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Intel "Kaby Lake" 7700K CPU Review

Intel
Intel's "Kaby Lake" 7700K desktop processor launches today, but how does it vary from the 6700K and other CPUs? Let's find out.
By: Steven Bassiri | Intel CPUs in CPUs, Chipsets & SoCs | Posted: Jan 3, 2017 5:00 pm
TweakTown Rating: 91%Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction

 

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Over the past few months, there have been many leaks revealing performance figures of Intel's latest 7th Generation Core series processors. Today, I will give the 7700K a formal review, and compare it to the 6700K and older Intel processors. Before I begin, I want to clarify Intel's claims about the Kaby Lake microarchitecture.

 

 

As part of Intel's new strategy, Kaby Lake is a refresh, mainly focusing on process improvement rather than performance improvements. Intel didn't claim much regarding IPC gains, but they did claim that their new process, dubbed 14nm Plus (14nm+), will usher in frequency improvements. These frequency improvements, a 200MHz base and 300MHz turbo increase over the 6700K, are designed to fit within the same TDP window. Frequency increases aren't the only thing Intel claimed; they also claimed better overclocking features and improvements to the media engine within the integrated graphics portion of the CPU.

 

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Looking at the actual specifications of the 7700K, we see that Intel has also upgraded the integrated graphics from Intel HD 530 in the 6700K to Intel HD 630. The new integrated graphics are built upon Intel's Gen 9 graphics with the addition of dedicated media processing units for HEVC and VP9 encoding and decoding. These additions allow PC users to stream 4K Netflix content for the first time (you must also use HDMI 2.0). If you want to know more about the specifics of the process improvements and additions to the integrated graphics portion of the new 7700K, I did a write-up. Comparing the 6700K and 7700K reveals the same cache size, same dynamic frequency for the integrated graphics, the same TDP, the same 130W suggested cooling solution (PCG 2015D), and the same 1ku pricing. The only big differences in specifications between the two CPUs is a 266MHz boost to DDR4 memory speeds and the 200/300MHz boosts to base and turbo frequencies.

 

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Looking at the new 200-series chipset, Intel has made two major additions. The first is the addition of x4 PCI-E 3.0 lanes to the PCH, allowing for more PCI-E based devices and less lane sharing. The next major improvement and something only a 200-series motherboard will support is Intel Optane memory. Intel is saying that this new memory, based on 3D XPoint, will first come in the form of an M.2 device. Optane fits into memory hierarchy somewhere between DRAM and NAND. DRAM has very low latency compared to NAND, but NAND supports much higher densities. I will speculate for a second and say that we will probably see Optane in the same sizes we first saw NAND SSDs, and used in the same way.

 

I am talking about 16/32/64GB M.2 Optane devices using a technology similar to the Intel Smart Response SSD Caching technology we saw on the Z68 platform. However, it would be interesting to see Optane stand alone, and not merged with a storage device, and instead treated as another level of memory, much like DRAM. Time will tell, but if you want Optane first, you must use a 200-series motherboard.

 

 

Pricing

 

The final retail price of the 7700K should be around that of the 6700K.

    PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.


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