Intel Core i7-7700K Kaby Lake Processor Review
John Williamson / 2 years ago
At the time of writing, the Intel Core i7-7700K hasn’t been released so it’s impossible to disclose a truly accurate retail price. Major stores might initially raise the processor’s cost to achieve greater profits during the initial rush. Rest assured, once the final prices are revealed, I’ll update the article accordingly. The sources so far suggest Intel could be releasing the i7-7700K at €434 which converts to £363.24 based on the current exchange rate. This would make the company’s new enthusiast flagship slightly more expensive than the i7-6700K’s launch price and pretty close to the i7-6800K. To clarify, the original listing which has since been removed could be a placeholder and shouldn’t be taken as completely accurate. Nevertheless, it looks likely Intel is adopting their standard pricing strategy and hasn’t entertained a price cut to discourage consumers from waiting for AMD’s new processor range.
The Intel Core i7-7700K builds upon the excellent framework from the i7-6700K and doesn’t really do anything significant to push the performance to higher levels, barring a basic frequency boost. Sadly, the CPU lacks IPC improvements, has the same thermal qualities and fails to make the case for upgrading unless you own a lower-end CPU from some time ago. Don’t get me wrong, the i7-7700K is a solid product and currently the best option on the market for high-end gamers. However, it seems like such an uninspired release which fails capture the enthusiast’s attention and prevent them from waiting for AMD Zen line-up.
Even though the performance gains are small, the i7-7770K excels in other areas such as video streaming and power consumption. If you compare identical frequencies, the i7-7700K consumes less power, although the difference is around 10-15W. I doubt this is going to make a huge difference to your electricity bills but it’s still a step forward nonetheless. On another note, Kaby Lake supports Intel’s ingenious Optane technology which has the potential to revolutionise storage speeds through non-volatile memory. Of course, companies need to create products based on Intel Optane and it might be a while until this becomes widely accessible. Saying that, it’s probably the highlight of Intel’s 7th generation processors and an invention which Intel deserve a lot of credit for. As mentioned earlier, the i7-7700K supports HDCP 2.2, Microsoft PlayReady 3.0 and can encode/decode VP9 as well as 4K 10-bit HEVC. This makes Kaby Lake a wonderful choice for those wanting to watch 4K Netflix streams. Personally, I think the video capabilities are going to appeal more to the laptop market and not a concern for desktop users.
In terms of overclocking headroom, the i7-7700K is able to reach 4.8-4.9GHz without a huge voltage increase. According to my testing on two separate samples, 4.8GHz was possible with minimal effort and a voltage of 1.323v-1.331v. Increasing the multiplier to x49 didn’t cause any stability after setting the voltage to 1.335v. Rather impressively, the magical 5.0GHz mark can be attained although you’ll probably need to be more ambitious with the voltage rating. The two samples I received needed 1.345v and 1.364v. Sadly, 5.1GHz is a huge task and should only be attempted if you have a good chip and exemplary cooling. This particular number isn’t stable without a massive voltage change and the lowest I could get to post was 1.435V. This appears the cut-off outside of LN2 because 5.2GHz resulted in constant crashing even when the voltage was set to 1.485V. For the average user, I’d recommend opting for 4.8GHz and fine-tuning the voltage for your CPU.
Throughout the review, I deliberated whether to dish out an award because the performance depends on an individual’s perspective. If you look at the new 14nm+ manufacturing process, it’s allowed for a higher turbo frequency, which leads to better performance. On the other hand, comparing the CPU with its predecessor at identical frequencies including 4.5GHz, 4.6GHz, 4.7GHz and 4.8GHz shows pretty much zero performance change. I eventually decided that the CPU doesn’t deserve an award because it shows a complete lack of ambition and continues stagnation in the CPU market. Despite the performance being better due to the higher clocks, it’s likely to cost more than Skylake and not worth bothering with if you own a Sandy Bridge, Haswell or Skylake processor. Hopefully, AMD releases something which can finally compete with Intel which instigates a pricing war and significant IPC gains over each generation. If you’re looking to build your first PC, or update an ageing system, the i7-7700K is a fine choice, beyond that, just stick with the current processor until more is known about Zen.
- Cross compatibility with Z170 motherboards
- Excellent overclocking headroom
- Good upgrade path for those still using older CPUs
- Great single-threaded performance
- Intel Optane technology has astounding potential
- HDCP 2.2 and Microsoft PlayReady 3.0 compliant
- Superb memory latency
- Supports VP9 decoding and 4K HEVC 10-bit decode/encode
- Tiny power improvement clock-for-clock versus Skylake
- AMD’s Zen architecture is just around the corner and looks promising
- Identical performance to the i7-6700K at the same frequencies
- Just a basic clock boost compared to Skylake
- Runs hotter and consumes more power than the i7-6700K
“The Intel Core i7-7700K is another solid offering and worthy of consideration if you’re using a relatively old processor. Unfortunately, it’s not a major upgrade from Skylake, has non-existent IPC gains and runs hotter due to the higher clock speeds. As AMD’s Zen approaches, the i7-7700K could be overshadowed by competing options although only time will tell.”
Intel Core i7-7700K Kaby Lake Processor Review