Intel Core i7 4770K Reviewccokeman -
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Intel Core i7 4770K Introduction:
Today marks the introduction of Intel's Fourth Generation of Core series processors, codenamed Haswell, for both the mobile and desktop markets. We have seen a progression over the past few launches of Intel's mainstream processors improving IGP performance that, as of the Third Generation Core i7 3770K, was behind that of AMD's APU family. However as a performance piece the mainstream Core series processors have held their own with great overclocking potential with the K SKU chips, such as the Second Generation Core i7 2600K and last year's offering the Third Generation Core i7 3770K. Today's launch is targeted at the desktop market with the mobile and dual-core offerings to come at a later date.
What I have today is the Fourth Generation Core i7 4770K quad-core desktop processor, the only unlocked Core in the Core i7 desktop product stack. This is the desktop enthusiast SKU, with the low power 4770T (45W) , 4770S (65W), 4765T (35W), the locked 4770, and 477R that features an improved IGP with Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200 instead of the HD 4600 that is standard on the rest of the lineup, all being available. The Fourth Generation Core i5 lineup includes the unlocked 4670K, the standard 4670, and low power models the 4670T (45W) and 4670S 65W). Coupled with the release of the Haswell product stack are five new chipset designs: the B85, Q85, Q87, H87, and the performance desktop standard the Z87 Shark Bay chipset.
Priced at $339, the 4th Gen Core i7 4770K comes in a bit higher than last year's 3rd Gen Core i7 3770K, which dropped at $313. Each year we look for significant performance improvements to feed that next upgrade cycle. Will a step up to Haswell feed your need for the desktop? Will it offer enough performance upside for the enthusiast to step up to the 4770K or 4670K from a tried and true 2600K or 3770K? Only one way to tell.
Intel Core i7 4770K Closer Look:
The Intel 4th Gen Core i7 4770K is built using a 22nm process housing 1.4 billion Tri Gate 3D transistors that share space on the 177mm2 sized die. While there are several other versions of the 4th Gen Core i7 4770, the 4770K is the enthusiast class SKU featuring unlocked cores that support overclocking via CPU clock multiplier or bclock. Both the CPU core and GPU core can be massaged for higher performance levels. Base specifications for the Core i7 4770K include a base clock speed of 3.5GHz with a Turbo Boost technology 2.0 bump to 3.9GHz in lightly loaded situations. Featuring four cores running eight threads courtesy of Intel's Hyper-Threading technology, the 4770K supports dual channel memory configurations up to 1600MHz.
Featuring an improved 7.5 architecture HD 4600 series integrated graphics core with up to 20 Execution units depending on the processor, you get DX 11.1 support and playback of HD content including Blu-Ray, switchable graphics using Virtu, and Intel Quick Sync technology for improved video decoding and conversion. The clock speeds of the HD 4600 GPU are dynamically controlled at up to 1250MHz and is overclocking enabled. Internally there is 8MB of shared L3 Smart cache.
With a new processor family we are getting a new socket as well. The 4th Gen Core series are designed to fit in a motherboard equipped with an LGA 1150 socket and supporting chipset. As you can see the graphics core takes up a substantial piece of the die real estate providing some indication of its capabilities.
While there are five new chipsets being launched with the Haswell product stack, I will take a quick look at the mainstream enthusiast platform chipset the Z87 codenamed Shark Bay. To start, the CPU supports up to 18 PCIe 3.0 lanes in a 1x16, 2x8, 1x8+2x4 configuration with some lanes feeding the Thunderbolt connection that can be used to support up to three independent HD displays. Dual channel memory support at up to 1600MHz is supported from the processor in two or four DIMM configurations. Connectivity between the processor and Z87 chipset is via a GT/s point-to-point DMI interface as well as a FDI (Flexible Display Interface).
Up to an additional eight PCIe 2.0 lanes, up to 20 USB ports (6 USB 3.0, 14 USB 2.0), all XHCI controlled, are included and should be more than enough for anyone. An Intel Gigabit LAN controller is used, as has been the norm in Intel's own as well as many of the premier motherboard offerings on the market. Intel's management engine firmware supports Intel's Extreme tuning application. Intel's Rapid Storage technologies are supported including RAID, Smart Connect, and Rapid Start. Finally we get to see more than a pair of SATA 6GBps ports supported directly off the PCH from Intel with six available for the end user.
Packaged along with the Fourth Generation Core i7 4770K today is Intel's high performance Extreme series offering using the Z87 chipset, the DZ87KLT-75K. We will be using this board for all of our testing in this article to see just how well it works with the Core i7 4770 K in both stock and overclocked configurations. As time has progressed so have Intel's performance offerings.
Let's take a look at the board before jumping into the performance metrics.