It’s an exciting time to be a PC builder with Intel releasing an entire stack of seventh generation processors i.e Pentium vs other i-series and on the verge of a big release and Vega and possibly even volta on the coming horizon. Correspondingly board partner manufacturers have begun to release supporting hardware for the new platforms as we saw in abundance at CES 2017.
Unfortunately, initial testing of Intel’s new Kaby Lake CPUs has revealed slightly disappointing results on an instruction per clock basis when compared to the sixth generation Skylake chips. Still, if you take a look at strict out of the box performance Kaby Lake CPUs do outperform their Skylake equivalence considering that they still come into they similar price point to Skylake, it would seem incorrect to choose a Skylake chip over a Kaby Lake chip. At this time, but which Kaby Lake chip is for you? which one offers the best performance for what you need? which one is going to give you the best bang for your hard-earned buck. Let’s find out.
So for the purposes of this blog I think would have been slightly impractical to try to test out all 26 skews that use the Kaby Lake architecture, I decided that four processors best represented the different market segments that prospective buyers might be a part of. Starting at the bottom we have the Pentium G 4620 unlike the previous generation of chips, the budget Pentium line now comes with hyperthreading giving a significant performance boost to the sub $100 category. This is the highest clock Pentium at 3.7 gigahertz and comes in and they still reasonable $93.
Next up I chose the i3 7100. Now I’m sure a lot of people are anxious to see more performance numbers from the 7350 K, the first ever i3 that comes with an unlocked multiplier, there’s an issue with this chip though that I’m having a difficult time getting past. This is $190 i3. No matter what kind of performance gains the ability to overclock will net you, the fact remains that you’d be better off spending an additional 10 bucks and buying a locked i5 7500. If your goal is to build a budget machine, you’re not spending $190 on a processor. If your aim is for a mid-range system you’re not buying an i3. So why does the 7350 k exist? I kind of have a hard time wrapping my brain around the 7100 is $119 chip that gives you two cores at 3.9 gigahertz and should still be a nice budget gaming option, of course, to round out our testing we needed to include the two high end unlock i5 and i7 chips 7600 K and the 7700 k. Right now these are actually selling for their MSRP of $249 and $349, respectively, which is a really great thing to see after the fiasco that happened during the Skylake launch. Those looking to build systems around these chips are aiming for excellent gaming performance and strong multitasking support.
So what’s our testing methodology; well, I wanted to try to compare the performance of each chip, not only in an empirical sense but also in a price to performance manner, how much relative value can you expect from each processor. In order to sort this out, I ran five different tests on all processors in stock speeds. Then I overclock the case skewed shift to their highest stable point and re-ran the tests. The testing question is Cinebench 15, geek bench AIDA64 CPU Queen, FIRESTRIKE Physics, and the CPU frame rate in Ashes of the Singularity I did some simple math and figure it out performance ratios for Cinebench, as well as the FPS per dollar I was seeing in ashes then took the result and charted the processors total performance against a baseline with the Pentium chip being a signed a score of 100. I was able to get the 7700 k stable at 5.15 gigahertz. However, I didn’t have quite as much luck with the 7600 K, which was unstable at anything higher than 4.7. All tests were run using the R7 270X gaming along with 16 gigs of G skill DDR4 2400 a GTX 1070 founders edition and at 240 gig SSD. Cooling for the processors was provided by a Corsair.
So a couple of interesting conclusions can be drawn here. While the 7700 K is obviously the best performer of the group and is likely the choice for many enthusiasts. It gets poor marks in the value categories scoring at or near the bottom in both. Similarly the Pentium while putting up the weakest performance numbers still managed to shine when measuring how much processing power, you’re getting for your dollar. Interestingly, the addition of hyperthreading to the G 4620 has put it almost on the same performance level as the i3 at a significantly lower price which is bad news for the i3 line as a whole. It seems that Intel has unintentionally obsoleted the entire stack with the higher end Pentium is performing almost identically as the low-end i3 and the high-end i3 costing almost as much as an i5. It would be hard for me to recommend any core three at all right now for those reasons.
So what ship do you choose for your next build? Are you waiting for the horizon? Are you still satisfied with your older platform ships performance and we’ll wait it out until something groundbreaking comes along, let me know down below in the comments and get subscribe to the website if you aren’t already? As always guys, thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the next blog.