Intel Core i7-6700K Skylake Processor Review

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Intel Core i7-6700K Processor – Our First 14nm Skylake CPU Review!

Intel today launched the 6th Generation Intel Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K processors along with the Intel Z170 at Gamescom in Germany. Intel released these two new 14nm ‘Skylake’ unlocked K-Sku processors at Gamescom to show that Intel remains dedicated to PC gaming. Intel believes that this is the ideal gaming platform, offering the best all-around gaming experience. The ideal desktop gaming platform right now, according to Intel, would be a 6th Gen Core processor with a Z170 based board and an Intel 750 Series NVMe SSD to top it off. Many of the Intel Z170 boards will feature SuperSpeed+ USB 3.1, Thunderbolt 3.0 and DDR4 memory and up to three M.2 PCIe SSD slots, so you are talking about the most feature rich mainstream PC platform to ever be released. Chances are if you consider yourself an enthusiast you’ve been waiting for the Intel Z170 boards with the new LGA1151 socket and DDR4 memory support to come out before you upgraded. There is a large number of Intel Sandy Bridge owners out there that haven’t felt the need to update, but that will likely change now that this new platform has been released and they see the performance numbers.

Intel Core i7-6700K Highlights

Intel is launching these two new Skylake processors and the Z170 PCH for the desktop market, but didn’t fully brief us on the new Skylake architecture as they wanted to save those details for unveiling at the Intel Developer Conference that takes place later this month on August 17th in San Francisco, California. This is a little unique as usually we get white papers and gobs of details ahead of Intel releasing a new processor architecture. What we do know is that this generation of processors has been in the works for six years and Intel has unleashed these two desktop overclocking-friendly, K-Sku processors first, with the full lineup of desktop and mobile iterations launching at a later date. The full top to bottom release of the rest of the 6th Gen Intel Core Processors and supporting chipsets will be announced sometime in Q3 2015. We also know that our Intel engineering friends and the board makers are much more excited about Skylake coming to market than Broadwell. In fact, you’ll likely be able to purchase a 6th Gen Intel Core i7-6700K before you can buy a 5th Gen Intel Core i7-5775C retail boxed processor, so that just goes to show how weird the move to the 14nm process node has been for Intel.

Skylake Launch Pricing

  • Intel Core i7-6700K – $350 – 4 physical cores with 8 total threads, a base clock speed of 4.0GHz and 4.2GHz Turbo, 8MB of L3 cache, and Intel HD Graphics 530
  • Intel Core i5-6600K – $243 – 4 physical cores with 4 total threads, a base clock speed of 3.5GHz and 3.9GHz Turbo, 6MB of L3 cache, and Intel HD Graphics 530

What we can tell you is that the Intel Core i7-6700K quad-core processor with Hyper-Threading as a 4.0 GHz base clock and a 4.2 GHz maximum turbo clock thanks to Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0. This socket LGA1151 processor has 8MB of L3 Intel Smart Cache and no eDRAM with a 91W TDP. The integrated graphics included on this processor are Intel HD Graphics 530 and it features a dynamic clock that can run up to 1150 MHz. The Intel HD Graphics 530 solution supports DirectX 12 and Feature Level 12_1. The processor is obviously a ‘K’ Sku and is fully unlocked with new full range BCLK tuning options for overclocking. The recommended price on this flagship 14nm Skylake processor is $350.

For those looking some something a little more affordable the other 6th Generation Core processor launching today is the Intel Core i5-6600K at $243. This processor utilizes the same core architecture, socket, memory support, number of PCIe 3.0 lanes and TDP as the 6700K, but has a lower base and turbo clock frequency, no Hyper-Threading and just 6MB of L3 cache. This part is still fully unlocked and should be popular amongst mainstream gamers that are looking to be a solid mainstream gaming PC with a single GPU.

Intel Skylake Overclocking Improvements

Intel is very happy with the overclocking capabilities of the Intel Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K. In our very information limited briefing with Intel we were told that these processors should be good overclocking processors just like Sandy Bridge was back in the day. We’ve been told that 4.7-4.8 GHz should be possible on most all of the 6700K’s and that some will even be able to hit 5 GHz with very good aftermarket cooling (think custom cooling loops with triple rads) and some extra voltage (1.5V instead of the stock 1.3V). There are now 83 core ratio overrides available and the base clock is adjustable in 1MHz increments from 100MHz up to 200MHz. The motherboard makers can opt for either a discrete base clock or have it integrated (PCH) and there is no more PEG/DMI ratio to worry about as the PEG/DMI domain has been isolated. FIVR is also gone and the voltage regulation is being done on the motherboard again, so we expect to see increased differentiation between high-end boards that are aimed at overclockers.

skylake memory support

When it comes to memory performance the dual-channel DDR3L/DDR4 memory controller that is being used on Skylake is said to be stupid fast. Intel Skylake processors have a dual memory controller that supports both DDR3L (low voltage 1.35V DIMM support) and DDR4 memory, so there might be a handful of DDR3L boards running around out there although we haven’t seen one yet.  Intel officially supports DDR4 overclocking up to 4133 MHz, but Corsair has already reached over 4200 MHz on pre-production boards. Corsair used a pre-production 3866MHz memory kit on the Gigabyte Z170X-UD5 motherboard to hit this overclock.

Many factors are involved in the higher clock speeds; for starters it’s only a dual-channel solution, but most importantly, the new memory controller and processor architecture have been designed to support higher clock speeds, thus providing a substantial increase to the the clock frequency ceiling over the Intel X99 platform. We’ve also heard a rumor that FIVR in Haswell E might have been causing the limitation and that now with the voltage regulation being moved back to the motherbaord that the clock frequency ceiling limitation has been removed. Corsair and G.Skill were the first to release 3600MHz and beyond memory kits and both are using Samsung ICs. We’ve talked with a couple memory companies and they believe that 4500 MHz to 4800 MHz DDR4 clock frequencies will be reached by the professional overclockers by the end of 2015.  It will be interesting to see what kind of bandwidth will be possible and if there are any real world applications that can utilize all that bandwidth.

Intel Z170 Platform Diagram

To get the most from the Intel Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K you’ll need to use the new Intel Z170 chipset. This is the only new chipset for the initial LGA1151 platform launch and it has some pretty big changes under the hood. The first major change is that Intel has updated the Direct Media Interface (DMI) to DMI 3.0. The Intel Z87 and Z97 chipsets used for Haswell and Broadwell featured DMI 2.0, which had four 5 GT/s lanes routed between the CPU and the PCH using 8b/10b encoding. The new DMI 3.0 has four 8 GT/s lanes with 128b/130b encoding, which means that there is theoretically 60% more bandwidth (36 GT/s versus 20 GT/s) between the Skylake processor and Z170 PCH. Moving from PCIe Gen 2 to PCIe Gen 3 for these lanes is a big deal as it really opens the door for connecting more bandwidth hungry devices to the PCH. Since each PCIe Gen 3 lanes top out at 8 GT/s or 985MB/s you are looking at a theoretical speed cap at 3940 MB/s between the CPU and the Chipset and means that you’ll be able to use a PCIe Gen 3.0 x4 M.2 AHCI or NVMe storage drive on the chipset without being limited by anything.

One interesting thing that we learned about the Intel Z170 chipset is that it is built using the same 32nm process as Z97 was done on, but the power is up from 4.1W on Z97 to 6.0W on Z170. We weren’t expecting a 46% increase in the TDP for the chipset, but it’s likely because of the move from PCIe Gen 2 to PCIe Gen 3 lanes.

6700K CPU-Z Details

We got a single Intel Core i7-6700K processor to test and have spent the past week using and benchmarking the latest socketed desktop processor from Intel. This processor idles at 800 MHz when your system is not being used and then can run at up to 4200 MHz depending on the workload. The Intel Core i7-6700K is a 91W TDP processor, so ignore the 95W TDP value shown in CPU-Z as it is incorrect in this build of the program.
Intel Core i7-6700K CPU

Here is a look at the Intel Core i7-6700K 4.00GHz processor and on the Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS) it has the clock speed shown on it without much else. This particular Intel Core i7-6700K CPU has an S-spec of SR2BR and a batch number of L526B384.

Intel Haswell versus Skylake Pins

Flipping the processor we wanted to compare our Intel Core i7-4790K Haswell processor (LGA1150) to the new Intel Core i7-6700K Skylake processor (LGA1151) to show the pad arrangement and that the ‘keys’ in the processors are in different locations. As you can see, the Intel Core i7-6700K has the usual capacitors that reside in the middle around the pins needed to operate in an LGA1151 socket.

Skylake IHS

One of the things we noticed right away is that green PCB is about 33% thinner on Skylake, but the overall thickness of the processor is the same as the Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS) is thicker to ensure no heatsink change was needed. The package was able to be made thinner since FIVR has been removed from the CPU and the voltage regulation is being done again on the motherboard. We also believe this was done to allow for thinner mobile devices as many mobile processors don’t have an IHS and this thinner processor will lead to thinner z-height design for tablets, laptops and so on. Intel refused to talk about specific architecture features, how many Execution Units (EU’s) that the Intel HD Graphics 530 has and the thinner packaging of the processor. Intel said that ‘more details regarding the 6th Gen Intel Core processor family will be available at the processors entire family introduction later this year’.

6700K in Z170 Board

Let’s take a look at the ASUS Z170 Deluxe motherboard that we’ll be using to benchmark and test our 6700K processor on!

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  • Deividas Zbarauskas

    30% proc faster than i5 3570k, are you kidding me, 50% at least, then we can think about it, and even then maybe, due to price

  • Marcus

    would it be possible to add some type of obs benchmark for people who are thinking of getting into streaming i know this is adding more work to your plate. I mean obviously you can get an idea of what would work but it would be nice to see solid number for some reassurance

  • vision33r

    Very disappointing numbers. One has to shell out a lot of premium $$ for new socket mobos and DDR4 just to get maybe 5-15% performance increase.

  • Stollie

    Definitely an improvement over my good ol’ 2600K!! It’s been trusty but it’s about time for an upgrade. Don’t know if I will go with the 6700 or the 6600 just yet, but really looking forward to playing with some DDR4!

    • Ry

      6600 is shit in comparison, get the 6700 if you want performance.

      • Stollie

        Well that’s the most in depth answer I’ve ever gotten…

        • Ry

          The depth is in the review and every other review online. Get the i7.

    • OMGWTFAIL

      Most DDR4 is actually slower than the highest clocked DDR3 due to the increased latency. I suggest hanging onto your 2600K for another year.

  • Etienne Boutet boucher

    i really don’t see any really good reason to change from 3 or 4nd gen to 6 gen anytime soon…

    • Ry

      All depends…

      • Nathan Kirsch

        It really depends on what you are doing and if you overclock or not!

      • Akemi Akamatsu

        depend is a very ambiguous word.

        • Ry

          No shit. Do you need the extra performance? No? Then don’t fucking upgrade. Simple shit, wizard.

    • OMGWTFAIL

      You are correct for desktop. Mobile platforms will see some nice new features however.

  • Victor L.

    Hey Nate,

    great review article — as always.

    I have a question regarding to the performance section with “Metro Last Light” with the GTX 780 Ti. The i7-6700K, at stock AND overclocked, performed lower than the “Devil’s Canyon” i7-4790K predecessor at stock frequency, particularly the minimum frame rates. There is a decrease of approximately 8 FPS. Personally, that seemed a little “odd.”

    If you have any time, out of your busy schedule, could please confirm those results again?

    We could further discuss this via PM, or on the Legit Reviews forums if that is more convenient / flexible — my forum username is “lordvic.”

    Thanks!

  • i am going to guess, this is a marketing target release, the performance of 14 is NOT unleashed, and that will come next step up, probably use the MB’s , but this is NO performance inspiration. and what is with the 100 MHz. bus? Please let us move beyond that 133 at least, if not 150 for a new PCIe 4, so Overdue.

  • BigGERM

    What kind of gaming boost
    should i see over a 4th gen i5?

    • Ry

      Depends on what card you got, what resolution you game at, what settings you’ve set…

    • OMGWTFAIL

      Maybe a few FPS. Not worth upgrading.

    • Akemi Akamatsu

      only few fps gain and some games like tomb raider doesn’t even show a good improvement. so if you have a 4th gen processor then keep it,don’t update now.

  • ααα

    Meh so much overhype for nothing i am not impressed. It is hardly 5% to 10% faster from the Core 4xxx series and still not in every benchmark. the Core i7 4770k and 4790k are running better with some game

    Because AMD is not competitive it seem Intel is not interested making something really faster from its previous gen

    • Ry

      Your lack of understanding here is laughable. AMD won’t be able to compete with this without whopping out some serious heat.. Zen won’t beat a 6700K.. no way in hell. Only larger processors can compete. If you want big performance gains you NEED to move to 6 or 8 cores with this sort of design. Skylake-E seems to be what you will want. Don’t expect miracles from 4 cores..

      • OMGWTFAIL

        Zen will be a FinFET design on 14/16nm process, likely Samsung/GloFo 14nm. AMD’s current Vishera chips are still on 32nm, which is why they produce so much heat. Your lack of understanding is ironic. Also, the top Zen chips will have a minimum of 8 cores.

        • Ry

          I know exactly why they put out the heat, Your lack of self humility shows your ignorance.. you actually think you know more than me, you don’t.

          OOOH 8 cores.. 8 shit cores that’ll lose to a Skylake guaranteed. Their latest can’t even compete with an Ivy bridge, let alone Haswell. AMD can’t beat the best processor engineers in the world. Go suck some more on the Zen teat.

        • OMGWTFAIL

          First, get out a dictionary and look up ignorance. It’s obvious that I know more than you. Are you saying that Mark Papermaster doesn’t know how to design? Do yourself and everyone else reading a favor, look him up. All you have shown is that you try to personally attack people who know more than you.

        • Ry

          You’re rebuttal is pathetic. Yeah companies hire people that can’t do the job they advertise.. I don’t need to look him up, I follow this religiously. Ain’t attacking, you just see it that way because you don’t know shit. 14nm brah.. AMD is at Intel’s throat! Whatever.

        • OMGWTFAIL

          I never said AMD is at their throat. They obviously aren’t. AMD has publicly said that they are not trying to compete with Intel at the high end. You don’t know a damn thing about the semi industry. Telling people they need to change platforms for negligible gains is telltale. This guy’s point was that we need competition and there is none. Your rambling attack on him about Intel vs AMD doesn’t even address it. Also, you’ve heard of the iPhone right? 500+ million sold. Mark Papermaster was the guy in charge of the hardware. Not exactly a guy that “can’t do the job they advertise”.

        • Akemi Akamatsu

          ignore him he is just an errand boy of intel.

        • Ry

          Fuck off. I’ve owned AMD before, show’s how little you know.

        • Akemi Akamatsu

          butthurt lol

        • Akemi

          OMG ,still your butt is sore even after 6 months later? wow

        • Ry

          Obviously clueless. Keep looking up at that night sky if you want to believe.

        • Ry

          Aren’t trying to compete.. Zen, Zen..Where for art thou ZEN!? Everyone knows AMD CAN’T compete with Intel at the high end.. saying they’re not targeting it is just a fucking cop out for not being able to address the market segment.

          The prices are fair considering, I don’t see any major complaints. There’s a market and people decide what they want to spend tor whatever product they wish to purchase, simple economics. If a product is shit it won’t sell.. People all like.. bring the competition! Yeah where? Everyone thinks AMD is going to pull some magic out of it’s ass and deliver just because people want it to. So best case scenario.. AMD delivers something equal to or possibly a bit faster than Skylake (multi-threaded performance I suspect is a possibility, but single threaded performance is going to be heard to beat) big deal.. how will that affect prices? Not much. i7 performance at half the price? Yeah.. NAH. A top end chip if competitive will have a similar asking price.. and Intel has all the ammo it needs with the six core and eight core SKU’s to deal with any multi-threaded advantage AMD delivers due to more cores. Drop the price a bit here and there a bit and boom.. the pressure is back on. Anyway the fact of the matter is this, people have no clue how well Intel is doing because they don’t have a reference.. just blind fucking hope that Zen will somehow free their minds. and their wallets.. I’ll laugh now all the way to Zen’s release and I’ll be back to say I told ya so to anyone that thought Intel was holding back performance or just wasn’t delivering..The clueless live in hope, I’ll wait for the Zen hammer to fall.

      • derp@history

        Lets see the 86 history channel :
        First chip @ 1GHz, AMD, first real dual core, AMD, first IMC, AMD… Desktop 64bit, AMD, first quad core AMD, first real APU, AMD…

        x86 microprocessor innovations, AMD has shown the way

        First superscalar RISC – K5

        First to use “Flip-Chip” technology – K6

        First on-chip L2 cache – K6-3

        First use of copper interconnects – K7

        First fully pipelined, superscalar floating point unit – K7

        First to extend x86 to 64-bits (AMD64) – K8

        First to release a Dual-Core – Athlon 64 x2

        First to release a Tri-Core – Phenom II

        First to release a Quad-Core – Phenom II

        First to release a 6-Core – Bulldozer

        First to release a 8-Core – Bulldozer

        When you try to teach people shit learn the history first.

        • Ry

          And this means WHAT exactly?
          Oh wait.. It’s THE PAST! That thing that has long gone and doesn’t mean shit today.

          Companies come and go in the blink of an eye. Toshiba! First consumer Laptop! First NAND flash! First DVD player! Oh wait.. where are they now!? Merging shit with fucking Vaio and Fujitsu!

    • Bill Hentschell

      A-men brotha, this is what happens without real competition. Unless you need a new PC I cannot see upgrading to this for the marginal improvements.

      • Ry

        Has nothing to do with “real competition” Intel put some real effort into this one.

        • shadowhedgehogz

          It’s literally only a little better, and only in some benchmarks.. most websites results show that it’s just equal to Haswell, only few show the 6700k having a small advantage.. I’d listen to the majority.

          Over x99 this doesn’t bring anything new, and actually has less performance in some instances.

    • shadowhedgehogz

      Cannon lake is not expected to bring any IPC gains, ZEN will be catching up to Haswell.. So any large IPC increase won’t be coming until at least 1-2 years after ZEN.. as that will give Intel a kick to make them develop something much quicker.

      If needing an upgrade today better off doing it now either 6700k or 5820k.

  • Sean Kumar Sinha

    Can’t wait to see the boards coming out for Skylake. I only wish Intel had improved efficiency a bit. Nice performance jumps over Sandy Bridge.

  • Bill Hentschell

    Seems like Intel is struggling to get much more performance out of the last few CPU’s. At least my will be happy I won’t be begging for an upgrade from my 4970K anytime soon.

    • Ry

      Struggling? Upgrade to a 6 or 8 core…

      • OMGWTFAIL

        You misread what he said or you’re trolling. He said that Intel is the one struggling to get more performance out of their new architecture.

        It’s either that or they don’t feel that they need to since Zen won’t arrive until 2016 and they can take advantage of the market until then.

        • Ry

          That’s not what he said at all troll. “Intel is struggling to get much more performance out of the last few CPU’s.” L 2 READ.

        • OMGWTFAIL

          He’s obviously talking about quad cores and not HEDT. You need to get your head out of your ass.

        • Ry

          Oh yeah obviously!? ‘Cos quad cores are all anyone gets right? And he actually said quad cores aye! (He didn’t durr) Fucking Enstein’s everywhere online, go find a fire.

        • OMGWTFAIL

          “6700K is 4 core, 4970K is four core. My point isn’t MORE cores it is that intel is not getting much more performance out of the cores they have, core to core.” You’re wrong. Grow up.

        • Ry

          Wrong about what? You know when your die keeps shrinking and the design stays more or less the same, you’re going to run into limitations… Surely bumping up the L1 or L2 would help a good bit.

        • OMGWTFAIL

          How dense are you? Seriously. He was talking about core performance in the context of quad core cpus. You can’t read apparently.

        • Ry

          How fucken thick ARE YOU? HE DIDN”T SAY QUAD COREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

        • OMGWTFAIL

          It was implied.

        • Ry

          No it wasn’t.

        • OMGWTFAIL

          Yeah, it was troll.

        • Ry

          You’re the only troll here.

        • Ry

          Seriously WTF do you expect when the cores drop in size and the core count remains the fuckin’ same? Do you know how hard it is to even raise the fuckin IPC while keeping heat down? There are fuckin’ limitations to this tech you know you dick wizard.

        • OMGWTFAIL

          What are you babbling about?

        • Ry

          Something you wouldn’t understand.

        • OMGWTFAIL

          You don’t know anything. Less than the average consumer.

        • Ry

          Yeah like I don’t sell this shit to people.. Show’s how little you know you retard. Duh. I sell to average consumers or plebs like yourself every day… What do you do? Sit on your fat ass more like likely. Talking to my cat is more fucking stimulating than reading your shit. Just fuck off.

        • Bill Hentschell

          6700K is 4 core, 4970K is four core. My point isn’t MORE cores it is that intel is not getting much more performance out of the cores they have, core to core. Further, since most apps still do not take advantage of multi-core it is moot. 5% bump in horsepower PER CORE does not make me say oohhh I need to drop $500+ on new mobo, ddr4 mem, and CPU and that makes my wife happy, which IS my point

        • Ry

          You’re not dropping $500, factor in your old hardware man.

        • Bill Hentschell

          Yeah smartguy, your correct, it would be more like $700.00

          Intel Core i7-6700K–$350.00
          EVGA Stinger Mini ITX LGA1151 Motherboard –$199.99
          G.Skill Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 Memory– $139.99

          Total before tax/shipping: $689.98

        • Ry

          Err, that’s still not factoring in his old hardware… SMART GUY.

        • Bill Hentschell

          6700 is 1151 socket, 4970 is 1150, so need new mobo, 6700 needs ddr4 so need new memory. The rest can move over. As I said, close to $700 to switch platforms unless you are talking about some other “old hardware” I am not factoring in.

        • OMGWTFAIL

          What exactly are you talking about? What old hardware? I think you’re a bit lost.

        • Ry

          Umm HIS old hardware??? You’re not spending $700 if you get $400 for your old kit now huh? Basic maths, c’mon.

        • OMGWTFAIL

          Right, because everyone sells their old hardware…

        • Ry

          Err.. YEAHHH you still got your first Mobo lying around? Collect all the old shit you use? What a fucking waste of money.

        • OMGWTFAIL

          Most motherboards and procs sold within the last 5 or 6 years can be used to build a computer that 90% of people could use as a daily driver, file server, HTPC, etc. What if he wants to re-purpose the machine? This thread is also 6 months old. Salty much?

  • John

    Looks like it might be time to finally upgrade from a z77 motherboard. Want to see some matx boards first though.

  • FZ1

    Looks like it might be time to retire my Sandy Bridge processor…though I expected Skylake to be a little more power efficient.

    • phinn

      Anand found Skylake responds well to a slight undervoltage when doing minor overclocks. Decent power savings that way at around 1.20V according to Anandtech.

      http://www.anandtech.com/show/9483/intel-skylake-review-6700k-6600k-ddr4-ddr3-ipc-6th-generation/6

    • OMGWTFAIL

      I don’t see a good reason to retire your Sandy. The gains will be minimal.

    • Batlorn

      Sandy Bridge is still strong, i don’t see any reason to upgrade for now. If there is a Skylake variant with 6 cores 12 threads then you could consider if not wait for the next step from Intel.