Now Intel has to hope the -8350K fares better in the face of limited availability and higher cost. Unfortunately, the company's continued insistence that a Z-series motherboard is needed for overclocking won't help the value equation. Doubly so since you still don't get a thermal solution.

Active Cores
Base Frequency
1
2
4
6
Intel Core i5-8600K
3.6 GHz
4.3 GHz
4.2 GHz
4.2 GHz
4.1 GHz
Intel Core i5-8400
2.8 GHz
4.0 GHz
3.9 GHz
3.9 GHz
3.8 GHz
Intel Core i3-8350K
4.0
4.0
4.0
4.0
-
Intel Core i3-7350K
4.2
4.2
4.2
-
-

As with older Core i3s, the Coffee Lake models do not include Turbo Boost technology. If you aren't overclocking, this means the -8350K runs at up to 4 GHz, regardless of workload, whereas Core i5 and i7 models accelerate to higher clock rates based on the number of active cores. Moreover, the new Core i3s are limited to DDR4-2400, while Core i5 and i7 give you official access to DDR4-2666.

Specifications

Core i3-8350K's extra cores impose a few other changes. For instance, L3 cache jumps to 8MB. Compare that to Core i3-7350K's 4MB or the 6MB found on Core i5 (Kaby Lake). The -8350K is also Intel's first 91W Core i3. Previously, Core i3-7350K set the high bar with its 65W TDP. It's only a shame that, as with all K-series processors, you're on the hook for your own thermal solution.

The -8350K does come with UHD Graphics 630, which becomes more relevant as we descend Intel's product stack in search of value. The thing is, we don't imagine many folks shopping for unlocked CPUs plan on using on-die graphics engines. GeForce GTX 1060 or Radeon RX 580 cards are more probable in the enthusiast-on-a-budget space.

Intel lists the -8350K at a recommended $168 to $179, similar to its dual-core -7350K. Of course, after a few months of availability, the -7350K started showing up around ~$30 less than its MSRP, where the CPU still sits today. It'd be great to see Coffee Lake CPUs hit their recommended prices sooner than later. Unfortunately, Core i3-8350K starts around $230. Pairing it up to the least-expensive Z370 motherboard, hovering around $120, pushes this chip into six-core Ryzen 5 1600 territory, with its bundled cooler and B350 motherboard support.

The Core i3-8350K also faces another (somewhat unexpected) competitor in Intel's 6C/6T Core i5-8400, which sells for just a few dollars more. We're plenty impressed with the well-rounded -8400 in both games and applications, even if you can't really tune it. The quad-core -8350K won't be able to match an i5 in heavily threaded workloads. But its unlocked multiplier should be better suited to gamers aiming for higher frequencies. We have the relevant contenders lined up for testing, so let's get to it.

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  • Brian_R170
    Newegg shows the Core i3-8350K in-stock right now for $189 (still $10 higher than "recommended customer price" from Intel), but well below the pricing button that says it costs $250 on Newegg. I thought those pricing buttons were updated real-time now?
  • salgado18
    Intel made a mess of a rushed launch to answer Ryzen, but there is one thing they are unbeatable: low price. I know, they have always been expensive, but given the circunstances, it's very easy for them to underprice their chips to have better value.

    Well, sounds bad, but then again AMD triggered this, and consumers are the winners, right?
  • Quaddro
    How to block permanently the ad video..?
    Dude, i'm in limited quota here..

    I dont want to waste every bit for some useless video..
  • mhokett
    So my I7-4790K is now being beat in cinebench by an OC i3. At stock speeds it gets a Cinebench score of 830 and the OC i3 gets 840. So glad i can still OC it and at least beat the i3.
  • 1_rick
    "It's only a shame that, as with all K-series processors, you're on the hook for your own thermal solution."

    Translation: "We're disappointed that Intel didn't bundle in the usual under-powered fan that you'll need to replace if you want to overclock."
  • rgrigio
    Should i assume it to be as fast as a STOCK i7 4790k? At least when only 4 cores are required?
  • East17
    I believe we need to stop putting so much emphasis on <current> single threaded performance. As long as the difference is not over 20%, for gamers and power users this matters less now.

    All games, all apps and even browsers are going Multi-Threaded so what's the point in putting so much emphasis on Single Threaded performance ?!?

    Sure, if AMD or Intel launch a new gen of CPUs that double or triple the single threaded performance, that's worth the talk, but differences between 0% and 15% are not worth to fill entire pages of a review with.

    Anyway, I'm not an expert reviewer :) It's just my opinion after 20+ years in IT hardware industry.

    I generally want a very capable processor at a good platform price with modest IDLE power consumption. The rest is arguable. If it can game, good. If it can game well, even better, but I'm never going to chose a less productive CPU just because I get 10% higher FPS. That's just me :)

    The graphics can be a bit misleading .... I would really like to see them full scale.

    Because the way they are now, you get the impression that (in Gaming Price Efficiency - Platform Cost) AMD Ryzen 1300 is 10 times less capable than the i8400 which is not.

    When you look at the dot placement on the table, you'll see that i5 8400 appears to be 1000% the performance of AMD Ryzen 1300 while only being 2 times the price.
  • 10tacle
    I've been waiting for this review. I'm looking to replace my dying i5 2500K backup gaming rig using a 1080p monitor that was built in Jan. 2011. It's severely showing its age. The price of the 8350k is a little higher than I expected, but since that rig is only for gaming and nothing else, the overclocking capability of it is impressive for improved FPS performance. And as the game benchmarks show, we are still not seeing most AAA title games really taking advantage of more than four cores over an overclocked four core CPU.

    If I was wanting to build a combination of both a gamer and multi-threaded video rendering box I'd still probably go with the Ryzen 1600 or 8400, but for a strict gaming box and going for a killer overclock, this wins hands down in the price segment. RIP to my faithful and trusty Sandy Bridge. You served me well for seven years - a chip that I successfully overclocked to 5.0GHz as well but never kept it that high due to the at-the-time rather weak Zalman 9700LED cooler...weak by today's higher end cooler standards. And thank you AMD for putting the pressure on Intel to add more cores to their i3 and i5 chips.
  • why_wolf
    Anonymous said:
    Newegg shows the Core i3-8350K in-stock right now for $189 (still $10 higher than "recommended customer price" from Intel), but well below the pricing button that says it costs $250 on Newegg. I thought those pricing buttons were updated real-time now?


    shows $189 for me. I doubt the button is updating it's pricing in real real-time. Probably more like once an hour.
  • Llorelie
    Anonymous said:
    "It's only a shame that, as with all K-series processors, you're on the hook for your own thermal solution."

    Translation: "We're disappointed that Intel didn't bundle in the usual under-powered fan that you'll need to replace if you want to overclock."


    I know, this has bothered me in every review on this site that I have seen. I understand that its important that you inform consumers that you will need to purchase a heatsink, but if you are buying a -k chip and a z- motherboard, it seems likely that you'll want an aftermarket cooler. I would MUCH rather intel prices these chips $10 lower and not include a paperweight.
  • TJ Hooker
    Anonymous said:
    I know, this has bothered me in every review on this site that I have seen. I understand that its important that you inform consumers that you will need to purchase a heatsink, but if you are buying a -k chip and a z- motherboard, it seems likely that you'll want an aftermarket cooler. I would MUCH rather intel prices these chips $10 lower and not include a paperweight.

    They didn't price them any cheaper though. If you look at -k CPU prices for Haswell vs Skylake (when they started not including boxed coolers for unlocked CPUs), the MSRP is exactly the same.

    I agree that the lack of a boxed cooler isn't going to be a deal breaker for many of the people buying -K CPUs. On the other hand I do think it's valid to point the lack of cooler as a fault given that they're competing with Ryzen, most of which come with boxed coolers good enough to actually do some OCing with.
  • 10tacle
    ^^Well pricing aside, I just think it's better to not include that lame stock cooler with K-series chips as the vast majority eventually wind up either in landfills or a recycle facility. I understand that some people buy those K-series GPUs having no intention of overclocking just because they generally have faster core and boost speeds than their non-K counterpart. Maybe Intel can offer two versions and charge $10 more for those who never intend to overclock. Packaging differences wouldn't be that different in cost, and those coolers are probably bought from the China company making them at pennies on the dollar in bulk.
  • Lucky_SLS
    Y isn't the 7600k in the comparison charts? That's the first thing that I wanted to check out :(
  • HERETIC-1
    Why 8600K in the game charts but not in the encoding charts????????????
    Should be the No1 there................................
  • Cairnsagc
    @QUADDRO

    In Chrome, you can add tomshardware.com##.jw-loaded to AdBlockPlus
    should sort it out
  • JQB45
    I would have liked to see how the i3-8350k compared to the i5-7500, i5-7600 and i5-7600k.
  • CaptainTom
    Anonymous said:
    "It's only a shame that, as with all K-series processors, you're on the hook for your own thermal solution."

    Translation: "We're disappointed that Intel didn't bundle in the usual under-powered fan that you'll need to replace if you want to overclock."


    You're missing 2 big things:

    1) AMD's included box coolers are not "underpowered" like Intel's are. It is completely reasonable to think that you can pay only $210 for the 1600, and then overclock it to 3.9GHz+ with the included cooler.

    2) Intel's CPU's are a lot less efficient than AMD's at this point, and so you actually need a $50 AIO cooler if you want to reasonably hit the 5.0GHz required to make Intel's chips consistently beat AMD's.

    TH is being MORE than reasonable by only adding $20 to the price. I would add $30 for the i3, $40 for the i5, $50 for the i7, and likely $200 for the i9's...
  • Nintendork
    @10TACLE
    Upgrading from a 4c/4t cpu to yet another 4c/4t is kind of moronic. Just update to the R5 1600 and have the best all around cpu with 3 years worth of upgrades.

    It seem there will be an 8core Coffee Lake but current mobos won't support them, AGAIN.
  • 10tacle
    Anonymous said:
    @10TACLE
    Upgrading from a 4c/4t cpu to yet another 4c/4t is kind of moronic. Just update to the R5 1600 and have the best all around cpu with 3 years worth of upgrades.It seem there will be an 8core Coffee Lake but current mobos won't support them, AGAIN.


    Moronic? That's rather brash and rude of you. Everyone has opinions. Anyway as I mentioned it's only a backup/second gaming PC and used for nothing else. And again, as stated, an overclocked four core CPU beats a six core CPU in most games. We are still nowhere near the point where the majority of games use six or more cores, and I don't see that happening before my four core i3 becomes outdated.

    An overclocked 8350K will serve me far better than a Ryzen 1600 in that application. Long story short, it doesn't affect me as I'm going to be aggressively overclocking only for gaming and most of my games are CPU responsive to core speed, not core count.

    Now my current Haswell-Devil's Canyon i5 4690K is due for an upgrade as I'm getting into video editing and rendering now as well as it being a high end 144Hz G-Sync 1440p gaming rig. I am seriously debating between Ryzen Threadripper 1900X or waiting for what Coffeelake's 8C/16T will be like the Skylake i7 7820X. Most of the games I play on PC are CPU dependent racing sims like Project Cars/PCars 2 and AMD still falls short over Intel for that (example here: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/amd-ryzen-threadripper-1900x-cpu,5222-6.html).

    But I agree that Intel releasing a new chipset generation without having all the motherboard solutions is ridiculous.
  • loki1944
    So basically this an i5 they are calling an i3.