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Intel Core i5-8400 Review: Six Cores On A Budget

2D & 3D Workstation Performance

2D Performance

Our GDI/GDI+ tests are used to test two different output methods that can be found in older applications and printing tasks. Today, they (or at least a modified version of them) are commonly used to display the graphical user interface). Theses are also great benchmarks for direct device write throughput and memory performance when handling gigantic device-independent bitmap files.

Synthetic 2D Benchmarks

We take a look at direct device write throughput first. The graphics driver makes heavy use of CPU cycles for this task, but doesn’t spawn many threads. As a result, high clock rates and IPC throughput are favored, both of which are strengths of Intel's Coffee Lake design. 

We up the ante by introducing memory to the mix. This is done with the help of the only remaining 2D hardware function: generating the graphics output in memory and then copying it to the output device all at once. The benchmark’s the same as before. We just plot a bitmap in memory, as opposed to sending the information directly to the monitor. This pushes the CPUs, since they’re no longer platform-bound.

The results prove interesting: frequency still rules, but AMD is more competitive. An overclocked Ryzen 5 1600X takes the lead over Core i5-8400, and the -7600K beats Intel's -8600K.

AutoCAD 2016 (2D)

Even though AutoCAD does use DirectX, ultimately it just duplicates every single draw function in software. The software doesn't scale well over additional cores though, so IPC throughput is usually more important. That makes Core i5-8400's lead over the -7400 more impressive, showing just much higher Turbo Boost frequencies in lightly threaded workloads can improve performance.

3D Performance

Most professional development applications have been optimized and compiled with Intel CPUs in mind. This is reflected in their performance numbers. Still, we include them in order to motivate developers to focus their efforts on AMD’s Ryzen processors as well. This would give users more than one choice. The same goes for an emphasis on multi-core processors, at least where that’s feasible and makes sense.

AutoCAD 2016 (3D)

Clock rate trumps core count. Intel’s Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake land fairly close to each other, with clock rate determining the winner. AutoCAD’s performance turns out to be close to that of older games, since it uses DirectX and isn’t really optimized to take advantage of multiple cores.

Performance scales enormously with frequency because the graphics card finally gets used properly.

Cinebench R15 OpenGL

Frequency is (almost) everything in the Cinebench R15 OpenGL benchmark. Intel's Core i5-8400 is on similar footing with the older four-core Core i5-7600K.

SolidWorks 2015

SolidWorks 2015 also emphasizes clock rate, and it typically doesn't utilize more than four cores.

Creo 3.0

Creo 3.0 paints the same picture: lots of cores don't improve performance when it comes to drafting using real-time 3D graphics output. The Core i5-8400 continues to beat the previous-generation -7600K, wrecking Intel's Core i5-7400 in the process.

Blender and 3ds Max (Real-Time 3D Preview)

The Blender and 3ds Max real-time 3D previews yield similar results. Mainly, frequency is everything.

The 3ds Max results aren’t based on time to completion. Rather, this benchmark generates a composite index based on CPU performance during a set time period.

Catia V6 R2012

This is one of the graphics benchmarks that has been optimized time and again (it’s part of the free SPECviewperf 12 suite). However, it still provides a fairly good measure of CPU performance, with an emphasis on clock rate.

Maya 2013

At the risk of beating a dead horse, our chart paints a picture we've seen several times already. The real-time 3D output numbers don’t tell the entire story, though, as we'll see during final rendering.


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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.