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Intel Core i3-7350K "Kaby Lake" CPU Review

Intel Core i3-7350K
Intel's Core i3-7350K "Kaby Lake" processors gets fully examined and overclocked as we compare it against its bigger brother, the 7700K CPU.
By: Steven Bassiri | Intel CPUs in CPUs, Chipsets & SoCs | Posted: Feb 15, 2017 6:20 am
TweakTown Rating: 90%Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction

 

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One of the gems of the Haswell lineup was the Pentium G3258, which was inexpensive, fully unlocked, and was a hit with budget competitive overclockers. It was, however, a Pentium, and it didn't make much sense for many users who wanted that little extra bump when it came to using the CPU for more intensive tasks such as gaming.

 

Since Kaby Lake is pretty much the end product of the Process, Architecture, Optimize cycle which Intel is using for its new processors, they decided to unlock a Core i3. The Kaby Lake i3-7530K is pretty much a 7700K divided by two. While it uses the same HD630 graphics core, it has exactly half the core count (2) and half the L3 cache (4MB) as the 7700K. Intel also decided to provide it the same base clock of 4.2GHz, but they didn't give the 7350K Turbo Boost Technology 2.0. The 7350K has a TDP of 61W.

 

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If you are still not sure if you want to get a 7th generation Intel CPU over a 6th generation Intel CPU, I wrote a piece on the 7700K versus the 6700K clock-for-clock here, and I also wrote a piece on the process improvements and iGPU additions the 7th generation products offer here.

 

The i3-7350K is really a top of the line i3 processor. In fact, it is right at the top of the i3 product category just like the 7600K is the top i5 and the 7700K is the top i7. The one interesting feature the 7350K offers is the ability to overclock, so I have decided to make this review an overclocking review. That means I found the CPU's maximum overclock, used a reasonable memory kit with XMP enabled, and compared those results to the 7350K at stock, and again at 4GHz clock for clock versus the other CPUs in the charts.

 

 

I want to mention something before we move forward; there are two very basic metrics when it comes to CPU performance. The number of cores a CPU has, and the speed of each core are important factors when it comes to judging a CPU on paper. Software that is optimized for core count, like rendering software, will take advantage of higher core counts, and physical cores are better than virtual cores. It's why the i5 series exists, even though many i3s offer HT on two cores resulting in the ability to render four threads, the i5s with four real cores and no HT perform better when core count matters. Software that is optimized for an average number of cores (we can say four), like most games, can benefit more from frequency and IPC increases, and that is where the 7350K should do better. So, can an overclocked 7350K compete against the i7s in our charts when overclocked? Let's find out.

 

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The 7350K is unlocked, meaning it can overclock the CPU, iGPU, cache, and memory. However, you will need a motherboard with the ability to drive the 7350K, and you have two options; the Z170 and Z270 chipsets. I would recommend the Z270 chipset because most of the motherboard UEFI's have been optimized to overclock Kaby Lake CPUs such as the 7350K, but if you need to save a few bucks, then the Z170 chipset should also work. The 7350K offers the same IO capabilities as the 7700K, including x16 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, support for 64GB of DDR4, identical iGPU output capabilities, and the same storage capabilities.

 

 

Pricing

 

The retail price of the 7350K is $179.99 on Newegg, while the 7700K costs $349.99. The closest 7th generation CPUs to the 7350K in price are the i3-7320 at $164.99, and the i5-7400 at $194.99.

 

So for $15 less, you get a Core i3 that uses 9W less at 100MHz lower and is locked. For $15 more, you get to replace the two virtual cores with two physical ones, add 4W of power, but you lose 700MHz at Turbo, but 1.2GHz at base and the CPU is locked.

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