Intel Core i7 7700K CPU Review

Posted by Heath Coop on Saturday, January 7, 2017 - 8:00am

Intel Core i7 7700K Kaby Lake

Introduction

On August 30, 2016 Intel announced its next generation processor, Kaby Lake. They also announced that Kaby Lake would continue to use their 14 nanometer process that had been used with the two previous generations, Skylake and Broadwell. It had been highly anticipated the 10 nanometer Cannonlake would be the successor to Skylake, so it raised a few eyebrows and even more questions, as this broke with Intel long standing “tick-toc” manufacturing and design model. Instead Kaby Lake would represent a further optimization on Skylake’s architecture. Indeed, Intel has replaced the “tick-tock” with a "process-architecture-optimization" model.

Kaby Lake doesn’t differ much from Skylake. On the surface, the launch seems to be more alike to Intel’s Devils Canyon/Haswell refresh launch. However, unlike Devils Canyon/Haswell Refresh, Kaby Lake actually has some process improvements. Kaby Lake is built on an improved 14 nm process that Intel calls 14FF+. It allows faster CPU clock speeds and higher Turbo frequencies, without using or in some cases, using less power than before.

For the most part, little of the CPU architecture has changed from Skylake. There is added support for 2400 MHz DDR4 memory; up from 2133 MHz. Intel has also added HD 630 graphics, which is an updated version of the previous HD 530 graphics. Interestingly, Kaby Lake lacks official driver support for versions of Windows older than Windows 10.

Like Skylake, Kaby Lake also uses socket 1151 motherboards. Previous generation 100-series motherboards will support Kaby Lake via a simple BIOS update. While the 200-series chipsets do offer improvements, like Intel Optane memory support, there really isn’t much else new there either.

It does look like the faster CPU clock speeds and higher Turbo frequencies are the most interesting feature of Kaby Lake. The Core i7-7700K we’ll be reviewing here features a base frequency of 4.2 GHz with a turbo frequency up to 4.5 GHz. That’s a 200 Mhz base and 300 Mhz turbo step up over the previous Core i7-6700K. Like all previous K series Core processors, it also features an unlocked multiplier, allowing the user the ability to overclock it. It looks like we’ll get a good chance to explore those additional Mhz and hopefully some extra overclocking headroom as well.

Intel's take on the 7th Generation Core processors

Intel Takes Computing to the Next Level with 7th Gen Intel® Core™ Processor Family and Intel® Xeon® Processors for Mobile Workstations

The 7th Gen Intel® Core™ processor family is based on Intel’s latest, most advanced 14nm+ process technology and delivers new levels of performance and security. These processors –along with their compatible chipsets –open up a world of rich and immersive experiences for consumers, enterprises, and performance-hungry gaming and media enthusiasts. Simplicity and convenience combine with increased battery life and I/O support to boost users’ productivity and unleash their creativity. With a range of smart, stylish designs and sizes, there is a 7th Gen Intel Core processor-powered computer to fit every life and workstyle.

The 7th Gen Intel Core processor family provides something for everyone with an array of form factors to choose from, including: compute sticks, ultra-thin 2 in 1 detachables and convertibles, thin and light laptops, high-performance laptops, a range of desktops, All-in-Ones and minis, and Intel® Xeon® processor-based mobile workstations.

Lineup and Availability:

The new 7th Gen Intel Core processor and Intel Xeon processor family includes new processors for a range of systems and needs

  • 4.5W Intel® Core™ vPro™ processors (Y-series) for 2 in 1 detachables
  • 15W Intel Core vPro, 15W and 28W Intel Core processors (U-series) for 2 in 1 convertibles and thin and light clamshells including SKUs with Intel® Iris™ Plus graphics
  • 45W Intel Core vPro processors (H-series) for large-screen clamshells and premium notebooks
  • 45W Intel Core mobile processor (H-series), unlocked2 SKUs for enthusiast and VR-capable notebooks
  • 45W Intel Xeon processors for mobile workstations
  • 65W Intel Core and Intel Core vPro processors (S-series) for mainstream towers
  • 65W and 35W Intel Core and Intel Core vPro processors (S-series) for All-in-Ones and minis
  • 95W and 65W Intel Core processors (S-series) for enthusiast towers, including unlocked2 SKUs

New Chipsets for 7th Gen Intel Core Processor Family and New Intel Xeon Processors for Mobile Workstations

In addition to processors, Intel also is introducing five new chipsets for the desktop that tailor this incredibly responsive, immersive experience to a range of form factors and user needs. The Intel 200 series of chipsets offers 15 percent more I/O lanes3 with port flexibility for a range of designs and are Intel Optane Memory ready.

  • Intel® Q270 and Q250 chipsets enhance manageability and security
  • Intel® Z270 chipset for tuning capabilities with unlocked2Intel Core processors
  • Intel® H270 chipset for improving visual display and performance for media creation
  • Intel® B250 chipset to enable performance, manageability and security features useful for small and medium-sized businesses

Up next, the specifications and a closer look.

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