The question is self-explanatory. I have an i5 4th gen and I'm planning to buy a new CPU. The i7 8700K looks pretty good, but someone told me to wait for 9th gen (because of Spectre and Meltdown).

All opinions and tips are appreciated!

  • Designing, manufacturing, and testing CPUs are hard. I would not expect the Spectre and Meltdown bugs to be fixed by the time 9th gen is released. The software level fixes do not impact performance as much as previously thought. – Cfinley Apr 23 '18 at 15:32

Spectre and Meltdown have some things in common. First, neither has been reported to be specifically used to attack any consumer system at all. That's probably a matter of time, although with Meltdown you probably wouldn't know. Second, Intel has already begun to patch out the vulnerabilities, although they halted the patches back in January due to interference with actual CPU instructions in the wild and system stability problems that resulted. Finally, all of these require malware to reach your computer in the first place.

Later this year, Intel is releasing more 8th-gen processors (not 9th) that should run a little slower but have the vulnerabilities removed. No word on what's happening with the ARM processor, though. AMD isn't affected by Meltdown but they are affected by Spectre and are in a similar boat.

While Spectre and Meltdown are new in how they work, they aren't unique in the fact they work at all. Regardless of your processor, the wetware (read: human) operating the computer is always the actual security weakness. They originate from malware on the machine that hijacks something critical to your system and uses it to break your security. The malware which executes this will probably be in the wild a little longer than most (just because so many systems are affected), but Intel is releasing firmware patches going all the way back to 10 year old processors to fix it, so that should trim down the lifespan of such malware.

That may have all read like any other malware suggestion, and that's because they're all basically the same. Practice smart computing. There will always be security vulnerabilities. They are flavor-of-the-week in nature. The actual level of risk doesn't increase between processors for anyone except the marketing departments that want to sell more new processors. Don't base buying a new processor on "waiting for the next one" or you'll just end up always waiting for the next one.

  • This. Great explanation of Spectre and Meltdown, and I agree that "waiting for the next one" will always have you waiting for the be-all-end-all generation that just won't come. +1 – MrPublic Apr 23 '18 at 15:22

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