Intel used to release a new series of mainstream processors roughly once a year however their latest Coffee Lake (8th generation) chips are here just over 10 months after their last Kaby Lake chips, yes, that is two processor releases in the same calendar year…
What are these chips and why are they here so soon? Let me explain.
Why The Quick Release?
Intel like to make money, so they tend to increase the performance of their CPU’s by a small amount and then release them on a roughly annual basis, it has been like this for the past 5 – 6 years really.
Towards the end of January 2017 we got the Kaby Lake chips, which were slight improvements over the previous Skylake range of chips.
Mid 2017 Intel’s main rival, AMD, released a range of chips which, for the first time in many years, offered a real alternative to the Intel chips. They managed to outperform some of the Intel chips in certain types of workloads and they were priced competitively.
This made the Kaby Lake chips look expensive when compared on a price / performance basis and they started getting bad press for their lack of innovation.
So, in response to the new AMD chips, Intel have rushed out their new range of chips which are codenamed the Coffee Lake chips.
The problem is that whilst they launched them towards the end of October / early November, in reality they were impossible to buy as nobody had any stock of them. Even now, (end of November 2017), stock is massively limited.
The distributors that do have stock are keeping the pricing high as well which doesn’t really help matters.
What Are The Changes?
For the first time in a number of years these new mainstream chips actually offer a significant performance difference over the outgoing chips.
They have basically bumped up the CPU core count across the range.
What does this mean? Well, a CPU in a computer is what does the calculations, each core of the CPU can process 1 instruction at 1 time, so if your CPU has 2 cores (dual core) then it can essentially process 2 instructions simultaneously.
With the Kaby Lake (and prior CPU ranges) the lower cost i3 processors had 2 cores whereas the i5 and i7 variants were quad core chips.
With Coffee Lake, the i3’s are now quad cores and the i5 / i7’s are six core chips, this is a pretty significant jump and means that these new processors are better equipped to deal with multi-tasking workloads.
These higher core counts have had a major impact on performance for certain types of workloads.
Our internal benchmarking shows that for tasks which are heavily dependent on CPU’s, and can use these extra cores, that performance jumps of almost 50% are seen over the outgoing processors.
For workloads which are not as dependent on these cores then performance levels are roughly 3 – 5% up on the outgoing lineup.
That’s not a big improvement to be honest, however it should be said that more and more software packages are becoming capable of utilising these extra cores.
Where To Get Your New Coffee Lake System
As I mentioned previously, availability on the Coffee Lake processors is very patchy at the minute and I’m told this will last until early 2018.
That being said, we do have a limited stock of them in at the minute and have more coming soon.
What we have done is moved our Ultra and Trader PC across to the new Coffee Lake chips.
The Trader PC comes as standard with the six core i5 8600K processor and the i7 8700K is available as part of the performance pack upgrade.
With the Ultra PC the full range of Coffee Lake chips are available, starting at the quad core i3 8100, the 8600K and the 8700K are both available upgrades.
We have also added in the 4GHz i3 8350K as this is an interesting chip, our benchmarking shows it matches or even outperforms the Kaby Lake i5 7600K (the second best chip in the Kaby Lake range) in pretty much every test yet is substantially cheaper.
Our Pro PC’s now have the full Kaby Lake lineup, going from the i3 right up to the i7 7700K. The lower build cost of the Pro PC means that you can get a very good i7 7700K system for a really good price at the minute.
Hopefully that has cleared up this new chip release a bit? If you do have any questions or want to know which is the best processor / system for you then just let us know.
Written by Darren @ Multiple Monitors
Last Updated: November, 2017