Intel Core i7 8086K review: the best gaming-CPU, but not the best choice

Jubilee CPU excels at single-threaded workloads

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Introduction

Last week, at Computex in Taipei, Intel introduced the Core i7 8086K Anniversary Edition processor to celebrate the very first introduction of the so-called x86 architecture, the Intel 8086, exactly 40 years ago. The new Limited Edition processor is the first Intel CPU with an official clock frequency of 5 GHz. That is very promising


Processors speak a certain language, the microarchitecture in jargon. With smartphone chips this is the ARM architecture while Intel and AMD PC processors are based on the x86 architecture that was created 40 years ago. Of course, during these years, the x86 architecture has been extended to include all kinds of bells and whistles, and today's processors, which are made up of billions of transistors, no longer resemble the 1978 Intel 8086 chip. It consisted of about 29,000 mini switches!

Nevertheless, the 8086 laid the foundation for all PC processors that have been released in recent years. Since the chip is 40 years old and developer Intel is 50 years old, it seemed a good idea to the processor manufacturer to celebrate this milestone with a limited edition anniversary processor that shares its name with its ancestor: the Intel Core i7 8086K.

The 8086K is a 6-core processor from the Coffee Lake generation and with that it is a family member of the Core i7 8700K and other modern Intel processors. The CPU uses the same socket 1151 and can be combined with the same motherboards. Given the high end capabilities of the Core i7 8086K, a motherboard with Intel Z370 chip set is an obvious choice.

Pretty much the only difference between the 8086K and the 8700K is the clock frequency. While the 8700K – the top model in the Coffee Lake series up until this point – has a base clock frequency of 3.7 GHz and a maximum turbo clock frequency of 4.7 GHz, Intel adds 300 MHz to the 8086K for both of these: standard 4 GHz and a maximum turbo of 5 GHz. This makes the 8086K the first Intel-processor where the 5 GHz speed is officially on the box. Intel-processor, because AMD once had the FX-9590, but today we talk about a different processor.

Intel Core i7 8086K BoxedThe processor we talk about today is a so-called K-model which means that if you find yourself needing more than 5 GHz, you have all the possibilities to further overclock the processor yourself. Looking at this, the difference might seem to be bigger than it actually is; see the following page.

It is not only the clock frequency that has been increased, but also the price. Where you can get an 8700K for an average of 435 dollars, the 8086K costs 522 dollars. A considerable price difference, especially bearing in mind the very limited performance difference between the 8086K and the 8700K. Intel seems to be more intent on making the 40th anniversary especially fun for itself by selling Coffee Lakes with an extra high profit margin. It is not known how long the processor will be for sale. Intel speaks about limited edition and this slogan is also clearly on the box: reportedly only 50,000 processors will be produced.

In short

Unfortunately, the Intel Core i7 8086K is not cheap, but it excels in single-threaded applications thanks to its maximum turbo clock frequency of 5 GHz. That is why the CPU is also unsurpassed in games. But it has to be said: the performance gap with the 8700K is almost negligible. Those who mainly run multi-threaded workloads can purchase an AMD Threadripper 1920X with twice as many cores and better performance at almost the same price. Overclockers who had hoped that the chip would be able to perform better than an 8700K are unfortunately let down as well. 

  • Very limited performance gain in comparison with 8700K
  • Expensive
  • An entry-level AMD Threadripper is better for multi-threaded workloads
  • High single-threaded performance
  • Best processor for gaming

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Intel Core i7 8086K Boxed

Socket 1151, 4.0 GHz, 6 cores, 95 W, 14 nm, Integrated graphics

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