Intel Core i7-6700: Skylake i7 at 65W

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Value Analysis

When considering the cost of a system, the CPU is only part of the equation as the price of motherboards and RAM must be added to find the true platform price. In the chart above, we included the prices of the chips compared today (that are still widely available and not obsolete due to EOL), 8GB of RAM (DDR4 for Skylake as it's more commonly supported), and an average compatible motherboard from Newegg that fulfill this basic barebones set of criteria:

  • Retail models
  • In stock
  • Not extravagantly priced (most expensive models omitted)
  • Major name brand (ASRock, Asus, Intel, Gigabyte, MSI)
  • SATA 6 Gbps support in some form
  • USB 3.0 support in some form

Since our last CPU review, Skylake prices have gone up while the average LGA1151 motherboard price has lowered as more entry level models have hit the market. Expect to pay somewhere around US$517 for the primary components of a i7-6700 desktop build with DDR4 and US$45 more for the "K" version. The i7-5775C remains a high cost alternative as it's still difficult to procure and can only run on newer 9-series boards with an updated BIOS. Also note that the i7-4770K is currently overpriced and has been superseded by the higher clocked i7-4790K which offers much higher clock speeds for less money.

To calculate performance per dollar, we divided the relative performance scores by the platform costs and re-scaled it, again with the i7-6700 as our reference point. We don't have test data on the i7-4790K, but it's significant enough to place on the chart by approximating its performance.

According to this metric, the i7-6700 offers more value than the i7-6700K but the difference is just 1.5%.

FINAL THOUGHTS

While the Core i7-6700's specified TDP is 71% that of the i7-6700K, our sample failed to deliver substantial power savings. The vanilla model is undoubtedly more efficient but not by a significant margin. If you're leaning toward the non-K variant because of its seemingly lower power requirements, perhaps for a small/quiet build, the difference is too minor to weigh into the decision. The same can be said if you're considering the "K" version for its higher clock speeds; the level of performance increase is slight. However, the"K" model does allow for overclocking, both through multiplier and base clock frequency (BCLK) adjustment. For Skylake, the BCLK can be increased without affecting other subsystems (PCI-E, SATA) like in the good old days of the Pentium 4 and Core 2 series, but unfortunately this option seems to be crippled on non-K chips. Our i7-6700 sample topped out at 102 MHz, a measily 2% overclock; anything higher resulted in a BIOS/boot failure.

Though we don't have any numbers for the Core i5 models, if previous generations are any indication, they offer a much better value, as do the older Haswell-E parts due to lower motherboard and memory costs. Some LGA1150 boards are even equipped with combinations of the latest features (USB 3.1, M.2, and SATA Express) commonly found on the new boards but they are offered in fewer quantities. They also more frequently share resources with one another and the PCI-E x16 slots as series-9 chipsets have fewer PCI-E lanes, making it difficult to uses these advancements simultaneously. This is an even bigger problem if you opt to run multiple graphics cards, in which case, Skylake's additional PCI-E lanes can become vital. As with most new CPU architectures, the most demanding users have better reasons/excuses to upgrade than the rest of us.

Our thanks to Intel for the Intel Core i7-6700 processor sample.


The Intel Core i7-6700 is recommended by SPCR

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Articles of Related Interest
Skylake Memory Scaling with Kingston Predator DDR4-3000
Asus Skylake Z170 Motherboards: Maximus VIII Gene vs. Z170-A
Intel Core i7-5775C: Broadwell for Desktops
Skylake: Intel Core i7-6700K
AMD Kabini: Athlon 5350 Desktop SoC
AMD A8-7600 Kaveri APU

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Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.



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