Intel 8th Generation Coffee Lake vs AMD Ryzen CPUs: Specifications and Benchmarks Compared

Intel Coffee Lake

If you’ve read our primer on Intel’s new 8th generation family of processors codenamed Coffee Lake, you’ll have an idea of how it’s Intel’s rather rushed, but still effective stab at competing with AMD’s Ryzen processors, which have so far decimated everything in Intel repertoire in the price/performance stakes. We had noted how the Coffee Lake CPUs have managed to bump up the core count and close the gap with their AMD counterparts on the multi-core performance side, while also improving the lead in single-core performance. All this while being competitive with the Ryzen processors even in the pricing department. The only chink in the Coffee Lake’s armour is the fact that these CPUs need a brand new 300-series motherboard and therefore inaccessible to those with the first batch of 8th generation Kabylake processors; unless, of course, they are okay with ditching their relatively new and expensive 200-series motherboards.

The main question now is how well the Coffee Lake CPUs perform vis-à-vis their Ryzen counterparts. To this effect, you’ll find a handy comparison charts juxtaposing the competing processors according to what’s in the spec sheet. However, specifications only tell a part of the story. The real deal are the benchmarks, so what follows is a basic spec comparison supplemented by an overview of various benchmarks to show how the Coffee Lake processors fare in real world conditions.

Core i7 vs Ryzen 7

The Core i7-8700K is the star of the show and it blows the lid off the competition, namely the Ryzen 7 1700X. Let’s not forget that MRP-wise, the AMD processor is actually dearer at $399 compared to the Intel’s $359 pricing. Having said that, since the AMD CPU has been out for a while, it can be purchased for as low as $100 less over the MRP, with the rather rushed Intel processors not only facing chronic shortages, but some of the stock is also being binned by sellers and sold at a premium of several hundred dollars. Here’s a quick look at the specs.

 
Intel Core
i7-8700K
Intel Core
i7-8700
Ryzen 7
1700X
Ryzen 7
1700
Socket LGA 1151 LGA 1151 PGA 1311 PGA 1311
Cores/Threads 6 / 12 6 / 12 8 / 16 8 / 16
Base Frequency 3.7 GHz 3.2 GHz 3.4 GHz 3.0 GHz
Boost Frequency 4.7 GHz 4.6 GHz 3.8 GHz 3.7 GHz
Memory Speed DDR4-2666 DDR4-2666 DDR4-1866 to DDR4-2667 DDR4-1866 to DDR4-2667
Memory Controller Dual-Channel Dual-Channel Dual-Channel Dual-Channel
Unlocked Multiplier Yes No Yes Yes
PCIe Lanes x16 Gen3 x16 Gen3 x16 Gen3 x16 Gen3
Integrated Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 630 (up to 1,200MHz) Intel UHD Graphics 630 (up to 1,200MHz) No No
Cache (L2+L3) 13.5MB 13.5MB 20MB 20MB
Architecture Coffee Lake Coffee Lake Zen Zen
Process 14nm++ 14nm++ 14nm GloFo 14nm GloFo
TDP 95W 65W 95W 65W
Price
(per 1K Unit)
$359 $303 $399 $329

 

Core i5 vs Ryzen 5

The mainstream Core i5 processors have two main entrants in the Coffee Lake series with the fully unlocked Core i5-8600K and i5-8400, which cannot be overclocked. However, the $182 Core i5-8400 makes a great case for mainstream gamers due to its stellar performance. That’s some considerable savings compared to the $257 premium Intel demands for overclocking with the i5-8600K. When compared to the similarly priced AMD Ryzen 5 1600X, the Core i5-8600K delivers extra boost clock with similar base clock frequencies, which can be further leveraged with Intel’s superior overclockability compared to the AMD Ryzen counterparts. However, the Ryzens have a cache advantage, and also better multi-tasking (at least on paper) due to six cores and twelve threads, compared to Intel’s strategy of keeping hyperthreading restricted to the higher end Core i7 series of processors.

 
Intel Core
i5-8600K
Intel Core
i5-8400
Ryzen 5
1600X
Ryzen 5
1500X
Socket LGA 1151 LGA 1151 PGA 1331 PGA 1131
Cores/Threads 6 / 6 6 / 6 6 / 12 4 / 8
Base Frequency 3.6 GHz 2.8 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.5 GHz
Boost Frequency 4.3 GHz 4.0 GHz 4.0 GHz 3.7 GHz
Memory Speed DDR4-2666 DDR4-2666 DDR4-1866 to DDR4-2667 DDR4-1866 to DDR4-2667
Memory Controller Dual-Channel Dual-Channel Dual-Channel Dual-Channel
Unlocked Multiplier Yes No Yes Yes
PCIe Lanes x16 Gen3 x16 Gen3 x16 Gen3 x16 Gen3
Integrated Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 630 (up to 1,150MHz) Intel UHD Graphics 630 (up to 1,150MHz) No No
Cache (L2+L3) 10.5MB 10.5MB 16MB 16MB
Architecture Coffee Lake Coffee Lake Zen Zen
Process 14nm++ 14nm++ 14nm GloFo 14nm GloFo
TDP 95W 65W 95W 65W
Price
(per 1K Unit)
$257 $182 $249 $190

 

Core i3 vs Ryzen 5 and 3

Intel’s decision to add two extra cores to the entry-level Core i3 processors in the Coffee Lake series makes them competitive against the Ryzen 3 as well as the lower end Ryzen 5 CPUs. Despite a lack of CPU frequency scaling, the 8th generation Core i3 line-up still manages to outperform the Ryzen 3 and 5 processors on the paper with raw base clocks that are several hundred megahertz higher than even the boost clocks of their AMD counterparts. What’s more, the Core i3-8350K offers Intel’s legendary overclockability at nearly the same MRP as the Ryzen 5 1400. However, Intel’s decision to restrict the Coffee Lake Core i3 processors to DDR4-2400MHz as opposed to the 2667MHz speeds of the higher end Core i5 and i7 CPUs as well as their Ryzen 3 and 5 counterparts.

 
Intel Core
i3-8350K
Intel Core
i3-8100
Ryzen 5
1400
Ryzen 3
1300X
Socket LGA 1151 LGA 1151 PGA 1331 PGA 1131
Cores/Threads 4 / 4 4 / 4 4 / 8 4 / 4
Base Frequency 4.0 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.2 GHz 3.4 GHz
Boost Frequency N/A N/A 3.4 GHz 3.6 GHz
Memory Speed DDR4-2400 DDR4-2400 DDR4-1866 to DDR4-2667 DDR4-1866 to DDR4-2667
Memory Controller Dual-Channel Dual-Channel Dual-Channel Dual-Channel
Unlocked Multiplier Yes No Yes Yes
PCIe Lanes x16 Gen3 x16 Gen 3 x16 Gen3 x16 Gen3
Integrated Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 630 (up to 1,150MHz) Intel UHD Graphics 630 (up to 1,150MHz) No No
Cache (L2+L3) 9MB 7MB 10MB 10MB
Architecture Coffee Lake Coffee Lake Zen Zen
Process 14nm++ 14nm++ 14nm GloFo 14nm GloFo
TDP 91W 65W 65W 65W
Price
(per 1K Unit)
$168 $117 $169 $130

 

Synthetic Benchmarks

Not surprisingly, the synthetic benchmarks support what’s evident in the spec sheet, with the both the Core i5-8600K and i7-8700K wiping the floor with the more expensive Ryzen 7 1800X, let alone the lower end Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 processors that bear the same MRP. In short, when the supply normalises and the prices come down, the Coffee Lake processors will make for an even more compelling choices even for those on a budget

Intel Coffee Lake Geekbench

The Blender 3D rendering and Handbrake video editing benchmarks also underscore the gap Intel is closing despite the Ryzen 1800X packing two extra cores. Needless to say, the Ryzen 1800X still bests its lower priced Coffee Lake counterparts, but it’s great to see Intel closing the multi-core performance gap in the productivity applications, especially when compared to the lower end Ryzen 7 and 5 CPUs that are in the similar price bracket.

Intel Coffee Lake BlenderIntel Coffee Lake Blender

Gaming Benchmarks

However, the Intel Coffee Lake Core i7-8700K remains the performance king in gaming. AMD still has some way to go before it can upset the reigning champion in single core and gaming performance. The Coffee Lake processors bump up the boost clock frequencies even further, thereby improving single core performance while still staying within the thermal ceiling for multi-core applications thanks to lower base clocks. The result is evident in the gaming benchmarks, where it bests even its Kaby Lake counterparts when it comes to gaming. Even the more expensive higher end Ryzen 7 processors cannot keep up. However, this comes as no surprise.

Intel Coffee Lake Gaming

[Benchmark and comparison sources: Toms Hardware, Gizmodo, and ArsTechnica]

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Content peddler by day and avid gamer by night, Nachiket has been obsessed with computers since the days of the 8086. He has worked with some of the reknowned tech publications and media houses like UTV, Network 18, Digit, Chip, TechTree, Tech2, International Business Times Australia, and DNA. His free time is meant for tinkering with hobby grade R/C, or just sharpening his knives. He also has a kitten named Nigel and is ready to give up his aquariums for him.