Our Cof­fee Lake build hints at the new zero-point


Step-by-step guide to build­ing a Cof­fee Lake fu­ture-proofed PC.


AS CON­SUMERS, it’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity to give the in­dus­try crap if it’s fail­ing us. It’s the very no­tion of a cap­i­tal­ist democ­racy: If you don’t like some­thing, change it; if you can’t change it, make your voice heard.

Peo­ple were fed up with four cores be­ing the main­stream norm, so AMD re­sponded with its Ryzen lineup. Eight months on, we’re wit­ness to In­tel’s re­sponse: Cof­fee Lake. With its con­fus­ing ar­chi­tec­tural lineup, an in­crease in core count fi­nally makes it to the com­pany’s main­stream pro­ces­sors.

Al­though lack­ing some of the wow fac­tor as­so­ci­ated with a new ar­chi­tec­ture, at the top end Cof­fee Lake pro­vides six of In­tel’s highly re­fined Kaby Lake cores, with slight tweaks to power ef­fi­ciency and base clocks, at a sim­i­lar, if not iden­ti­cal, price. What you’re left with is a pro­ces­sor ca­pa­ble of rip­ping up any mul­ti­threaded ap­pli­ca­tion, while re­tain­ing the ti­tle of sin­gle-thread pro­cess­ing king. That’s not to say it’s per­fect—the top-end part is hot, ex­ceed­ingly so. The ad­di­tion of those two ex­tra cores hasn’t come for free, and cou­pled with In­tel’s con­tin­ued re­fusal to pro­vide any form of suit­able TIM ma­te­rial be­tween the IHS and the die, you’re left with a six-core, 12-thread part that can gen­er­ate 80 C of heat at stock un­der load. That’s hot— and not the sexy kind.

Cof­fee Lake’s real gem is the Core i5-8400. At just $190, it’s six cores and six threads of well-bal­anced per­for­mance, with­out the crazy tem­per­a­ture is­sues of the 8700K.


THE CORE i5 SE­RIES has al­ways been cen­tered around gamers. Its her­itage goes back a long way, to the days of the Core i5-2500K and Sandy Bridge, as the chip of choice for any­one want­ing to en­joy a ca­sual gam­ing ses­sion. As such, it’s one of the world’s more pop­u­lar chips, at least in the custom PC ecosys­tem.

This is­sue, we de­cided to recre­ate that idea of a per­fect midrange gam­ing sys­tem. One ca­pa­ble of driv­ing what we con­sider the new mid-ground for res­o­lu­tion: 1440p with rel­a­tive ease at 60fps. But what do you pair with a Core i5 to re­ally give it a kick?

We knew we wanted to run a GTX 1070 in this build—our MSI Gam­ing X be­ing a solid choice for that po­si­tion. As far as 1440p goes, the GTX 1070 is the per­fect bud­get GPU, bring­ing last-gen Ti­tan X per­for­mance to main­stream prices.

On top of that, we threw in a healthy 16GB of DDR4, along­side a 480GB Cru­cial BX300, and a 1TB Sea­gate Con­stel­la­tion.2 2.5inch hard drive—the lat­ter be­ing par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant. De­cid­ing to in­vest in a quiet 1,200W full-size PSU along­side a 360mm AIO meant we had to ditch the hard drive caddy for 3.5-inch drives be­low the PSU cover. How­ever, Frac­tal in­cludes a neat lit­tle 2.5-inch mount­ing tray be­hind the moth­er­board. Sim­ply in­vest in a small form fac­tor high-ca­pac­ity HDD, and the prob­lems are solved, leav­ing us with 1.5TB of work­able stor­age for all our ap­pli­ca­tions and me­dia.





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