Intel Core i7-7700K “Kaby Lake” Processor Review

Final Thoughts
So this is what the three year cadence now looks like. Us being in the 3rd year we are on the optimization phase. That means with Kaby Lake we are on the same 14nm node that started with Broadwell and on the same architecture as Skylake. What we do get is a slight performance boost because of the increased clock speeds. These higher clock speeds are of course made possible by the refined 14nm+ manufacturing process. So at the same TDP you are able to achieve higher stock clock speeds, this also means better overclocking. But if you tested the Core i7-7700K against the Core i7-6700K at the same clock speeds you wouldn’t see a real difference is performance. Which is sort of disappointing, but currently there really is not any competition from AMD on the desktop side. So Intel does not have to rush to the next node to compete with AMD.

Talking about overclocking this chip does much better than the Core i7-6700K. With Skylake we were only able to get up to 4.7 GHz, but with Kaby Lake we are able to reach 5.0 GHz pretty easily. All I really had to do was raise the multiplier and adjust my VCore voltage to 1.4V. At this point I reached my thermal limit, I believe I could have went higher, but no one wants to fry a brand new processor! 5.0GHz was completely stable and during heavy load the temperature was around 79C, that is with the Thermaltake Water 3.0 280mm AiO water cooler. I do think you could do 5.0 GHz on air, but it would have to be one hefty cooler, a high-end Noctua or Scythe cooler would do the job. For those with more simple coolers or who do not want that high of a CPU temperature during load, running at 4.8 GHz would be fine to run 24/7.

Besides the slight performance boost garnered by the refined process there are two other things that really stand out about Kaby Lake. First you have support for Optane memory, which is potentially 1000x faster with 1000x the endurance levels and 10 times the capacity of DRAM within the same surface area. The likely first scenario we will see with Optane will be a M.2 Optane SSD (16GB or 32GB) teamed with a traditional hard drive where the Optane drive acts as a cache. Sadly we will not know when the first Intel Optane products and implementations will hit the market. As of right now there is nothing. Secondly Kaby Lake does have the ability to decode Google’s VP9 codec as well as encoding / decoding of 4K HEVC 10-bit. This means that you’ll be able to stream 4K video content to your PC from providers like Netflix.

So if you are an enthusiast there is not a whole lot to get excited about. If anything you are more excited about the new Z270 motherboards coming out this week. Don’t get me wrong the Core i7-7700K is now the bad boy of the mainstream desktop line before going into the high-end desktop (HEDT) line of processors and if you are building a new system it is totally what I would recommend. But if you are on Skylake or even Haswell there is not a big reason to upgrade.

And that leaves us with the elephant in the room which is AMD and Ryzen. From what we’ve seen and heard AMD’s Ryzen processor seems very promising and could really shake up the CPU market. I know hardcore Intel fans that say they are waiting to upgrade to see how Ryzen performs once it is released. I think with Ryzen on the horizon (I really didn’t try and rhyme there!) it will hold off many people from upgrading right now at the release of Kaby Lake.

If you do have an older PC and are looking to upgrade the Intel Core i7-7700K Kaby Lake processor is a very solid choice and as you’ll see this week there are some pretty awesome Z270 motherboards to pair with it. It is the fastest mainstream processor from Intel and you get Optane support as well as the ability to stream 4K content. Intel plans to release the Core i7-7700K with a MSRP of $339.00.

Pros:
– Higher stock clocks than the Core i7-6700 at same TDP
– Better overclocking headroom
– Intel Optane support
– VP9 decoding and 4K HEVC 10-bit encode/decode
– Lots of Z270 motherboard choices

Cons:
– Only a slight performance boost because of increased clocks

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