i7-2600K Game Benchmarks in 2017: Watch Dogs 2
Performance in Watch_Dogs 2 was one of the things that necessitated this article in the first place: in our 2500K revisit, the overclocked 2500K only managed to eke out 67FPS average, while the 2600K hit 73.7 with no overclock at all, and at 4.7GHz, the 2600K really stretched its legs. 89.33FPS is higher than the R7 1800X’s overclocked peak, both with comparable lows, and it’s higher than any non-hyperthreaded Intel CPU. That includes the 7700K with hyperthreading disabled. Watch_Dogs 2 is really a best-case scenario, since it takes advantage of the available threads while still leveraging clock speed.
The overclocked 2600K is performing right around where the overclocked 1700 performs, or about 21% behind the 7700K stock.
Watch_Dogs 2 is really a best-case scenario, since it takes advantage of the available threads. As far as WD2 goes, upgrading would involve buying a modern i7 or finding an especially robust R7 – none of these seem particularly worth it alone, but if you’re also upgrading for other reasons, like modernized IO or other games, then there’s more to consider.
i7-2600K Benchmarks in 2017: Total War: Warhammer
Improvements were slightly less impressive in Total Warhammer when compared to WD2, but a 15% increase in average FPS with overclocking is nothing to scoff at, especially considering the much-improved 1% and 0.1% lows (although these tend to vary a good bit). 130FPS still isn’t exactly competitive with modern CPUs of similar cost, with the 2600K even lagging behind the overclocked i3. It seems that, as we saw in our initial Ryzen reviews, TWW isn’t fully leveraging the number of threads available to it—that said, and this is really important, there’s since been an update to Total War: Warhammer that we found to improve Ryzen performance in an important way, and this might also hold true for the i7-2600K. We’ll be retesting some Intel chips in Total War: Warhammer with the new update in time for the R5 reviews.
i7-2600K Benchmarks in 2017: GTA V
GTA also ran at 130FPS average, this time improving from 103.7FPS. GTA has engine constraints that exhibit themselves with high-performing i5s, so the 2600K is stuck with comparisons to R7s and i7s. The overclocked 2600K outperforms every R7 CPU and lands below the 4790K stock, falling short by 7.8%. The R7 1700X with a 3466MHz memory overclock and 3.9GHz core overclock is able to outperform the 2600K in average framerate.
i7-2600K Benchmarks in 2017: Ashes Of The Singularity
We are working on updating to Escalation for AOTS. For this revisit, we’re running on the previous version of AOTS. Escalation is known to offer a performance boost -- we’ll get there.
Ashes is another title which heavily favors high threadcount, although originally the 2600K landed way down on the list, below the 6600K and 7600K in spite of hyperthreading. When overclocked, it leaps up into the middle of the R7s, although still not at the level of the 4790K.
Metro: Last Light
Metro follows the same trend as other titles: moderate improvement (again to 130FPS) that beats all i5s and even R7s, but can’t quite approach the 4790K. This could be due to memory being limited to 2133MHz, but regardless, it’s quite an achievement for a CPU that came out two years before Last Light was released.
Conclusion (Is It Worth Upgrading the 2600K?)
Sandy Bridge CPUs are an interesting case: although some advances in technology like M.2, NVMe, and USB 3.1 Gen2 have made them increasingly obsolete, more affordable coolers and increased ease of overclocking (abundant guides) have enabled them to keep pace much better than their modern counterparts. Since 2011, Intel and AMD both have become much more efficient at extracting maximum performance from their CPUs straight out of the box, leaving less headroom for overclocking. These revisits also require a different perspective from our normal reviews, since the question isn’t “should I buy it?” but “should I bother upgrading it?”
If “upgrading” means “overclocking,” then it’s absolutely worth it--the 2600K can massively improve performance in a way that’s becoming less common every year. Otherwise, it’s a matter of budget, how much newer CPU-bound tech matters to the user, and whether or not performance is becoming an issue. The biggest problem we saw during testing was Sandy Bridge’s limited memory speeds, as we could only run our memory at 2133MHz. The 2600K can’t come close to modern i7s, but at the end of the day, it’s still more than acceptable for 1080p 60Hz gaming and can compete strongly with modern i5s.
If you’re satisfied with performance and don’t need the new technologies afforded by today’s chipsets, then there’s not much point in upgrading. If your SNB system is feeling a little slow, we’d recommend price-linear upgrade paths to either the i7-7700K or R7 1700: the i7-7700K ($345) would be the go-to linear upgrade for pure gaming builds, particularly those focusing on high refresh; the R7 1700 ($330) would be the go-to for a price-linear upgrade that can run Blender-type production workloads in addition to reasonable gaming.
Sr. Editor, Tester: Patrick Lathan
Editor-in-Chief, Test Lead: Steve Burke
Video Producer: Andrew Coleman