Lest desktop PC users think that they were being neglected, on Tuesday Intel launched a number of eighth-gen Core desktop processors, plus four new desktop chipsets that mimic the always-listening “modern standby” experience of a smart speaker.

While Intel’s powerful 6-core mobile Core i9 chip—and, to a lesser extent, the “Core i7+” and related brands that signal the presence of Optane within notebooks—were the major announcements, Intel also announced three new “standard power” Core desktop chips, as well as six low-power T-series chips. All of the new Coffee Lake 8th-gen chips are priced at $213 or less, save one.

As the price suggests, they’re all basic. Just one, the Intel Core i7-8700T, includes hyperthreading, making it the only 6-core, 12-thread part among the new offerings. All of the others include the same number of cores as threads, like the 6-core, 6-thread Core 3.1GHz i5-8600.

On paper, the four new chipsets look equally utilitarian, providing a thorough mixture of I/O for storage and graphics—including an integrated 2×2,160-MHz 802.11ac connection that’s theoretically faster than Gigabit ethernet. Their most important feature, Intel executives said, was something that won’t necessarily show up within a spec sheet: a “modern standby” capability that essentially turns your PC into a smart speaker, able to wake up and respond quickly to a voiced command. Though notebook PCs offer this capability, it’s a first for the desktop, Intel executives said. 

Why this matters: While the new Core desktop chips certainly aren’t as sexy as Intel’s new mobile parts, they set the stage for PCs that hope to make the argument that they’re as good enough as that cheap Alexa-powered Echo speaker you were considering for the office. In fact, that’s on the horizon: Amazon’s Alexa app is coming to the PC (and even integrating with Windows’ Cortana) so there will be few places you can’t order a crate of beef jerky from at the drop of a hat.

New Coffee Lake desktop CPUs: Specs and features

Intel officially announced these three standard-power (65W) and six low-power (35W) Coffee Lake processors on Tuesday. All support Intel’s hard drive-enhancing Optane Memory. None are overclockable, and seem to be targeted at mainstream users. Intel already announced several Coffee Lake chips last September, which makes this recent disclosure the second chapter of sorts in the Coffee Lake story.

As it has been wont to do, Intel compared an Intel Core i5+ 8400 system—note the “+,” as it designates the presence of Optane memory—to a five-year-old PC with a standard hard drive alone. The 8th-gen Core PC offers 2.5X better system responsiveness, 1.6X improvement in editing media, and 4.3X faster in loading game levels, it said. 

intel desktop core speeds and feeds Intel

Intel’s new 8th-gen Core processors for desktop PCs.

For reference, the slide below was part of the Sept. 2017 launch. As you can see, Tuesday’s announcements (above) flesh out the cheaper, more mainstream portion of the desktop Coffee Lake lineup. 

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