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Core i7-4770K: Haswell's Performance, Previewed

Results: HD Graphics 4600 In Skyrim And WoW

Despite the early nature of our hardware and software, it’s likely that you still won’t be able to game comfortably at 1920x1080 on an HD Graphics 4600-equipped processor. A title like Skyrim will probably be accessible at 1366x768, even on a lower-end chip than the Core i7-4770K. An almost-30% speed-up is certainly commendable, particularly from a 25% increase in graphics resources (plus some frequency) compared to Ivy Bridge’s GT2.

Nevertheless, the Trinity-based A10-5800K currently looks faster still, achieving more than 45 FPS at 1920x1080 in this same test.

Although WoW is commonly derided for its age and cartoonish graphics, it remains a popular title. And the Core i7-3770K handles it pretty well at 1366x768, averaging almost 70 FPS. Our Core i7-4770K sample is about 16% quicker at the same resolution, easily qualifying as playable.

It’d even appear to do pretty well at 1920x1080, though we’ll caution that the experience is far less pleasant than a sustained 50 FPS. And this is taken from a flight path in Pandaria. You’d be completely slammed in a raid situation. AMD's A10-5800K, averaging more than 60 FPS at 1920x1080, is currently much more playable.

A Little Context On Graphics

How will these results affect our next comparison between Intel’s CPUs and AMD’s Richland-based APUs? The first thing we have to remember is that Core i7-4770K will likely be a $300+ processor (and that most enthusiasts who buy one will use discrete graphics, rather than on-die). So, while it’d appear that Haswell’s GT2 implementation could get Intel close to Trinity's performance, at least in traditionally platform-bound games like Skyrim and WoW, remember that price-competitive models won’t be as fast as our -4770K.

I want to wait for Intel's final silicon and drivers before putting AMD into the same charts as Haswell-based chips, but based on the numbers I've been running, it appears likely that processors equipped with GT2 will come up short against AMD's fastest APUs on the desktop.

Almost certainly, however, a (mobile) part with twice as many execution units and 128 MB of L4/eDRAM at 1.2 GHz would blow Trinity out of the water in games. A comparison to Richland probably won't change much there. And we'll likely need to wait until 2014 to see how Kaveri affects AMD's position.

Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.