2017 was an exciting year for CPUs, as AMD stormed back onto the scene in a big way with its Ryzen processors. There has seldom been a better time to invest in a new desktop chip, as you now have very competitive selections from both AMD and Intel. Intel may have enjoyed a near monopoly in the high-end CPU market, but the good news is that it's a proper two-horse race now. That's why we've brought back this award category for this year.
For this year's Tech Awards, we've pit the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X and Intel Core i7-8700K against each other. Both are high-end CPUs for the mainstream market, and deliver excellent performance without the exorbitant prices of an Intel Core X or AMD Ryzen Threadripper processor.
The Intel Core i7-8700K can be thought of as Intel's response to AMD's Ryzen processors. It's an admirable riposte to the key advantages of Ryzen, which delivers strong multi-threaded performance at a never before seen price point.
Ryzen brought an unprecedented number of cores and threads to the mainstream market, and Intel didn't have an answer for a while, even after it trotted out its pricey Core X series chips. However, the Core i7-8700K turned out to be a formidable champion for Santa Clara, as it boasts a 6-core/12-thread configuration that significantly closes the gap with the Ryzen 7 1800X.
By doing so, it reduced the edge AMD had over Intel, and it did this without sacrificing gaming performance. The Ryzen 7 1800X still requires more widespread optimizations from game developers to be at its best, and 1080p gaming performance was one of its most glaring weaknesses. However, the Core i7-8700K suffers from no such issues, and it effectively succeeds the Core i7-7700K as the best gaming CPU you can buy. What's more, it's by far the more capable overclocker, so it is the chip to get if you want to push your CPU further.
As a result, it trumps the Ryzen 7 1800X as 2017's best desktop CPU, with a price in reach of mainstream consumers, strong multi-threaded performance, and a clear lead in games and overclocking.
Here's a small snapshot of the performance results from our shootout:
|AMD Ryzen 7 1800X||7.5||9.0||7.5||8.0||S$818|
|Intel Core i7-8700K||8.5||8.0||8.5||8.5||S$570|
For more details on how we selected our winners, check out the full reviews and articles listed in the References section at the end.