With this month’s Coffee Lake release, Intel finally decided to increase the amount of CPU cores they offer to mainstream consumers. The company’s newest Core i5 CPU, the i5-8600K has been upgraded to 6 cores from last generation’s 4-core i5-7600K. In theory, that should mean significantly better multithreaded performance in addition to Intel’s typical single-threaded dominance. But how does the 8600K compare to the previous generation, as well as the price-equivalent chips from AMD?
Priced at around $260-$280, the 6-core 6-thread i5-8600K falls right in-between AMD’s 6-core 12-thread, $240 Ryzen 5 1600X and 8-core 16-thread, $290 Ryzen 7 1700. The $210 Ryzen 5 1600 can also easily achieve the same performance as the 1600X through overclocking on any B350 motherboard.
The Intel Core i5-8600K’s base frequency is 3.6 GHz, 200 MHz lower than the previous generation i5-7600K’s 3.8 GHz. The maximum single-core boost is 4.3 GHz, 100 MHz higher than the 4.2 GHz on the previous generation. As mentioned, it also offers 2 more physical cores, which benefits both games and multitasking.
Even though the i5-8600K is “only an i5,” thanks to its higher core count we can see noticeable benefits in content creation benchmarks.
Guru3D is one of the few other publications that released their review of the Core i5-8600K.
So, the 8600K pretty clearly lags behind the competition in multithreaded tasks. But in terms of gaming, it’s ahead — if only by a little. Intel still has the fastest performing processors in CPU-bound scenarios.
Overclocking and power consumption
Out of the three publications that have released i5-8600K reviews, two managed a stable overclock at 5 GHz (HardOCP and Guru3D), while one could only manage 4.8 GHz on a high-end watercooler (TechPowerUp). It seems that overclocking Coffee Lake is heavily dependent on the quality of the chip, with variability ranging from 4.8 all the way up to 5.2 GHz. Hopefully, Intel fixes this issue when Coffee Lake reaches high volume production in early 2018. Another factor that plays a role is the motherboard. Recent tests by GamersNexus have shown that the motherboard may play a significant role in both the overclocking capabilities of the chip as well as its temperatures and voltage regulation.
In terms of power consumption, the i5-8600K is comparable to both AMD CPUs, but it is important to note that the Intel CPU runs at a higher clockspeed.
With Coffee Lake, Intel have yet again shown their supremacy in the single-threaded realm. Both the i7-8700K and i5-8600K are able to achieve higher overclock speeds than their predecessors. Plus, having 50% more cores helps them for not only streaming and content production, but also in specific gaming scenarios.
Intel’s processors are known to be faster, but also the platform costs are far more expensive. The cheapest Z370 motherboard will come in at $120, while a decent one to support the hefty overclock starts at over $150. A cheap air-cooler for $30 will allow the processor to reach 4.7-4.8 GHz on all cores. So, in total that brings us to a minimum of $410-450 for establishing the i5-8600K platform.
On the AMD side, a decent B350 motherboard costs $100, plus under $210 for a Ryzen 5 1600 with a stock cooler, that will allow the CPU to reach 3.8-3.9 GHz, and that brings us to $310. The Intel platform costs at least $100 more, which makes the Ryzen 5 look like a very appealing alternative for budget-conscious builders. Multithreaded performance is slightly better on the Ryzen 5, while gaming performance is just slightly worse.
If you want productivity and multitasking, then the overclocked Ryzen 7 1700 seems like the best option in this price range. It features 2 more cores and 10 more threads for roughly the same platform price. For regular gaming, a Ryzen 5 1600 on the AM4 platform seems like the most sensible option since the 5-10% better FPS on the 8600K is not necessarily worth the $100 higher entry price.
This is not to say that the i5-8600K is a bad CPU. If you want the highest framerates possible for the price, but for some reason do not want to spend another $100 on the i7-8700K (an even faster gaming CPU), then the i5-8600K is a viable choice. In 2017, it is definitely a welcome upgrade from the 4-core 4-thread i5 of previous generations. It is important to note that even though the prices of the processors from AMD and Intel may be comparable, the costs of the platforms are not.