The New Champion

Given that Intel has no competition, it is perhaps easy to roll out a new mainstream performance champion – all they have to do is have more stringent binning techniques (like perhaps AMD with the FX-9000 series) and a few processors with a higher frequency could pop-out. The danger here is that Intel always sells a lot of its top performer – millions. If you have to dump 100 processors to find one that fits the mold of the top SKU, you either have to charge lots for it or reduce the rules.  The only way to get that mix of yield and viability is by improving how the CPU is made. This is what the ‘optimization’ in Kaby Lake is for.

The Core i7-7700K sits at the top of the stack, and performs like it. A number of enthusiasts complained when they launched the Skylake Core i7-6700K with a 4.0/4.2 GHz rating, as this was below the 4.0/4.4 GHz rating of the older Core i7-4790K. At this level, 200-400 MHz has been roughly the difference of a generational IPC upgrade, so users ended up with similar performing chips and the difference was more in the overclocking. However, given the Core i7-7700K comes out of the box with a 4.2/4.5 GHz arrangement, and support for Speed Shift v2, it handily mops the floor with the Devil’s Canyon part, resigning it to history.

In most of our benchmarks, the results are clear: a stock Core i7-7700K beat our overclocked Core i7-4790K in practically every CPU-based test (Our GPU tests showed little change). When overclocked, the i7-7700K just pushed out a bigger lead for only a few more watts. Technically one could argue that because this part and the i7-6700K are equal in IPC, a similar overclock with the i7-6700K achieves the same performance. But the crucial matter here is how lucky a user is with the silicon lottery – based on our testing, the Core i7-7700K CPUs tend to overclock rather nicely (although +300 MHz isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things).

As with previous high-end mainstream (if that sounds like an oxymoron, it is) Core i7 parts, Intel has put a list price of $303 on 1k tray units, which means that at retail we should see it nearer $330 to $350. As far as we can tell, this won’t get a stock cooler, and anyway we’d recommend something else anyway given the recent performance of Intel stock coolers. We can hope that we won’t see the blatant price gouging we saw when the Skylake parts were launched, where it took several months to bring the prices down to MSRP due to stock allocations.

The Core i7-7700K should be available from January 5th in most major markets.
It’s the new mainstream performance king, if CPU performance is your thing.

As part of our Kaby Lake coverage, we have some other awesome reviews to check out.

Intel Launches 7th Generation Kaby Lake (Overview and Core Improvements)
The Intel Core i7-7700K Review: The New Out-of-the-box Performance Champion
The Intel Core i5-7600K Review: The More Amenable Mainstream Performer
The Intel Core i3-7350K Review: When a Core i3 Nearly Matches the Core i7-2600K

Upcoming (we’re at CES and didn’t have time to finish these yet):

Calculating Generational IPC Changes from Sandy Bridge to Kaby Lake
Intel Core i7-7700K, i5-7600K and i3-7350K Overclocking: Hitting 5.0 GHz on AIR
Intel Launches 200-Series Chipset Breakdown: Z270, H270, B250, Q250, C232
Intel Z270 Motherboard Preview: A Quick Look at 80+ Motherboards

Power and Overclocking
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  • Jason335 - Saturday, January 07, 2017 - link

    I'm really looking forward to this: "Calculating Generational IPC Changes from Sandy Bridge to Kaby Lake". I'm still running an i5-2500k clocked to 4.3ghz. I'd like to know what performance I'm leaving on the table, in addition to new tech like USB3.1, PCIe3.0, NVME, etc etc etc. Reply
  • cheshirster - Sunday, January 08, 2017 - link

    Windows 7 and old games.
    These tests start to look outdated.
    Reply
  • HerrKaLeun - Sunday, January 08, 2017 - link

    to all the people whining about the relatively small increase in performance: this is expected with an interim upgrade. Intel never promised more. Intel (or AMD) doesn't owe you anything. If you think you can make better CPUs and upgrade faster, just make them. no one stops you from creating a startup and make your own CPUs :-)
    no one in his or her right mind would buy the same CPU (i.e. going from 6700 to 7700) and expect a huge increase. This has been a known fact for years that upgrading is worthwhile after a few years.

    I just installed an i7 7700K in my rig (it replaces an i36600) and the bump is huge. At given handbrake settings I now can encode 3 instances of videos and each video takes 2-3 hours while with the i3 a single instance took 12-16 hours (i use slowest speeds to get the smallest and best video file and quality). To me the upgrade was worth the money (obviously going from i3 to i7 is noticeable when using multi-threaded apps).

    I was contemplating of getting the i5K for $100 less, but decided more threads, more cache and more clock is great.

    BTW, even when using all cores clock is at 4.33 GHz consistently, not the 4.2 GHz i though if it uses all cores. It jumps to 4.37 every once a while while working on the 3 Handbrake instances. Most reviews measure single apps, but in real life you use the PC while it works. Just using browser, watching web videos etc. adds more load that is not reflected in benchmarks. the added power really is good. With the i3 chrome or my game sometimes took 20-30% of my CPU, which slowed Handbrake noticeably down. Now those apps use not more than 5% if at all. So in real life the HT seems to help more.

    this review was great, like most of Anand's. Ian does a really great job. To all the people complaining about the article:
    - it was free to read
    - no one forced you to read it
    - you could apply to become a writer and write better articles. but soemhow it seems easier to just complain....
    Reply
  • HerrKaLeun - Sunday, January 08, 2017 - link

    this needs an edit function: I do not OC (only have an H170 board). above clock speed is out of the box. Reply
  • coachingjoy - Monday, January 09, 2017 - link

    Thanks for the work.
    Helps with buying decisions.
    Reply
  • ewags - Friday, January 13, 2017 - link

    Great review, I will need to see if I can get my CPU over 5.2ghz Stable with a few tweaks that you did. Reply
  • Infkos - Saturday, January 14, 2017 - link

    no one talks about temps problems with 7700K, only works on water cooling Reply
  • fanofanand - Thursday, January 26, 2017 - link

    'only works on water cooling"

    GTFO troll.
    Reply
  • theVatansever - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    I think i'm the lucky one,,,without AVX offset, i'm perfectly stable at 4 cores @5000mhz @1,34V ....1.5hrs of prime95 torture test without any issue, max temp seen is 81C with liquid cooler.(average temps are around 72C) Reply
  • hapkiman - Saturday, January 21, 2017 - link

    After an opportunity dropped in my lap to get this processor for next to nothing, I got it and installed it on an MSI Z170A mobo (after a BIOS update). I'm very impressed. This is a nice processor, and an outstanding overclocker. Without even touching the voltage, I went to 4.8GHz without a sweat. With tasking and voltage adjustment, I see 5GHz is attainable. Maybe this is the new Sandy Bridge? My 6700k could not even maintain a stable 4.7GHz. Reply

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