Intel Core i7-4770K Haswell Processor

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Chipset & Motherboard

Z87 chipset block diagram.

There are five chipsets for this new platform, B85, H87, Q85, Q87, and Z87. They are all, in most respects, the equivalent of the 7 series with a few minor updates. Legacy PCI support has been removed (a bridge chip can be used to add PCI functionality), the digital display interconnects are now handled by the processor, most importantly, they've upped the number of native USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gbps ports.

To test the Core i7-4770K, Intel has provided us with a enthusiast class motherboard, the Intel DZ87KLT-75K, featuring three PCI-E 16x slots, eight SATA 6 Gbps ports (two via a Marvell controller), FireWire, a pair of Intel gigabit ethernet controllers, and even a Thunderbolt port. The board uses an 8-phase VRM design cooled by a pair of stylish heatsinks. We don't have any pricing information on this model but by the feature-set, we'd guess it's well over US$200. (Editor's Note: Newegg and MWave both have it listed for $286.)

Of course you don't need a pricey motherboard to use a Haswell chip, with B85 chipset boards for sale near US$70. If you plan on using the integrated graphics features with a discrete video card you will need a Z87 model however, which start at about US$110.

The back panel only has one display output, an HDMI port, however the small Thunderbolt connector at the far end can double as a DisplayPort using an adapter. There are plenty of USB 3.0 ports, a pair of RJ45 jacks, and Intel's Back-to-BIOS button which is used for for recovering from unbootable UEFI/BIOS settings.

The decorative blue shields capping the heatsinks limit their cooling ability but as some of the power regulation circuitry has been moved onto the processor, they shouldn't be taxed much. The mounting holes around the socket are no different than LGA1155/1156 so enthusiasts don't have to worry about finding a new cooler or an updated mounting kit.

When considering the cost of a system, the CPU is only part of the equation as the price of motherboards varies greatly from platform to platform. In the chart above, we added the current street price of the chips compared today to those of an average compatible motherboard from Newegg. The following criteria were used for the motherboards: retail versions, Asus/Intel/Gigabyte/MSI branded, microATX/ATX form factor, SATA 6 Gbps and USB 3.0 controllers, and (outrageously priced models were omitted.

The average motherboard price turned out to be US$266 for LGA2011, US$150 for LGA1150, US$119 for LGA1155, and US$104 for AM3+. Note: the Phenom II X6 1100T was omitted as it has been discontinued.

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