Intel warms up Coffee Lake with eighth-gen desktop Core details

Thanks to an early leak, Intel is taking the wraps off its full eighth-generation Core desktop CPU lineup now. After a brief and refreshing stop at Kaby Lake for quad-core chips in 15W power envelopes, the next vista to behold is Coffee Lake. As has been widely rumored, the Coffee Lake CPU family will be the first to bring six-core CPUs to Intel's mainstream LGA 1151 socket.

The six-core Coffee Lake die. Source: Intel

The headlining chip of this lineup is the Core i7-8700K, a six-core, 12-thread part with a 3.7 GHz base clock and a 4.7 GHz single-core Turbo speed. Eighth-gen desktop Core i5 CPUs will have six cores and six threads, while eighth-gen Core i3s will have four cores and four threads. Intel will offer an unlocked CPU at every tier of its eighth-gen lineup, too. Here's the full list of what's coming October 5:

Model Base clock Single-core
Turbo Boost 2.0
TDP Total
speed (MT/s)
Core i7-8700K 3.7 GHz 4.7 GHz 6/12 95W 12MB Dual DDR4-2666 $359
Core i7-8700 3.2 GHz 4.6 GHz 65W $303
Core i5-8600K 3.6 GHz 4.3 GHz 6/6 95W 9MB $257
Core i5-8400 2.8 GHz 4 GHz 65W $182
Core i3-8350K 4 GHz N/A 4/4 91W 6MB Dual DDR4-2400 $168
Core i3-8100 3.6 GHz 65W $117

The fundamental cores of Coffee Lake CPUs remain identical to those in Kaby Lake chips. To get better performance in this CPU generation, Intel is tapping further 14-nm process improvements to put more (and faster) cores in nearly the same power envelope as past desktop chips. The Core i7-8700K and Core i5-8600K only get a 4W TDP bump over the Core i7-7700K and Core i5-7600K on the way to their higher single-core boost speeds, although base clocks seem to have fallen significantly to squeeze into that modestly more generous envelope.

The new chips will require Z370 motherboards to function. While the LGA 1151 socket is physically identical to the one on Z170 and Z270 motherboards, Intel says it improved power delivery for its six-core processors, improved package power delivery for better overclocking of those chips, and improved memory routing support to justify the mandatory motherboard upgrade. I'll have more to say about this in my full review of the chips, but I can't imagine anybody with an eight-month-old Z270 motherboard will be terribly happy to hear this news. Aside from the purported minor tweaks to the socket and memory routing, the platform itself is no more resource-rich than Z270. Builders will still get 24 chipset PCIe 3.0 lanes and 16 CPU PCIe 3.0 lanes for a platform total of 40.

Overclockers will find some new levers and knobs on Z370, at least. Coffee Lake chips will offer per-core overclocking, meaning that a single laggard core doesn't have to hold up the entire chip. Eextreme overclockers will also get memory multipliers for speeds up to 8400 MT/s, real-time control of memory latency settings, and better phase locked loop (PLL) controls.

Performance results remain under embargo for the moment, so I'll have more thoughts about eighth-gen desktop Core CPUs when our full review goes live October 5. Stay tuned.

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