To revisit the battle between the Core i7-8700K and Ryzen 7 2700X, we'll be comparing today's data with what we found back in 2018 to see if either CPU has aged better. In addition, we'll benchmark alongside the new Core i7-11700K and Ryzen 7 5800X, so owners of the older Core i7 and Ryzen 7 CPUs can see if the upgrade is worth it.
It's a straightforward set up, so let's quickly go over the system specs and jump into the results. All CPUs were configured with 32GB of DDR4-3200 CL14 dual-rank, dual-channel memory. For the AM4 platform we used the MSI X570 Unify motherboard, while Intel's LGA1200 platform used the Gigabyte Z590 Aorus Master and the Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Ultra for LGA1151. All boards were running the latest BIOS revision available.
For the graphics card we're using a Radeon RX 6900 XT with all CPUs cooled using the Corsair iCUE H150i Elite Capellix liquid cooler. We've tested 30 games at 1080p, 1440p and 4K, and we'll look at the data for about a dozen titles before checking out our usual data breakdown.
We feel like a good place to get us started is Battlefield V since the franchise has often been used for comparing the performance of these very CPUs. I recall testing the 8700K with the GTX 1080 Ti and pushing up near 170 fps and that was pretty amazing at the time.
That was about the limit of these parts, in today's retest we're still limited to 167 fps on average, whereas the newer 11700K and 5800X pushed up over 200 fps.
The 8700K has remained 17% faster at 1080p, though this time the margin is kept at 1440p, while before it closed up almost entirely with the GTX 1080 Ti. It's not until we reach 4K that the margins are eliminated with the RX 6900 XT. So for high refresh rate gamers seeking maximum performance, the 8700K is still the better choice, though for most the 2700X is more than adequate.
The 2700X also looks more suited to the task next to the 8700K than it did in a previous revisit feature where the 10700K, 11700K and 5800X were used for comparison. The 2700X is almost 40% slower than the 5800X, but it was just 14% slower than the 8700K.
Moving on to Watch Dogs: Legion we find that at 1080p the 8700K is 19% faster than the 2700X, which is quite a large margin, though it's worth noting that at 1440p this figure was reduced to 7% and then about 2% at 4K. For those of you gaming at 1440p, you'll be unable to notice the difference between the 8700K and 2700X, especially if you're not using the $1,000 6900 XT.
F1 2021 is another game where the 2700X got completely railed by new CPUs, but when compared to the 8700K it's not so bad. Sure, the 6-core/12-thread Intel CPU was still 15% faster, but that's significantly less than the 41% gain we saw with the 5800X.
The 8700K remained 14% faster at 1440p and it wasn't until we reached 4K that performance was the same, resulting in a heavily GPU-bound scenario.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is still heavily thread dependant and as a result the 8700K enjoys a handy lead over the 2700X, delivering 21% more performance on average at 1080p and 1440p, though it's worth noting that the Ryzen 7 part does enable slightly better 1% low performance, and of course, frame rates were much the same at 4K.
Cyberpunk 2077 might have been a game where some expected the 8-core/16-thread 2700X to beat or at least match the 8700K, but that wasn't the case as Intel still enjoys a 13% performance advantage at 1080p, and even at 1440p the 8700K offers much stronger 1% low performance.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is another DirectX 11 title where the 2700X struggles quite badly, allowing for just over 80 fps at 1080p and 1440p. The 8700K results in heavily CPU bound performance at these resolutions, but the frame rate is boosted by a little over 20% and that does make quite a bit difference for those with higher refresh rate monitors.
The Call of Duty Warzone performance is interesting because although the 8700K was almost 20% faster when comparing the average frame rate at 1080p, the 1% low performance was about the same. Then at 1440p there's very little difference between these two CPUs and that being the case we see no real difference at 4K.
The Core i7-8700K was clearly faster in Death Stranding, offering around 12% more performance at 1080p and 1440p, but with the 2700X pushing over 144 fps at both resolutions, this isn't a margin you're going to notice in this title. The 2700X also looked a lot better next to the 8700K than it does against the newer 11700K and 5800X.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a CPU intensive title, especially the in-game village section that we use for testing. Despite heavily utilizing both CPUs, the 6-core 8700K was a good bit faster averaging 132 fps making it 23% faster than the 2700X. We saw a similar margin at 1440p and it wasn't until we hit 4K resolution that performance normalized.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege is a game where those playing seriously like a lot of frames, like a lot of frames. That said, the 2700X was good for well over 300 fps on average and a 1% low of almost 300 fps, and for even the most extreme players that's typically enough.
It's also worth noting that although the 8700K was 13% faster on average, the 2700X offered 5% greater frame time performance. The 8700K was stronger at 1440p but here we're only talking about a 7% margin, so overall they're fairly similar in RSS.
Performance in War Thunder was particularly poor for the 2700X relative to the new 8-core AMD and Intel CPUs, but not to say the experience was poor, quite the contrary as the game was smooth and enjoyable at 112 fps, it's just that relative to the 5800X it was just over 40% slower. However, relative to the 8700K things look better for the old Ryzen 7 part, as here it was only 11% slower. That margin was seen at all three tested resolutions as the 2700X and 8700K were the primary performance limiting components in this testing.
In Hitman, the 2700X looks quite poor relative to the newer 5800X and 11700K, trailing by almost 30%. However, when compared to the 8700K, the 2700X was just 8% slower at 1080p and 11% slower at 1440p, so the margin wasn't that extreme in that older generation comparison.
World War Z is the only game of the 30 we tested where the 2700X was faster than the 8700K, though by a small 5% margin. Frankly, that means both CPUs delivered comparable performance.
We just looked at a dozen of the games tested, now it's time to compare the CPUs across all 30 games, starting with the 1080p data. For CPU-limited gaming, it's quite clear that in 2021, the Core i7-8700K remains the faster CPU against the 2700X, delivering 12% greater performance on average.
There's a single title here where the 2700X takes the lead and the margin is fairly insignificant. On that note, 8 of the 30 games saw a margin of 5% or less in either direction which we typically deem a tie. Then there were 14 games, where the 8700K was faster by a significant 15% difference or greater.
Getting back to our 2021 benchmarks, at 1440p the margin comes down to 7% in favor of the 8700K and now we're looking at 15 games, so half the games tested, where the margin is 5% or less.
There's a further half dozen titles where we're looking at single-digit margins and three games where the Core i7 was still faster by a sizable 20% margin or greater.
At 4K performance is very similar across the board. Here the 8700K was just 1% faster on average thanks to some decent wins in War Thunder and Dirt 5. But overall we are heavily GPU bound at 4K, even with the 6900 XT, so CPU performance was irrelevant.
What We Learned
That's how the Core i7-8700K performs in 2021 and how it compares to its old foe, the Ryzen 7 2700X. Intel's old school 6-core/12-thread CPU still delivers exceptionally good gaming performance in 2021, and if you're primarily focused on gaming I imagine anyone using this processor will be more than happy with how it handles.
As we showed back in 2018 with a 35 game benchmark, the 8700K is the superior gaming CPU, but depending on your configuration there may be a small difference between the Core i7 and Ryzen 7 processors. As we also noted in 2018, the major drawback with the 8700K was the lack of an upgrade path. The only way forward was an expensive Core i9-9900K and that only nets you two extra cores, though again the 9900K is more than sufficient for high-end gaming in 2021.
You could argue that the Ryzen 7 2700X wasn't as wise of an investment given high-end gamers would probably be looking at an upgrade to the 5800X or 5900X, and neither offer an affordable upgrade despite the fact that you can keep your high-end X470 motherboard.
After 2018, the 2700X did become a more attractive option thanks to heavy discounts that saw it selling for as little as $160 at one point in 2020 -- so honestly if you did, that was a pretty great buy -- while the 8700K was still at its MSRP due to 14nm supply issues.
So there you have it, the 8700K was and still is the better gaming CPU and the better choice for gamers. Those of you who bought it around its release in 2017 can be pretty content with your choice many years later, and keep it for a while longer if you mostly use it for gaming.