Putting It All Together
Now that we've looked at the results on a per game basis, let’s breakdown all the data down for a closer look at the situation.
First up we have the 720p results and the standout here, the outlier if you will, is CS:GO where the 8700K was 52% faster. The 8700K shouldn’t be that much faster, it’s clocked just 19% higher and only have a very small IPC advantage, we're talking a few percent at most.
The Ryzen 5 2600 compared well to the lower clocked Core i5-8400 in CS:GO but the faster memory and higher clock speeds of the 8700K take this to the next level. For those of you a bit wild that this old title has been included in the 35 game bundle, you really need not stress about it, removing CS:GO changes the margin by 1%, without it the 8700K is 12% faster at 720p.
So with the GPU limits mostly removed the 8700K clocked at 5 GHz isn’t a great deal faster than the Ryzen 7 2700X, it’s certainly faster but it doesn’t blow the AMD processor away.
Interestingly if we look solely at the frame time performance we find similar margins, here the 8700K was 12% faster on average. That said removing Total War Saga does drop that margin down to 10% and we can see than in 18 of the titles tested the 8700K was only faster by a 10% margin or less. In fact, we see a few titles were the 8700K was only able to match the 2700X and one, DiRT 4 where it was slower.
Now at 1080p the margin starts to close up and on average the 8700K was 9% faster and in well over half the titles tested the margin was less than 10%. The only games to show massive performance deficits included CS:GO, Wreckfest, StarCraft II and Far Cry Primal.
So avoid those if you want to show AMD in the best light possible, doing so drops our game count to 31 and the margin down to just 6% on average.
Again when looking at frame time performance we see that the Ryzen 7 2700X looks even more competitive as the 8700K is 9% faster on average. The only really poor result for AMD here is Total War Saga, a recently released title that might have a few bugs that need going over with the old iron. For those wondering, removing that title drops the margin to just 7% overall, in favor of the 8700K.
Then finally at 1440p the 8700K was a mere 4% faster on average. Removing the older titles where Ryzen got served, CS:GO and SC2, reduces the margin by just a percent. Of course, we are mostly GPU limited at this resolution but what this means there's very little difference between these two CPUs for gamers.
We also see a 4% margin when comparing frame time performance though I should point out that the 8700K was slower in a handful of titles while performance was identical in 5 titles.
Power Consumption Notes
Before wrapping things up here’s a few quick notes on the power consumption figures observed while testing. For the most part the Ryzen 7 2700X system pulled between 380 - 410 watts from the wall while the Core i7-8700K system drew between 420 and 440 watts. So the Intel system consumed 7 - 10% more power which isn’t bad given on average it delivered 9% more performance at 1080p.
Having established that the Core i7-8700K is hands down faster than the Ryzen 7 2700X for gaming, it's also not a great deal faster. Realistically at 1080p with a beastly graphics card you’ll stand to gain up to 15% performance at the high-end, but will more often see gains of 10% or less.
Intel's 8700K is a no-compromise gaming CPU, and we as well as many others have already said so in the past. But what if you want a high-end CPU capable of strong gaming performance and want to save as much money as possible, in that situation is one option better than the other?
In terms of pricing they’re very similar, in fact, you could say overall the system and even the platform costs are the same. If you’re not doing any serious overclocking, the 2700X comes with a decent box cooler, while the 8700K needs to be paired with an aftermarket unit, of which there are a ton of great options for less than $50.
So why would you choose the Ryzen 7 2700X?
If you’re not a pure gamer and you happen to run core-heavy applications, then the 2700X will be more cost effective.
But let's stick to the strictly gaming narrative with a bit of general usage. The 2700X still has the advantage of future platform support. Yes, that X470 motherboard will support a few future CPU generations yet, while the Z370 board is at the end of the road, likely with nowhere to go. Even so I’m not going to pretend like this really matters at the high-end because ultimately it probably doesn’t.
So let’s be realistic about this, if you bought a Core i7-8700K or Ryzen 7 2700X today, when do you imagine you’ll be looking at an upgrade, in a year? Maybe two years, probably more like three.
In three years you’re very likely going to want a new motherboard anyway and given you only invested $150 in 2018, based on our hypothetical, saving that money on a future upgrade is nice, but it’s not really going to make a huge difference either, remember we’re talking high-end systems here, not budget bangers where every last dollar counts.
I’ll admit I’m a bit torn here on which way I’d go. They’re both very appealing so I guess it’s somewhat of a high class problem. While a tough choice, purely for gaming I’d likely get the Core i7-8700K. Let us know which CPU you’d choose and why, I look forward to discussing this with you in the comments section below.