Skip to main content

Intel Core i7-11700K Review: The Chip of Last Resort

High power consumption meets high pricing, again.

Core i7-11700K
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

The Core i7-11700K drops right into a massive pricing gap in AMD's Ryzen 5000 product stack, which should leave it room to roam uncontested. However, if you can find the competing Ryzen 5000 processors in stock during these dire times of the global chip shortage, it's hard to justify the Core i7-11700K for pretty much any use case. In short, that means the Core i7-11700K is basically the last resort if you're looking for a chip in this general price range and can't find one of the others in stock. 

Below, we have the geometric mean of our gaming test suite at 1080p and 1440p and a cumulative measure of performance in single- and multi-threaded applications. Bear in mind that we conducted the gaming tests with an RTX 3090, so performance deltas will shrink with lesser cards and higher resolution and fidelity settings. 

Image 1 of 6

Core i7-11700K Review

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 2 of 6

Core i7-11700K Review

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 3 of 6

Core i7-11700K Review

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 4 of 6

Core i7-11700K Review

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 5 of 6

Core i7-11700K Review

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 6 of 6

Core i7-11700K Review

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Given its pricing, the Core i7-11700K doesn't justify that gaming-only rigs move up from less expensive alternatives, like the Ryzen 5 5600X or Core i5-11400 that are pretty potent at their respective price points. The Ryzen 7 5800X also falls into the same trap — it offers nearly the same gaming performance as the 5600X but has an untenable price tag if you're looking to build a rig solely for gaming. The Ryzen 5 5600X beats the Core i7-11700K at gaming in its stock configuration but is $99 cheaper than the 11700K and $74 cheaper than the 11700KF, remaining our go-to recommendation for gamers.

The 11700K is technically slower than the 5600X and 5800X at gaming, but the deltas are slight, leaving it room to function as an all-rounder that's more adept at applications than the Ryzen 5 5600X. The $399 eight-core 11700K is certainly faster in applications than the $300 six-core Ryzen 5 5600X, but the $450 Ryzen 7 5800X is the real competitor in the all-rounder contest.

The 5800X provides similar gaming performance and comes with two additional cores that provide a comparable level of performance in threaded work to the 11700K. The Ryzen 5 5800X's suggested pricing lands at a $50 premium over the 11700K, but it has sold for ~$25 below that mark for the last month, and it's available now. This chip consumes much less power than the 11700K, resulting in more forgiving cooling requirements and the ability to run the chip on less expensive motherboards that don't require the full-fledged power circuitry needed to extract the best performance from the 11700K. Both of these factors reduce the 5800X's overall platform costs.

Additionally, you can step up to 12- or 16-core Ryzen 5000 models in the future with 400- and 500-series motherboards, while the only option for a Rocket Lake upgrade consists of moving up to the 11900K, an overpriced piece of silicon that comes with the same eight cores as the 11700K. AMD's 500-series chipsets also support PCIe 4.0, while Intel's chipset does not, leaving you restricted to a single PCIe 4.0 M.2 socket on the motherboard. You can see more in-depth coverage of this standoff in our AMD Ryzen 7 5800X vs Intel Core i7-11700K: The Eight-Core Faceoff article. 

Does the Core i7-11700K have room to operate as a more value-centric version of the Core i9-11900K? Sure, but due to its unrealistic pricing, the 11900K is already an underwhelming chip. Additionally, Intel artificially hamstrung the 11700K by removing support for two key boost technologies, thus allowing it to 'justify' the more expensive eight-core 11900K. That tactic worked — the 11700K is significantly slower than the 11900K at stock settings.

Typically we would expect overclocking to even the score, but the 11700K's obviously much lower binning restricts peak overclocking frequencies. That means it often won't match the stock 11900K even after heavy overclocking. Sure, the 11700K is arguably a better value than the 11900K given its price-to-performance ratio, but it's still hard to recommend it as an alternative to a chip we also don't recommend. 

Both the Ryzen 7 5800X and Ryzen 5 5600X are far better values for their respective use-cases. Unfortunately for the 11700K, we have seen solid availability of the Ryzen 7 5800X for an extended period of time, and you can often find it below the suggested pricing. We continue to see spotty supply of the 5600X, but that leaves the other downstream Intel chips, like the 11600K and 11400F, as better solutions for gaming rigs than the 11700K. 

That slams the door on the Core i7-11700K being anything more than a last resort that you should only buy if the Ryzen 5 5800X is out of stock and you need the productivity performance of an eight-core chip today

MORE: Best CPUs

MORE: CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy

MORE: All CPUs Content

Paul Alcorn

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

  • BeaRi72
    Or just buy i7 11700 (non-K).

    Increase PL1 in Bios -->

    same Speed, 40,- cheaper and, if needed, with box-cooler (with copper-core).
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    The 5800x is down to $406 at Amazon right now. If you're building a new system, there is no logical reason for a home user to pick a $6 cheaper 11700k over the 5800x at those prices
    Reply
  • punkncat
    spongiemaster said:
    The 5800x is down to $406 at Amazon right now. If you're building a new system, there is no logical reason for a home user to pick a $6 cheaper 11700k over the 5800x at those prices


    Graphics



    Card
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    punkncat said:
    Graphics



    Card
    Ok, one reason, if you don't need a graphics card and an IGP is fine, then an 11700k would make more sense. If you don't have any graphics card and you need one for a new system, there's no point in buying anything at all right now. Wait until you get your graphics card, because there's no knowing how long that could take, and then buy the rest of the components. Prices are more likely to go down now than up, so you'll save money waiting. Depending on how long it takes to get your graphics, it may make more sense to wait a bit longer for Alder Lake or Zen 4.
    Reply
  • Howardohyea
    A few days back I saw the 11700K was around 360 from Amazon, but then again with this CPU's low overclocking I guess that an cheaper i7 11700 non-K is better, just raise the power limit.

    Mostly same performance with 5800X (okay maybe less), you can save on the motherboard, CPU, and cooling.
    Reply