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Official Intel 7th-gen Kaby Lake Review: One big change makes up for smaller ones

Gordon Mah Ung | Jan. 4, 2017
Don’t dismiss Intel’s newest CPU with a meh just yet. There’s more to the chip than you expect.

Cinebench R15 multi-core performance

kaby lake cinebench multi threaded oc  

Cinebench R15 puts the new Core i7-7700K at the top of the heap for main stream quad-core chips.

Our first test is Maxon’s Cinebench R15. It’s a benchmark based on Maxon’s professional Cinema4D rendering engine and is a pure CPU test. We recorded scores from many of Intel’s high-end quad-core mainstream chips, as well as chips with more cores for context.

Among the quad-cores, the Core i7-7700K the winner by the expected amount. The Kaby Lake CPU is roughly 4 to 5 percent higher in clock speed and roughly 4 to 5 percent faster in Cinebench. When you look back to the Core i7-2600K though, it’s a huge 42-percent difference in performance. Stock clock performance between the Kaby Lake, Skylake and Devil’s Canyon, though, isn’t exactly going to set the world on fire.

Cinebench R15 single-core performance

kaby lake cinebench single threaded oc  

When run in single-threaded mode, Cinebench R15 shows a high clocked, more efficient core is the way to go.

One error with focusing exclusively on multi-core performance is reality doesn’t match that. The vast majority of applications are lucky to exploit more than a single thread, instead favoring higher clock speeds and more efficient CPU cores. Once we set Cinebench R15 to run in single-threaded mode, the quad-cores with their higher clock speeds jump to the front of the line, with the Core i7-7700K now leading the pack. For most people, who don’t do 3D rendering or other heavily multi-threaded tasks, a quad-core with higher clock speeds is the right choice.

Other highlights from the results: There isn’t a lot daylight between the Core i7-7700K and the Core i7-6700K. Note, too, that our 10-core Broadwell-E Core i7-6950X was performed without Turbo Boost Max. Turbo Boost Max lets the CPU greatly increase the clock speed on a single core, bringing performance a lot closer to the quad-cores.

POV Ray performance

kaby lake pov ray 3.7a multi threaded  

POV Ray mostly matches our results form Cinebench R15. The Kaby Lake chip wins eases out in front of the Skyale chip but it’s not a game changer.

Another CPU-heavy test we use is POV Ray. It’s a ray-tracing program that traces its roots back to the Amiga. Our benchmark set is a little smaller but no surprise, the Kaby Lake, with its 4- to 5-percent clock speed advantage, finishes the test about 4 to 5 percent faster, putting the Core i7-7700K just barely behind a six-core Ivy Bridge-E Core i7-4960X.


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