Competition is great. If you can, think back to a year ago. AMD’s CPU selection consisted of several outdated options, and Intel were happy issuing small incremental improvements over the previous generation. What a difference a year makes! Like them or hate them, AMD has massively shifted the market with the release of the Ryzen architecture. That’s what brings us to today and the launch of the brand new 8000 series Coffee Lake processors from Intel — the biggest upgrade to the Intel lineup in years.
This article looks at the new Core i3 CPUs, which are lower-midrange chips still very capable of great performance for the price. What sort of PC should you build with the i3-8100 or i3-8350K? Read on to find out.
What does i3 mean again?
Previously, Intel’s i3 chips featured 2 physical cores and 4 threads. The new 8000 series i3 chips have upgraded to 4 physical cores with 4 threads, along with a higher standard clock, overclock and cache. (We’ll be releasing an article that explains exactly what it means to have double the physical cores, but the same number of threads. So, stay tuned for that!)
Entry-Level i3-8100 Gaming Build ($600)
- CPU: Intel i3 8100 ($117)
- Cores/Threads: 4/4
- Clock: 3.6GHz
- L3 Cache: 6MB
- TDP: 65W
There are a few interesting quirks with the new i3 chips. The first one is the lack of boost clock. What you buy is what you get with the i3-8100. The flip side of this is a lower power draw, so this is a great choice if you’re after an efficient, low-powered build. Unlike the i3-8350K, the 8100 does come with a heatsink in the box, which is a perfectly fine cooling option, since you can’t overclock it anyway. With the lower power draw and provided heatsink, it’s designed to beat out AMD’s competition from the 65W A-series chips. Early benchmarks have the 8100 trading blows with the Ryzen 3 1200 as well, so that is worth keeping in mind when deciding what to build.
I’m a big fan of these smaller form factor GPU’s, especially as it means that when combined with the motherboard below, we can build a nice compact system that has great performance in a small package.
8GB is plenty for an entry-level gaming build. Considering we can’t overclock this CPU, we don’t need incredibly fast RAM either.
Motherboard: MSI Z370-A PRO ($120)
Here we come down to the big problem with Intel’s 8th generation launch. Right now, even though these chips use the same socket type as the previous generation, you can’t use last generation’s motherboards. You have to use the new ones, and most manufacturers won’t have low-budget motherboard options until well into 2018. So, this unreasonably bumps up the price of budget builds up right now.
A good, cheap 2TB drive. Perfectly fine for media and gaming purposes.
PSU: EVGA B1 500W ($49)
With the i3-8100, we don’t have to worry much about power consumption or overclocking. So, this power supply from EVGA provides more than enough power for the build at a great price.
Case: Rosewill SRM-01 ($30)
This mini-tower from Rosewill keeps things nice and compact. A simple but handy case for the price.
Total Build Price: $600
Although it won’t blow the roof off with 4K and ultra graphics, this build can handle 1080p gaming quite happily. The performance of the i3-8100 combined with the GTX 1050 Ti is very solid. The problem comes from the motherboard issue. Although a Z370 board is great if you’re overclocking, it’s essentially a wasted purchase with this CPU and it needlessly bumps up the price of the build. Once cheaper motherboards come out, I feel this will be a more attractive alternative to an entry market dominated by AMD’s Ryzen and A-Series CPUs right now. Until then, it’s only really worth it if you know you’re going to be upgrading this CPU down the line.
The i3-8350K Overclocked Gaming Build ($1,000)
- CPU: Intel i3 8350K ($170)
- Cores/Threads: 4/4
- Clock: 4.0 GHz
- L3 Cache: 8MB
- TDP: 91W
This is an interesting little CPU. On the surface, it seems very similar to the smaller 8100, but the model number does have a K after it, so we can overclock. That said, the chip still doesn’t have a turbo boost clock.
Note: This CPU does not come with any cooling solution in the box, so we have provided information below for recommendations for both air and liquid solutions.
CPU Cooler: Corsair H60 Liquid ($65)
If you’re thinking about going for those high overclocks, this cooler should do the trick, while keeping the overall size of the build down.
One day prices will normalise, I swear! All told, this is still a nice GPU for the price, but keep an eye out for cheaper equivalents!
We’re upgrading to 16GB here, with a higher speed to account for overclocking.
Motherboard: ASUS PRIME Z370-P ($141)
Great overclocking capability, as well as a richer feature set. Although not the absolute best motherboard on the market, it is one of the best at this price point.
As we have an available M.2 port, we’ve gone with a small capacity SSD to use for OS installation and important games.
A good, cheap 2TB drive which is perfect for media and gaming purposes.
With potentially wanting to overclock and having a little bit more of a power draw from the GPU too, we’ve gone with the well-priced M12II 620W PSU from SeaSonic.
An extremely popular case with great airflow, which will be important if you do decide to overclock!
Total Build Price: $1,000
All told, this is a really nice build. If you end up overclocking, you should end up with a very speedy system, helped along by the SSD. Thanks to the fantastic single-core performance, it makes for a great alternative to an AMD Ryzen 5 build. For builders, this means deciding between a slightly cheaper multitasking build with Ryzen, or a more gaming-focused build with Intel. Hooray for choices!
Go Forth and Build!
As mentioned at the start of the article, there are extras that you might need to finish off these builds:
- A copy of Windows. If you are a student or work for a big business, you might be able to get a copy for free or at a significantly lower cost. If not, we recommend Windows 10 on DVD ($90) or USB ($120).
- An optical drive – critical if you are wanting to install Windows 10 via DVD. Good thing here is DVD-RW drives are cheap these days (here’s one for $21).
We also have general recommendations for:
If you want to see other builds with even higher performance, check out the main page at Logical Increments.
There you have it, 2 new builds for the shiny new i3 processors from Intel!
If you have any questions or suggestions about these builds, then let us know in the comments.