Intel Core i7-4770K Conclusion
Haswell and its supporting “Lynx Point” Z87 chipset represent yet another incrementally refined iteration of Intel’s mainstream CPU platform. Performance improvements at the CPU level are minor and will be unnoticeable except in benchmarks. The performance of the integrated GPU has been substantially improved, but it’s still far behind all but the lowest-end video cards and not really germane to desktop users.
Ultimately, Haswell is a disappointment for desktop users, since it offers nothing significant in the way of performance or feature improvements. It seems as if it will be a while before we see anything like the leap in performance we marveled at when Sandy Bridge succeeded the Core2 architecture (read our Core i7-2600K processor review if you need reminding of just how dramatic that performance improvement was). If anything, “desktop Haswell” is a step backwards, since its 10% price increase combined with its 5% performance increase means that the Core i7-4770K simply isn’t as good a value as the 3770K. Depending on the luck of the draw and your CPU cooling setup, it’s entirely possible you could overclock an Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge CPU to be faster than an overclocked Haswell.
If you’re building a new rig from scratch, sure, go with Haswell, as its minor price increase can be justified if you consider all the plusses: the performance, if only slightly better than Ivy Bridge, still makes it the fastest consumer CPU available; and there are a few more USB 3.0 and SATA 6G ports, and so forth. And, unless you find a sale going on, there’s no reason to put money into the end-of-life LGA1155 platform. But if you’re currently running an LGA1155 setup, there’s certainly no compelling reason to upgrade to Haswell.
That said, I find myself torn on how to rate this processor. On the one hand, it’s the fastest consumer CPU. On the other hand, you could slip Haswell hardware into a two-year-old Sandy Bridge setup and the owner would never notice. On the gripping hand, is it fair to ding a product that’s the best in its class because it’s not as good as we wanted it to be?
Ultimately, I can’t blame Intel for prioritizing features that strongly favor mobile devices, because you don’t have to be Nostradamus to see that’s where the future of consumer computing is. If only it overclocked better…
+ Still the best single-core performance available
+ Dramatically improved iGPU performance
+ Mobile versions offer new ultra-low-power modes
+ At least Intel didn’t change the cooler mounting points
- Only incremental CPU performance improvements over Ivy Bridge
- New socket means a new motherboard is required for upgrades
- Still only 16 PCI-E lanes
- Relatively poor overclocking
Final Score: 8.60 out of 10.
Recommended: Benchmark Reviews Seal of Approval.
COMMENT QUESTION: How often do you upgrade your PC?