Intel vs AMD: The Start of Core Wars

This year has seen a number of CPU releases from both Intel and AMD. AMD’s resurgence with a high-performing x86 core, combined with their performance-per-dollar strategy, has started to make inroads into the markets that AMD lost during its Bulldozer architecture era. When Intel was offering 10 cores for $1700, AMD started offering 8 cores of almost similar performance for $329, marking a significant shift in what the ‘right price’ for a processor should be.

We collated all the tray prices for the recent processor launches for easy comparison, using the launch price of each product. Exact pricing today may differ due to retailers or sales – we have confirmed that these are still the official MSRPs for these processors.

Kaby Lake i7-K vs Coffee Lake i7-K (MSRP)
AMD   Coffee Lake Kaby Lake Skylake-X
  $1199+     i9-7980XE
TR 1950X $999     i9-7900X
TR 1920X $799      
  $599     i9-7820X
TR 1900X $549      
R7 1800X $499      
R7 1700X $390-$400     i7-7800X
  $359 i7-8700K    
  $340-$350   i7-7740X
R7 1700 $329      
  $303 i7-8700 i7-7700  
  $257 i5-8600K    
R5 1600X $240-$250   i5-7640X
R5 1600 $219   i5-7600  
R5 1500X $180-$190 i5-8400 i5-7400  
R5 1400 $169 i3-8350K i3-7350K  
  $149   i3-7320  
  $138   i3-7300  
R3 1300X $129      
  $117 i3-8100 i3-7100  
R3 1200 $109      
  $86   G4620  
  $64   G4560  

Almost every Coffee Lake processor is identical in price to its Kaby Lake predecessor. The main deviations are the K processors, with the Core i7-8700K being +$20 over the i7-7700K, and the i5-8600K being +$15 over the i5-7600K. There is still competition in every segment.

The Competition: Red Mist (AMD)

AMD’s Ryzen and Threadripper parts occupy anywhere from almost $100 for a base quad core design up to $999 for sixteen cores with simultaneous multithreading. It is widely expected that Intel will have a standard instructions-per-clock advantage with its processors, but also Intel is running its processors north of 4.0 GHz for the most part, while AMD is limited by its manufacturing process to 4.0 GHz at best. 

If we do a straightforward price breakdown, the Core i7-8700K ($359) sits almost equally between the Ryzen 7 1700X ($399) and Ryzen 7 1700 ($329). Here this would be a battle of sixteen Zen threads compared to 12 Coffee Lake threads, with the IPC and frequency advantage heavily on Intel’s side. It will be interesting to see where the Core i7-8700 ($303) sits in performance per dollar compared to the Ryzen 7 1700.

The Core i5-8600K ($257) has a nearer neighbor for company: the Ryzen 5 1600X ($248). Before today, this battle was between a quad-core, quad-thread Core i5 against a 12-thread AMD Ryzen chip. With Intel moving the Core i5 parts to having six full cores, albeit without hyperthreading but with a high frequency, it is going to be an interesting battle between the two at this price.

The Core i5-8400 ($182) and Core i3-8350K ($169) sit near the Ryzen 5 1500X ($189) and the Ryzen 5 1400 ($169) respectively. The difference between the Ryzen 5 1500X and the Core i3-8350K would be interesting, given the extreme thread deficit (12 threads vs 4) between the two.

The Competition: Friendly Fire (Intel)

Intel cannot escape competing with itself. Having played with six-core chips in the high-end desktop space, there was ultimately going to be a time when the mainstream platform would start to overlap with the high-end desktop and potentially consume some sales.

As mentioned above, for most of the 8th Generation Coffee Lake processors, the new parts are simple swap-ins for the old ones. The only ones that have a difference of opinion are going to be the overclockable K models.

Straight off the bat it looks like that the new Coffee Lake processors are going to consume both of the quad-core Kaby Lake-X parts. There is a +$10 price difference for the Six-Core Coffee Lake CPUs, but that $10 gets an extra two cores, cheaper motherboards, an easier to understand ecosystem, and if you need it, integrated graphics. On paper it is a no-brainer – quad-core HEDT processors should be dead now.

Comparing the six-core Skylake-X i7 parts to the Coffee Lake-K parts is going to be interesting. Here’s a straight specification comparison.

Skylake i7-7800X vs Coffee Lake i7-8700K
  Coffee Lake-S
6C / 12T Cores 6C / 12T
3.5 GHz Base Frequency 3.7 GHz
4.0 GHz Turbo Boost 2.0 4.7 GHz
1 MB/core L2 Cache 256 KB/core
8.25 MB L3 Cache 12 MB
Quad Channel DRAM Channels Dual Channel
DDR4-2400 DRAM Support DDR4-2666
- Integrated Graphics GT2: 24 EUs
- IGP Base Freq 350 MHz
- IGP Turbo 1.20 GHz
28 PCIe Lanes (CPU) 16
< 24 PCIe Lanes (Chipset) < 24
140W TDP 95 W
$383 Price (tray) $359
$380 Price (Newegg) $380
$363 Price (Amazon) $N/A
$200-$600 Motherboard Price $100-$400

The main two in contention are the Core i7-8700K ($359) and the Core i7-7800X ($389). For a difference of $30, the Skylake-X chip is two generations behind and slower on frequency, but offers quad-channel memory and 28 PCIe lanes for more PCIe coprocessors. While the Coffee Lake will almost certainly win in terms of raw processor performance, features such as DRAM support and PCIe lanes are not to be thrown away lightly. If you absolutely need > 64 GB of memory, or more than two add-in cards, you have no choice but to look at the Skylake-X platform.

Key Comparisons to Look Out For

In the next series of pages, we will go through our benchmark suite. While we have only had time to run through a limited number of tests with the Core i7-8700K and the Core i5-8400, there are two battles worth keeping an eye on:

  • Core i7-8700K vs Core i7-7800X
  • Core i5-8400 vs Ryzen 5 1500X

Hopefully we will get the other components in for review, in particular the Core i7-8700 and Core i3-8100, both of which will be interesting to plot in performance-per-dollar graphs.

Physical Design, Integrated Graphics, and the Z370 Chipset: Differences Power Consumption, Test Bed and Setup


View All Comments

  • FireSnake - Thursday, October 5, 2017 - link

    Awesome revies! Let's read... Reply
  • prisonerX - Thursday, October 5, 2017 - link

    No need, here is a quick summary: "Intel blind panic." Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Thursday, October 5, 2017 - link

    At-least they have finally soundly beat my 3930K in the mainstream after 6 years.

    Still. No point me upgrading just yet.
  • mapesdhs - Friday, October 6, 2017 - link

    Even then there's an interesting option if you want threaded performance; I just upgraded to a XEON E5-2680 v2 (IB-EP) for 165 UKP. Lower 1T speed for sure, but MT should be the same or better as a 3930K @ 4.8. No oc means more stable, less heat/noise/power, and being IB-based means it ups the slots to PCIe 3.0. Not a relevant choice for gaming, but a possibility for those doing VMs, rendering, etc., and just want to get by for a little while longer. Reply
  • Breit - Friday, October 6, 2017 - link

    OR search for an XEON E5-1680v2... :)
    It's an Ivy Bridge-E 8c/16t chip that will fit in Sandy Bridge-E mainboards (x79) and has an unlocked multiplier opposed to this E5-2680v2. So with this you won't lose your overclocking ability.

    But in the end, I guess that the greatly reduced power draw and the more "modern" platform from an i7-8700K system compared to the x79 platform will give it the edge here.
  • mapesdhs - Monday, October 9, 2017 - link

    Very interesting that the 1680 v2 is unlocked, I didn't know that.

    Alas though, availability of the 1680 v2 is basically zero, whereas the 2680 v2 is very easy to find, and the cost of 1680 v2s which are available (outside the UK) is extremely high (typical BIN of 600 UKP, normal auction start price of 350 UKP, completed listings only shown for BIN items which were purchased for between 500 and 600 UKP). By contrast, I bought several 2680 v2s for 165 UKP each. Testing on a P9X79 WS (all-core turbo of 3.1) gives a very impressive 15.44 for CB 11.5, and 1381 for CB R15 which is faster than a stock 8700K (for reference, the 1680 v2 scores 1230 for CB R15). Note the following page on AT has a very handy summary of all the turbo bin levels:

    So, I'm very pleased with the 2680 v2 purchase, it's faster than my 3930K @ 4.8, runs with very low temps, much lower power draw, hence less heat, less fan noise and since it's not oc'd it'll be solidly reliable (this particular test system will eventually be in an office in India, so power/heat/reliability is critical). For the target systems in question, it's a great solution. Only thing I noticed so far is it didn't like me trying to set a 2133 RAM speed, but it worked ok at 1866; I can probably tighten the timings instead, currently just at 9/11/10/28/2T (GSkill 32GB kit, 8x4GB).

    The 4930K I have though will go into my gaming system (R4E), since I don't mind the oc'ing fun, higher noise, etc., but it's not a system I'll use for converting video, for that I have a 6850K.

  • MrSpadge - Friday, October 6, 2017 - link

    Full throttle: yes. Panic: no. Blind: no. Reply
  • Zingam - Saturday, October 7, 2017 - link

    Can you buy it? No? Paper launch of Unobtanium 8000? -> panic, PR propaganda bullshit and dirty Intel marketing tactics as usual targeted at lamer fanboys.

    This comment is written by an Intel user! ;)
  • prisonerX - Saturday, October 7, 2017 - link

    We've got enough dumb Intel apologists here already, thanks. Reply
  • maheshvitta - Monday, March 30, 2020 - link

    Yeah. Intel should do compulsorily do that. Courier and Parcel services are most effected by this thing. Especially UPS Employees from upsers ... :(


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