The Core i7-7700K is the most high-end seventh-generation Core i CPUs from Intel, based on the Kaby Lake architecture, with four cores, Hyper-Threading, and 4.5 GHz maximum clock. Let’s test it and check how faster than other models from the same generation it is.
Recently, Intel launched the seventh generation Core i processors, codenamed Kaby Lake. At first, were launched the Core i7 and Core i5 CPUs, and soon after, the Core i3, Pentium, and Celeron models. Those processors bring small changes compared to the sixth-generation ones: new video decoder for 4K video, improved Speed Shift technology (that dynamically adjusts the CPU clock,) and support to Optane technology (which is a future kind of high performance SSDs.)
The Core i7-7700K is, until now, the most high-end model among the seventh-generation Core i7 models. There are other models, like the Core i7-7700 (4.2 GHz maximum clock, TDP of 65 W, and locked clock multiplier) and the Core i7-7700T (low consumption model, with 3.8 GHz maximum clock TDP of 35 W and also with locked multiplier).
The Core i7-7700K has four cores (with eight threads thanks to the Hyper-Threading technology), base clock of 4.2 GHz, maximum clock of 4.5 GHz, 8 MiB of L3 cache and TDP of 91 W. It has an unlocked clock multiplier, which means you can overclock it just by setting a higher clock multiplier, if your motherboard support this feature.
We compared the Core i7-7700K to two other Kaby Lake models: the Core i7-7600K and the Core i3-7100, so you can have an ideia what is the performance difference between CPUs with different price tags.
Figure 1 unveils the Core i7-7700K CPU. It does not come with a cooler.
Figure 1: the Core i7-7700K CPU
Figure 2 shows the bottom of the CPU.
Figure 2: underside of the Core i7-7700K
In our benchmarks, we used the integrated video for the processing tests. However, for the gaming benchmarks, we disabled the integrated video and used a GeForce GTX 1080 video card on both CPUs, in order to see how the CPU power impact games, not the iGPU.
Let’s compare the main specs of the reviewed CPUs in the next page.
[nextpage title=”The Reviewed CPUs”]
In the tables below, we compare the main features of the CPUs included in our review.
|CPU||Cores||HT||IGP||Internal Clock||Turbo Clock||Core||Tech.||TDP||Socket||Price|
|Core i7-7700K||4||Yes||Yes||4.2 GHz||4.5 GHz||Kaby Lake||14 nm||91 W||LGA1151||USD 350|
|Core i5-7600K||4||No||Yes||3.8 GHz||4.2 GHz||Kaby Lake||14 nm||91 W||LGA1151||USD 240|
|Core i3-7100||2||Yes||Yes||3.9 GHz||–||Kaby Lake||14 nm||51 W||LGA1151||USD 120|
Below you can see the memory configuration for each CPU.
|CPU||L2 Cache||L3 Cache||Memory Support||Memory Channels|
|Core i7-7700K||4 x 256 KiB||8 MiB||Up to DDR4-2400 or DDR3L-1600||2|
|Core i5-7600K||4 x 256 kiB||6 MiB||Up to DDR4-2400 or DDR3L-1600||2|
|Core i3-7100||2 x 256 kiB||3 MiB||Up to DDR4-2400 or DDR3L-1600||2|
[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions, the only variable devicand was the CPU being tested, besides the motherboard and memory, which had to be replaced to match the different CPUs.
- Motherboard: Gigabyte AORUS Z270X-Gaming 7
- Memory: 16 GiB DDR4-2133, two G.Skill Ripjaws V F4-2133C15D-16GVR 8 GiB memory modules configured at 2133 MHz
- Boot drive: WD Blue 1,000 GiB SSD
- Video Card: GeForce GTX 1080 (on games), integrated video on the other tests
- Video Monitor: Philips 236VL
- Power Supply: Corsair VS500
Operating System Configuration
- Windows 10 Home 64-bit
- Video resolution: 1920 x 1080 60 Hz
- NVIDIA driver version: 378.49
- 3DMark 1.5.915
- Cinebench R15
- CPU-Z 1.78
- DivX 10.6
- Media Espresso 6.7
- PCMark 8
- Photoshop CC
- WinRAR 4.2
- Dirt Rally
- GTA V
- Mad Max
- Rise of the Tomb Rider
We adopted a 3% error margin. Thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.
[nextpage title=”PCMark 8″]
PCMark 8 is a benchmarking software that uses real-world applications to measure the computer performance. We ran three tests: Home, which includes web browsing, writing, light gaming, photo editing, and video chat tests; Creative, that includes web surfing, video editing, group video chat, video conversion, and gaming; and Work, which runs tasks such as writing documents, web browsing, spreadsheets, editing, and video chatting. Let’s see the results.
On the PCMark 8 Home benchmark, the Core i7-7700K was 7% faster than the Core i5-7600K, and 19% faster than the Core i3-7100.
On the Creative benchmark, the Core i7-7700K was 8% faster than the Core i5-7600K, and 28% faster than the Core i3-7100.
On the Work benchmark, the Core i7-7700K was 6% faster than the Core i5-7600K, and 12% faster than the Core i3-7100.
3DMark is a program with a set of several 3D benchmarks. Fire Strike runs a “heavy” DirectX 11 simulation. Sky Diver also measures DirectX 11 performance, and is aimed on average computers. The Cloud Gate benchmark measures DirectX 10 performance, and the Ice Storm Extreme measures DirectX 9 performance and is targeted to entry-level computers, so we don’t ran it.
On Fire Strike, the Core i7-7700K performed similarly to the Core i5-7600K, and was 17% faster than the Core i3-7100.
On the Sky Diver benchmark, the Core i7-7700K was not faster than the Core i5-7600K, but was 19% faster than the Core i3-7100.
On the Cloud Gate benchmark, the Core i7-7700K was 15% faster than the Core i5-7600K, and 41% faster than the Core i3-7100.
[nextpage title=”Performance in programs”]
Cinebench R15 is based on the Cinema 4D software. It is very useful to measure the performance gain obtained by the presence of several processing cores while rendering heavy 3D images. Rendering is an area where a bigger number of cores helps a lot, because usually this kind of software recognize several processors (Cinebench R15, for example, can use up to 256 processing cores).
We ran the CPU benchmark, which renders a complex image using all the processing cores (real and virtual) to speed up the process. The result is given as a score.
On Cinebench R15 CPU benchmark, the Core i7-7700K was 40% faster than the Core i5-7600K, and 134% faster than the Core i3-7100.
On its current version, the well-known hardware identification software CPU-Z comes with a benchmarking tool, which measures CPU performance for one core and for all available cores.
On the single thread benchmark, the Core i7-7700K was 6% faster than the Core i5-7600K, and 17% faster than the Core i3-7100.
On the multiple thread benchmark, the Core i7-7700K was 19% faster than the Core i5-7600K, and 119% faster than the Core i3-7100.
We used the DivX converter, a tool included in the DivX package, in order to measure the encoding performance using this codec. The DivX codec is capable of recognizing and using all available cores and the SSE4 instruction set.
We converted a Full HD, six-minute long .mov video file into an .avi file, using the “HD 1080p” output profile. The results below are given in seconds, so the lower the better.
On DivX encoding, the Core i7-7700K was on a technical tie with the Core i5-7600K, and was 31% faster than the Core i3-7100.
Media Espresso is a video conversion program that uses the graphics processing unit of the video engine to speed up the conversion process. We converted a 1 GiB, 1920x1080i, 23,738 kbps, .mov video file to a smaller 320×200, H.264, .MP4 file for viewing on a smartphone. The results below are given in seconds, so the lower the better.
Here the Core i7-7700K was 7% faster than the Core i5-7600K, and 20% faster than the Core i3-7100.
The best way to measure the performance of a CPU is by using real programs. The problem, of course, is to create a methodology that offers precise results. For Photoshop CC, we used a script named “Retouch Artist Speed Test,” which applies a series of filters to a standard image and gives the time Photoshop takes to run all of them. The results are given in seconds, so the less, the best.
In this test, the Core i7-7700K was 11% faster than the Core i5-7600K, and 43% faster than the Core i3-7100.
Another task where the CPU is very demanded is on file compacting. We ran a test compacting a folder with 8 GiB on 6.813 files to a file, using WinRAR 4.2. The graph below shows the time taken on each test.
On WinRAR, the Core i7-7700K was 26% faster than the Core i5-7600K, and 43% faster than the Core i3-7100.
[nextpage title=”Gaming Performance”]
Dirt Rally is an off-road racing game released in April 2015, using Ego engine. To measure performance using this game, we ran the performance test included in the game, in 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) resolution and image quality configured as “medium” and MSAA off.
The results below are expressed in frames per second (fps).
In this game, the Core i7-7700K was 8% faster than the Core i5-7600K, and 33% faster than the Core i3-7100.
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V, or simply GTA V, is an open-world action game released for PCs in April of 2015, using the RAGE engine. In order to measure the performance on this game, we ran the performance test of the game, measuring the framerate with FRAPS. We ran GTA V at Full HD, with all image quality set as “high” and MSAA off.
The results below are expressed in frames per second.
On GTA V, the Core i7-7700K was 27% faster than the Core i5-7600K, and 50% faster than the Core i3-7100.
Hitman is an action/stealth game, launched in March 2016, that uses a DirectX 12 compatible version of the Glacier 2 engine. To measure performance in this game, we ran the benchmark in it, measuring the framerate with FRAPS. We ran this game with DirectX 12 enabled, with image quality set as “high”.
The results below, in Full HD and 4K, are expressed in frames per second.
On Hitman, the Core i7-7700K was 35% faster than the Core i5-7600K, and 80% faster than the Core i3-7100.
Mad Max is an open-world action game launched in September of 2015, using the Avalanche engine. In order to measure the performance using this game, we ran its intro, measuring the framerate with FRAPS three times. We ran the game with image quality set as “high”.
The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.
On Mad Max, all the CPUs performed similarly.
Rise of the Tomb Rider
Rise of the Tomb Rider is an adventure/action game launched in January of 2016, based on Foundation engine. In order to measure the performance using this game, we ran the benchmark included on it, using Full HD resolution and graphics quality set to “medium”.
The results below are expressed in frames per second.
Also on Rise of the Tomb Rider, the Core i7-7700K was 10% slower than the Core i5-7600K, and 15% faster than the Core i3-7100.
As you may tell because of the “K” at the end of the CPU’s name, the Core i7-7700K has an unlocked multiplier, which means you can overclocking it just by modifying its clock multiplier.
We were able to configure the CPU to run stable at 4.9 GHz (100 MHz reference clock and x49 multiplier), with the original voltages. It may be possible to reach higher frequencies if you “play” with the available adjusts.
It is clear that the Core i7-7700K has a great overclocking potential. However, it is good to use a high-end cooler, because it is a CPU with relatively high dissipation and, on overclocking, it may dissipate even more heat. If the temperature reaches high values, it is possible that the CPU automatically reduces the clock, which spoils the point of overclocking it.
It is also good to keep in mind that the overclock capability depends on pure luck, since two CPUs of same model can reach different maximum clocks.
When we tested the Core i3-7100, we concluded that the new Kaby Lake architecture brings no significant performance gain over the former one, Skylake. The only real performance improvement, according to Intel, is on 4K video playback.
However, if you must choose between the Core i7-6700K and the Core i7-7700K, the last one is a better deal, because it has a higher clock and it costs the same as the older CPU.
Comparing the Core i7-7700K to the less expensive models, it is clear that it is a lot faster on the applications that use all the processor threads. On applications that use less than four cores, the performance difference is small.
On games, it was clear that the Core i7-7700K was faster than its cheaper brothers on some titles, while on other games there were no difference, even with a high-end video card. So, if you use a lower-end video card, probably only a few games will take advantage of a faster (and more expensive) CPU like the Core i7-7700K.
So, we concluded that the Core i7-7700K is an excellent CPU, very fast on any situation. It is recommended mostly if you need high performance on parallel tasks (like 3D render and video editing) or if you are building a gaming PC with a high-end video card(s).
On the other hand, if you have a limited budget for a gaming PC, the golden rule is the same as always: it is better to buy a mainstream CPU and save for a better video card, than buying a high-end processor and a cheaper video card.