Build Your Own PC: Intel Core i7-8700K CPU

We're building a new gaming PC and we need a processor that can handle anything. Here's our thoughts on the Intel Core i7-8700K...

This is part 5 in our new PC Building series. 

Quick, what does your computer processor do? If you don’t know the technical answer to that question, your first instinct may be to say “everything.” That’s certainly the popular perception of the functionality of the modern processor.

The funny thing about that definition is that it’s not that far off. Your processor basically keeps all the other components in your computer in line. It tells them what to do and helps optimize their performance. It takes a program’s commands and translates it in such a way that allows the other parts of your computer to understand them.

You know when you’re in a state of workflow zen and you’re able to bounce from task to task confidently and effectively? A good processor should make your workflow as easy as possible. On the other hand, a bad processor is a lot like that manager you had that talks a big game then hides in their office when it’s time to really get it done. You know the one I’m talking about.

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The truth is that it’s hard to overstate what a good processor can do for you. If you want to experience the difference firsthand, consider checking out the Core i7-8700K Coffee Lake from Intel. While our ASUS Prime Z390 motherboard was designed to be compatible with newer 9th-gen Intel processors, we felt the 8th-gen Coffee Lake more than met our needs, both in terms of efficiency and keeping price point in mind for our readers. You could pay top dollar for the beefier 9th-gen i7 or i9 CPUs, but the i7-8700K is a perfect choice for beginner PC builders or those looking to assemble a powerful rig without breaking bank. You can watch our video guide to installing a processor below:

If you want to do a technical breakdown, you’ll find that the Core i7-8700K has all the right numbers in all the right places. This CPU features six cores, 3.70 GHz processor base frequency, 8 GT/s bus speed, and 12 threads, giving you the powerhouse you need to run multiple tasks or play high-end games that are demanding on your system. At the end of the day, though, you want to know what those numbers are actually going to do for you. After all, a computer processor is all about getting things done.

Read More: PC Gaming Innovations That Changed the Way We Play

So far as that goes, the first thing you may notice about the i7 is how much easier it is to multitask once you have it installed. You may think of multitasking as something you put on your resume to sound impressive, but that’s not quite true. In this case, multitasking can refer to switching between Photoshop and the YouTube video you’re watching or even just jumping from window to window.

As we said, your computer’s processor is primarily responsible for ensuring that multiple components are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s appropriate, then, that one of the most obvious benefits you’ll notice from utilizing a high-quality processor like this is how much easier it is for you to ensure that multiple programs are running optimally and doing what you need them to do.

But you’re not just here for work. We’re betting that you’re interested in upgrading your computer’s processor because you want to be able to easily run the best new games and experience high-quality streaming.

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The i7-8700K helps with both of those things. Newer games tend to hog more CPU and RAM than they technically require. Call it a crisis of optimization, but there are times when you need to go “overkill” on your CPU in order to ensure that you’re getting the best performance possible out of even technologically simpler games.

This processor will handle those performance demands with ease, even if you’re gaming at 4K resolution and on Ultra settings. This is where the i7-8700k gets to flex some of its most impressive technical muscles. If you wonder why PC gamers always harp about being able to run a game above 60 FPS, this is the processor that will open your eyes to a new world of possibilities.

Read More: 25 PC Games That Changed History

Need more from your processor than the numbers on the box? The i7 is designed with overclockers in mind. When overclocked — running a component at a higher speed than intended by its manufacturer — you’ll find that this CPU is not only capable of reaching exciting benchmarks but that the integrity of the component holds up well so long as you support it with proper cooling. The great thing about the i7-8700K, though, is that expert processes like overlocking are entirely optional. It’s plenty powerful on its own.

What does your computer’s processor do? It’s the beating heart of your rig. Or, if that’s too metaphorical for you, it’s the component that you’ll come to depend on the most when it comes to running your PC at peak efficiency. 

To read the complete PC Building series, click the links below:

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Part 7: Storage

Part 8: Graphics

Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014