i5-8600K vs i7-8700K

Which is Better for Gaming?

side-by-side comparison

Intel Core i7-8700K

Intel Core i7-8700K

4.7 out of 5


Intel i5-9600K 

Intel Core i5-9600K

4.5 out of 5

Intel is always on to a winner with the entry of every new chip on the market. The i5-8600K is a solid mainstream processor. But after building on more value to it, Intel is now offering better performance with the i5-9600K.

As of this moment, there’s no need to go buying the i5-8600K. At an even better price, i5-9600K offers faster base and turbo speeds. And that’s why we’ll be going head to head, comparing the new i5-8600K to its high-end counterpart i7-8700K.

What’s in it for gamers building a gaming PC from scratch or buying a prebuilt system with one of the CPUs above.

Both the i5-8600K and i7-8700K belong to Intel’s K family. They are ready for overclocking or simply, they have an unlocked multiplier. Both CPUs also have 95W TDP (Thermal Design Power). A Closer look reveals that the running costs of these processors are the same.

So, why would you choose one over the other?

Intel i5-9600K

  • 6 cores/ 6 threads
  • 3.7GHz base clock speed
  • 4.6-5.0 GHz turbo speed
  • 9MB Cache
out of 5

Intel i7-8700K

  • 6 cores/ 12 threads
  • 3.7GHz base clock speeds
  • 4.7-5.0 GHz turbo speed
  • 12MB of LR3 Cache
out of 5

intel i5-8600K vs i7-8700K

As you can see, the threads are what set these two CPUs apart. While both CPUs have 6 cores, the i5-8600K has six threads. The i7-8700K has 12 threads. The hyperthreading set up on i7-8700K means that it can process two threads per core.

In normal computing tasks like document editing and browsing, you won’t see a performance difference. But when it comes to gaming, and professional video editing, the difference comes to light.

When the CPU is pushed to the limit, more threads mean that the workload can be spread further. Hence reducing the CPU usage. The result is a processor that can perform flawlessly. Even with open background programs running alongside a demanding game.

Looking at the speeds, i7-8700K has faster frequency compared to the i5-8700K. It has a base frequency of 3.7 GHz. It can reach clock speeds of 4.3 GHz on all six cores, 4.4 GHz on three or four cores, 4.6 GHz on two cores, and 4.7 GHz on a single core.

The i5-8600K can reach 4.1 GHz on six cores, 4.2 GHz on two or four cores, and 4.3 GHz on a single core. The i7-8700K is not only faster. But it also has a higher improvement margin because of hyperthreading.  More so, with games that take advantage of the raw performance of hyperthreading and added frequency.

This is not to say that i5-8600K is not a fine CPU. It performs great for most tasks. But it is not as competitive in intense gaming. The i7 has room for more apps and programs in advanced gaming. But this only happens in games like AAAs that can take advantage of hyperthreading.

If a game is not designed to fully support hyperthreading, then it won’t matter if you are playing on the i5 or i7. The performance of that game will be similar on both CPUs.

Which one for Gaming- i5-8600K or i7-8700K

Unfortunately, it’s not black and white - the better of the two in gaming. If you are building a budget gaming PC, I’d say grab the i5-8600K. At least, you can spend a huge chunk of your cash on a nice GPU. This is opposed to spending more on the i7-8700K if you will end up dealing with a bottlenecked CPU because of using a middling GPU.

The i7-8700K is clearly for those not strapped for cash. It needs to be paired with a high-end GPU and an equally solid motherboard. Speaking of the motherboard, this is something you will need to upgrade. And that’s including the RAM too. More about the upgrades you need below.

Another reason you will want to choose the i7 over the i5 is for futureproofing. We are talking about advanced gaming and the fact that you will not need to upgrade your CPU for a couple of years.

i7 is also VR gaming-ready.

VR gaming needs lots of processing power and higher frame rates. You don’t want to strain the i5 five years from now. But the i7 will still hold up thanks to the hyperthreading, high frequency, and frame rates. It provides better VR gaming performance.

Upgrades Required with the i5-8600K and i7-8700K

ASUS ROG Maximus X Hero

Before you bring your CPU of choice home, it must work with your system. This means you have to make a few upgrades that go with the i5 and i7 processors.

First up is the motherboard. You will require a motherboard based on the 300 series chipsets. These motherboards are for 8th and 9th gen Coffee Lake Processors. If you currently have a 100 or 200 series motherboard for Skylake and Kaby Lake chips, it won’t work with current Intel CPUs.

8th and 9th gen processors have more cores and different power requirements.

Here are some specifications of the Z370 Motherboard

PCIE 3.0 Configurations
1x16/ 2x8/ 1x8 + 2x4 
Max PCIE 3.0 Lanes
CPU Overclocking
Memory Channels
Optane Memory Support
Max Intel RST for x2 M.2 or x4 M.2 ports
Total USB Ports
USB 3.1 Ports
SATA 3.0 (6GB/s) Ports
High Speed IO Lanes
Integrated Intel Wireless AC
Intel Rapid Storage Tech (RST)

Z370 motherboards are designed for enthusiast PCs. They support memory and CPU overclocking. These features are important for a gaming rig that has multiple graphics cards. They offer high-speed I/O lanes and the most PCI-E lanes. With the entry of the Z390 motherboards, Z370 motherboards are now affordable. They set the standard for modern gaming rigs thanks to their increased horsepower.

After thorough research, we agree that the ASUS ROG Maximus X Hero is the best Z370 motherboard. Paired with a nice water cooler, you can get overclocked speeds of up to 5.1 GHz. You’ll also need to perform some voltage changes with the i7-8700K. It comes complete with onboard controls. These include a clear BIOS switch and a POST code display.

On a budget, we’d go for the MSI Arsenal Gaming. It has fewer features but performs great for the price.

Upgrading RAM

Upgrading RAM

Intel has different supported memories for various processor families. In our 8th and 9th gen case, you are looking at DDR4 memory. The 300-series motherboard supports DDR4 RAM only. Which is why you will need to upgrade RAM.

DDR4 RAM supports 2133 to 4266MHz frequency. A high RAM speed can make a measurable difference in gaming performance. Another reason why DDR4 RAM is for enthusiastic PCs.

You will want to buy a single complete kit instead of mixing and matching components. Having different components spells trouble. This happens when components don’t share a similar frequency, timings, and voltages.

When you install RAM of different frequencies, the motherboard will slow the faster RAM to match the slower RAM.

Also, you need to consider the capacity you need for RAM.

Not long ago, we used to view 8GB as the sweet spot for gaming RAM. But with the entry of more sophisticated games, 16GB is now recommended. For those who need to future-proof their RAM needs, 32GB is already on the scene. However, you are likely to start ripping the benefits in a couple of years.



The differences between the i5-8600K and i7-8700K can blur in normal computing tasks. But not in gaming. The hyperthreading ability of the i7-8700K makes it a nice catch for advanced gaming. But only if you can afford a high-end GPU to match.

On a budget, you are better off with the i5-8600K now the i5-9600K. It is at par with modern gaming and more so with any AAA title.

Remember you have to perform some upgrades with these CPUs if you are running an old CPU. That’s why the price per performance is important before investing in either the i5-9600K or i7-8700K.

Originally posted 2021-01-19 00:55:23.

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