The Core i7-8086K Review: 40 Years Of x86

Intel's 8086, the company's first processor to use its ubiquitous x86 instruction set architecture, debuted on June 8, 1978. Forty years later and by some stroke of fortuitous timing, Intel's desktop CPU portfolio is loaded with eighth-generation Core processors. So it was only fitting, then, that after a bit of prodding by a well-known chip analyst, Intel announced that it'd pay homage to the 8086 with a 40th-anniversary limited-edition Core i7-8086K.

Core i7-8086K is based on the same Coffee Lake architecture as Core i7-8700K, right down to its six Hyper-Threaded cores able to work on 12 threads concurrently. But it features a higher base frequency and more aggressive Turbo Boost bins, which tell us that Intel carefully picked out the best dies to use in these chips. This is the first Intel processor to ship with a 5 GHz Turbo Boost bin, matching AMD's record with the FX-9590. And if you're only looking at clock rate, the -8086K represents a 1000x multiplication of the original 8086's 5 MHz frequency.

Incidentally, the -8086K is also Intel's first six-core processor with a 4 GHz base frequency, though that specification isn't as eye-catching.

Intel kicked off its anniversary celebration with a giveaway of 8086 Core i7-8086Ks. If you didn't win one, you'll have to purchase the processor like we did. Your window of opportunity won't be large, though: our sources confirm a production run of just 50,000 units. We expect collector's items to sport premium pricing, and Intel doesn't disappoint in that department. As of this writing, the -8086K sells for $75 more than the once-flagship Core i7-8700K.

So what is this processor's appeal, other than the obvious nostalgia? Core i7-8086K comes from a higher-quality bin than Core i7-8700K, so enthusiasts with deep pockets can expect to receive the very best example of Coffee Lake silicon available. Of course, most folks won't consider the extra $75 worth paying for moderate gains at stock clock rates. But again, this is a limited-edition piece of hardware steeped in history.

Intel Core i7-8600K

The 6C/12T Core i7-8086K is manufactured on Intel's 14nm++ process, just like its other Coffee Lake CPUs. Like the company's Core i7-8700K, its 95W Core i7-8086K also features 13MB of L3 cache, support for up to 64GB of dual-channel memory at DDR4-2666, an unlocked multiplier to facilitate overclocking, and Intel's integrated UHD Graphics 630 engine that can boost up to 1.2 GHz. For more information about the Coffee Lake architecture, check out our Core i7-8700K review.

Frequencies
Base
1
2
3
4 - 5
6
Intel Core i7-8086K
4.0 GHz
5.0 GHz
4.6 GHz
4.5 GHz
4.4 GHz
4.3 GHz
Intel Core i7-8700K
3.7 GHz
4.7 GHz
4.6 GHz
4.5 GHz
4.4 GHz
4.3 GHz

The -8086K's real differentiation involves its modified Turbo Boost frequencies. But in an effort to maintain a 95W thermal design power rating, Intel only increased this chip's base clock rate by 300 MHz. Intel also increased the single-core clock rate to 5 GHz. We were able to sustain 5 GHz in tasks confined to a single core, such as Cinebench and LAME. However, the busy scheduling environment in a modern desktop operating system, which finds threads migrating frequently between cores, prevented 5 GHz operation in even mainstream tests like our gaming benchmarks. In other words, don't expect to see 5 GHz very often.

Product
Core i7-8086K
Core i7-8700K
Socket
LGA 1151v2
LGA 1151v2
TDP
95W
95W
Architecture
Coffee Lake
Coffee Lake
Process
14nm++
14nm++
Cores/Threads
6 / 12
6 / 12
Frequency Base / Boost
4.0 / 5.0 GHz
3.7 / 4.7 GHz
Memory Speed
DDR4-2966DDR4-2966
Memory Controller
Dual-Channel
Dual-Channel
Cache (L2+L3)
13.5MB
13.5MB
Integrated Graphics
UHD Graphics 630 (up to 1200 MHz)
UHD Graphics 630 (up to 1200 MHz)
PCIe Lanes
x16 Gen3
x16 Gen3
Price
$425
$359

We've heard reports that some motherboards don't support Intel's 5 GHz single-core Turbo Boost bin. However, updated firmware could fix that in the future. Regardless, it's a shame that Intel didn't port over Turbo Boost 3.0 technology to pin lightly-threaded tasks to the CPU's fastest core. Overclockers might have more luck coaxing higher clock rates from the -8086K: our sample easily stretched up to 5.1 GHz with a bit of extra voltage.

We normally don't cover processor packaging, but it is relevant given the Core i7-8086K's status as a collector’s item. Like all of Intel's K-series SKUs, the -8086K doesn't include a bundled heat sink or fan.

The box tell us us that this is a limited-edition CPU. Intel even includes a certificate of authenticity, along with a signed statement from former CEO Brian Krzanich.

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  • AgentLozen
    Cons:
    -No bundled cooler

    You're saying that if Intel paired their little aluminum heatsink with this CPU you would have been more satisfied with this product?

    I've never heard of this silicon lottery place before. That's neat stuff.
  • Yuka
    I'm going to be unfair, but not too much:

    - We doing something for the 40th anniversary? -> Yes.
    - What do we sell for the 40th anniversary? -> A re-branded 8700K.
    - What do we include to make it more expensive? -> A letter from the CEO we most definitely won't be firing in the upcoming weeks! And a weird bottle with coffee beans in it (it seems?).
    - Do we bother in making it special (metal solder, bundled CLC, etc...) or just pick a couple golden sample 8700Ks? -> Don't bother, shrinks our profit; we don't care about the anniversary or making this special, really.

    Too much cynical thought process there?

    Cheers! :P
  • PaulAlcorn
    Anonymous said:
    Cons:
    -No bundled cooler

    You're saying that if Intel paired their little aluminum heatsink with this CPU you would have been more satisfied with this product?

    I've never heard of this silicon lottery place before. That's neat stuff.


    Touché
    ;)
  • mac_angel
    why is it that internet news media no longer uses proof readers or editors?
  • ubercake
    I like the article and the page two comparison with the old 8086.
  • ingtar33
    so Intel releases 8000 binned cpus for a $100 markup over their basic cpu, plus some crap, however, this release is by lottery only (as in only the lotto winners have permission to buy this chip), and THG does a review?

    seriously?
  • mister g
    " But if you go the Silicon Lottery route, expect to pay even more than a brand new Core i7-8086K costs and lose two years of warranty coverage."

    I thought Intel CPUs usually come with a 3 year warranty?
  • Math Geek
    Anonymous said:
    this release is by lottery only (as in only the lotto winners have permission to buy this chip), and THG does a review?

    seriously?


    think you missed how it went. they did a drawing to give away a bunch of these chips but they also made the rest available for purchase through the normal routs. no lottery there, just have to be quick on the draw and buy one before they sell out. Tom's bought thier's the same way any of us could have since intel did not send out press samples of it. it's a valid product for sale like any other they review.
  • g-unit1111
    Anonymous said:
    Cons:
    -No bundled cooler

    You're saying that if Intel paired their little aluminum heatsink with this CPU you would have been more satisfied with this product?

    I've never heard of this silicon lottery place before. That's neat stuff.


    Yeah I noticed that too. Intel hasn't been bundling coolers with its' high end CPUs since the X79 days. I honestly wouldn't count this as a hit against it.
  • Krazie_Ivan
    and lets check in with Paul on those 8086k temps...

    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/54/23/5a/54235a5fac7cee9c208e0838115f1752.jpg
  • jimmysmitty
    Anonymous said:
    I'm going to be unfair, but not too much:

    - We doing something for the 40th anniversary? -> Yes.
    - What do we sell for the 40th anniversary? -> A re-branded 8700K.
    - What do we include to make it more expensive? -> A letter from the CEO we most definitely won't be firing in the upcoming weeks! And a weird bottle with coffee beans in it (it seems?).
    - Do we bother in making it special (metal solder, bundled CLC, etc...) or just pick a couple golden sample 8700Ks? -> Don't bother, shrinks our profit; we don't care about the anniversary or making this special, really.

    Too much cynical thought process there?

    Cheers! :P


    I haven't seen many companies do much more for an anniversary version of their product. For example, the 50th anniversary Mustang in 2015 was just a Mustang GT with the Performance Pack but came in two special colors (Kona Blue and Wimbeldon White) and had the badging. They did a limited run of 1964 of those. However it didn't perform any better than a 2015 GT with the Performance Package.

    I think celebrating their beginnings is neat. Some people love this stuff. Let them enjoy it.
  • PaulAlcorn
    Anonymous said:
    " But if you go the Silicon Lottery route, expect to pay even more than a brand new Core i7-8086K costs and lose two years of warranty coverage."

    I thought Intel CPUs usually come with a 3 year warranty?


    Yup. Intel gives you a three-year warranty, while Silicon Lottery gives you a one-year warranty. So, you lose two years of coverage if you buy a chip from Silicon Lottery.
  • Yuka
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    I'm going to be unfair, but not too much:

    - We doing something for the 40th anniversary? -> Yes.
    - What do we sell for the 40th anniversary? -> A re-branded 8700K.
    - What do we include to make it more expensive? -> A letter from the CEO we most definitely won't be firing in the upcoming weeks! And a weird bottle with coffee beans in it (it seems?).
    - Do we bother in making it special (metal solder, bundled CLC, etc...) or just pick a couple golden sample 8700Ks? -> Don't bother, shrinks our profit; we don't care about the anniversary or making this special, really.

    Too much cynical thought process there?

    Cheers! :P


    I haven't seen many companies do much more for an anniversary version of their product. For example, the 50th anniversary Mustang in 2015 was just a Mustang GT with the Performance Pack but came in two special colors (Kona Blue and Wimbeldon White) and had the badging. They did a limited run of 1964 of those. However it didn't perform any better than a 2015 GT with the Performance Package.

    I think celebrating their beginnings is neat. Some people love this stuff. Let them enjoy it.


    They usually include some performance packages factory cars don't get. Unfortunately, the analogy falls a bit short, since here you're basically comparing the Shelby Mustang of the line up to the anniversary edition, which is a Shelby Mustang in another color. Not even special wheels, interior or markings; just a new badge and a higher price point.

    But yes, I do agree at least they did *something* to "celebrate". I just find it amazing how they "celebrate" and not lose money doing it (or pass it as a marketing cost).

    Cheers!
  • jdlech2
    TBH, I think anyone who even opens the package is nuts. It's like breaking the plastic on that vinyl album you know is going to be history, or opening the plastic bag on that one comic book you know is going to be worth thousands, someday. These are collectors items - they're valued not for their performance, but for their collectibility. 25 years from now, museums are going to want them, collectors are going to bid for them. "Mint condition" is going to be worth something.
  • Giroro
    Come on, guys. Intel went through all that effort to send you some coffee in the press kit, so the least you could do is throw it into a lake.
  • AgentLozen
    Giroro said:

    Come on, guys. Intel went through all that effort to send you some coffee in the press kit, so the least you could do is throw it into a lake.


    Well what's the point in doing that? All that's gonna happen is some coffee is going to get in that lake.
  • jimmysmitty
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    I'm going to be unfair, but not too much:

    - We doing something for the 40th anniversary? -> Yes.
    - What do we sell for the 40th anniversary? -> A re-branded 8700K.
    - What do we include to make it more expensive? -> A letter from the CEO we most definitely won't be firing in the upcoming weeks! And a weird bottle with coffee beans in it (it seems?).
    - Do we bother in making it special (metal solder, bundled CLC, etc...) or just pick a couple golden sample 8700Ks? -> Don't bother, shrinks our profit; we don't care about the anniversary or making this special, really.

    Too much cynical thought process there?

    Cheers! :P


    I haven't seen many companies do much more for an anniversary version of their product. For example, the 50th anniversary Mustang in 2015 was just a Mustang GT with the Performance Pack but came in two special colors (Kona Blue and Wimbeldon White) and had the badging. They did a limited run of 1964 of those. However it didn't perform any better than a 2015 GT with the Performance Package.

    I think celebrating their beginnings is neat. Some people love this stuff. Let them enjoy it.


    They usually include some performance packages factory cars don't get. Unfortunately, the analogy falls a bit short, since here you're basically comparing the Shelby Mustang of the line up to the anniversary edition, which is a Shelby Mustang in another color. Not even special wheels, interior or markings; just a new badge and a higher price point.

    But yes, I do agree at least they did *something* to "celebrate". I just find it amazing how they "celebrate" and not lose money doing it (or pass it as a marketing cost).

    Cheers!


    No the 2015 50th anniversary Mustang. Not the 50th anniversary Cobra Jet (which looks insane) of which they are only pushing 68 out and will be unique in that its a 5.2l cross plane Coyote V8 super charged. The 2015 50th anniversary of the original Mustang was just a 2015 GT with special colors and badging nothing more.

    I said it is often the same as what Intel does. Normally just aesthetic changes or badging or even a special this year and trim only color.

    People should be allowed to celebrate and enjoy it. Its not meant for everyone just those that enjoy it.
  • Gam3r01
    Now the question is, would the winners of the giveaway be getting just the processor, or the whole spread in the first picture?
  • cangelini
    Anonymous said:
    why is it that internet news media no longer uses proof readers or editors?


    Editor checking in. What issues did you spot? Thanks!
    Chris
  • cryoburner
    Anonymous said:
    Pros: Rare moments of 5 GHz operation are exciting

    A bit like spotting bigfoot in the wild? What's the point of giving the processor a slightly higher boost clock on a single core when that doesn't actually translate to better performance in real-world scenarios? Considering that these processors are capable of overclocking to 5GHz, I'm sure they could have given it higher multi-core boost clocks as well, even if they were just increased by 100MHz over the 8700K. The resulting performance difference would still be indistinguishable, but at least it could be measured.

    Anonymous said:
    But in an effort to maintain a 95W thermal design power rating, Intel only tweaked this chip's base and single-core clock rates.

    But didn't you state in the 8700 review posted just the other day that...

    Anonymous said:
    You see, Intel's thermal design power specification applies to the CPU's base frequency. But its processors exceed that rating when they jump to higher Turbo Boost bins.

    Honestly, I think they just pull numbers out of a hat when specifying their TDPs.

    About the only "Pro" this processor has is that overclockers can get a chip that's been binned for about 100Mhz higher clocks on average. However, there's still no guarantee that you'll get a chip that clocks better, it just increases one's odds. Going by Silicon Lottery's data, there's still a chance of getting an 8086K that won't be able to exceed 5GHz.

    And what's with these other "Pros"? Fastest gaming processor? Even with a high-end graphics card at 1080p, frame rates were practically identical to an 8700K, and even that processor's performance in today's games is practically indistinguishable from a number of lower-priced options. Why even mention gaming performance in the review summary? Anyone building a gaming system would be better off putting that extra $75+ toward other components that have some actual performance benefit.

    And will the 8086K really end up a collector's item? I somehow doubt this processor will retain all that much of its value in the long term. It's not so much a piece of history as it is a marketing gimmick to extract more profit out of 8700Ks that can potentially clock a bit higher. And from a performance standpoint, the 8086K will undoubtedly be surpassed by the 9th-gen Core processors that should be launching within the next few months or so.