Core i7 6700K processor review: Desktop Skylake

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Final Words & Conclusion

Final Words & Conclusion

Prior to reviewing this Core i7 6700K I had tested the Core i5 6600K and, with that processor (despite it being a great CPU), I had a bit of a "more of the same" feeling yet it was very energy efficient. For the Core i7 6700K that is reversed, the energy efficiency was definitely a notch higher than expected (though that is related to the motherboard and the extra ICs / controllers / etc.). But after the initial tests of the Core i7 6700K on the ASUS Z170 Deluxe motherboard, I ended up being rather impressed. Intel doesn't make and thus offer any reference motherboards anymore, so it is hard to define a reference processor performance point as the motherboard partners will do everything in their power to tweak out the last bit of performance. And sure, that's not a bad thing but there can be some platform (brand) performance differences. But yeah, the extra performance you see is mostly related to the higher base clocks. See, typically core 1 would turbo to 4.2 GHz, core two to 4.1 GHz and so on. Intel made a change here and simply allows all four cores to run at 4.0 GHz at the very least with boost allowance to 4.2 GHz on all cores. So that does give the product a small advantage in performance when compared to previous generation processors. 


That said, the Core i7 6700K is interesting. The performance is up there and combined with DDR4 memory this processor makes a good step forward. Again, there is motherboard brand dependency that will result into small performance differences. Combined with the series 100 chipset new features are available as well, SATA3, M.2, some manufacturers will even provide U2 and Sata Express. Then there's the added benefit of DDR4 memory that not only uses less power but the frequency can be so much higher as well, bringing more bandwidth and overall performance to the applications that require fast memory. Combine that with things like nice Gigabit jacks, exemplary audio solutions on the new motherboards and things like USB 3.1. So what i am trying to say here is that the overall platform experience is what it is all about for Skylake. Performance with kick-ass features. 

Performance & tweaking

The overall performance in combo with the ASUS 170 Deluxe motherboard as such I'd rate as "really good" for a quad core Core i7 6700K. Temps remain reasonable at default clock, temperatures when the CPU is overclocked with added voltage definitely seem to be a notch better opposed to Haswell but still can rise fast and hot. Our sample was not quite stable enough at 4.9 GHz but 4.8 GHz was stable on liquid cooling. At that level we needed a lot of voltage, 1.45 volts on the processor. 

The bottom line

Where I have some reservation on the Core i5 6600K being a viable enough upgrade over recent releases, I am way more positive on the Core i7 6700K. Combined with the right motherboard you will gain excellent features combined with seriously nice performance and very decent energy consumption levels. If you opt to upgrade it can be a viable alternative. It all remains relative though. If you would like features such as USB 3.1, more SATA3 ports, better audio, better NICs or AC WIFI, that's where Skylake with a Z170 motherboard can make a lot of sense. The fact remains that this platform is maybe 20% faster overall opposed to the previous generation processors and platforms. Now 20% is quite a lot, but not life changing alright. For the performance and enthusiast end-users, I'd still like to hint at you to consider Haswell-E with at least 6 CPU cores. The Core i7 6700K is a terrific 14nm desktop CPU with improved instruction sets, better performance, DDR4 compatibility and decent overclocking headroom. I have no doubt that some of you can reach 5 GHz on this CPU. The overall combination of Z170 and a Core i7 6700K however is very sweet and we enjoyed testing this platform very much. Definitely recommended if you are due for an upgrade. The Core i5 6600K will cost 243 USD / 275 EURO, the Core i7 6700K as tested in this review, 350 USD / 385 EURO.

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