The dark side of Intel’s Coffee Lake launch


Intel officially launched its Coffee Lake processors for desktops last week, after having made bold claims about their new 8th gen chips performance gains since they were first announced last September.

And indeed those performance claims have been proven to be true, with Coffee Lake delivering substantial performance gains when compared to the competition and Intel’s previous Kaby Lake parts.

For instance, the new Intel Core i5-8400 appears to be a good match for Intel’s previous flagship (the i7-7700K) according to reviews in outlets like PC Gamer, while this processor also outperforms AMD’s Ryzen 5 1500X, the Ryzen 5 1600 and even the flagship 1600X when it comes to gaming.

Also, the fact that the i5-8400 retails for less than the competition ($187 is Intel’s recommended retail price) has led some reviewers to consider Intel’s new chip the best gaming processor in years, which certainly is no mean feat.

The same goes for the i7-8700K, Intel’s new high-end SKU which can even give AMD’s flagship consumer processor, the Ryzen 7 1800X, a run for its money.

So, what’s not to like about Intel’s Coffee Lake launch this year?

For starters, there’s the fact that some have referred to Intel’s 8th gen processor launch as a “paper launch”, something that’s not that far removed from reality. Actually, the new Coffee Lake chips have been released a mere 10 months after the previous Kaby Lake generation, a first for Intel which now appears to be playing a catch-up game with AMD.

Because the truth is that Coffee Lake was not scheduled to launch until 2018, and Intel only decided to move their timetable forward in order to offer a swift response to AMD’s Ryzen threat.

AMD’s Ryzen has a hard time keeping up with Coffee Lake in benchmarks, although you’ll have an easier time finding an AMD part right now due to worldwide Coffee Lake stock shortages.


This is something that could leave those who upgraded to Kaby Lake earlier this year feeling gutted, after having invested on a 7th gen setup only to see Intel release much faster chips a couple of months down the line. And the fact that the new Coffee Lake CPUs require a new motherboard to run means that Kaby Lake owners wishing to make the jump to an 8th gen CPU will now have to start from scratch.

Another side effect of Intel rushing their Coffee Lake parts to market is limited availability. Actually, it seems that getting hold of an Intel 8th gen processor could be pretty hard until next year. Plus, only the high-end Z370 motherboards are available for purchase right now (if you can get hold of one, that is), and these are not ideal to pair with processors like the i5-8400. This is because the overclocking features of these boards will be wasted with Intel’s “locked”, non-overclockable CPUs.

But still, releasing the new Coffee Lake chips in limited quantities now does make sense for Intel, even if customers might not be so happy about the limited stock and inflated prices being seen at some retailers. But the fact that reviews all over the Internet are praising the new Coffee Lake processors performance vs AMD’s Ryzen might be reason enough for consumers to postpone their upgrade plans to an AMD setup, opting instead to wait until Coffee Lake becomes widely available next year.

So, here’s hoping that those waiting to upgrade to Coffee Lake are able to do so as soon as possible, while it will also be interesting to see what AMD’s response to Intel’s 8th gen processors will be, as the company’s new generation of Ryzen processors is scheduled to hit the market sometime next year. What’s clear, though, is that things are about to get more interesting in the ongoing CPU war between the two technology giants next year, that’s for sure.

Intel logo (link) [Creative Commons (link)]
Ryzen logo (Advanced Micro Devices)