Intel Core i3-8350K 4.0 GHz Review 36

Intel Core i3-8350K 4.0 GHz Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • The Intel Core i3-8350K retails for $180.
  • Multiplier unlocked
  • Good pricing
  • Decent overclocking potential
  • High, fixed 4 GHz clock frequency
  • Quad-core for the i3 Series
  • "Just" a quad-core
  • New motherboard required
  • Lacks HyperThreading
  • No Turbo Boost
The Intel Core i3-8350K introduces quad-core technology to the entry-level i3 range, which only featured dual cores in the past. As indicated by the K suffix, the i3-8350K features an unlocked multiplier, which should make it an attractive processor for overclockers on a budget. Due to a lack of Turbo Boost, the CPU will always run at 4 GHz, no matter the number of active threads, which is an interesting capability as it guarantees a more predictable level of performance.

In our CPU testing, which consists of single-threaded and multi-threaded workloads, we see performance very similar to the Core i5-7600K, which isn't surprising since that Kaby Lake CPU has four cores, no HyperThreading, and its stock clocks are around the 4 GHz mark, too. Compared to AMD's Ryzen offerings, the stock i3-8350K sits somewhere between the 1500X and 1600, which come at similar pricing as well. More competition comes in the form of the new Core i5-8400, which is the most affordable six-core CPU in the Coffee Lake lineup at just $10 more than the i3-8350K. When comparing those two choices, the i3-8350K has an advantage in tests that don't scale well with multiple cores, which includes many games. Also, the i3-8350K has its overclocking potential as an advantage, but has to concede defeat to the i5-8400 in highly-threaded workloads.

Things do get interesting when overclocking. Thanks to the unlocked multiplier of the i3-8350K, you can easily dial in any clock frequency you desire. In our testing, we reached 4.5 GHz with ease on air cooling; 5 GHz was out of reach. With a little bit of luck, your CPU might reach that frequency, but it's a bit of a gamble. My guess is that typical clocks for the i3-8350K will end up somewhere around 4.7/4.8 GHz. Even at our conservative overclock of 4.5 GHz, the CPU gains extra performance nicely and will often compete with the much more expensive i7-7700K in low-thread-count scenarios. Multi-threaded tests see good gains too, but here, the higher core counts of competing processors have the upper hand.

The quad-core Core i3-8350K in this review is very similar to the Core i5-7600K, just at $40 lower pricing. Compared to the six-core Core i5-8400, the 8350K has fewer cores, but runs those at higher frequencies with optional overclocking. This means the choice comes down to whether you prefer higher performance in multi-threaded apps (then you should get the i5-8400); if your workloads don't scale with threads, the i3-8350K is the way to go. If your vote ends up being for the i3-8350K, then you should most definitely overclock it or its performance will end up a bit on the low side and won't be competitive enough (given its price). Decent alternatives to the i3-8350K could be the Ryzen 5 1500X and 1600 or even a cheap, used 7600K that someone wants to get rid of to upgrade to CFL.
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