Intel and AMD continue their permanent battle in the consumer CPU space with their latest releases, the 8th generation Coffee Lake and the Ryzen 2 series respectively. The competition between these releases is the hottest it has been in years so we’re taking a look at the flagships of each range, the Intel Core i7-8700k and the AMD Ryzen 7 2700x, to see which comes out on top.
Thanks to AMD’s original Ryzen series which was a massive step forward for the company upon its release early last year, AMD is back in the running against Intel for the crown of the best consumer CPU. The Ryzen 2 series has built upon this foundation and was released earlier this year to wide praise across the market, and this new generation is headed up by the flagship Ryzen 7 2700X.
Intel have continued to make ground with the release of their 8th generation Coffee Lake chips, finally increasing their core count in reply to AMD’s advancement with Ryzen. As you’d expect the Intel chips are still hugely impressive and retain the market leading position for that reason, but the gap is certainly shrinking as AMD’s last release has changed the game. Intel’s Coffee Lake series is headed up by the Core i7-8700k.
While the Intel chip is 10% more expensive than its AMD rival the price only tells part of the story.
The Ryzen 7 2700X comes with a very impressive Wraith Prism Cooler in the box, which stacks up well against specialist aftermarket air coolers. This swings the value competition heavily in AMD’s favour as Intel requires you to purchase CPU cooling on top of the price of the chip, and this will set you back somewhere in the region of £40 ($50) for an air cooling solution.
What is the difference between the Intel Core i7-8700K and the Intel Core i7-8700?
A key point to keep in mind is that buying the 8700K over the 8700 allows you to overclock your chip.
There is almost no difference between the 8700k and the 8700 in terms of hardware. The K gives you 100mhz faster boost speed while your CPU is under load and will be binned slightly higher, which means it will require less power to reach those clock speeds.
You’re essentially paying a premium to be able to overclock the chip which is something that AMD allow you to do across their entire range at no additional cost.
What is the difference between the AMD Ryzen 7 2700 and AMD Ryzen 7 2700X?
As with the Intel chip, the 2700 and the 2700X are essentially the same chip with a few small differences.
The 2700x is higher binned, has higher stock clock speed and comes with a much better stock cooler. The Wraith Prism cooler is worth the increased cost alone as you’d be spending the additional cost on an aftermarket one.
The 2700 can (unlike its rival in the 8700) be overclocked which is a huge plus. It will also draw less power and produce less heat, but will be lower in performance because of that.
Diving directly into the meat of the comparison let’s take a look at the specifications of both processors.
|Intel Core i7-8700k||AMD Ryzen 7 2700x|
|Maximum Boost Clock||4.7GHz||4.3GHz|
|Cooling Solution||None||Wraith Prism air cooler|
The most notable difference between the processors is the core/thread count and the clock speed.
The 8700K has 6 cores / 12 threads with a base clock of 3.7GHz boosting up to 4.7GHz, which is set against the 8 core / 16 thread setup of the 2700x, with a 3.7Ghz base clock boosting up to 4.3Ghz.
The result of the above means that programs that take advantage of fewer, more powerful cores will prefer the Intel chip – video games are a good example of this as few are optimised for 4 cores, let alone 6 or 8.
On the other hand, programs that take can take advantage of multiple cores will be able to access the increased processing power that the additional core/thread count on the 2700X provides – video rendering and streaming are two of the most common here.
We’ve compared our benchmark results for both chips and put them into some handy tables below for you.
The Cinebench scores really sum up the difference between these two chips. The single thread test shows the i7-8700k pulling ahead on single core performance, while the multithread test shows the 2700x’s advantage when all cores are engaged.
The 8700k holds 12MB of level 3 Cache whereas the 2700X has 16MB. However, the 8700k is less power hungry than the 2700X at 95W compared to 105W TDP.
Which processor is the best for overclocking?
This is where some of the difference starts to show. Assuming that you don’t plan on using some serious cooling on the system, the 8700k has a much easier time getting up to a 5Ghz clock than the 2700x has getting it’s cores stable under increased load.
So if you’re looking for something to tinker with and draw maximum performance out of with an impressive cooling rig, the 8700k is certainly the choice. Although do keep in mind that the individual silicon
Should I buy the 8700k or the 2700x?
If you’re going to be focusing on content creation then you’re going to get faster production speeds out of the 2700x but if you’re buying this specifically for gaming then the 8700k does have better performance on individual cores.
However, if you’re playing games at 1080p 60hz then you’re barely going to notice any difference. Pair either of these processors with a solid GPU and you’re only going to run into problems if you’re trying to reach 120 or 144hz at a much higher resolution.
In a similar case, the 8700k is more than capable of crunching through large content production projects rapidly, just perhaps not quite as quickly as AMD’s offering.
With the race being so close in terms of performance, we’re going to have to come back to the value game. The 2700x is a cheaper unit, and comes with a very impressive stock cooler as well. So on this merit alone we’d recommend the 2700x as the processor of choice here.
However, if you’re a massive enthusiast and you’re going to be tinkering with a large cooling set up to get the very best speeds, the 8700k will be a slightly better choice here because of the better overclocking headroom.
You can’t really go wrong with either of these options, as they’re both fantastic and will be a solid purchase for a few years at least.