Well if it feels like I was just here talking about a newly launched Intel CPU it is because, well, I was. Intel ran into a few issues with their Broadwell launch and those issues pushed its launch back significantly. Well to their credit they didn’t let those issues slow down the Skylake launch, so today they are launching their new flagship consumer CPU at Gamescom. The reason they are launching there is because the first part of the Skylake launch is completely focused on gamers and overclockers. They are only launching two SKUs, their i7-6700K and the i5-6600K. Both are overclockable, high clock speed CPUs focused right at enthusiast and gamers who want to get the best possible performance without the heavy investment that an X99 build would cost them.
Product Name: Intel i7-6700K Skylake
Review Sample Provided by: Intel
Written by: Wes
Pictures by: Wes
Amazon Link: HERE
|CPU Base Freq (GHz)||4.0GHz||3.5GHz|
|Max Turbo Freq (GHz)||4.2GHz||3.9GHz|
|Onboard GPU||Intel HD Graphics 530||Intel HD Graphics 530|
|Graphics Max Frequency||1150MHz||1150MHz|
|PCI Express 3.0 Lanes||16||16|
|Socket||LGA 1151||LGA 1151|
While most of the Intel Broadwell launch was focused on mobile, it was the introduction of the 14nm process node for Intel. Continuing to follow their Tick/Tock release schedule Skylake runs on that same process node but is their new architecture. This new architecture brings along a few changes. The biggest change is the move to DDR4 on the consumer platform. The X99 launch introduced us to DDR4 but Intel is now working on moving the rest of their lineup over. This is a huge deal for a lot of you, its easy to get used to being able to carry your ram over when upgrading your PC so on top of the cost of a new motherboard and CPU you are going to need DDR4. Lucky for you though, Skylake does still support DDR3 in the built in memory controller so motherboard manufactures have the option to go DDR4 or DDR3. I love the idea of the dual support but with DDR4 prices already dropping I have a feeling motherboard manufactures are going to focus more on DDR4, but we will see. For the onboard video Intel is introducing their Intel HD Graphics 530 GPU on both of the K series CPUs being introduced today.
So I would first like to point out that typically we would receive a crazy amount of information that dives down into every part of the architecture but this time around Intel is keeping things really quiet so the details on what set Skylake apart from Haswell are slim. I get the impression that they are planning a few big surprises with the introduction of the rest of the product line later this year so we will learn more than. So with Intel launching just the two CPUs today, what sets them apart? Well we have the i7-6700K that I will be testing today and the i5-6600K. I love that they have gone back to the old school naming scheme for this launch, it reminds me of the 2600K/2500K launch that are still very popular. The 6700K, like other i7 CPUs, has hyperthreading where the 6600K does not. They also gave it an additional 2MB cache for a total of 8MB. Both processors have a TDP of 91 watts but the 6700K has a much higher base clock (4GHz vs 3.5GHz), their max turbo frequencies are a little closer but with the 6700K (of course) being a little faster (4.2GHz vs 3.9GHz).
Both CPUs come with Intels new HD Graphics 530, again the details are hard to come by but from what we can see the new onboard has four more execution units when compared to Haswell going from 20 to 24. It counteracts that slightly with a slightly slower clock speed though (1150MHz to 1200MHz on Haswell). We will have to see in testing how it performs, but we all know that the enthusiasts and gamers who these CPUs are focused will mostly be running dedicated GPUs anyhow. The only other big change that can be found in the processor architecture block diagram was the upgraded DMI 3.0. The DMI 2.0 had four 5 GT/s lanes routed between the CPU and the PCH. The new DMI 3.0 has four 8 GT/s lanes for a big bump in bandwidth. For those of you who don’t know what the DMI does, it is the link between the Northbridge and Southbridge.
Intel sent along photos of the packaging for the new Skylake CPUs and I was a little blown away at just how bright and flashy they went. One thing is for sure, you won’t miss them on the shelf. You also will know if you are getting an i5 or an i7 given how large that is on the cover. Hopefully they make it that easy to find out the specific model as well because I’m sure this is only the tip of the iceberg for Skylake CPUs.
As far as form factor, the new Skylake CPUs are officially using a new LGA 1151 socket. But when you put the i7-6700K next to the i7-4770 they share the same heat spreader and overall size. The thickness of the PCB is thinner than the 4770K and they made up the difference in a slightly thicker heat spreader but it is hardly noticeable from any direction except for the side. It really isn’t until you look very close that you can see that the small indents on the sides of the PCB near the top have moved. They did this to prevent people from putting the CPUs into an unsupported motherboard. On the underside we still have the same flat contact design that relies on the pins being on the motherboard. They did fill in a few of the gaps and added what looks to be like 20 more contacts this time around as well. I wonder if those are to support the dual DDR4 and DDR3 support.
Speaking of DDR4, with the move to DDR4 I did have to upgrade our testbench. For years now I have been using the same 1600MHz blue Kingston HyperX DDR3 sticks. Well given our great luck with Kingston we went with them once again for the dual channel DDR4 but this time we went with their newer Fury line in a black that matches most boards better. We stepped up to a 16GB kit over 8GB and went with their 2666MHz model. For our test motherboard I’m using the Z170A Gaming M5 from MSI, but I will go into it in more depth with a full review over the next few days!