Intel Core i7-8700 Review: Stock Cooler Falls Flat

Intel's Core i7-8700 packs all of the Coffee Lake architecture's goodness into a 65W envelope, including six Hyper-Threaded cores, the benefits of 14nm++ manufacturing, and higher Turbo Boost clock rates than previous-generation CPUs. Although it's handicapped somewhat by a locked ratio multiplier, stymieing enthusiasts looking for a 5 GHz+ overclock, Core i7-8700 does feature operating frequencies that come close to the flagship -8700K. As a result, its performance is often similar in real-world tasks. And yet, the vanilla -8700 costs $50 less. That's a win if you weren't planning to overclock anyway.

Great benchmark results and an attractive price also put Core i7-8700 up against AMD's revamped Ryzen 7 line-up. Specifically, it's forced to contend with Ryzen 7 2700's eight cores, 16 threads, unlocked multiplier, affordable motherboard support, and capable cooler. Particularly on that last point, Intel's solution is severely deficient.

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. We found that the Core i7-8700 can overwhelm Intel's bundled heat sink and fan during certain heavily-threaded workloads, negatively affecting performance. You'll have to purchase a better thermal solution for any chance at realizing Core i7-8700's highest Turbo Boost frequencies. Naturally, the CPU loses some of its luster as a result.

Intel Core i7-8700

Core i7-8700 may be destined to live in the -8700K's shadow. But again, it does feature the same complement of six cores, 12MB of L3 cache, and DDR4-2666-capable memory controller. Like all of Intel's Core i7, i5, and i3 models, the i7-8700 comes with an integrated UHD Graphics 630 engine that gives Intel a leg up over competing Ryzen 7 and 5 processors without any on-die graphics.

Unfortunately, due to Coffee Lake's lack of backward compatibility, you do need a 300-series motherboard if you're upgrading from an older platform.


Intel
Core i7-8700K
Intel
Core
i7-8700
AMD
Ryzen 7 2700X
AMD
Ryzen 7 2700
AMD
Ryzen 5 2600X
Intel
Core i5-8600K
AMD
Ryzen 5 2600
Intel
Core i5-8400
MSRP
$359$303$329$299
$229
$257$199
$182
Process
14nm++
14nm++
GloFo 12nm LPGloFo 12nm LPGloFo 12nm LP14nm++
GloFo 12nm LP
14nm++
Cores/Threads
6/126/128/168/16
6/12
6/66/12
6/6
TDP
95W65W105W65W
95W
95W65W
65W
Base Freq. (GHz)
3.73.23.73.2
3.6
3.63.4
2.8
Precision Boost Freq. (GHz)
4.74.64.34.14.2
4.33.9
4.0
Cache (L3)
12MB12MB16MB16MB
16MB
9MB16MB
9MB
Unlocked Multiplier
YesNoYesYes
Yes
YesYes
No
Integrated Graphics
UHD Graphics 630 (1200 MHz)UHD Graphics 630 (1200 MHz)No
No
No
UHD Graphics 630 (1150 MHz)No
UHD Graphics 630 (1150 MHz)
Cooler
NoIntel Stock105W Wraith Prism (LED)95W Wraith Spire (LED)95W Wraith Spire
No65W Wraith Stealth
Intel Stock

Intel is infamous for aggressively segmenting its portfolio, meaning it trims frequencies, only makes overclocking available on premium models, turns Hyper-Threading on and off, and disables cores to create lower-priced models. Of course, the company did this with its seventh-gen Core CPUs, too. The Core i7-7700 was multiplier-locked, while the -7700K catered to enthusiasts. But Intel capped the -7700's top Turbo Boost bin at a mere 4.2 GHz. Core i7-8700 isn't as constrained. Its four-core ceiling is 4.4 GHz, while six active cores reach up to 4.3 GHz, just like Core i7-8700K. In most workloads, the 500 MHz base frequency difference between Core i7-8700 and -8700K quickly disappears as Turbo Boost kicks in.

Frequencies
Base
1
2
4
6
Intel Core i7-8700K
3.7 GHz
4.7 GHz
4.6 GHz
4.4 GHz
4.3 GHz
Intel Core i7-8700
3.2 GHz
4.6 GHz
4.5 GHz
4.4 GHz
4.3 GHz
Intel Core i7-7700K
4.2 GHz
4.5 GHz
4.4 GHz
4.4 GHz
-
Intel Core i7-7700
3.6 GHz
4.2 GHz
4.1 GHz
4.0 GHz
-

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36 comments
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  • AgentLozen
    This CPU doesn't seem to know who it wants to target. Users who are budget constrained would get better value out of the i5 8400. Demanding gamers and power users should be looking at the i7 8700K or Ryzen 2700X.

    In what context does it make sense to buy this CPU?
  • Lutfij
    The stock cooler looks like it was given as an April Fool's joke...campaign.
  • pensive69
    oh get real!
    stock cooling is always less than prime.
  • RyanTodd1
    I brought the processor and so far i havent even begun to hit its limits. I've primarily used it for high end gaming such as the Witcher 3. Very good chip and not too costly either - considering its the new gen. Very happy, only thing is, i wish i have 50 quid more to get the 8700k! Oh well!
  • AgentLozen
    RyanTodd1 said:

    Very happy, only thing is, i wish i have 50 quid more to get the 8700k!


    I wouldn't sweat it, RyanTodd1. Your graphics card will be the gaming bottleneck before the CPU is.

    When I got my first computer in 1997, it came with a Pentium II @ 233MHz. There were 266Mhz and 300Mhz models available at the time that I wished I had instead. Looking back 21 years later, I realized that it never made a difference which one I had. I think you'll feel the same way about your i7 8700.
  • Fluffy_Hedgehog
    Anonymous said:
    oh get real!
    stock cooling is always less than prime.


    *cough*
    https://www.amd.com/system/files/AM4-Wraith-Cooler-Lineup-1920x631.jpg
    http://www.relaxedtech.com/reviews/amd/wraith-max-and-wraith-spire-cooler/2
    *cough*

    you were saying? … yes those are copper plates on those coolers for the 65 and up lineup, yes they do have led and yes thost are actual copper heatpipes on the cooler that comes with the 2700x.

    I know a lot of aftermarket coolers that look and perform a hell of a lot worse than what amd puts in the box.

    it is only intel that puts half an ounce of third grade aluminium on top of their cpus (because they are too cheap to provide anything worthwhile I suppose …) and expects people to purchase actual cooling after the fact raising the total price of a system significantly.
  • Ilya__
    Anonymous said:
    This CPU doesn't seem to know who it wants to target. Users who are budget constrained would get better value out of the i5 8400. Demanding gamers and power users should be looking at the i7 8700K or Ryzen 2700X.

    In what context does it make sense to buy this CPU?


    I don't really agree. The difference between 8700 and 8700k is almost $100 CAD and yet the performance difference at default clocks is very small. So if I am building a machine for someone that will never overclock, save them some money and/or get the 8700 and get a good cooler instead.
  • justin.m.beauvais
    It looks to me that the circumstances where the 8700 overwhelms its cooler are few and far between. For someone looking for great gaming performance, but might not have all the cash needed for an 8700K and cooler, they could get the 8700, not give up much performance, and just get a better cooler later when workloads catch up.

    The benchmarks paint a pretty nice picture of the 8700. I believe you, Tom's, when you say that the cooler can be overwhelmed, but your benchmarks don't really seem to indicate much of a loss when/if it is happening, especially in gaming.

    Honestly though, why don't they differentiate the designation. Intel should have the 8700 at stock 8700K speeds, but just have the K unlocked. It isn't exactly deserving of the 8700 designation if it is clocked 500MHz lower. Just another thing Intel does that irks me.
  • RyanTodd1
    Anonymous said:
    RyanTodd1 said:

    Very happy, only thing is, i wish i have 50 quid more to get the 8700k!


    I wouldn't sweat it, RyanTodd1. Your graphics card will be the gaming bottleneck before the CPU is.

    When I got my first computer in 1997, it came with a Pentium II @ 233MHz. There were 266Mhz and 300Mhz models available at the time that I wished I had instead. Looking back 21 years later, I realized that it never made a difference which one I had. I think you'll feel the same way about your i7 8700.


    Hopefully this is the case, although tech has come a lot further since 1997! I wasnt even born then! :)
  • george_osborne
    For only ~$50 more I will always go with the unlocked processor. Better base frequency, better turbo and the ability to overclock (if so desired).
  • Brian_R170
    Looking at the graphs, the games and lightly-threaded workloads are showing ~1% or less difference between an AIO and the stock HSF and sometimes the stock HSF actually does better. The heavily threaded workloads are showing a difference of ~3% or less (but usually still less than 1%). Looks to me like most of the difference is in the noise.
  • bigpinkdragon286
    It almost looks like running the 8700 on the stock cooler both open air and at 100% skews the cooler in Intel's favor. Anybody who misses those two key points might end up with the opinion that Intel is doing the right thing, financially, as the performance difference between their stock cooler and a much better cooler is mostly a waste of money. Would love to see the same tests performed using the 8700 with stock cooler in a closed case, and using stock fan profiles. That's what's really going to show whether the cooler is wholly inadequate to the task. Of course, then we can argue about what average case airflow and ventilation is, so I can see there being some merit to not testing inside a case.
  • joeblowsmynose
    I have one problem with the testing - that we still don't really know how bad the throttling could be in "real -world". The fact that all testing on the stock cooler was done at a manual 100% speed, (who runs their CPU fan at 100% all the time? No one) and in an open bench. Obviously if left to it's own curve and inside a case the throttling is going to be a fair bit worse - but how much?

    Intel should have not included a cooler at all ... its like buying a car with a turbo that is supposed to make 300 hp, but then when it doesn't run at that speed and you take it back they tell you, "oh, that's just the max hp if you buy a better turbo to put on it than the one we sold it with". Would that be acceptable? No.

    If my CPU says it runs at certain frequencies, and I buy it for that reason, I expect it to work as advertised on the cooler it comes with.
  • Onus
    Anonymous said:
    oh get real!
    stock cooling is always less than prime.

    For 90% of the people, 90% of the time, it simply won't matter. For the few people in the limited circumstances where it matters, a better cooler is always an option.

    Article idea: "Typical" case, with two fans, front intake and rear exhaust; stock mobo fan profiles. Same parts, same clocks. Long scripted workload (8-10 hours' worth; a typical work day). The only difference is the coolers. Is there a real difference?
  • DookieDraws
    OMG! As if one page isn't enough, do we REALLY need that auto-playing ad on every page!? I love you Tom's, but come on! :)

    I think the 8700 has it's place. Plus, you can get an even better deal on it when it goes on sale. It's great for those who don't intend to overclock, and for those on a tight budget. Still a quality CPU, if you ask me. And yes, an aftermarket cooler is the way to go.
  • tacgnol06
    Forget performance. How long is that CPU going to survive if it's constantly thermal throttling?
  • mahanddeem
    In 3DMark DX11 physics benchmark, no way 7700K can score 17493
    My i7-7700K@4.8GHz can barely score 152xx!
  • Long__T123
    so in short if you don’t want to buy an aftermarket cooler for the 8700, deliding is an option that should allow a max turbo boost with the crappy cooler at sustainable temps but say goodbye to warranty though
  • WKIRBY
    I love my 8700. I do Architectural work and its faster than my aged W-3690 Xeon by a stretch. Its quite good for Gaming/Streaming too :)
  • 10tacle
    Anonymous said:

    *cough*
    https://www.amd.com/system/files/AM4-Wraith-Cooler-Lineup-1920x631.jpg
    http://www.relaxedtech.com/reviews/amd/wraith-max-and-wraith-spire-cooler/2
    *cough*

    you were saying? … yes those are copper plates on those coolers for the 65 and up lineup, yes they do have led and yes thost are actual copper heatpipes on the cooler that comes with the 2700x.

    I know a lot of aftermarket coolers that look and perform a hell of a lot worse than what amd puts in the box.

    it is only intel that puts half an ounce of third grade aluminium on top of their cpus (because they are too cheap to provide anything worthwhile I suppose …) and expects people to purchase actual cooling after the fact raising the total price of a system significantly.


    That is all true except you are missing one crucial point: Intel knows their buyers of K-series chips already plan on overclocking which is why they stopped including that junk cooler with them, and as we all know, AMD's chips don't even overclock well even with high end aftermarket water AIO or air coolers. But yes, Intel is chumping buyers of non-K chips out with such a lame stock cooler product. VERY lame for Intel. The root fail here is that Intel's previous generation non-K GPUs ran just fine under the stock fans. But the last few generations starting with Skylake with terrible thermal dissipation management showed they needed to step it up for the stock cooler. But Intel didn't give a damn.

    Anyway, if I were building a new gaming rig and only wanted Intel, I'd probably opt to save the $50 and go for the non-K version here knowing full well that at 1440p or 4K gaming, the CPU means little compared to the GPU in those resolutions. A $25 Cryorig H7 will cool it just fine with a proper air flow case. If you had a K-series and overclocked, you are looking at nearly a $100 (or more) cooler solution to hit 5+Gz. Which again, offers extreme diminished returns at higher resolution over stock speed (in gaming).