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Intel Core i7-7700K Kaby Lake Processor Review



/ 2 months ago

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Introduction


Intel Core i7-7700K Kaby Lake Processor Review

The Intel Core i7-6700K has become a firm favourite among PC enthusiasts despite the performance improvements being fairly slim compared to the previous generation, Intel hasn’t been under any pressure to go beyond the status quo and introduce models outside of the HEDT platform with extra cores. Evidently, the company has fixated on power efficiency savings instead of a revolutionary step forward in instructions per clock. To be fair, the lack of competition from AMD allowed Intel to adopt a more conservative approach and their products still dominate the market. As a result, the i7-6700K’s pricing left a lot to be desired and often hovered around the £320-£350 price bracket. Thankfully, the situation is changing and AMD’s upcoming AM4 platform could instigate a pricing war and make AMD processors a viable option once again.

Intel’s Core i7-7700K is designed to replace the existing i7-6700K and employs an identical 91W TDP as well as a 4-core, 8-thread configuration. This time, the base frequency has been bumped up from 4.0GHz to 4.2GHz while the turbo extends from 4.2GHz to 4.5GHz. As you might expect, the same amount of level 3 cache is deployed and there’s backwards compatibility with existing Z170 motherboards providing the latest BIOS has been flashed. Interestingly, the official memory support is DDR4-2400 although this isn’t that important since DIMMs have much faster XMP profiles. The only other change is the Z270 platform’s 24 PCI-E x16 Gen 3 lanes which support more connectivity protocols including USB 3.1 Type-C, Thunderbolt and U.2. After the long wait, is Intel’s new enthusiast CPU worth buying? Let’s find out!

Specification
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What’s New?

The company’s 7th generation CPU series codenamed Kaby Lake doesn’t follow the usual Tick-Tock release cycle. Previously, Intel would perform a die shrink and enact an architecture change before refining the process to enable better performance. In a disappointing turn of events, Kaby Lake is simply a default frequency boost which is made possible thanks to the 14nm+ manufacturing process. According to Intel, the improved fin profile, transistor channel strain and integrated design are enough to provide greater stability and uphold the higher 4.5GHz turbo clock.

On another note, Kaby Lake is the first processor range to support Intel’s Optane technology which is a premium form of non-volatile memory. Essentially, this allows Kaby Lake owners to access affordable, high-density memory offering speeds up to 1000 times faster than NAND. Not only that, the 3D XPoint design can utilise 10 times the capacity of DRAM within the same surface area. The system works by slicing submicroscopic layers of materials into columns which contain memory cells. Then, the layers connect using an innovative cross point structure of perpendicular wires. The Optane technology has an extremely low latency measured in nanoseconds which could revolutionise computing in the near future. Also, the non-volatile memory can retrieve data even after a power outage.

The latest Intel Graphics HD 630 introduces support for VP9 decoding and 4K HEVC 10-bit decode/encode. Of course, there’s still 1080p HEVC decode/encode which became an integral part of Skylake’s video functionality. Apparently, Kaby Lake can decode 4K-resolution content at 60 frames-per-second with a bit-rate up to 120Mbps. The architecture has native support for HDCP 2.2 and Microsoft PlayReady 3.0. Therefore, it’s possible to view 4K Netflix streams through the Edge web browser on a Kaby Lake processor. The iGPU has some minor improvements when it comes to gaming although it’s still pretty weak in comparison to discrete solutions.

DISCLAIMER: This is a retail CPU that was not provided or supplied by Intel Corporation. Therefore, as we have no NDA with Intel, we are available to publish any content we see fitting.


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  • Nicohw

    Whats frequency of iGpu? Is possible to overclock?

    Ps
    Very good review!

    • John Williamson

      Hi, thank you so much. I wasn’t able to overclock the iGPU, but I’ll note down the frequency in the next day or so when I do some additional testing.

  • PantatRebus101

    Great review man.. So 7700K is just a higher clocked 6700K? My current Z170 mobo is dead and i’m considering to upgrade to Kaby Lake.. but seeing this review hold me back. Slightly off topic, but can i use my 6700K with Z270 motherboard? Just curious.. otherwise i’ll buy another Z170.. Thanks

    • I AoS I Nexus

      If you want a future proof build then buy a Z270… pure logic here, it will support intel Xpoint Optane SSDs and dimms.

      • Which will get released hell knows when

        • I AoS I Nexus

          Hum, google it, it takes 5 seconds, it will be released after the CES 2017 the 5th of January, in fact some online retailers already got the Z270 mobos and 7700Ks ready ^^

    • John Williamson

      Thank you 😀 Yep, no real improvements outside of a frequency boost. The 6700K and 7700K both use the same LGA1151 socket so you’ll have no issues doing that!

  • Stark

    One of the best conclusions i have seen lately,
    unbiased, to the point, and balanced.
    Kudos!!!

    • John Williamson

      Thank you 😀

  • Oberoth

    You should think about delidding this supernova, it’s reported you can get 30 degree reductions in temperature. Looks like Intel wanted to limit overclocking thermally again.

    http://wccftech.com/intel-core-i7-7700k-delid-performance-tests/

  • Zangetsu

    Thank you very much for this. Interesting how the 7700k outperforms a 6700k OC’d 4.8ghz on Ashes of the Singularity. Can you please test Starcraft 2? That game is CPU limited and really shows the strength of a CPU (may it be architecture or IPC or speeds) and I’m really interested how the 7700k perform against the 6700k in that game clock for clock. Thank you.

  • Eric Matthews

    “AMD’s Zen architecture is just around the corner and looks promising” Are you kidding me? What the hell does AMD have to do with this? You are referring to a product that is not available, and will be a first iteration of a new technology that will need weeks (if not months) of vetting before I will risk my hard earned dollars. For All practical purposes, AMD is dead until it can PROVE it has a product that I should take a look at. Until then….I am completely ignoring them.

    • Mithan

      It has a lot to do with this, because IF the Zen single core performance is within 10-15% of the current Intel offerings, there is virtually no reason to get an Intel CPU, and it becomes well worth getting a much cheaper 4C/8T Zen or a 6 or 8 core version of the Zen for the same price and have those extra cores in case you need them.

      For gaming, 6 and 8 core CPU’s add a high cost but essentially no value performance wise. Oh, ok… Ashes of the Singularity shows a little bit of performance increase but it costs a lot to build the system. IMO, it isn’t worth purchasing a 6 or 8 core Intel System at this time for gaming.

      Here is the point:
      If Zen is close to Core i7 7700k, then why wouldn’t I get the 8 core Zen that could be priced the same as the 7700k, AND add the extra cores “for free”?

      Or, if I don’t need 6 or 8 cores, why not get the 4C/8T i7 version of the Zen for a most likely much cheaper price?

      It really depends on how good Zen is as to whether these Intel prices are worth it or not.

      • nashathedog

        You’re making a huge presumption that pricing will be low, It’s much more likely that pricing will not be far off Broadwell e pricing, AMD are repeatedly referring to there 8 core alongside the Broadwell 6 core so I’m expecting similar pricing but we’ll see.

  • Superkev

    I’m a big Intel fan but their insistence to put progress into neutral as often as they can get away with is just crazy. The 7700k could have easily had far more tangible improvements but because the market wasn’t forcing them to compete they just don’t bother. Intel has provided AMD with a generous opportunity here with Zen. I hope rigorous competition gets the innovation train back on the track.

  • Ninja Squirrel

    As a Haswell user, I will not have to upgrade my CPU for the next 3 years. Intel is so lazy now. Now AMD has an opportunity to strike back with Zen. I can definitely give a try for a Zen 6 core CPU if it matches with a 6700K. I bet those performance gains are mainly due to clock speed jump, but no IPC improvement. The biggest advantage here is overclocking head room and the new media engine which will useful for multimedia users. BTW, is 5GHZ sustainable for daily using, I mean with a good liquid cooler?

    Nice Review !

    • Joey Keilholz

      I’m also on Haswell. I didn’t think I was going to be able to hold onto the same CPU for so long, but I am also planning on holding out for a long time.

  • The Whispering Lad

    Looks like Intel has lost its way… /:

  • Вова Баринов

    does HD630 support HDMI 2.0?

    • Lap

      No. What a disappointment.

  • Mithan

    Core i5 2500k here (OC’ed to 4.5Ghz).

    Debating whether to go for a 7700k or possibly even a Zen, though I use my PC for gaming, so I don’t think Zen gives me anything special, probably detracts since it is rumored to be slower single core.