In­tel Core i3-8350K

Driv­ing the budget con­cept in a whole new di­rec­tion.

APC Australia - - Contents -

There are two im­por­tant fac­tors when it comes to the Core i3-8350K: Firstly, it is un­locked, and se­condly, it costs $260. It’s good that you can overclock it, but that’s un­ques­tion­ably a lot of money for a chip that most of us would per­ceive as be­ing a budget of­fer­ing. For con­text, this isn’t the only 8th-gen Core i3 cur­rently avail­able, as the Core i3-8100 rolls in at a much more palat­able $169 — In­tel clearly knows what sort of price it can ex­pect to charge for budget hard­ware, even if it has de­cided to ig­nore that here.

Pric­ing aside, it’s worth go­ing over what your cash does ac­tu­ally get you. Un­der In­tel’s new brand­ing, a Core i3 is a quad-core pro­ces­sor that lacks Hy­per-Thread­ing ( just like the Core i5), but also lacks a Turbo mode. To be fair, the base clock fre­quency of 4GHz is healthy enough, even if it won’t be jump­ing up and down as more/fewer cores are used. But this CPU also hap­pens to be un­locked, so if you want to push the chip harder, you can.

You get 8MB of cache to help keep things tick­ing along nicely, sup­port for up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM, and in­te­grated graph­ics in the form of In­tel’s UHD Graph­ics 630, which has a nom­i­nal base clock of 350MHz, ca­pa­ble of hit­ting a max­i­mum speed of 1.15GHz. While this ob­vi­ously can’t com­pete with ded­i­cated graph­ics sil­i­con when it comes to driv­ing the very latest games, it does mean that you can build a ma­chine with­out a dis­crete GPU, keep­ing both the price and size of the ma­chine down.

There is one small prob­lem when it comes to that no­tion of budget, though, and it’s that your op­tions on the moth­er­board front are lim­ited to a sin­gle chipset, and that’s the en­thu­si­ast-class Z370. There is a sur­pris­ingly good spread of op­tions here, but with even the cheap­est start­ing out at $170, we’re some way off the $100 start­ing point that formed the ba­sis of many a budget Core i3 build us­ing the B250 motherboards from the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion. More budget-con­scious chipsets should be on the way, but for now, the combo of this chip along­side the cheap­est Z370 board starts out at around $430 in Aus­tralia. Gulp.

Per­for­mance, how­ever, is great. That high base clock speed com­bined with four real cores makes for some great re­sults. In­deed, in test­ing, this chip was just a shade off the per­for­mance of­fered by the last-gen Core i5-7600K. Here, we’ve com­pared it to the clos­est priced chip from AMD, the Ryzen 5 1500X, which is a quad-core chip as well, al­beit with Si­mul­ta­ne­ous Multi-Thread­ing, so it can han­dle eight threads. It’s a neck and neck fight, with the added threads of the Ryzen help­ing it to win in some ar­eas, but the raw grunt from In­tel’s sin­glecore per­for­mance trump­ing Team Red else­where.

When it comes to over­clock­ing, we man­aged to get our sil­i­con run­ning at 4.9GHz, with only a lit­tle extra volt­age (1.4V), re­sult­ing in a Cinebench score of 784 (with a sin­glethread score of 205). Im­pres­sive fig­ures.

The real prob­lem for this un­locked Core i3 is In­tel’s own Core i5-8400, a chip that costs just $20 more, yet boasts 50% more cores. The Core i5 also has more cache and a lower TDP. Of course, you can’t overclock that chip, which is a def­i­nite win for the Core i3-8350K, but on balance, we’d still pre­fer to have the extra cores.

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