The Core i7-8086K Review: 40 Years Of x86

Intel's 8086, the company's first processor to use its ubiquitous x86 instruction set architecture, debuted on June 8, 1978. Forty years later and by some stroke of fortuitous timing, Intel's desktop CPU portfolio is loaded with eighth-generation Core processors. So it was only fitting, then, that after a bit of prodding by a well-known chip analyst, Intel announced that it'd pay homage to the 8086 with a 40th-anniversary limited-edition Core i7-8086K.

Core i7-8086K is based on the same Coffee Lake architecture as Core i7-8700K, right down to its six Hyper-Threaded cores able to work on 12 threads concurrently. But it features a higher base frequency and more aggressive Turbo Boost bins, which tell us that Intel carefully picked out the best dies to use in these chips. This is the first Intel processor to ship with a 5 GHz Turbo Boost bin, matching AMD's record with the FX-9590. And if you're only looking at clock rate, the -8086K represents a 1000x multiplication of the original 8086's 5 MHz frequency.

Incidentally, the -8086K is also Intel's first six-core processor with a 4 GHz base frequency, though that specification isn't as eye-catching.

Intel kicked off its anniversary celebration with a giveaway of 8086 Core i7-8086Ks. If you didn't win one, you'll have to purchase the processor like we did. Your window of opportunity won't be large, though: our sources confirm a production run of just 50,000 units. We expect collector's items to sport premium pricing, and Intel doesn't disappoint in that department. As of this writing, the -8086K sells for $75 more than the once-flagship Core i7-8700K.

So what is this processor's appeal, other than the obvious nostalgia? Core i7-8086K comes from a higher-quality bin than Core i7-8700K, so enthusiasts with deep pockets can expect to receive the very best example of Coffee Lake silicon available. Of course, most folks won't consider the extra $75 worth paying for moderate gains at stock clock rates. But again, this is a limited-edition piece of hardware steeped in history.

Intel Core i7-8600K

The 6C/12T Core i7-8086K is manufactured on Intel's 14nm++ process, just like its other Coffee Lake CPUs. Like the company's Core i7-8700K, its 95W Core i7-8086K also features 13MB of L3 cache, support for up to 64GB of dual-channel memory at DDR4-2666, an unlocked multiplier to facilitate overclocking, and Intel's integrated UHD Graphics 630 engine that can boost up to 1.2 GHz. For more information about the Coffee Lake architecture, check out our Core i7-8700K review.

Frequencies
Base
1
2
3
4 - 5
6
Intel Core i7-8086K
4.0 GHz
5.0 GHz
4.6 GHz
4.5 GHz
4.4 GHz
4.3 GHz
Intel Core i7-8700K
3.7 GHz
4.7 GHz
4.6 GHz
4.5 GHz
4.4 GHz
4.3 GHz

The -8086K's real differentiation involves its modified Turbo Boost frequencies. But in an effort to maintain a 95W thermal design power rating, Intel only tweaked this chip's base and single-core clock rates. We were able to sustain 5 GHz in tasks confined to a single core, such as Cinebench and LAME. However, the busy scheduling environment in a modern desktop operating system, which finds threads migrating frequently between cores, prevented 5 GHz operation in even mainstream tests like our gaming benchmarks. In other words, don't expect to see 5 GHz very often.

Product
Core i7-8086K
Core i7-8700K
Socket
LGA 1151v2
LGA 1151v2
TDP
95W
95W
Architecture
Coffee Lake
Coffee Lake
Process
14nm++
14nm++
Cores/Threads
6 / 12
6 / 12
Frequency Base / Boost
4.0 / 5.0 GHz
3.7 / 4.7 GHz
Memory Speed
DDR4-2966DDR4-2966
Memory Controller
Dual-Channel
Dual-Channel
Cache (L2+L3)
13.5MB
13.5MB
Integrated Graphics
UHD Graphics 630 (up to 1200 MHz)
UHD Graphics 630 (up to 1200 MHz)
PCIe Lanes
x16 Gen3
x16 Gen3
Price
$425
$359

We've heard reports that some motherboards don't support Intel's 5 GHz single-core Turbo Boost bin. However, updated firmware could fix that in the future. Regardless, it's a shame that Intel didn't port over Turbo Boost 3.0 technology to pin lightly-threaded tasks to the CPU's fastest core. Overclockers might have more luck coaxing higher clock rates from the -8086K: our sample easily stretched up to 5.1 GHz with a bit of extra voltage.

We normally don't cover processor packaging, but it is relevant given the Core i7-8086K's status as a collector’s item. Like all of Intel's K-series SKUs, the -8086K doesn't include a bundled heat sink or fan.

The box tell us us that this is a limited-edition CPU. Intel even includes a certificate of authenticity, along with a signed statement from former CEO Brian Krzanich.

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  • 7664stefan
    Hey, what do the temperatures look like please? I would love to see this for all CPU benchmarks if somehow possible.