The Intel i7-8700K CPU
The Intel Core i7 8700K in the test is the new top model of the Coffee Lake generation and follows the Core i7 7700K. The biggest difference is that the Core i7 8700K now has six cores instead of four in comparison to the i7 7700K and can process twelve instead of eight tasks (threads) simultaneously thanks to hyperthreading. However, the underlying microarchitecture is largely identical since the Core i7 6700K (Skylake), the i7 7700K (Kaby Lake) and the i7 8700K (Coffee Lake).
The structure width of 14 nanometers is also the same at first glance for all three generations since the Core i7 6700K to the 8700K. Reducing the size of the manufacturing structures is proving to be increasingly difficult, so that Intel turned its back on its tick-tock model, which has been in use for many years and in which every second CPU generation brought a new manufacturing process with smaller structures, some time ago.
Instead, Intel now brings several CPU generations, each with the same structure width. However, according to Intel, the manufacturing process is improved with each generation until a new manufacturing process with even smaller structure widths is developed. Accordingly, Intel’s own designation of the manufacturing process changes from 14nm at Skylake (Core i 6xxx) to 14nm+ at Kaby Lake (Core i 7xxx) to now 14nm++ at Coffe Lake (Core i 8xxx). Each progress is intended to bring higher clock rates at the same energy consumption or lower consumption at the same clock rate or a combination of both.
Core i7 8700K in detail
The Core i7 8700K has a slightly higher turbo clock rate of 4.7 GHz in comparison to the i7 7700K with 4.5 GHz under load of only one core, but under load of all cores it is just under the i7 7700K with 4.3 against 4.4 GHz, but has six instead of four cores. The guaranteed standard clock of 3.7 vs. 4.2 GHz is noticeably lower than the 7700K and the TDP rises slightly from 91 to 95 watts – for two cores more a good result, at least on paper, which speaks for noticeable improvements in the 14nm++ process compared to its predecessors.
Otherwise, the improvements are limited. DDR4-2666 instead of DDR4-2400 RAM is now officially supported and the cache memory increases from 8.0 MByte to 12.0 MByte to accommodate the additional two cores. The 8700K is supposed to be overclockable in more detail than its predecessors, but it still doesn’t have a soldered heatspreader like AMD’s Ryzen CPUs, but uses heat conductive paste between the CPU die and the metal cover (heatspreader) like all Intel CPUs.
The price for the i7 8700K is higher in comparison to the i7 7700K. The US dollar price quoted by Intel for a purchase of 1,000 units is 359 US dollars, whereas the i7 7700K started out with a price of 339 US dollars – the Core i7 8700K is priced at around 380 Dollar, although this will also depend on availability.
Coffee Lake CPUs might not be available in sufficient quantities until the produciton can catch up with higher demand in the market.
Coffee Lake models and motherboards
In addition to the two i7 models, the mid-range models of the i5 series now also get six cores instead of four, as before without the virtual core doubling hyperthreading and with less cache memory compared to the i7 models. And the i3 CPUs finally make the step from two to four cores, so that dual-core CPUs will only be found in the absolute low price segment under 100 Dollar in the future.
In our application and streaming benchmarks, the 8700K Coffe-Lake top model already shows what is possible with a turbo clock on load on all six cores at 4.3 GHz: The 8700K puts a lot of pressure on Ryzen 7 and its eight cores and closes the performance gaps in the mainstream segment for multimedia applications that have been looming since its release in spring.
Despite the competition from AMD, Intel sticks to somewhat inglorious virtues: Once again, the CPU die isn’t soldered to the heat spreader, and the processor manufacturer from Santa Clara sticks to simple heat-conducting paste as with Kaby Lake (X) and Skylake (X). A new mainboard is also necessary, despite the same socket. And even though the pin assignment of the processors changes with Coffee Lake, the power supply of the mainboards is optimized for six and possibly eight cores and the start of Coffee Lake is prematurely done by Ryzen, it leaves a somewhat stale aftertaste. Here Intel could have given in much earlier, revealed the changes or simply renamed the socket.
At a price of around 380 Dollar, the i7 8700K does just about everything right for gamers despite the new platform and should be preferred to the i7 7700K in any case. For the same price, AMD offers the Ryzen 7 1700X with eight instead of six cores, which is a few percentage points behind in games, but can keep up in applications and offers even more future-proofing with eight cores. Furthermore, according to AMD, the AM4 platform will be supplied with new CPU models for at least another three years.
Ranking First: MSI Enthusiast GAMING Intel 8G
- Very good performance with a very good CPU power supply
- PCI Express 3.0 support on four PEG slots
- Extremely extensive onboard sound range
- Lots of onboard comfort
- High power consumption
- Restrictions prevent simultaneous use of all connections
When Intel’s Coffee Lake S processors were launched, MSI was not sleeping either and designed a lot of Z370 mainboards. A certain board stands out in particular, on which the MSI engineers have built the non-plus-ultra in equipment. With the Z370 Godlike Gaming, MSI also wants to satisfy the absolute enthusiasts who want to convert to Coffee Lake-S. In our review we will take a closer look at the MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming.
Despite the poor availability of Coffee Lake-S processors, MSI has put together a Z370 portfolio of 13 different boards for the launch, most of which are even available. In doing so, MSI once again considers the Pro, Arsenal Gaming, Performance Gaming and Enthusiastic Gaming series. Even if the ATX models are in the majority, at least two Micro-ATX models and one Mini-ITX variant are offered. Finally, the only MSI Z370 mainboard with the E-ATX dimensions is the Z370 Godlike Gaming.
And the equipment, just like the relatively high price of about 443 Dollar, is absolutely outstanding. The CPU power supply consists of 18 coils and should give the Coffee Lake S CPU a good run. Additionally, there are four DDR4 DIMM memory banks, four mechanical PCIe 3.0 x16 slots and one PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. The storage area consists of 3+2 M.2 M key interfaces, six SATA 6GBit/s and one U.2.
With three Gigabit LAN sockets as well as a WLAN-ac and Bluetooth module, the owner has a lot of options at his disposal. The audio section is also massively equipped with two audio codecs, several DACs, audio capacitors and amplifiers. And, of course, there are also some USB interfaces of the current generation.
Apart from the obligatory accessories like the I/O panel, the manual and the support media, the Z370 Godlike Gaming comes with a lot of accessories, which one can expect for the price of the board. Thus, we not only found six SATA cables and a 2-Way-SLI-HB-Bridge, but also three temperature sensor cables, an RGB-LED-Y adapter cable and an MSI gaming sticker.
Of course, two antennas are included for the WLAN-ac module, a 3.5 mm to 6.3 mm jack adapter and SATA cable stickers. To extend the RGB LED lighting, MSI has included a 5050 LED strip including extension power cable.
As special extras the M.2-Xpander-Z add-on card and the USB-Xpander module are included. Two additional M.2 SSDs (M-Key) can be mounted on the M.2-Xpander-Z card. The card itself fits into a mechanical PCIe 3.0 x16 slot and is electrically connected to eight Gen3 lanes via the CPU. Two M.2 shields are also included.
If the number of USB 2.0 ports is not enough, the USB Xpander module can be attached, which expands the number by an additional eight ports. The necessary connection cable is also included. The module can be easily placed in one place in the housing by Velcro.
Along with the Z370 Gaming M5, the Z370 Godlike Gaming is not only part of the Enthusiastic Gaming product line, but also the flagship of the entire Z370 boards from MSI. The MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming has been built with the “crème de la crème” and despite the inevitable restrictions in some areas, it has the equipment to match. Starting with the massive CPU power supply with 18 coils, over four mechanical PCIe-3.0-x16 slots and one PCIe-3.0-x1 slot, MSI has done quite a bit. Despite the gaming orientation, the topic of overclocking has definitely not been left out, which can already be seen in the 18 coils already hinted at.
But the manufacturer has also integrated corresponding comfort functions on the E-ATX mainboard, like a power and reset button, five voltage measuring points, an OC retry and an OC force enter button. The user can easily overclock the Core i5-8600K or the Core i7-8700K with the Game Boost Knob, which is also available. In addition, there are three DIP switches for activating/deactivating the three CPU-side PCIe 3.0 x16 slots and a BIOS switch, because the MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming comes with two BIOS ROMs. The debug LED helps with troubleshooting.
The storage area has been properly expanded with six times SATA 6GBit/s, once U.2 and three times M.2 (M-Key). MSI also supplies an M.2 shield for each of the M.2 interfaces. The disadvantage, however, is the fact that not all storage ports can be used at the same time. On the second page of this article we have devoted ourselves to the topic of restrictions on the MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming. And these restrictions even extend to the two PCH-side PCIe interfaces and the third LAN port, depending on the connection.
Some compensation is provided by the included M.2 Xpander-Z add-on card, which can accommodate two additional M.2-M key SSDs and must be coupled with eight Gen3 lanes from the CPU. In this case, however, the graphics card is supplied with only eight Gen3 lanes. The total of 40 Gen3 lanes is therefore far from being enough to directly connect all ports.
A big issue with the MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming is the network area. Three Gigabit LAN ports were installed, each of which was connected via a killer E2500 network controller from Rivet Networks. On top of that comes the Killer Wireless AC-1535 module. So the user has a lot of options at his disposal. Be it normal use or the use of the DoubleShot-Pro or xTend feature. On the other hand, there are three USB 3.1-generation, ten USB 3.1-generation and six USB 2.0 interfaces. The latter can be expanded by eight ports using the USB Xpander module supplied.
The Realtek ALC1220 audio codec has been installed in two versions, one for the front and one for the rear (I/O panel). The sound area was expanded by two ESS DACs and numerous audio and WIMA capacitors. A 6.35 mm jack socket for (high-end) headphones is also unusual. Although understandable, we must still mention the high power consumption, which isn’t surprising for a caliber like the MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming. Compared to the Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming with a moderate configuration, we could notice differences of about 35 watts. However, this fact shouldn’t bother the enthusiast any further.
According to the current trend, the MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming naturally has numerous RGB LEDs that can light up in different modes. A 5050 LED strip is included in the scope of delivery. The UEFI comes along in the usual but good MSI look and didn’t leave a negative impression. Only the fact that the RGB LEDs cannot be switched off directly via the BIOS is a bit of a pity. So the small detour via the MSI Mystic Light software remains.
For the MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming, the prospective buyer has to put an affordable 280 Dollar on the table, which means that it’s clear that only a sizable part of gamers will be willing to invest this amount for the MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming. One shouldn’t forget at this point that the flagship CPU model, the Core i7-8700K, is available for less than 400 Dollar, even if it looks very meager in the current availability. The MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming is a great option for the intel i7-8700K CPU and won our test.
Second: ASUS ROG Strix Z370-E Gaming
- Solid equipment, including six SATA interfaces, six USB 3.1 Gen1
- Fast booting
- Very good overall performance, good stability and good energy efficiency in idle
- High power consumption under load
Just as with the Z270 boards, ASUS is also bringing a whole range of Strix mainboards to the launch of the Z370 models for Intel’s Coffee Lake S processors. With six different models the Coffee-Lake-S-interested gets a large selection of Strix variants alone, which are known to be a part of the ROG product family. ASUS has provided us with a few of the new Strix mainboards and we will have a look at the Strix Z370-E Gaming, which is the flagship of the Strix series, for the beginning.
Starting at 230 Dollar, ASUS offers the Strix Z370-E Gaming, the flagship of the Strix Z370 models, which has upscale features. ASUS has, among other things, built three mechanical PCIe-3.0-x16, four PCIe-3.0-x1 interfaces and of course the obligatory four DDR4 DIMM memory banks into the Z370-E Gaming. Six SATA 6 GBit/s and two M.2-M key connectors cover the storage area, however. Added to this are a total of 15 USB ports, a good audio range, one Gigabit LAN and even WLAN-ac and Bluetooth. The ASUS Strix Z370-E Gaming at least sounds coherent in terms of its configuration.
ASUS uses a dark PCB in the Strix Z370-E Gaming, which was decorated with light colors by ASUS. Eye-catching are the three bright, brushed metal heatsinks, which feel very high-end. The I/O panel cover is made of silver-colored plastic.
With a flagship model, you can easily add a few more accessories to the package. This is exactly what ASUS also thought of in the Strix Z370-E Gaming. In addition to the obligatory accessories, ASUS includes a lot more, like four SATA cables, a 2-Way-SLI-HB-Bridge, not to forget the WLAN antenna and a set of screws for the M.2 slots. In addition, there are seven cable ties, a thermistor cable, two RGB extension cables, one of which can be used at the addressable port.
Of course, ASUS shouldn’t be missing out on the new Z370 mainboards. The company offers six different models from the Strix mainboard series alone, with the ROG Strix Z370-E Gaming being the flagship. In our test the ATX board turned out to be a solid base for one of the new Coffee Lake S processors. We also included overclocking, as the Strix Z370-E Gaming was equipped with ten CPU coils and one RAM coil. In the overclocking test, the ROG board was able to run the Core i7-8700K at a stable 5 GHz and required a bit less voltage than the two competing models we already had in the editorial office. Apart from that, exclusive onboard comfort functions, like a power and reset button, were reserved for the Maximus series. Only a jumper allows a higher CPU voltage selection.
But it’s not only in terms of features that there is a difference to the other Strix models. Optically, ASUS relies on a dark PCB with silver, brushed metal coolers in the Strix Z370-E Gaming, which leaves a very high-quality impression. The I/O panel cover, on the other hand, is made of plastic and can also be removed if desired. The PCH cooler also consists of a M.2 cooler combination. The four obligatory DDR4 DIMM memory banks belong to the further equipment, so that a maximum of 64 GB RAM can be installed with the Strix Z370-E Gaming. Optionally and depending on the DIMMs used, also heavily overclocked.
Three mechanical PCIe-3.0-x16 and four PCIe-3.0-x1 slots are available for the expansion cards. Two of the mechanical PCIe-3.0-x16 slots were equipped with the safe slot feature and were connected to the CPU. At most, this clears the way for two NVIDIA or three AMD graphics cards. Instead, two M.2-M key interfaces and six SATA 6GBit/s ports allow the connection of modern SSDs and other storage devices. Starting with PCIe mode, only one can be occupied, provided that all six SATA sockets are all required. On the second page of this review we looked at the topic of restrictions.
Although six USB 3.1 Gen1 and six USB 2.0 interfaces each provide sufficient USB connections, there could have been a few more on the I/O panel. Apart from the two USB 3.1 Gen2 sockets, the user still has access to two USB 3.1 Gen1 and two USB 2.0 ports each. But for this ASUS has thought about a USB 3.1 Gen2 header, which is controlled by a second ASM3142 controller from ASMedia. The use of the graphics unit integrated in the eighth core generation is enabled by one DVI-D, one HDMI 1.4b and one DisplayPort 1.2 graphics output each.
What remains is the good onboard sound with the Realtek ALC1220 and ten audio capacitors, as well as one Gigabit LAN via Intel’s I219-V. Alternatively, a wireless network connection can also be established via the WLAN-ac and Bluetooth 4.2 module. The module operates with up to 867 MBit/s. The ASUS ROG Strix Z370-E Gaming has to accept criticism in terms of power consumption, which turns out to be clearly too high due to the increased CPU voltage and the multi-core enhancement feature. This fact can be reduced by manual settings, though. The ASUS board achieves good values with less than 50 watts in idle, though.
The ASUS ROG Strix Z370-E Gaming isn’t a real bargain with at least 229 Dollar. ASRock’s Z370 Taichi offers a worse price/performance ratio for expample and is also worse equipped in some areas. From the technical point of view, the ASUS ROG Strix Z370-E Gaming is a very good motherboard for Coffee Lake-S, especially the Intel i7-8700K Processor.
Third: ASUS ROG Maximus X Hero
- Reinforced PCIe slots
- Overclocking functions
- Good onboard audio chip
- Many connection options
- Two M.2 slots (one of which is cooled)
- No U.2 connection
Asus largely retains the design of its predecessor, the Maximus IX Hero. Accordingly, we find a black PCB, while an anthracite plastic cover and heat sink with a brushed metal surface round off the simple design.
Three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots are again available for graphic cards. However, only the first of these is connected with 16 lanes. Asus connects the remaining two slots with eight and four lanes.
The Asus ROG Maximus X Hero supports 2-way SLI and 3-way CrossFireX and thus allows the use of up to two Nvidia or three AMD graphic cards. Asus has provided the slots closest to the CPU with a metal reinforcement. Asus calls this technology SafeSlot, which should guarantee improved stability on all three axes.
CPU & RAM
Intel is again using the LGA 1151 socket for Coffee Lake, and although the socket designation is identical to the previous generation, the socket should not be suitable for Kaby Lake processors according to Intel.
It is also not possible to use the new Coffee Lake processors on mainboards with Z270 chipset. This is mainly due to the changed power supply for the six-core processors. Processor coolers for the LGA 1151 can be used with Z370 mainboards without problems.
The Asus ROG Maximus X Hero has four DIMM slots. Asus puts the maximum RAM capacity at 64 gigabytes. According to the manufacturer, bars with a clock rate of up to 4.133 MHz are supported. Our editorial staff had a Corsair Vengeance RGB DDR4 kit with 3.200 MHz at their disposal, which ran perfectly after loading the XM profile. A white label above the DIMM slots indicates which slots should be used first and saves having to look at the manual.
The Asus ROG Maximus X Hero is ultimately a slightly improved version of the Maximus IX Hero. As Intel has left the chipset almost untouched, we didn’t expect any major innovations in the mainboards. Among the improvements are the M.2 cooler, the pre-installed ATX bezel and an addressable connector for LED strips. For the next generation we would like to see two M.2 coolers, as the drives are becoming more and more popular due to falling prices. Another innovation concerns the connectivity of the mainboard: From now on, Asus offers the Hero both with and without WLAN ac – until now the Hero had to manage completely without WLAN. All in all, the Asus ROG Maximus X Hero is an all-round successful motherboard, which we can give a clear recommendation for, especially if you plan to use it with the Intel i7-8700K CPU.
Fourth: GIGABYTE Z390 DESIGNARE
- Three times PCIe x16 and two times PCIe x1
- Additional 4-pin power connector
- Strong performance with high energy efficiency
- AC-WLAN integrated ex works
- Somewhat high price level
Upper class board that shines in all areas
Not everyone voluntarily spends 270 Dollar on a motherboard. But if you have high demands on your PC hardware, want to take full advantage of eighth-generation Intel processors and perhaps even want to avoid extravagant PC configurations with massive hard disks or multiple graphics cards, there are few better alternatives. Three reinforced PCIe 3.0 ports with x16 connection find space on the board without letting the layout become too dense. The GigaByte board also proves to be flawless in terms of performance and energy consumption. The network connection can also be managed via WLAN. In light of the excellent equipment, the initially somewhat high price seems quite justified.
Although the Gigabyte Z390 AORUS Xtreme also offers two Thunderbolt 3.0 type C ports, the Z390 Designare is much more attractive in terms of price if Thunderbolt 3.0 must be on board. However, the Gigabyte Z390 Designare makes concessions in terms of onboard comfort, because apart from the four status LEDs, no other comfort has been built in, which we found a bit unfortunate. If you’re interested in the Gigabyte Z390 Designare, you’ll have to put at least 250 Dollar on the table according to our price comparison. An amount that we find just about adequate. It is a well suited motherboard for the Intel i7-8700K CPU.
Fifth: Gigabyte Z390 UD
- Nice design
- Well suited for Gaming
- Good connectivity
The Gigabyte Z390 UD in detail
The Gigabyte ZZ390 DU motherboard (ATX) provides a total of three PCIe x16 slots, one of which is connected to the chipset with full 16 lanes, while the others are connected with four data lines each. For additional plug-in and expansion cards the motherboard offers three PCIe x1 slots.
The four DIMM slots support up to 64 GB DDR4 memory in dual-channel mode. Native the Z390 chipset supports clock rates up to 2,666 MHz, but via OC the Gigabyte Z390 UD also allows the operation of RAM kits up to 4,266 MHz. Six SATA-6G ports and one M.2 slot are available for hard disks and SSDs.
At the I/O panel, the Gigabyte Z390 Gaming X has six USB 3.0 ports as well as an HDMI port. Internally, the motherboard provides a large selection of headers, including four 4-pin connectors for fans. The mainboard is also equipped with LED lighting.
With the Z390 chipset on the Gigabyte Z390 UD, Intel replaces the Z370 chipset for its high-end processors of the eighth generation. Additionally, Z390 mainboards support the ninth generation Intel core processors (Coffee Lake-S Refresh). Also included are chip-side WLAN support – although a WiFi module must still be present – and native USB 3.1 support so that these no longer need to be provided via additional chips.
All these features make the Gigabyte Z390 UD a great option if you plan to us eit together with the Intel i7-8700K Processor. The price is justified, as you get a well equipped motherboard with a lot of performance capabilities.