Intel 7th Generation Core i3 7350K Processor Reviewccokeman -
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Intel 7th Generation Core i3 7350K Introduction:
There was a time in the not to distant past that Intel was looking to deliver an unlocked dual-core processor on the cheap for the enthusiast without the budget to hit the 1K price point of the Extreme series or even between the $3-$400 price points of the mainstream lineup. What we found when testing these Clarkdale overclocking enabled processors was that they offered up decent gaming performance when compared to the high end processors of the time. But then again, games were not as readily optimized to use more than one core at a time. Fast forward to 2017 with the Kaby Lake launch back on January 3, and Intel is looking to rekindle this magic with the Core i3 7350K.
We took a look at the top dog inthe product stack, the Core i7 7700K, and found that the IPC improvements, high end clock speeds, and overclocking abilities added up to some serious firepower in the mid range. Priced at $169, the Core i3 7350K is in a strange position with a Core i5 7400 sitting just a scant $20 away to give you a bit more cache and potential. Without a Core i5 7400 to test against, we will see where the performance of this entry point into overclocking CPU falls performance wise and if it can game with the best of the processors on the market.
Intel 7th Generation Core i3 7350K Closer Look:
Intel's 7th Generation processors code named Kaby Lake are built on Intel's 14nm+ process. The Core series will consist of quad-core and dual-core variants with and without Hyper Threading, depending on the SKU. The Core i3 7350K is one of the dual-core versions with Hyper Threading that allows the end user to access up to four threads at one time for improved performance. The die shot below is representative of the Core i7 7700K, but with the Core i3 7350K we would see a little less hardware in the package. The Intel 200 Series chipset for the enthusiast will wrap around the Z270 chipset. While there are several others for different usage scenarios, I will focus my look on the Z270 chipset, as it's built for use with Intel 6th and 7th Generation Core series overclocking enabled SKU's in mind.
Taking a look around the block diagram shows that there are 16x PCIe 3.0 lanes dedicated for discrete graphics, with support for up to three displays and Thunderbolt connectivity. There are a total of 24 PCIe 3.0 lanes available. Support for peripheral connectivity includes up to 10 USB 3.0 ports, 14 USB 2.0 ports, six SATA 6Gb/s ports, Intel I219-V gigabit LAN connectivity, a new Intel High Definition sound solution that uses an integrated digital signal processor, dual channel memory support, and Intel's latest storage solutions. A couple new additions to the feature set come to fruition with the 7th Generation processors and 200 Series chipset. Optane Memory will be a quick access memory to improve performance and responsiveness when it hits the market. Hardware level security options make its way to the table to further reduce the exposure of the system.
The Core i3 7350K features a baseline clock speed of 4.2GHz, but does not employ Turbo Boost technology to dynamically raise the core clock frequency; rather, it swtches between the low power and full power states. That equates to roughly 800MHz or 4200MHz. As an interesting part of the product stack, the dual-core with Hyper Threading Core i3 7350K features a lower amount of L3 cache than the next step up, the Core i5 7400. One more interesting note is that the Core i3 7350K is the only processor in the product stack to feature a 60W TDP. The rest of the stack include 35W, 51W, 65W, and 91W processors. The graphics capabilities of this processor and pretty much the whole of the "S" series Kaby Lake product stack rely on Intel HD 630 graphics running at 1150MHz. It's not the Iris Pro line, but an enthusiast or power user usually will be using a discrete card for their graphics fix anyhow. Memory support for this platform will be dual channel DDR4 with speeds up to 2400MHz officially supported and DDR3 officially supported at speeds up to 1600MHz. Knowing the kind of memory speeds that Skylake could hit, Kaby Lake should prove to be every bit as capable in this respect.
We have fewer cores than the Core i5 and Core i7 on this overclocking enabled processor. Can the lower amount of L3 shared cache and higher clock speed deliver the kind of performance needed to deliver performance on a budget? Let's find out.