Intel Core i7-4770K Haswell Desktop Processor Review
By David Ramsey
Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by Intel.
Many companies have committed to aggressive product introduction schedules, only to have them fall by the wayside as the reality of the development process overwhelmed the optimism of the marketing department. But Intel continues to stick to its annual “tick-tock” CPU release cycle, with Haswell family CPUs following only slightly more than a year after the groundbreaking Ivy Bridge line, which introduced low-leakage 3D transistors.
Intel’s annual schedule works like this: first, release a new processor architecture, then, about a year later, introduce a process-shrink refinement. The new architecture is a “tock” and the process refinement is a “tick”. Previously, Sandy Bridge CPUs were the “tock” and last year’s Ivy Bridge CPUs were the “tick”. Haswell, with a new microarchitecture, is built on the same 22nm process introduced by Ivy Bridge, and next year’s 14nm Broadwell processors will be the “tick” to Haswell’s “tock.”
Although it’s not formalized, historically each CPU family gets its own socket. We went from Core 2’s Socket 1136 to Sandy Bridge’s Socket 1155, which was maintained for Ivy Bridge. Haswell, however, introduces a new Socket 1150, as well as a new supporting chipset family, represented at the high end by the Z87. So you won’t be able to just drop a Core i7-4770K into your existing rig; you’ll need to update the motherboard as well.
The increase in features and capabilities moving from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge was more significant than many expected. You can read our review of the Ivy Bridge-based Core i7-3770K here. The combination of Ivy Bridge and the supporting Z77 chipset brought Thunderbolt support, more PCI-E 3.0 lanes, native USB 3.0, official support of DDR3-1600, and Intel Rapid Start technology. With Haswell, Intel is introducing a full range of Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 CPUs, with special emphasis given to the mobile segment. However, what we’ve got today is their top-end desktop CPU, so let’s see what it’s got.