Intel 6th Generation Core i7 6700K Reviewccokeman -
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Intel 6th Generation Core i7 6700K Introduction:
Recently I took a look at Intel's Broadwell-based 5th Generation Core i7 5775C that proved to be an interesting step out of the gate for the company's first round of 14nm processors. It delivered excellent improvements in per-clock performance and came with what has proven to be Intel's best socketed integrated graphics solution to date, the Iris Pro 6200 graphics processor. Now we get to take a look at Intel's Skylake 14nm processor for the mainstream enthusiast: the Core i7 6700K.
Launching along with the 6th Generation Core i7 6700K is the quad-core Core i5 6600K that, much like the i5 series chips of the past, does not support Hyper Threading, leaving you with four cores and four threads. Coming along for the ride are motherboards equipped with the Intel Z170A PCH to support these new offerings from Intel. Pricing comes in at $350 for the Core i7 6700K and $243 for the Core i7 6600K.
As we look at the 6th Generation Core i7 6700K, Intel will be prepping for the full launch of Skylake later on this month at IDF, where the full scope of the architecture will be shown to the world. What we have today is a taste of things to come from Intel. Let's see how it performs in relation to the 4th and 5th Generation Core series processors from Intel. Looking at the paper specifications, performance should be impressive.
Intel 6th Generation Core i7 6700K Closer Look:
Intel's 6th Generation Core i7 6700K comes loaded for bear to tackle the mainstream market. This 14nm SKU codenamed Skylake is a quad-core, eight thread processor designed for use in LGA socket 1151 motherboards using the Intel Z170 chipset. Performance specifications include a base core clock of 4.0GHz, Turbo Boost 2.0 clock speed of 4.2GHz, a shared 8MB L3 Smart cache, and unlocked overclocking potential. On-die is Intel's latest HD 530 graphics solution that consists of a Broadwell GT3 graphics processor with 48 shader cores, 8 ROPs, and 16 TMUs. As an enthusiast level product, the Core i7 6700K has a higher TDP of 91W than the Skylake products yet to come, but Intel should be offering these products in a more efficient package.
When you look at the bottom of the processor, there are significantly more components than I have seen on both Broadwell and Devil's Canyon. This chip is said to offer more granular voltage control leading to enhanced overclocking margins. Dual channel DDR4 memory is officially supported at speeds up to 2133MHz, although official support and what the processor's memory controller can actually handle is something I will need to investigate. Additionally, the processor supports DDR3L at speeds up to 1600MHz, again in a dual channel configuration. When paired with an Intel Z170 chipset motherboard, such as the MSI Z170A Gaming M7, you get new storage and graphics support with 40% more high-speed I/O lanes (USB 3.0 and PCIe3.0) when compared to the previous generation Intel® 9 Series chipset equipped motherboards. PCI Express 3.0 storage options are supported via Intel® Rapid Storage Technology.
With a new platform comes a new chipset and supported motherboards to take advantage of the built-in capabilities of Intel's Skylake processors. This new processor and chipset combo team up to provide up to 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes for graphics support in a 1x16, 2x8, or 1x8+2x4 combination. Intel HD 530 graphics can be connected to up to three displays covering multi-monitor support without the need for a discrete GPU. Dual channel DDR3L/DDR4 memory is supported by the socket 1151 Core i7 6700K at speeds up to 2133MHz officially. The chipset adds up to another 20 PCIe 3.0 lanes that help handle high bandwidth storage feature sets, including up to three Intel RST capable PCIe storage ports and two SATA Express or M.2 SSD ports. Up to 10 USB 3.0 ports, 14 USB 2.0 xHCI ports, and a USB Port Disable round out the USB support. Six 6Gb/s SATA RST ports and eSATA are supported off the Z170 PCH, along with the Intel Gigabit LAN, HD Sound, and more.
As an overclocking and enthusiast level SKU, the Core i7 6700K is built to overclock. The key is how high, at what voltage, and with what kind of thermal barriers are in place to dissuade the casual overclocker. At this point there is still a lot of the unknown with this lineup, as Intel is holding the bulk of the SKUs and info until IDF later this month. Intel did want to get this enthusiast level SKU out to show the community just what it can do with its latest 14nm process. From what we see of the limited info, it looks pretty damn impressive. Let's see what it can do.