Such is the relentless pace of development at Intel that today sees the release of their Haswell range of CPUs, the Fourth Generation, on a brand new LGA-1150 socket. This is at a time when the i5-2500K is still capable of powering some quick systems, and the i7-3770K seems to have only just arrived.
Since the launch of the LGA-1155 motherboard with the Sandy Bridge CPUs the world of technology has undergone quite a change. Tablets, touchscreens and even dual-purpose laptops that can be either a laptop or a tablet have exploded all over the marketplace, requiring ever more energy efficient processors to allow a giant screen to be run from a battery without compromising the march towards ever thinner hardware that the public demands.
Although we're looking at the top-line Core i7-4770K today, the main thrust of the architecture is the same across the whole range of 4th Gen Intel processors. That is the combination of a powerful CPU we've all come to expect, ever improving integrated graphics processor (here the HD4600), some improved instruction sets to speed up the media and encryption functions we're all so reliant upon and all of it wrapped up in a package that consumes far less energy than its predecessors.
As you can see there is a lot of improvements in the i7-4770K when compared to the i7-3770K. It's still a Quad-Core hyperthreaded CPU with fully unlocked overclocking capabilities. Should those not be enough to sate your desire for an ever smoother experience, the inclusion of various Intel trickery to speed up the processing of our media should ensure the latest Intel range ticks all the right boxes.
Such is the breadth of applications that Intel cover, mobile, energy efficient, full-on Desktop etc, that even the i7-4770 has an array of variants. The 4765T runs at an incredible 35W, but topping out at only 3GHz we think that if you're really looking for a processor to be quick without making the electricity companies rich and the planet warm, then the 45W TDP i7-4770T should be the best balance.
But, of course, we're starting off with the range-topping i7-4770K. With a turbo up to 3.9GHz, hyperthreading, HD4600 graphics and all the latest Intel instruction sets, it should be fun to see how it compares to, and hopefully improves upon, the i7-3770K.
Of course a new socket requires a new motherboard, and the Z87 Chipset has a few important benefits over the Z77, most notably the increase to 6 xHCI USB 3.0 ports and 6 SATA6Gbp/s ports.
Finally, before we get onto the actual testing, we often hear people saying about how well their old arrangement performs and not understanding the benefits that the latest architecture can bring. So for those, here is a direct comparison of dual-core CPUs. Remember when the E8400 was the CPU of choice for the enthusiast?
Intel Core i7-4770K
Intel DZ87KLT-75K Motherboard
Club3D HD7970 Royal Ace
Corsair Vengeance Pro 2400MHz
Corsair Neutron GTX
Windows 7 x64
During our testing we used the new Corsair Vengeance Pro 2400MHz 16GB Kits.
The main range that the i7-4770K is replacing is the LGA1155 and so we'll be comparing the i7-4770K to the i7-3770K. Utilising identical bench rigs, and running solely at stock, this will allow us to get a feel for the performance of the processor before we throw it into some third-party motherboards and overclock it.
The main difference to be seen from GPUz is the increase in both the amount of instructions and the increase from a stock of turbo of 3.7GHz on the i7-3770K to a stock turbo of 3.9GHz on the 4th Generation CPU.
With a test so reliant upon clock speed rather than taking advantage of all the bells and whistles, it's not a great surprise to see that the i7-4770K is a bit better than its brethren, but not stunningly so. However, the new AES tricks definitely have a benefit far greater than the mere 200MHz clock speed difference would bring.
Memory is a lot better on the 4th Generation CPU, despite using the exact same kit at the same 1333MHz speed on both systems. We've added the i7-3930K to the graph just to further demonstrate that the X79 Quad-Channel idea ended up with no real performance benefits.
PC Mark has always included a lot of media transcoding tests to give a good indication of performance in the type of tasks that are commonly used.
In both PC Mark 7 and PC Mark Vantage the performance increase between the 3rd and 4th Generation Intel CPUs is nothing short of staggering. So often we see companies proclaiming a benefit from their new instruction set that just doesn't materialise in real-world testing, that an improvement actually occurring is enough to make us sit up and take note. It's not just a clock speed thing either, as the computation scores are very close.
PC Mark Vantage
PC Mark 7
In keeping with the theme so far, the combination of Z87 and i7-4770K has a nice improvement over the Z77/i7-3770K arrangement.
CineBench R11.5 certainly shows a boost in performance. 7.5 to 8 might not seem much until you remember that's a 7% improvement for an otherwise identical setup.
SiSoft Sandra beautifully demonstrates the areas in which the i7-4770K has been refined. The Processor Arithmetic and Cache and Memory Bandwidth tests follow the path of clock speed that we'd guess you'll see from a small improvement in turbo speed. However, the Processor MultiMedia test is an unstoppable behemoth in comparison to the i7-3770K. Stunning.
In pure calculation terms the i7-4770K is about where you'd expect. 6 tenths in the 32M test and 6 seconds in the 1024M place test.
Considering that the 3930K is a Hexcore the fact that it obtains a near identical (so nearly identical we checked it four times) score to the i7-4770K is a feather in the cap of the 4th Generation Intel CPU.
As we'd expect with such a graphically intensive test, the CPU can make much less of a difference, and both Unigine Heaven and Valley benchmarks just shade towards the i7-4770K, albeit by the odd frame.
Unigine Heaven 4.0
3D Mark Vantage
Well here is a turn-up for the books. We were expecting our 3D results to be nearly identical, yet the i7-4770K takes a monumental lead in 3D Mark Vantage. It's not at all close, even when compared to the heavily overclocked i7-3770K.
3D Mark 11
Despite being a more robust test the i7-4770K continues its good work at the top of our graph, continuing to out-perform the overclocked i7-3770K.
Because 3D Mark is so new we've only got a set of overclocked 3930K results to compare against, but that is hardly the point. If anything, knowing the comparable result is as insane as you could hope to find, a 4.6GHz hexcore, that any result the i7-4770K manages will be good, and one so close is staggeringly impressive.
Energy efficiency is the key element of the new 4th Generation Intels, and it certainly performs well, especially under loading. With just the CPU the power draw is similar, but a 60W reduction with the whole system loaded is a big saving.
At stock there isn't much between them as they're both based on a 22nm process. However, 3°C could make all the difference with our overclocking.
We know you're all gagging to know how well the Core i7-4770K overclocks, so we'll be brief with our initial thoughts about the processor itself.
Our benchmark results can be split into two distinct parts.
On the one hand we have strictly computational, clock speed relative results such as wPrime which give the i7-4770K a slender lead over its i7-3770K forebear. But you're not really here for minor improvements in unlikely scenarios.
The part that really stands out as the biggest leap forward with Haswell isn't any massive performance increase, its efficiency. Sure clock for clock the 4770K is quicker than a 3770K the remarkable thing however is the how low the power usage is. To put things into context at idle its using 50% less power than our Sandy Bridge i3 home server set up! Yes that's a low power i3 yet the 4 core 8 thread i7 uses LESS power. It only uses a little more power at maximum CPU load than the i3 does at stock! Now you would assume this low power use would mean crazy low temperatures. Sadly its quite the opposite and the old Ivy bridge thermal limit issues seem to have been made significantly worse.Anyways lets look into some of the performance results.
The i7-4770K is a stunning piece of kit. Look at the Sandra MultiMedia test, or the 3D Mark results or, and by far the most impressive, the PC Mark results. These are stunning and really demonstrate the amazing level of 'under the hood' improvements that Intel have given. The "Intel Quick Sync" technology is part of the reason that the PC Mark results are so good. After all, media encoding is a large part of the PC Mark suite and thanks to the prevalence of smart-phones and Hero 3 cameras in our lives, we're all encoding media at an alarming rate.
Most impressively for the gaming types was the improvement that we saw in 3D Mark. Yes we know 3D Mark isn't representative of gaming performance, but can be used as a general rule of thumb, and it certainly is a vast improvement upon the scores that we saw with the i7-3770K even though they're both at stock and running the same drivers.
Couple that to the additional USB and SATA ports available on the Z87 chipset, and the whole package is exactly what we've come to expect from Intel. All the ease of use and general ideology that we're comfortable with, but faster, neater, tighter and better. To borrow the title of a 4 Non Blondes album, it's Bigger, Better, Faster, More. Which is perfect for us. Any prospective Haswell owners are going to have to make wise choices with cooling time around but we hope with time these temps will be tamed and the performance figures coupled with the low power use are worth our gold award alone, we will just have to see how the heat sink manufacturers react to the heat these chips are capable of creating.
Thanks to Intel for supplying the i7-4770K. Discuss your thoughts in the OC3D forums.