The Intel Core i7-4770K is an interesting processor to review from a performance standpoint. When it comes to raw CPU performance it appears that “Haswell” brings a small performance increase to the table over an “Ivy Bridge” processor. Is it a large enough performance gain to make those that just bought an Ivy Bridge system in 2012 to go run out and buy a whole new system? Not likely, but for those with older processors the performance of Haswell should give you nice gains and you’ll be able to use the new LGA-1150 platform and reap the benefits of the new Intel Z87 chipset and supporting third party solutions. So, it looks like the Intel Core i7-4770K is a worthy successor to the Intel Core i7-3770K. Some might have expected more out of Intel’s “TOCK” level CPU, but this is it.
When it comes to graphics the new 4th Generation Intel Core processors look really good. The Intel HD 4600 series graphics clearly out perform last generations Intel HD 4000 graphics. Getting a good 30-40% boost in 3D graphics performance is much welcomed and needed right now. We wish LGA 1150 processors would get Intel Iris Pro graphics with the embedded memory, but maybe Intel will hear that and release a Core i7-4770KR processor in the future. There are lots of desktop users that would benefit from having twice the graphics power for Quick Sync video transcoding. Many use a desktop for video editing and we’ve been told that having twice the EUs and large cache really help speed things up! That said, we are still impressed with the graphics performance and hope that Intel keeps up with the quarterly graphics drivers and continues to improve game support. Now that Intel graphics is catching up to AMD’s integrated graphics they’ll have to ensure game day driver support and things like that in the future.
We knew from the start that Haswell would be hotter than Ivy Bridge due to the higher TDP thanks in part to the fully integrated voltage regulator (FIVR). Our testing showed this to be true, but the thin retail boxed HSF combo did the job and was able to keep the Core i7-4770K processor under control. When we tried out overclocking we found that we could easily hit 4.2GHz with no voltage increases and throttling issues. We’ve found that to get to 4.3GHz or beyond you need to add a little voltage and that is when you’ll see the stock cooler not be able to handle the higher temperatures as a result of the higher voltages and clock speeds. We are pointing this out so enthusiasts know that they need a decent CPU cooler to go along with this platform.
When it comes to pricing the Intel Core i7-4770K processor runs $339 when it comes to tray pricing. Intel Core i7-3770K processors can be found online for $315 shipped, so pricing is reasonable considering the performance between the two processors. One of the nice things about Haswell is the new Z87 platform. There are some really nice boards out there by companies like ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI that we have seen. These boards have much improved audio, LAN, USB 3.0 and SATA III components. If the processor alone hasn’t sold you, take a look at some of the Z87 motherboards that are coming out. We have a review up on the Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H motherboard here.
At the end of the day the Intel Core i7-4770K left us impressed. It has great improvements when it comes to graphics and the CPU performance gains are hard to ignore. While Haswell looks good on the desktop we can’t wait to see what Intel has done on the mobile side. It’s safe to say that Intel built Haswell with mobile platforms and Thin-ITX desktop clients in mind. There should be some really nice battery life and performance gains there as well!
Legit Bottom Line: The Intel Core i7-4770K processor along with the robust features found on Z87 platforms make for a desktop solution that will last for years.