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

Final Analysis

Core i7-8086K's higher base and single-core Turbo Boost frequencies delivered small speed-ups throughout our test suite. But because of Windows' busy nature, those gains were somewhat unpredictable. Although the -8086K rarely stayed in its single-core Turbo Boost bin for long, the same can be said for most CPUs. Regardless, Core i7-8086K earns recognition for becoming the fastest gaming processor on the market, if only just barely.

Our charts below plot gaming performance with a geometric mean of the 99th percentile frame times (a good indicator of smoothness) converted into a frame-per-second measurement. We also have price-to-performance charts that get split up to include the CPUs-only, plus extra platform costs. For the models that don't come with a bundled cooler, we add $25 for a basic heat sink. We also add $20 if overclocking requires a more expensive motherboard (as is the case for Z370).

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If you're only looking to use Core i7-8086K at its stock settings, the processor provides nearly the same gaming experience as the Core i7-8700K at 4.9 GHz. Its advantage is minor at 1920x1080, and it'll shrink at higher resolutions. Granted, overclocking is one of the -8086K's selling points. But the extra 200 MHz you get compared to our -8700K just doesn't justify a $75-higher price tag. And as with all K-series SKUs, you need to buy your own cooler and 300-series motherboard.

We see similar trends throughout our application tests: Core i7-8086K is strikingly similar to the -8700K, and overclocking opens a slight advantage due to our sample's increased headroom. It's only a shame that Intel didn't have the margins to also improve Core i7-8086K's multi-core Turbo Boost frequencies. Such a move would have yielded bigger gains across the board.

You could always purchase a delidded Core i7-8700K, or do the risky work yourself, to match the -8086K's overclocking potential. 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.

Core i7-8086K is probably overkill for most of our readers. Both Intel and AMD have far more economical options that provide similar performance through our benchmark suite. Given the limited supply of Core i7-8086Ks, however, we don't expect them to be available for long, and competitive positioning probably isn't the top priority for this CPU's target market.

In light of the anecdotal evidence we've heard from Silicon Lottery, you can rest assured that the -8086K represents Intel's very best Coffee Lake silicon. There are those among us who always seek out the best performance possible, regardless of price. If that describes you, then Core i7-8086K is the fastest gaming chip out there. Just be aware that you're paying dearly for a bit of overclocking headroom.

Moderate gains at stock clock rates mean Core i7-8086K isn't worthwhile for most of Intel's customers. But if you're willing to pay a premium for a piece of history that just so happens to perform well, the -8086K is a cool, enthusiast-oriented option.


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