Skip to main content

Intel Core i3-8350K Review

Our Verdict

The Core i3-8350K offers class-leading performance in games and competitive performance in a wide range of applications. The unlocked multiplier facilitates a high overclocking ceiling, but you'll need a Z-Series motherboard to crank the clocks. The Core i3 is a solid chip, but its priced too close for comfort to the Core i5-8400, which is a better value for most users.

For

  • Quad-core
  • Stellar overclocking
  • Solid gaming performance
  • Competitive application performance

Against

  • Expensive
  • Requires Z-Series motherboard for overclocking
  • No bundled cooler

Core i3 Goes Quad

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 CoresBase Frequency1246
Intel Core i5-8600K3.6 GHz4.3 GHz4.2 GHz4.2 GHz4.1 GHz
Intel Core i5-84002.8 GHz4.0 GHz3.9 GHz3.9 GHz3.8 GHz
Intel Core i3-8350K 4.04.04.04.0-
Intel Core i3-7350K4.24.24.2--

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.


MORE: Best CPUs


MORE: Intel & AMD CPU Benchmark Comparisons 


MORE: All CPUs Content

  • 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?
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • 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..
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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."
    Reply
  • rgrigio
    Should i assume it to be as fast as a STOCK i7 4790k? At least when only 4 cores are required?
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • why_wolf
    20384951 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.
    Reply
  • Llorelie
    20385554 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.
    Reply