Intel Core i7-4770K Haswell Processor

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CPU Performance Analysis

We arrived at our overall performance figures by giving each CPU a proportional score in each real world benchmark with each test having an equal weighting. The scale has been adjusted so that the Core i7-4770K is the reference point with a score of 100.

With a mix of both tremendous single and multi-threaded performance, the Core i7-4770K delivers an 8% bump over the 3770K, enough to leapfrog the extravagant i7-3960X. Sandy Bridge Extreme is better suited for a heavy, professional workload.

Dividing the overall performance by the platform street cost (CPU plus an average priced motherboard) gives us the performance per dollar, re-weighted with the Core i7-4770K at 100 points.

Unfortunately, the i7-4770K's modest performance improvement over the previous generation is offset by price. Like most new technologies, the cost to early adopters is somewhat prohibitive. The i7-4770K combined with an average priced LGA1150 is about US$500, US$60 more than an LGA1155 combination with the i7-3770K, and US$160 more than one with the popular i5-2500K, making both better values. We've seen AMD's Bulldozer parts lose to Intel in almost every category but we can't deny the competitiveness of their pricing.

To determine performance per watt, we divided the overall performance score by the average power consumption calculated earlier and again re-scaled with the Core i7-4770K as our reference.

Intel continues their energy efficiency dominance with the i7-4770K. The Haswell takes this category with ease, outpacing the already power thrifty Ivy Bridge by a hefty margin.

FINAL THOUGHTS

With the high-end CPU race firmly in their pocket, Intel didn't need to light the world aflame with a significantly faster processor. Breathing room is a luxury few technology companies can claim and its given Intel time to improve their products with what can be considered secondary features, rather than focusing on maximizing CPU performance above all things. Indeed, Haswell provides only a modest performance bump over Ivy Bridge just as Ivy Bridge had over Sandy Bridge. It has become like inflation, this gradual speed boost is inevitable and expected.

Intel's integrated graphics has received another kick in the pants, with gaming performance substantial enough to compete with some of AMD's lower-end Trinity APUs. It's still nowhere close to the point where gamers are forsaking their discrete graphics cards but we're well past the days when a game would be completely unplayable running integrated graphics. HD 4600 graphics shines best at low resolutions like 1366x768, which is common in the consumer laptop market, but if you're hoping for smooth play at at higher resolutions, you'll need to stick with less demanding titles. Support for the attached Quick Sync transcoding engine is also starting to expand, though not fast enough for our liking. The addition of HandBrake, a free, open source encoding application, to its ranks makes the feature is more accessible but it still works best on the limited selection of "properly" supported commercial software, e.g. MediaEspresso.

Wrapping it all up is a reduction in power consumption across the board, the most significant since Sandy Bridge. For the past few years, Intel has outcompeted AMD in energy efficiency by a sizable margin and yet they managed to get more work done with fewer watts once again. It's especially impressive considering the architecture of Haswell isn't all that different from Ivy Bridge. A bit of fine tuning and they managed to squeeze blood out of a stone it would seem. An additional drop can be wrung out if you happen to have a Haswell-certified power supply but it's hardly worth the effort.

In the end there's a whole lot to like about Haswell and not a lot to complain about. AMD's A8 and A10 APUs are a budget alternative if you're looking for similar energy efficiency but the CPU performance isn't there. Similarly, an FX series Bulldozer chip will get you closer speed-wise (though it falls short) but then you sacrifice energy efficiency and integrated graphics. Haswell gives you everything in one complete package. The only point of contention is cost. The price difference between Haswell and Ivy Bridge CPUs isn't substantial but if you add in the premium Series 8 motherboards are currently carrying, it's enough to make many prospective buyers looking for a new system stop and think. For those currently running a Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge chip there is no killer feature or improvement that justifies a Haswell upgrade.

Our thanks to Intel for the Core i7-4770K and Intel DZ87KLT-75K samples used in this review.

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Articles of Related Interest
AMD FX-8350 CPU: Piledriver Arrives
AMD A10-5700 APU: Trinity at 65W
AMD Trinity: A10-5800K & A8-5600K 2nd Gen APUs
Intel Core i7-3770 Ivy Bridge CPU
Intel Sandy Bridge Extreme: Core i7-3960X LGA2011 Processor
AMD FX-8150 8-Core Bulldozer Processor

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