Overclocking Intel’s Core i7-7700K: Kaby Lake Hits The Desktop!

Benchmark Results

A recent upgrade to our Windows 10 test suite gave me the perfect excuse to concurrently upgrade my hardware. Specifically, MSI’s GTX 1080 Armor OC replaces my old GTX 970, and Toshiba’s RD400 256GB NVMe SSD replaces my previous 2.5” model.

Test System Configuration

Software
GraphicsGeForce 372.90

Synthetic Benchmarks

The higher-clocked Core i7-7700K provides nominal increases in 3DMark performance, mostly because of gains in its CPU Physics tests. Overclocking makes a far greater difference.

Sandra Arithmetic and Multimedia also show appreciable gains for the higher-clocked processor.

3D Games

Ashes appears to have a slight preference for faster CPU clocks, while F1 2015 responds primarily to the increased memory data rates of our overclocked configurations. F1 2015 results appear different from recent Z170 motherboard reviews because I fixed a previous error in the benchmark’s software configuration.

I also fixed an error in my Talos software configuration, allowing MSI’s GTX 1080 to accelerate well past 200 FPS at our medium preset. Still, FPS gains are fairly small in proportion to clock speed differences.

Timed Benchmarks

Incremental improvements in timed benchmarks show the greatest benefit of the Core i7-7700K’s clock increase. Moreover, its improved overclocking capability should put a smile on the faces of die-hard performance enthusiasts.

Heat And Efficiency

Because the Core i7-7700K acts like an overclocked Core i7-6700K, its temperatures increased just like the power increases seen on the previous page. Update: Our first follow-up test has already confirmed a lower temperature delta between the Core i7-7700K and Core i7-6700K when using a different motherboard. A 7.2% clock increase gives it a 7.2% maximum performance increase, which is diminished in benchmarks that aren’t as CPU-constrained.

Intel’s Kaby Lake efficiency pretenses are thrown out the window in the Core i7-7700K, at least when paired with this motherboard. Perhaps we have something to look forward to when Z270 finally gets here?

For true performance enthusiasts, the real news is that Intel’s new mainstream-socket enthusiast CPU will reach new overclocking heights. Unfortunately, getting its extra heat out of the core was quite a challenge, as even stepping up from Noctua’s NH-U12S to its NH-D14 saved a mere 3°C. This overclocking experiment even required a 15°C room temperature, which is something most readers won’t be able to accomplish. Big liquid might help, but since the cooler’s heatpipes were barely warm to the touch, there’s a possibility that 4.8 GHz may be the limit of this sample while using any ambient-temperature cooling solution. Still, the fact that it reached 4.8 GHz without sub-ambient cooling is encouraging.

Other points of interest, such as built-in HEVC and VP9 8/10-bit encode/decode, may be revealed when our CPU team is able to publish their full review. Until then, the extra overclocking capability at least gives performance enthusiasts who don’t yet (or still) own a (functioning) Skylake processor a reason to wait for the Kaby Lake release.

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  • sarinaide
    The results are kind of disappointing for a 200mhz clock bump and 200mhz overclock head room you get twice the heat and power used, and 10% at best gains but more or less less than 5%. Sorry but maybe I missed something but that is not very good.
  • ubercake
    At max graphic settings, gaming performance differences are negligible.

    I'd like to see the 7700K versus a Sandy Bridge with gaming. It's probably not a whole lot different since the year 2011.

    Hopefully AMD's Zen lives up to the hype "bulldozer" never did because Intel has no competition right now.
  • weilin
    Tick -> Tock -> Tock should really just be Tick -> Tock -> Tweak
  • Other Comments
  • sarinaide
    The results are kind of disappointing for a 200mhz clock bump and 200mhz overclock head room you get twice the heat and power used, and 10% at best gains but more or less less than 5%. Sorry but maybe I missed something but that is not very good.
  • envy14tpe
    I'm salivating and excited to get this. Yeah...2017 upgrade time!
  • Daniel Ladishew
    Why would you use a motherboard with known issues (BLCK and RAM timings) to test a brand new CPU? It seems like you would have been better served taking the extra time to switch out to a motherboard that actually performs as expected with all previous hardware, so your baseline isn't questionable. If I were Intel, I wouldn't respond to these results either. Please test again with a better performing motherboard.
  • ComputerSecurityGuy
    Does it really deserve the exclamation point?

    Kaby Lake has the expected identical IPC to Skylake but slightly higher clocks. The thermal figures are surprising, I would have thought that they wouldn't have done that bad.

    Anyone with Skylake shouldn't bother upgrading. As expected, Intel has produced a filler chip simply because their 10nm fab is taking longer than expected.
  • elbert
    Looks like the 14nm+ is real given +200mhz overclock gain. Now just wonder what the leaked i3-7350K can get in overclock.
  • MusenMouse
    Maybe Intel's letting AMD get a free punch before they roll them next round :). Anyways maybe Kaby Lake will be like the Broadwell lineup, fleeting and in small numbers.
  • logainofhades
    Anonymous said:
    Does it really deserve the exclamation point?

    Kaby Lake has the expected identical IPC to Skylake but slightly higher clocks. The thermal figures are surprising, I would have thought that they wouldn't have done that bad.

    Anyone with Skylake shouldn't bother upgrading. As expected, Intel has produced a filler chip simply because their 10nm fab is taking longer than expected.


    Depends on what skylake they have. An i3 6100 user may be interested in an i5 7500 or an i7 7700.
  • ubercake
    At max graphic settings, gaming performance differences are negligible.

    I'd like to see the 7700K versus a Sandy Bridge with gaming. It's probably not a whole lot different since the year 2011.

    Hopefully AMD's Zen lives up to the hype "bulldozer" never did because Intel has no competition right now.
  • Jamie_Lannister
    Im going to wait for cannonlake. For now I'll stick with my good old Ivy Bridge i5 3570k.
  • Aristeid3s
    @ubercake, There are quite a few pieces of content out there showing a skylake i5 vs a 2500k. I don't remember specifics, but it was a pretty handy increase.
  • InvalidError
    Anonymous said:
    The thermal figures are surprising, I would have thought that they wouldn't have done that bad.

    If you overclock Skylake to the same frequency as Kaby, Skylake catches up pretty quickly. They appear to be about the same on performance per watt. Nothing disappointing there, just unexceptional. I suppose that can be disappointing in its own way - another cycle of negligible performance and power efficiency gain.
  • Malik 722
    so in oder to give kaby-lake full race i am gonna have to wait for november and december,because this is the time when ambient room temperature is lower on the equator side.
  • why_wolf
    pretty much what I expected it to be like.
  • weilin
    Tick -> Tock -> Tock should really just be Tick -> Tock -> Tweak
  • joex444
    Is killing Skylake chips by overclocking really such an epidemic that the author needs to suggest twice that the intended reader of this article is one who has killed their 6700K?
  • Rookie_MIB
    Anonymous said:
    At max graphic settings, gaming performance differences are negligible.

    I'd like to see the 7700K versus a Sandy Bridge with gaming. It's probably not a whole lot different since the year 2011.

    Hopefully AMD's Zen lives up to the hype "bulldozer" never did because Intel has no competition right now.


    I recently saw a review of Sandy Bridge vs Skylake - on average - there is a fairly decent improvement in FPS when running games at 1080p, indicating that there is a CPU constraint in there. However, the Sandy Bridge setup was quite playable (45+ fps on modern titles at ultra/high). Switch to 1440/4k and the difference drops indicating the GPU constraint. At 1440p the difference was minimal (10%) and 4k they were neck and neck.

    And you're right, AMD has a nice chance to get some licks in on Intel with Zen. Lets hope they pull it off and give them a run.
  • ammaross
    Anonymous said:
    Looks like the 14nm+ is real given +200mhz overclock gain. Now just wonder what the leaked i3-7350K can get in overclock.


    Well, the i3 starts at 4.0Ghz, so I'd think it could hit 4.6 to 4.8 depending on board and sample. The i7-7700K can OC to 5.0Ghz on decent boards (not the crap one used in this review).
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Looks like the 14nm+ is real given +200mhz overclock gain. Now just wonder what the leaked i3-7350K can get in overclock.


    Well, the i3 starts at 4.0Ghz, so I'd think it could hit 4.6 to 4.8 depending on board and sample. The i7-7700K can OC to 5.0Ghz on decent boards (not the crap one used in this review).
    Take those with a grain of salt because the same thing was "shown" of Skylake, and what the screenshots actually did show on both cores was a core voltage that's impossible to cool cheaply at full clocks and eight threads of AVX-optimized Prime95.
  • cordes85
    It adds nothing new, and frankly CPU power has hit the brick wall, we need AMD Zen to be a success, not because i want to buy them, but id like Intel to be cheaper. When will 6 cores be the norm for mainstream desktop Intel processors? Id like to see the next 8700k to be 6 cores@ 4Ghz-4.4 TB. I have a skylake i5 6500 bclk to 4.5GHZ, and an old Ivybridge I7 laptop which just goes on forever. I think only Ram, and GPU matters to a degree and obviously the switch from HDD to SSD. You'd think that M.2 would drive down prices of Sata SSD, but when will 1TB SSD be under £100?
  • jasonf2
    If rumors are to be believed KabiLake's biggest advantages will be in the new chip-set. I think it is a forgone conclusion that KabiLake is Skylake+ (no one has called it anything different). But all we are seeing here are synthetic benchmarks that for all given purposes will only reflect clock (and power consumption when overclocked). Kabilake is not a new process node or design but a refinement with some extra hardware extensions and on board highly efficient encode\decode systems which will not reflect here but be really nice in real world application. I am also hoping for a little bit of optane love here too (if Wikipedia is to be believed).