Epic Thanksgiving Giveaway: MSI GeForce RTX 3080 GAMING X TRIO!
TRENDING NOW: Here's our Top 10 best handpicked Amazon Black Friday tech deals!

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review

Intel's "Kaby Lake" 7700K desktop processor launches today, but how does it vary from the 6700K and other CPUs? Let's find out.

@StevenBassiriTT
Published Tue, Jan 3 2017 11:00 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:58 PM CST
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 01 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 57 IMAGES

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.

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 02 | TweakTown.com

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.

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 03 | TweakTown.com Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 04 | TweakTown.com

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.

7700K, Z270 Motherboards, and Test Setup

The Intel Core i7-7700K

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 05 | TweakTown.com

I have reviewed multiple generations of Intel processors with samples provided by Intel themselves. CPUs almost always come in little black boxes, sometimes they are engineering samples and sometimes they are stamped much like retail parts. For the 7700K, Intel shipped engineering samples packaged in a retail box.

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 06 | TweakTown.com Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 07 | TweakTown.com

The retail packaging is the same as the 6700K; the CPU sits in a cardboard cutout, and a small warranty guide with a sticker sits behind the cardboard.

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 08 | TweakTown.com Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 09 | TweakTown.com

I will say, I have samples from other channels of the 7700K, almost all of them are stamped retail parts, and I did compare Intel's provided engineering sample against the retail samples I have to see if there is any performance difference; there is not. The 7700K's integrated heat spreader has a tiny bit more surface area than the 6700K. An extra lip at the top and bottom of the CPU presumably helps distribute heat sink weight more evenly. The thermal interface material between the IHS and CPU die hasn't changed.

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 10 | TweakTown.com Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 11 | TweakTown.com

My trusty 6700K is on the right, and my new 7700K is on the left. The 6700K is worn down from all my motherboard tests over the past year, but as you can see, the CPUs look identical on top except for those little lips added to the 7700K. Turning the CPUs upside down reveals and almost identical SMD layout, indicating very minor changes to power delivery.

Intel Z270 Chipset Motherboards

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 12 | TweakTown.com Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 13 | TweakTown.com Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 14 | TweakTown.com Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 15 | TweakTown.com

There are many new Intel Z270 motherboards on the market as of today, and the four pictured above will all have their own reviews come out soon on TweakTown. Every manufacturer seems to have shifted away from dedicated colors such as red and blue, and more towards letting users pick their own colors through the use of RGB LEDs and white/black base color themes that are easy to blend with.

All of the motherboards could be mistaken for Z170 motherboards, except that they all support higher memory overclocking, Intel Optane technology, and most of them carry multiple M.2/U.2 ports. If you are wondering, yes, I have noticed other improvements. While the Intel i219v NIC used on Z170 motherboards is still present, Killer's popular E2400 NIC has been upgraded to the E2500, Realtek's popular ALC1150 (115dB) has been upgraded to the ALC1220 (120dB with integrated AMP), and ASMedia's popular ASM1142 USB 3.1 controller has been upgraded to the ASM2142 (adds an extra PCI-E lane input).

There are also brand-specific upgrades as well (mostly fan and RGB LED control), but Z270 marks a big shift in third-party IC technology upgrades.

Test Setup

Out of the Box: CINEBENCH, wPrime, AIDA64 EE AES, and FPU

Out of the Box Performance: CINEBENCH, wPrime, AIDA64 EE AES, and FPU

CINEBENCH

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 16 | TweakTown.com

wPrime

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 17 | TweakTown.com

AIDA64 Engineer Edition AES and Hash Tests

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 18 | TweakTown.com

AIDA64 Engineer Edition FPU Tests

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 19 | TweakTown.com

CINEBENCH, wPrime, and AIDA64 tests show basic CPU performance. CINEBENCH and wPrime are heavily multithreaded while many of the AIDA64 tests focus on single-threaded performance.

The 7700K shows incremental increases over the 6700K, but these increases are due to the extra few hundredMHz from the boost in core base and turbo frequencies. The CINEBENCH OpenGL test was run on the iGPU, and it shows a very small increase in integrated graphics performance.

Out of the Box: Handbrake Video Transcoding and ScienceMark

Out of the Box Performance: Handbrake and Hybrid Video Transcoding, ScienceMark

HandBrake 4K Video Transcoder (x264)

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 20 | TweakTown.com

ScienceMark

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 21 | TweakTown.com

AIDA64 Engineer Edition Memory Bandwidth Test

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 22 | TweakTown.com

The video transcoding tests show interesting gains from the increased frequency the 7700K brings to the table. ScienceMark tests many different scientific testing scenarios and the frequency boost of the 7700K brings in some hefty gains. Unsurprisingly, memory bandwidth seems to be almost equal, which is to be expected since Intel didn't make any changes to the IMC.

Out of the Box iGPU: GPGPU, UNIGINE, ResidentEvil, and 3DMark

Out of the Box iGPU Performance: GPGPU Memory, UNIGINE, ResidentEvil, and 3DMark

AIDA64 Engineer Edition: GPGPU Memory Bandwidth Test

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 23 | TweakTown.com

3DMark Fire Strike

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 24 | TweakTown.com

3DMark CloudGate

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 25 | TweakTown.com

UNIGINE 4.0

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 26 | TweakTown.com

Resident Evil 6 Benchmark

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 27 | TweakTown.com

I retested the 6700K and found that over the past year the integrated graphics performance of the 6700K has increased greatly (due to microcode and drivers), bringing it head to head with the 7700K's iGPU in synthetic tests such as 3DMark. The 7700K's faster default clocks put it ahead in some 3D benchmarks.

Out of the Box dGPU: GTA:V, UNIGINE, Resident Evil, 3DMark

Out of the Box dGPU Performance: GTA:V, UNIGINE, Resident Evil, 3DMark

GTA: V 1080p

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 28 | TweakTown.com

GTA: V 1440p

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 29 | TweakTown.com

3DMark Fire Strike

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 30 | TweakTown.com

UNIGINE 4.0

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 31 | TweakTown.com

Resident Evil 6 Benchmark

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 32 | TweakTown.com

Both CPUs are once again head to head in gaming benchmarks, but the higher frequency of the 7700K gives it an upper hand in games that are CPU intensive. Synthetic benchmarks show very little difference, but that is due to the high resolution of the tests run (GPU bottleneck).

Clock for Clock: CINEBENCH, wPrime, AIDA64 EE AES, and FPU

Out of the Box Performance: CINEBENCH, wPrime, AIDA64 EE AES, and FPU

CINEBENCH

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 33 | TweakTown.com

wPrime

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 34 | TweakTown.com

AIDA64 Engineer Edition AES and Hash Tests

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 35 | TweakTown.com

AIDA64 Engineer Edition FPU Tests

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 36 | TweakTown.com

When I equalize the frequencies, voltages, and memory speeds of the 7700K and 6700K, we see that they are almost the same CPU. I should mention that these scores are at 4GHz, which is the 6700K's base and 200MHz lower than the 7700K's base, so maybe there is some internal bus that is being bottlenecked.

Either way, I expected the results to be the same, as Intel didn't make IPC claims, and mentioned the biggest difference in the core was the refinement of the 14nm process to improve frequency margins and power consumption.

Clock for Clock: Handbrake Video Transcoding and ScienceMark

Out of the Box Performance: Handbrake Hybrid Video Transcoding and ScienceMark

HandBrake 4K Video Transcoder (x264)

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 37 | TweakTown.com

ScienceMark

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 38 | TweakTown.com

AIDA64 Engineer Edition Memory Bandwidth Test

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 39 | TweakTown.com

Once again, clock for clock the 6700K and 7700K are almost identical. Any difference you might see is probably due to the margin of error of the benchmarks. I saw no other trend than that the two CPUs are equal.

Clock for Clock: GPGPU, UNIGINE, ResidentEvil, and 3DMark

Out of the Box iGPU Performance: GPGPU Memory, UNIGINE, ResidentEvil, and 3DMark

AIDA64 Engineer Edition: GPGPU Memory Bandwidth Test

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 40 | TweakTown.com

3DMark Fire Strike

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 41 | TweakTown.com

3DMark CloudGate

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 42 | TweakTown.com

UNIGINE 4.0

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 43 | TweakTown.com

Resident Evil 6 Benchmark

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 44 | TweakTown.com

Clock for clock on the CPU allows the iGPUs (which also run at the same dynamic frequency) to be compared. There seem to be some very minor improvements, but nothing that notable. Intel also didn't claim much regarding iGPU core improvements, but rather additions in the form of new media engines or improvements on existing ones for better encoding, streaming, and lower power consumption.

Clock for Clock dGPU: GTA:V, UNIGINE, Resident Evil, 3DMark

Out of the Box dGPU Performance: GTA:V, UNIGINE, Resident Evil, 3DMark

GTA: V 1080p

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 45 | TweakTown.com

GTA: V 1440p

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 46 | TweakTown.com

3DMark Fire Strike

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 47 | TweakTown.com

UNIGINE 4.0

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 48 | TweakTown.com

Resident Evil 6 Benchmark

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 49 | TweakTown.com

In all tests for the dGPU except for Resident Evil 6, I see some very minor improvements, but I am going to chalk those up to margin of error since they aren't more than a few points or a couple of FPS.

The frequency gains of the 7700K are what will help gamers, especially because most of the 7700Ks can run 5GHz stable.

Overclocking and Power Consumption

Page 11[Overclocking and Power Consumption]

CPU Overclocking

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 50 | TweakTown.com

Overclocking is perhaps the strongest feature of the 7700K, and Intel has gone a bit further and added in some new settings for the 7700K. The first is the AVX Offset Ratio. Programs that use AVX such as IntelBurnTest spike power consumption and require more voltage to stay stable than non-AVX programs, so Intel has added in an AVX offset so that when an AVX program runs, the maximum overclock is reduced to avoid instability.

So while you game you can run at 5GHz, and when you want to run IntelBurnTest you can set a -200Mhz offset and the CPU frequency will drop to 4.8GHz for IntelBurnTest. The next thing Intel added is BCLK award adaptive voltage/frequency curve, and that should help simplify overclocking voltage levels.

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 51 | TweakTown.com

The first thing I do is validate the CPU at the maximum frequency I can reach. In this case, I had to use Intel's Xtreme Tuning Utility to change the ratio in voltage after booting into Windows to 1.4v VCore (that's high for Kaby Lake). Since Sandy Bridge I haven't been able to easily validate 5.2GHz, Kaby Lake did it on the first try. Not only that, I could validate 5.3GHz on a really good chip if I had a program other than ITXU.

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 52 | TweakTown.com Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 53 | TweakTown.com Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 54 | TweakTown.com Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 55 | TweakTown.com

ASRock, ASUS, GIGABYTE (AORUS), and MSI all have reviews coming out soon. One of my new stability tests is for the system to attain 5GHz stable with a Corsair H110i AIO water cooling system and a 1.3v VCore. Every single motherboard I have tested so far has been able to attain 5GHz stability, which in this test means transcoding a 4GB 4K video to 1080p.

Did I mention in every case AVX Offset was not used, and the system ran 5GHz even when AVX was used? Results I have seen from MSI and ASUS's internal testing indicate that more than half of the CPUs they tested could run 5GHz stable with temperatures not peaking over 80C as long as a good cooler was used - that is excellent news.

Power Consumption

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 54 | TweakTown.com Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 55 | TweakTown.com

Out of the box, with the 4.5GHz turbo, the 7700K uses a decent amount of power. Sometimes we forget that voltage alone doesn't increase power consumption, current increases from frequency increases does as well.

When we equalize the 6700K and 7700K, their power consumption numbers are basically identical.

What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts

Page 12[What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts]

This is where you can fast forward to the final section of the review, and get a quick recap and points on the Intel Core i7-7700K.

What's Hot

Overclocking Beast: The most impressive part of the 7700K is its ability to overclock to 5GHz, and display stable results. I have many 7700K samples on hand, and the worst one does 4.9GHz stable, while the majority of my samples will pass 5GHz stable. Others have seen the same results; a roughly 200-300MHz higher stable overclock over the 6700K. Extreme overclocking results also show some impressive results, with the CPU already breaking records and already over 7GHz under liquid nitrogen. In comparison, many of the previous generations of Core processors weren't able to hit 7Ghz until after launch.

Faster Out of the Box: The 200MHz faster base frequency and 300MHz faster turbo frequency makes the 7700K faster than the 6700K out of the box. While the performance gains are purely due to the increase in clock frequency, many people still don't overclock, so Intel's base and Turbo frequencies are of interest to the majority of buyers.

New iGPU Additions: The new HEVC and VP9 additions and improvements not only increase built-in encoding and decoding performance, but also reduce power consumption during 4K streaming. In fact, if you want to stream 4K Netflix from your PC through your iGPU, you must use a Kaby Lake processor since it has built in HDCP 2.2 and other security measures.

Z270 and Optane: The Z270 chipset brings four extra PCI-E 3.0 lanes to the table, reducing the amount of bandwidth sharing we saw from Z170 motherboards. It also brings support for Intel Optane technology, a new tier of memory, which many speculate will be worth it.

Works in Either Z170 or Z270 Motherboards: The 7700K will work in a Z270 chipset motherboard, but it will also work in a Z170 motherboard, so you don't need to change your motherboard if you already have a Z170 board.

What's Not

No IPC Improvements: While Intel didn't claim any IPC improvements, we have come to expect that new generations of processors come with clock for clock improvements. The 7700K might be one of the first new Core series processors to not offer IPC improvements, but rather just a clock frequency boost and some added features.

Higher Stock Power Consumption: While the TDP of the 7700K is identical to the TDP of the 6700K, and while they might have similar default voltages, the 7700K uses more power because of the increase in frequency.

Final Thoughts

Intel Kaby Lake 7700K CPU Review 58 | TweakTown.com

We probably all remember the high clocking 4790K Devil's Canyon CPU, a refresh of the Haswell microarchitecture. The 7700K might as well have been called the 6790K if it wasn't for the changes made to the iGPU and naming of the Broadwell-E SKUs on the market, but clock frequency gains are higher than most of us expected.

We knew the day would come where performance numbers at the same clock would stagnate, and Intel's departure from Tick-Tock to Process(Broadwell)-Architecture(Skylake)-Optimization(Kaby Lake) reveals that day has come. As of now, since competition hasn't yet been totally revealed, the Kaby Lake microarchitecture is the fastest clock for clock you will find even though it is basically identical to Skylake.

Intel did call Skylake their "Best Processor Ever," and adding the frequency boost is nice for many, but not a reason for Skylake owners to upgrade unless they really enjoy overclocking or need to stream 4K content.

TweakTown award
Performance (including Overclocking)96%
Quality including Design and Build92%
General Features90%
Bundle and Packaging89%
Value for Money90%
Overall91%

The Bottom Line: Intel's Kaby Lake 7700K CPU increases overclocking headroom by a noticeable amount, bringing the 5GHz stable mark back into reach.

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

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

Steven went from a fledgling forum reader in 2003 to one of the internet's brightest tech stars by 2010. Armed with an information systems degree, a deep understanding of circuitry, and a passion for tech, Steven (handle Sin0822) enjoys sharing his deep knowledge with others. Steven details products down to the component level to highlight seldom explained, and often misunderstood architectures. Steven is also a highly decorated overclocker with several world records.

Newsletter Subscription

Similar Content

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

Related Tags

Newsletter Subscription
Buyer Guides
Latest News
View More News
Latest Reviews
View More Reviews
Latest Articles
View More Articles