Intel Core i7 4770K Review

ccokeman - 2012-09-26 18:41:26 in CPU's
Category: CPU's
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: June 1, 2013
Price: $339

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.

Intel Core i7 4770K Closer Look:

Intel's DZ87KLT-75K is built around the Intel Z87 chipset and is a full featured motherboard capable of supporting the Intel Fourth Generation Core i7 and i5 series processors using socket 1150. The board appears to be laid out well with the CPU socket and memory modules in their normal spots. Six PWM fan ports are spread around the PCB for fan connectivity. The black and blue theme has been ongoing and looks outstanding with the improved branding on the heat sink package. The back side of the PCB is fairly plain and shows no additional cooling surfaces outside of the PCB itself.













Device connectivity on the I/O panel includes a socket I have not seen on Intel boards in several years, the PS/2 port, and a pair of high current USB 2.0 ports in yellow. Next up is the Back to BIOS button that allows for a speedy recovery if your overclocked settings are a bit too aggressive. Up next is a Firewire port, dual RJ 45 ports for the Intel network controllers, six SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, a single HDMI 1.4a port, the HD audio solution, and a single Thunderbolt port that supports up to three independent displays. Expansion capabilities include three 16x PCIe ports, three PCIe 1x slots, and a single PCI 2.0 slot.



The bottom side of the PCB features added connectivity, from left to right, the front audio connectors, front panel IEE1394, 4-pin fan header, S/PDIF in/out, and diagnostic LEDs that fire up as system components come on line during the POST sequence. Three more USB front panel headers are next (yellow supports higher currents for charging your smartphone or tablet). A pair of Debug LEDs to display post codes for easy diagnostics is next and then the front panel connections follow. Just above the Debug LEDs is the connection point for a PCI Express mini card.



Up the right side of the PCB are the IR input connection, eight SATA 6Gbps ports (six of which come straight from the Z87 PCH and support Intel's Rapid Storage technologies), a USB 3.0 front panel connection point, the 24-pin ATX power connector, onboard start and reset buttons, and a 4-pin fan connection. Behind the power supply connection are the DIMM slots that support up to 32GB of DDR3 memory at speeds of up to 2133MHz OC.



Across the top of the PCB are additional fan headers, phase LEDs that light up as the power phases of the VRM circuit are utilized, the heat sink over the upper section of the VRM circuit, and the 8-pin 12V CPU auxiliary power connection.



There is plenty of room around the socket for larger cooling solutions with the LGA 1150 socket placed dead center. Two more 4-pin fan headers are seen below the socket for the rear and top fan positions. Intel went big on the heat sink package for the DZ87KLT-75K. The large sink on the major section of the VRM is huge and decorated with the Intel Skull emblem as a nice touch. The small sink is located above the socket with both being actively cooled from the CPU cooling solution. As long as you are not using liquid cooling, that is. The heat sink over the PCH is an improvement over the small passive sink on last year's Z77 platform. It sits low enough that it will clear any expansion card but will not catch much airflow due to the SATA ports in front of it.



Overall the board had a good solid feel once I was able to get into the BIOS. I had to start out with a 4GB set of ultra low voltage memory to get a keyboard recognized after POST. Once in the BIOS I had to update to the latest version to get everything running as planned with the memory set using the XMP profile. The Visual BIOS is functional but not nearly as intuitive as offerings from ASUS. As a first try I have seen worse but it takes some getting used to. Now let's see what the 4770K can do and see if it shows improvement over last years highly successful Third Gen 3770K.

Intel Core i7 4770K Specifications:

Processor Number
Intel® Core™ i7-4770K Processor
Test TDP
CPU Base Freq (GHz)
Max Turbo Freq (GHz)
L3 Cache
Intel HD Graphics
Intel Wireless Display
Graphics Max Dynamic Freq
Up to 1250Mhz
Intel Hyper-threading Technology
Intel Advanced Vector Extensions AVX
Intel Quick Sync Video
Intel vPro/TxxT/VT-d/Intel SIPP
Intel AES-NI
PCI Express 3.0


Intel Core i7 4770K Features:


All information courtesy of Intel.

Intel Core i7 4770K Testing:

Testing Intel's Fourth Generation Core i7 4770K processor will involve running it and its comparison products through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which include both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual game play, in which we can see if similarly-prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest chipset drivers for each board and AMD Catalyst drivers for the XFX HD R7970. To ensure as few variables as possible, all hardware will be tested at their stock speeds, timings, voltages, and latencies, unless otherwise stated. Turbo Boost will be disabled on all processors to make a fair comparison without skewing results. After stock speed testing, each processor will then be overclocked as much as possible, while still maintaining full stability.


Testing Setup: Socket 1150


Testing Setup: AMD 


Testing Setup: Intel Socket 2011


Testing Setup: Socket 1155


Comparison CPUs:



Overclocked settings:


Overclocking the Fourth Generation Core i7 processors is a bit of the same but a bit different from past Core series processors, in that you still have bclock and bclock ratio adjustments that are possible and can yield decent gains in clock speed. At a preview event I was able to see the wide range of clock speeds that the Core i7 4770K can deliver. We saw everything from 4.8GHz capable chips with great memory controllers to the bottom of the barrel dregs that were not going to push anything past 4.3GHz. Thankfully the sample I have is on the higher end of the median range and seems to like between 4.6 and 4.7GHz.

As far as overclocking was concerned I was able to use the clock ratio method successfully but could not quite get the bclock method down in a short time frame. Even so I set the overides on the board to the max levels and adjusted the bclock ratio to 47 with an offset voltage of .20mv on the cores and integrated voltage regulator that gave me a stable 4.7GHz.

As we saw with Ivy Bridge when you pack more transistors into a small die you get a heat load that grows quickly in a small space. In that respect you will need better than air cooling to get decent clock speeds out of the Core i7 4770K. Even with the higher than recommended 1.2475v I was able to keep it in the mid to high 80 °C range with some spikes into the 90 °C range under load. For that reason alone I skipped the H100 for my overclocking tests and went to a simple D5/240 Rad setup. Overclocking the GPU was interesting as well with a maximum clock speed on the IGP of 1500MHz or a good 250MHz bump over the baseline dynamically controlled up to 1250MHz maximum. This yielded nice improvements over the stock numbers in 3DMark 11.

BIOS overclocking on this board was a bit challenging but you can use Intel's Xtreme tuning utility from within the OS if the BIOS is a bit harsh for you. It's interesting but not quite as intuitive as others. If overclocking is not on your plate you do see a benefit without even knowing it with Intel's Turbo Boost 2.0 technology that dynamically increases the clock speed when you need it the most to improve performance by bumping the clock speed to 3.9GHz.




Maximum Core Clock Speed:

Each CPU has been tested for stability at the listed over-clocked speeds. These clock speeds will represent the level of performance shown by the over-clocked scores in the testing.




  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. Geekbench 2.1
  4. Bibble 5
  5. Office 2007 Excel Number Crunch
  6. POV-Ray 3.7
  7. ProShow Gold
  8. HandBrake .9.8
  9. Sandra 2012 
  10. AIDA64 2.60
  11. Cinebench 10 & 11.5
  12. HD Tune 4.60
  13. PC Mark 7
  1. Metro 2033
  2. DiRT 3
  3. 3DMark 11

Well we have our lineup and maximum stable overclocks. Time to see what results we get from the Fourth Generation Haswell.

Intel Core i7 4770K Testing:

The first part of our testing will involve system-specific benchmarks.


Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is primarily used to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:



The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to completion.











Lower is Better


WinRAR is a tool that archives and compresses large files to a manageable size. Here, we will test the time needed to compress files of 100 MB and 500 MB. Time will be measured in seconds.




Lower is Better





Lower is Better



Geekbench 2.1 is a benchmark that tests CPU and memory performance in an easy-to-use tool. The measure used for comparison is the total suite average score.


Higher is Better


Bibble 5:

This test consists of converting one hundred 8.2 MP RAW images to JPEG format. The original file size is 837 MB. The measure used for comparison is time needed to convert the file, in seconds.


Lower is Better


Looking through this first set of metrics, the 4th Gen 4770K really only has one weakness in how it handles the RAR algorithims in the WinRAR testing. Outside of that it performs better than last year's Third Gen 3770K in every other metric.

Intel Core i7 4770K Testing:

Office 2007 Excel Big Number Crunch: This test takes a 6.2 MB Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and performs about 28,000 sets of calculations that represent many of the most commonly used calculations in Excel. The measure of this test is the amount of time it takes to refresh the sheet.

















Lower Is Better


POV-Ray 3.7: This program features a built-in benchmark that renders an image using Ray Tracing. The latest versions offer support for SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processing), enabling the workload to be spread across several cores for quicker completion.


Higher Is Better


ProShow Gold: This program is used to take a collection of images and stitch them together in a slide show, using a variety of transitions and effects, to make a compelling show you can share with friends and family. The workload consists of 29 high-resolution images that are stitched into a 3 minute video file.


Lower Is Better


HandBrake .9.8: is an open source application used to transcode multiple video formats to an h.264 output format. The test file size is 128 MB in size and 43 seconds in length.


Lower Is Better


Again we see the 4770K outperforming the 3770K at the same clock speed in every metric. When overclocked the margin remains as they both overclock to the same 4.7GHz speed.

Intel Core i7 4770K Testing:

SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.
















Processor Arithmetic


Multi-Core Efficiency



Memory Bandwidth



Cache and Memory




Power Management Efficiency



AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a software utility designed for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the CPU Queen test that looks for the solution to the "Queens" problem on a 10x10 chessboard. This tests the branch prediction capabilities of the processor. The FPU Mandel test measures double precision floating point performance through the computation of several frames of the "Mandelbrot" fractal.


Higher is Better


For the most part the initial trends continue as far as the 3770K and 4770K are concerned. There are some latency concerns in Sandra with the 4770K.

Intel Core i7 4770K Testing:

Cinebench 10 is useful for testing your system, CPU, and OpenGL capabilities using the software program, CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.























Higher is Better

Cinebench 11.5



Higher is Better


HD Tune measures disk performance to easily make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.





Higher is Better





Lower is Better


PCMark 7 is the latest iteration of Futuremark's popular PCMark system performance tool. This latest version is designed for use on Windows 7 PCs and features a combination of 25 different workloads to accurately measure the performance of all PCs, from laptops to desktops.


Higher is Better


Not a bad picture to paint here with the 4770K versus 3770K comparison where the 4770K is the faster performing part stock and overclocked in all but the drive tests.

Intel Core i7 4770K Testing:

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA PhysX, and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied – in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses, chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.













Comparing the Intel processors across the resolutions there is no real advantage between one or the other while the AMD parts seem to excel here.

Intel Core i7 4770K Testing:

DiRT 3 is the third iteration of this series. Published and developed by Codemasters, this game uses the EGO 2.0 game engine and was released in the US on PC in May of 2011.
















In the Metro testing the Intel chips were at the bottom of the comparison stack, but in DiRT 3 testing we get a different showing.

Intel Core i7 4770K Testing:

3DMark 11 is the next installment in Futuremark’s 3DMark series, with Vantage as its predecessor. The name implies that this benchmark is for Microsoft DirectX 11 and with an unintended coincidence, the name matches the year proceeding its release (which was the naming scheme to some prior versions of 3DMark nonetheless). 3DMark 11 is designed solely for DirectX 11, so Windows Vista or 7 are required along with a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition has unlimited free tests on performance mode, whereas Vantage is only allowed for a single test run. The advanced edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all of the features of the benchmark, while the professional edition runs $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing; one to test for physics handling and one to combine graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics library is used for physics simulation and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still seems to be a popular choice.

With the new benchmark, comes two new demos that can be watched, both based on the tests. Unlike the tests, however, these contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and involves a few vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and presents a location similar to South American tribal ruins with statues and the occasional vehicle around. The demos are simple in that they have no story – they are really just a demonstration of what the testing will be like. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors MSI and Antec on their sides – the sponsorships helping to make the basic edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to test the performance of each card. The presets are used as they are comparable to what can be run with the free version, so that results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.













In this test the 4770K does not fare as well as the 3770K on the graphics part of the test, but is pretty much spot on with it in the physics section.


IGP results:

While the comparison to prior generations of Intel's HD series graphics shows a strong upward trend over the past couple generations, the question is how well does it perform against an IGP from AMD's APU lineup. A quick test through 3DMark 11 shows the results of those tests with the AMD APU still ahead but by a slimmer margin than before.



Image decoding and conversion for use on our portable devices is one of the mainstay usage scenarios that we see day to day as we want movies and more in formats and sizes that do not overload the capabilities of those same portable devices. By using the latest suites of Cyberlink's Media Expresso you take advantage of the tools to reduce your decoding time significantly. For instance in the chart below the difference in time to convert a 981MB file to a format playable on an Apple iPad 2 was reduced from 177 seconds without using Quick Sync technology down to 50 seconds with it. That is time back in the bank for more important things.

Intel Core i7 4770K:

Today's tests were completed with Intel's own DZ87KLT-75K Extreme series motherboard that in its own right is a full featured motherboard capable of giving the end user an excellent user experience. But there are those of us that just want more or better feature sets that work best for our usage scenarios. The aftermarket is full of motherboards that range from low end builder specials all the way up to the king of the hill overclocking and enthusiast platform boards. Like I said Intel has put together a pretty decent package here but that's not the end of the run. In the coming weeks we will be testing a series of Z87-based motherboards that fit the usage patterns of our readers, including some of the top of the line boards on the market. Currently I have boards from ASUS and MSI on the rack and ready to go. Here's a short list of what I will be looking at.


At the upper end of the spectrum I have the ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme and MSI's MPower MAX. Both are targeted purely at the enthusiast and overclocker. Each has a unique feature set that makes them each HALO level boards ready and able to deliver all the performance your hardware is capable of. If you can't get the numbers with these boards, your hardware just can't get there.









The next level down we have to look at is a new offering in ASUS' ROG lineup that brings the ROG feature set down to a more mainstream price point. On the other hand we have the MSI Z87-GD65 that puts its feet firmly in that space as well, with a strong gaming feature set. It will be interesting to see how these two compare.



The last pair I have to look at, and these are in no certain order, are the MSI Z87-G45 from MSI's gaming lineup that brings the feature set down another level. ASUS' P8Z87 is part of its standard lineup and comes with an attractive feature set to go along with the standard ASUS styling. It has taken a new direction as far as coloring goes with some that love it and some that hate it. Where do you fall?



Time to put this all together and see what the 4770K is all about.

Intel Core i7 4770K Conclusion:

After running the 4th Gen Core i7 4770K through its paces, I found that it is a strong successor to the mainstream crown that was held by the 3rd Gen Core i7 3770K. Priced at $339 and sure to drop the price point between the two processors is negligible at best based on current e-tail pricing. In the vast majority of tests run, the Core i7 4770K was quicker through the tests than the 3770K. Comparing the results in the gaming tests, though prove it is pretty much an even playing field between the pair as the video card itself is the limiting factor by design.

Combining the Core i7 4770K with the latest Z87 chipset-based motherboard from Intel with its full featured Z87KLT-75K or the aftermarket partners is sure to get the end user the feature set they are looking for in terms of price and features. The Z87KLT-75K proved to be a solid board once I was able to get into the BIOS. I found the initial issue was with the system memory I use in my test systems. Albeit this memory is rated higher than the 4770K officially supports, I was able to get it using a set of low voltage memory so that I could set up the parameters manually, then flashing the BIOS and installing my test system 2133MHz rated memory that ran flawlessly afterwords, showing the memory controller is capable of running out of specification.

Working through the visual BIOS was not as easy as on last year's D77 board, but once you work your way around and know how and where to navigate it was not that bad. What you will see new to the game, though is that Intel has finally provided more than a pair of native SATA 6Gbps ports for the consumer with at least six. You get more USB 3.0 ports, HD 4K monitor support, three independent displays via Thunderbolt, new AES encryption instruction sets, AVX, WiDi, and continued support for Intel's Rapid Storage Technologies with the new chipsets.

After taking an initial look at a press-only event a few weeks back, I was hopeful that there were just some really bad early samples out and that the Core i7 4770K would overclock at least as well as the three Core i7 3770Ks I have. Truth be told it was right on par with my ES 3770K and a little behind the two retail samples at 4.7GHz. All in all not bad, as that is a 1.2GHz bump over the base clock speed. By pushing this far, heat is going to be an issue even with water cooling, so the recommendation was to try and stay under or around 1.25v, and no more than 1.275 as the thermal load contained in the small confines of the die just cannot be shed fast enough to keep from warming up regardless of the cooling used.

That being said the final overlock of 4.7GHz was reached strictly by using the clock ratio multiplier instead of using the bclock method, which I was unable to stabilize. Overclocking the HD 4600 IGP was just as easy as last year's HD 4000. Set the number, tweak the voltage, apply the settings, and play. Overclocking the HD 4600 GPU provides measurable improvements to gaming performance and can further reduce the time to complete activities using Quick Sync technology.

After all the testing is done, you have to decide is this the one I have been waiting for. It really depends on where you are on your upgrade cycle. If you have to have the latest and greatest, even though you have hardware less than six months old, you will see a benefit but a reduced benefit than someone moving up from, say, a Sandy Bridge platform or even earlier, where, for the price, moving to a Haswell-based system makes better sense from a cost/performance standpoint. Overall I have to say I am impressed with this bit of silicon from Intel; it's quick, it performs, and is priced just right.