The Core i7-4770K Review: Haswell Is Faster; Desktop Enthusiasts Yawn

HD Graphics 4600: 3D And Quick Sync

Last month, Intel made a lot of noise about its new Iris Pro and Iris Graphics branding, warranted, it said, by a tremendous leap forward in performance. Core i7-4770K doesn’t get any of that. Instead, it features HD Graphics 4600, an evolution of Sandy Bridge’s HD Graphics 3000 and Ivy Bridge’s HD Graphics 4000.

Back when Intel introduced us to Sandy Bridge, fellow Tom Piazza described the work that went into modularizing different components of the graphics engine. In fact, in my Core i7-3770K coverage, I created the following numbered image to illustrate the company’s targeted approach to augmenting its partitioned design:

Here's the version that Tom used at IDF last year to illustrate Haswell. Note that there's a sixth domain, since the architecture has a video quality engine now.

Haswell maintains the same architectural partitioning, and adds more resources. Yes, there’s DirectX 11.1, OpenCL 1.2, and OpenGL 4.0 support, but performance is mostly affected by a shift from 16 to 20 programmable execution units in Haswell’s GT2 implementation. Across the next five pages, we’ll explore the impact of a more powerful graphics subsystem using average frame rates, frame rates over time, and frame time variance between consecutive frames.

The outcome, though, sounds a lot like what we said last year and the year before. Mainly, as it pertains to HD Graphics 4600, on-die graphics is fine for mainstream titles with light 3D workloads, but is quickly overwhelmed by common desktop resolutions in more taxing games. AMD isn’t much better off in this regard, but Intel still hasn’t caught up.

I’m at least happy to see the company using HD Graphics 4600 across its product line, where it previously armed lower-end chips with stripped-down graphics engines.

Improved Quick Sync

There’s quite a bit to discuss when it comes to Intel’s Quick Sync feature, which I introduced on this page in Intel’s Second-Gen Core CPUs: The Sandy Bridge Review. Intel followed up with an improved version of Quick Sync on Ivy Bridge (discussed here) that seemed to introduce mostly performance-oriented enhancements. Haswell’s implementation mixes in more speed and configurable quality dials.

For example, previous versions of Quick Sync exposed three pre-defined blends of performance and quality that Intel calls target usages. This time around, there are seven. Really, the intricacies deserve a story of their own. But at the highest-quality TU1 setting, HD Graphics 4600 is significantly better looking than 4000. Meanwhile, the fastest TU7 should be faster, higher-quality, and more battery-friendly for mobile devices on HD Graphics 4600 than 4000.

We did have a chance to run the latest beta of HandBrake, which is now available in Quick Sync- and OpenCL-optimized trim, on Intel’s Core i7s and AMD’s A10-5800K.

By no means is this meant as a slight to AMD. After all, the same task takes 226 seconds to run on the APU’s x86 cores alone, so there’s certainly an advantage to turning on OpenCL. However, Quick Sync drops a Core i7-4770K from 113 seconds (using the x86 cores-only) to 14. I had to ask Intel’s François Piednoël if there was any way this could be correct. Apparently, this is the expected behavior.

Each generation behind Haswell takes a second longer to finish the task. Just imagine if this were a full-length, Blu-ray-quality video, though.

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  • Novuake
    WELL FINALLY!! Now to read it!

    EDIT : LOL!!!!
  • thiemo56
    Dissapointing, not worth it to upgrade over sandy or ivy bridge.
  • thiemo56
    And they overclock so low.
  • Danny N
    Biggest question is if its worth upgrading my cpu i5 750 4.0ghz to Haswell or my gfx card ati 5870 to nvidia 7xx, my main pc use is for Maya, After FX and some fps gaming. Any input would be appriciated cause I'm leaning towards a cpu upgrade atm.
  • swampfire
    whats scoket is it like lg1155
  • refillable
    @Danny N
    You shouldn't ask here. Perhaps you should get an i7-4770k and a 7970(?) I heard that kepler cards does not perform that good in Maya and Aftereffects (In OpenCL).
  • refillable
    Well unless you can get a 780, that's a whole different story.
  • bergami
    I want to know more about Iris
  • envy14tpe
    Seriously. What did people expect? Of course it's better but nothing out of the ordinary for Intel.
  • enewmen
    For me it's not about the 10% gain over SB. It's more like a huge gain over a C2Q, floating point performance over SB (should matter later), and lower watts. I hope THG can expand the Power Consumption and Media Encoding later - check the Watts idle more and fast quick-sync media encoding quality loss. My 2 cents..

    other sites have reported much lower watts idle, so a lot doesn't make sense or the 4770k has a very slow throttle.
  • envy14tpe
    thiemo56Dissapointing, not worth it to upgrade over sandy or ivy bridge.

    Of course not. No one should upgrade from Sandy or Ivy to this, unless you are the 1%.
  • 016ive
    Intel made the Sandy bridge because of the phenom X6, without competition from AMD Intel will make small improvements every generation to make more money :(
  • sl6
    I was looking to make a new system based around this. Looks like Ivy-E will be more promising for the FPS.
  • tomfreak
    Still dont get it, can we still OC the lock CPU via BCLK?
  • anort3
    Well crap. And early overclocking looked so good.
  • mayankleoboy1
    1.4770K sucks harder than the preview showed it to be.

    2. Another thing i noticed, the FX8350 was a big total energy hog. That is one point AMD fanbois dont talk.

    3. Chris , no specialized AVX2 softwares ? No AVX enabled Handbrake in tests ?
    4. Would have liked to see some -/AVX2 compiled software in here. Maybe left for another "compiler tuning on Haswell piece" ?
  • DAsianFatass
    016iveIntel made the Sandy bridge because of the phenome X6, without competition from AMD Intel will make small improvements every generations to make more money

    Yeah, I agree with ya. Without competition there is no innovation. As for intel, "I am disappoint"
  • unknown9122
    I still don't get why intel went with a new socket if they consider the desktop to be "dying"... I think this is AMDs chance to shine
  • thasan1
    is it me or the most exiting news in this review powerPC thing and im not even from US.......
  • Icecweam7
    Is Intel changing its ways to now slownevate the industry? What is Intel's R&D doing? Are they too busy counting their bonuses, stocks, cigars, wine, tee time golf, and vacation trips? *Looks skyward with palm to the face and many yawns
  • ingtar33
    Wow... well no surprise those "leaked" overclock scores were all bogus. Those were reminding me of the reports prior to Bulldozer's arrival.

    But i never would have guessed Haswell would be no better then a 5% improvement over IB, and actually worse on power management and overclocking. Tom's said they had 12 chips and only got 1 to 4.7? almost all of them topped out at 4.3 and 4.4? the "lucky chips" hit 4.5... IB overclocks better then that! I wonder if this is another case of poor thermal grease.

    Disappointing Intel. that they locked BCLK out for non K is no surprise. Frankly, because of the chaos BCLK causes when used, i'm surprised they didn't lock it out completely. I wouldn't touch it even if i had a K series chip.

    Well, if we needed any confirmation that intel was sandbagging so AMD isn't slaughtered this is it. Not only do they provide almost zero improvement, they raised their prices of the cpu across the board too. This chip is about keeping AMD in the desktop game and dominating mobile.
  • ilysaml
    That was obvious, it's all about HD Graphics.
    If steamroller matches Ivy Bridge Performance, AMD will catch up with Intel pretty soon.
  • ingtar33
    ilysamlThat was obvious, it's all about HD Graphics. If steamroller matches Ivy Bridge Performance, AMD will catch up with Intel pretty soon.

    the need a 30%-40% boost over piledriver to match IB/HW. That's a huge jump, and i'm not sure we'll see it.
  • emad_ramlawi
    Its good if you wana build a fresh new computer and use those parts, but not upgrading to this.