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Intel Broadwell CPUs May Still Find A Home In Small Form Factor Systems

Recently, we reported that Intel's Broadwell CPUs are still on their way. The late release of these CPUs have left many wondering: what is the point in releasing Broadwell at all? Skylake is already out on the market and taking over the enthusiast market, and there is little reason for owners of high-end Haswell parts to upgrade. Although Broadwell won't win any performance crowns for its CPU performance, it still has something to offer that other desktop Intel processors don't.

Compared to Intel's high-end Haswell processors, like the i7-4790k, Broadwell doesn't have much to offer in terms of CPU performance. The i7-5775c is clocked considerably lower than i7-4790k, and Haswell outperformed it in most of our tests. Although it was faster than other Haswell processors like the i7-4770k, the performance gap wasn't large enough to justify upgrading from one processor to another.

Broadwell doesn't look too much more appealing to owners of lower-end Haswell parts, either. Users who already have an LGA 1150 system with a lower-end CPU might be tempted to upgrade to Broadwell, but if they are shopping for the most CPU performance they can get, Haswell will have more to offer. There is only one real place that Broadwell has an advantage, and that is in the iGPU.

In our Skylake tests, we found the latest chips to have a notable edge over the other CPUs in terms of CPU performance, but the iGPU is significantly slower than that found inside of Broadwell. In a Bioshock Infinite benchmark, the i7-5775c achieved a whopping 89.1 fps, while Skylake's i7-6700k only managed 56.7. That is an enormous 57.1 percent performance gap. The Broadwell iGPU is even capable of outperforming some dedicated GPUs, requiring at least a pairing with a GTX 750 to outperform it.

At first, you might not think this is very important, because it is only an integrated GPU. Although it is true that there are numerous graphics cards on the market that offer more performance, the i7-5775c with its relatively fast iGPU will find a place in the market inside of systems with a small form factor. Inside of compact mini-ITX systems, there are only a handful of GPUs that can surpass Broadwell's iGPU, most prominently the Nvidia GTX 750 and GTX 750 Ti. While these GPUs offer better graphics performance, they also force you to spend more money on your system.

Moving to even smaller form factors, there may not physically be room for a dedicated GPU, making the i7-5775c's iGPU the fastest integrated graphics chip option you have. It is less likely that an end-user would build such a small system, but a company developing a NUC-like device capable of gaming, similar to Zotac's Magnus EN970, may opt to use one of these chips.

With Skylake already out, Broadwell admittedly appears lost in the CPU market, but just because it is late to the game and lacks a little CPU performance compared to Haswell and Skylake, doesn't mean it lacks potential. Thanks to its iGPU, the i7-5775c and i5-5675c will likely end up filling a small niche in the HTPC world.

Follow Michael Justin Allen Sexton @LordLao74. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebookand on Google+.

Michael Justin Allen Sexton is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers hardware component news, specializing in CPUs and motherboards.
  • Onsager
    "will likely end up filling a small niche in the HTPC world"
    ... yeah. Incredibly small niche.
    Reply
  • kyle382
    such budget builds. so depressing.
    Reply
  • TechyInAZ
    Eh that's a bit iffy since mini itx cases in general can support high end video cards no problem. If there were more ultra small mini itx cases that couldn't support a video card, then broadwell would work well in those.
    Reply
  • IInuyasha74
    Eh that's a bit iffy since mini itx cases in general can support high end video cards no problem. If there were more ultra small mini itx cases that couldn't support a video card, then broadwell would work well in those.

    There are larger mini-ITX cases, but there are a lot which can't fit a full sized GPU either. The ones supporting a full sized GPU are the exception more than they are the rule.
    Reply
  • LifeIsOnTheWire
    The i5 and i7 will not find many customers in the HTPC world, as the article suggests.

    HTPC builders know that if they are spending more than $250 building an HTPC, they should be making sure to include support for hardware decoding of h265. Nobody is going to spend $600 building an HTPC that barely supports software decoding of h265.

    Anyone wanting h265 hardware decoding right now is either buying a GTX 960, or waiting for some lower-end Skylake CPUs to hit the market.
    Reply
  • spentshells
    Im not a mathematician, but "i7-5775c achieved a whopping 89.1 fps, while Skylake's i7-6700k only managed 56.7. That is an enormous 57.1 percent performance gap."

    Can someone clarify what is meant here?
    Reply
  • TechyInAZ
    16626219 said:
    Im not a mathematician, but "i7-5775c achieved a whopping 89.1 fps, while Skylake's i7-6700k only managed 56.7. That is an enormous 57.1 percent performance gap."

    Can someone clarify what is meant here?

    Agreed. While 25+fps is defiantly a very good performance increase, I don't see it as being a 50% improvement.
    Reply
  • spentshells
    16626234 said:
    16626219 said:
    Im not a mathematician, but "i7-5775c achieved a whopping 89.1 fps, while Skylake's i7-6700k only managed 56.7. That is an enormous 57.1 percent performance gap."

    Can someone clarify what is meant here?

    Agreed. While 25+fps is defiantly a very good performance increase, I don't see it as being a 50% improvement.

    I see you are also using firefox auto correct..... almost all my posts end up ....defiantly
    Reply
  • Cryio
    Im not a mathematician, but "i7-5775c achieved a whopping 89.1 fps, while Skylake's i7-6700k only managed 56.7. That is an enormous 57.1 percent performance gap."

    Can someone clarify what is meant here?

    It means Broadwell's iGPU is 57% faster than Skylake's iGPU.
    Reply
  • smelly_feet
    Re: "will likely end up filling a small niche in the HTPC world"
    ... yeah. Incredibly small niche.

    Even smaller now that Mediacentre's been discontinued.

    Maybe a niche in the next revision of the wii?


    Reply