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Intel Core i7-8700 Review: Stock Cooler Falls Flat

Our Verdict

Intel's Core i7-8700 is surprisingly similar to the company's more expensive -8700K in our benchmarks. You do lose the ability to overclock, but save $50 dollars in the exchange. Unfortunately, Intel's bundled cooler isn't able to cope with the -8700's thermal output, which means you need an aftermarket solution to realize the CPU's peak performance.

For

  • Small real-world performance difference compared to Core i7-8700K
  • Lower price than the -8700K

Against

  • Bundled cooler is not sufficient
  • Locked ratio multiplier

The Core i7-8700 Review

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.

IntelCore i7-8700KIntelCore i7-8700AMD Ryzen 7 2700XAMD Ryzen 7 2700AMD Ryzen 5 2600XIntel Core i5-8600KAMD Ryzen 5 2600Intel Core i5-8400
MSRP$359$303$329$299$229$257$199$182
Process14nm++14nm++GloFo 12nm LPGloFo 12nm LPGloFo 12nm LP14nm++GloFo 12nm LP14nm++
Cores/Threads6/126/128/168/166/126/66/126/6
TDP95W65W105W65W95W95W65W65W
Base Freq. (GHz)3.73.23.73.23.63.63.42.8
Precision Boost Freq. (GHz)4.74.64.34.14.24.33.94.0
Cache (L3)12MB12MB16MB16MB16MB9MB16MB9MB
Unlocked MultiplierYesNoYesYesYesYesYesNo
Integrated GraphicsUHD Graphics 630 (1200 MHz)UHD Graphics 630 (1200 MHz)NoNoNoUHD Graphics 630 (1150 MHz)NoUHD Graphics 630 (1150 MHz)
CoolerNoIntel Stock105W Wraith Prism (LED)95W Wraith Spire (LED)95W Wraith SpireNo65W Wraith StealthIntel 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.

FrequenciesBase1246
Intel Core i7-8700K3.7 GHz4.7 GHz4.6 GHz4.4 GHz4.3 GHz
Intel Core i7-87003.2 GHz4.6 GHz4.5 GHz4.4 GHz4.3 GHz
Intel Core i7-7700K 4.2 GHz4.5 GHz4.4 GHz4.4 GHz-
Intel Core i7-77003.6 GHz4.2 GHz4.1 GHz4.0 GHz-


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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?
    Reply
  • Lutfij
    The stock cooler looks like it was given as an April Fool's joke...campaign.
    Reply
  • pensive69
    oh get real!
    stock cooling is always less than prime.
    Reply
  • 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!
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • Fluffy_Hedgehog
    21087259 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.
    Reply
  • Ilya__
    21087183 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • RyanTodd1
    21087440 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! :)

    Reply
  • 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).
    Reply