Finally, we turn our attention to the 4-core 4-thread i3 line. In this article, I’ll be comparing what we know about the i3-8350K against AMD’s price equivalent, the Ryzen 5 1500X. Intel’s segmentation has gone quite out of hand though, and the 6-core 6-thread i5-8400 falls into the same price category, costing only around $10 more than the 8350K and 1500X.
So, how do these sub-$200 processors compare in gaming and some light productivity work?
The $180 i3-8350K is an unlocked CPU, so it requires the purchase of a separate cooler and a Z370 motherboard. It has 4 cores and 4 threads and runs at a 4 GHz base clock. The 4-core 8-thread Ryzen 5 1500X also costs around $180, but comes with a decent stock cooler and can be overclocked on cheaper B350 motherboards. It has a base clock of 3.5 and a boost of 3.7 GHz. The i5-8400 is the only CPU here with a locked frequency, but it has 6 cores and 6 threads and costs around $190. Even though it has a base clock of only 2.8 GHz on all cores, its max single-core boost is stated at 4.0 GHz. Depending on the motherboard, it is possible to automatically run all 6 cores at 4.0 GHz, which makes this processor very interesting.
A year ago it was hard to believe that we could be talking about productivity benchmarks with an i3 CPU, but now that Intel and AMD have upped the core counts in the sub-$200 parts, this doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. In general, the Ryzen 5 1500X beats the overclockable i3-8350K most of the time. The i5-8400 looks like the best value out of the three, though — at least at stock speeds.
In gaming, the landscape stays very similar to all previous Intel vs. Ryzen comparisons. Due to Intel’s superior single-threaded performance and video games being optimized to utilize fewer cores, most current titles perform better on Intel processors. However, the locked i5-8400 looks very interesting in these benchmarks. Even though its frequency is locked, its performance is comparable to the previous generation flagship CPUs from Intel.
Overclocking and power consumption
As previously stated, both the i3-8350K and Ryzen 5 1500X are unlocked, overclockable chips. However, few publications have reported their overclocking results. Neither TechPowerUp nor TechSpot were able to reach 5 GHz, with TechPowerUp stopping at a 4.5 GHz overclock with a decent Noctua NH-U14S cooler. A 240mm all-in-one cooler did help them reach 4.6-4.7 GHz, but the system would be highly unstable at anything past that, independent of voltage. TechSpot managed a hefty 4.9 GHz on their 8350K under a liquid-cooled all-in-one CPU cooler.
The Ryzen 5 1500X, as most Ryzen CPUs, maxes out at around 3.9-4.0 GHz.
The Core i5-8400 is a great CPU, but…
As the benchmarks show, the Core i5-8400 is the most enticing CPU of the three. However, it is important to point out that due to this being a locked CPU, it is potentially overkill to pair it with a multiplier-unlocked, more expensive Z370 motherboard. The problem here is that there are no B- or H-series motherboards on the market yet. We won’t see those until 2018. So, all these tests were done on a more expensive than necessary Z370 motherboard.
This brings forth a number of questions: Will the 4.0 GHz on all 6 cores of the i5-8400 be supported on the cheaper B- and H-series motherboards? What will the RAM speed support be like? Is what we’re seeing here a best-case-scenario for the Core i5-8400?
Coffee Lake continues the story of beating AMD’s Ryzen CPUs in terms of performance. However, as we have pointed out multiple times before, the price of the CPU doesn’t equal the price of the platform.
The total platform cost of the i3-8350K will be slightly higher than Ryzen or the i5-8400. We will need at least a $30 cooler and a $120 motherboard on top of the $180 CPU, for a total of at least $330, which may bring us a 4.5 GHz overclock.
The $180 Ryzen 5 1500X needs only a $80 B350 motherboard to function out of the box, so that will be a total of $260, at least $70 less than the Intel platform. In this case, are these CPUs in the same price league and are they even comparable?
That doesn’t matter when the Core i5-8400 comes into play. At only $190, with a stock cooler and an $80 B360 motherboard (in 2018), this platform would be a steal at $270. However, due to there being no B- or H-series motherboards on the market right now, we’re forced to buy a Z370 motherboard instead, and they start at $120. This brings us to around $310 for the Core i5-8400. On all fronts, it performs better than the overclocked i3-8350K. So, there is no way we can recommend the i3-8350K when you could buy an i5-8400 instead.
In conclusion, when choosing out of these three CPUs, we would recommend the Ryzen 5 1500X on the AM4 platform in a case where the extra $60-$70 will help you get a better graphics card or larger capacity SSD. If that is not the case, then the Core i5-8400 is your best choice at around $300 total platform cost, with a Z370 motherboard.
Once B- and H-series motherboards are on the market in 2018, the i5-8400 paired with a cheaper B- or H-series motherboard looks poised to beat everything else in its price range.