Intel Core i7-6700K Skylake CPU Review & Gaming Benchmarks

By Published August 05, 2015 at 8:40 am
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Additional Info

  • Component: CPU
  • Original MSRP: 350
  • Manufacturer: Intel

Note: Some tests were conducted additional times for parity. We test a minimum of three passes for each benchmark to ensure accuracy. In some instances -- like the Witcher 3 tests -- we double-up on passes to ensure the disparity seen is more significant than margin of error.

Intel i7-6700K vs. 4770K, 4790K GRID: Autosport Benchmarks

GRID: Autosport reveals a slight disparity between 4790K and 6700K performance.

At 145 FPS against 142 FPS, there's hardly anything to write home about. Both the 4790K and 6700K offer high enough framerates to fulfill 144Hz display demands (assuming the GPU cooperates), with similarly high 0.1% low metrics.

i7-6700k-grid

Intel i7-6700K vs. 4770K, 4790K GTA V CPU Benchmarks

GTA V shows effectively zero difference between the Haswell i7 units and newcomer Skylake:

i7-6700k-gta-v-1

i7-6700k-gta-v-2

The 6700K and 4790K are effectively tied (0.1% disparity is within margin of test error). We don't see much difference until dropping down to an i3 in GTA V. The G3258 – although it is on this chart – is unplayable at these settings, as indicated by 0.1% and 1% lows.

Intel i7-6700K vs. 4770K, 4790K The Witcher 3 CPU Benchmarks

The Witcher 3 exhibits seemingly anomalous performance. We performed additional test passes on the Witcher 3 to ensure a larger dataset. Each test pass placed the 6700K below our other CPUs (aside from the generations-old 3570K), something that we'd attribute to lower IPC or a mix of DDR4 CAS timing differences.

i7-6700k-witcher

Intel i7-6700K vs. 4770K, 4790K Metro: Last Light Benchmarks

Metro: Last Light shows a slight difference, as GRID did:

i7-6700k-mll

The 6700K marginally leads the 4790K with a 2FPS delta. Not much exciting here by way of FPS jumps, but an improvement nonetheless. The Ivy Bridge architecture is led more dramatically, though it's also a 4C/4T 3570K and Metro very clearly fronts a hyperthreading bias.

Intel i7-6700K vs. 4770K, 4790K Shadow of Mordor Benchmarks

As with some of the other games, Shadow of Mordor shows effectively zero difference between Haswell and Skylake CPUs when it comes to 1080p gaming on a 980 Ti.

i7-6700k-mordor

Intel i7-6700K Overclocking

We struggled to overclock our i7-6700K. Our sample is an engineering sample running on a pre-production motherboard, though both should be as close to the end product as possible without being actual retail devices.

Here's our chart of simplified changes:

Multiplier vCore Pass / Fail
44 1.280v P
46 1.280v F
46 1.320v P
47 1.320v F
47 1.350v F
47 1.360v F

We ultimately settled on 4.6GHz at 1.30v for the i7-6700K. Time restricted the ability to dive deeper with some of the new cache and BCLK unlocks, but this is a topic we will revisit in greater depth in the immediate future. A full article will be dedicated to Skylake overclocking once we've got a better feel for what's preventing a sturdier OC than our 4.6GHz output.

Conclusion

6700k-system-1

The biggest advantage of moving to a Skylake / Z170 platform is in memory capabilities, for those who can't afford X99 but may perform tasks that'd benefit from DDR4. Gaming is not one of those tasks (there may actually be slight overhead for gaming). Video production and photo editing immediately see benefit from DDR4.

After the memory change, the next most noteworthy improvement over Z87/Z97 is the lane increment. At 36 lanes, Skylake and Z170 support more expansion devices than its 24-lane predecessor. This is something we won't tap into until our next test, which will explore lane scalability on multiple platforms using various, real-world PCI-e configurations.

As it stands here and now, today, the i7-6700K feels similar to most of Intel's other recent launches. For anyone on a remotely recent architecture, there's just no reason to make the jump to Skylake unless for memory reasons – and those users likely know who they are. For gamers, anyone from Sandy Bridge onward should still be happily limited more by the GPU than the CPU. At a couple FPS – if lucky – Skylake isn't a raw framerate-boosting platform. It's more focused on technology, shrinking the process, and adding DDR4 to the consumer marketplace. The processor certainly isn't bad, it's just not exciting. Anyone who would have purchased a 4770K or 4790K should now consider the 6700K instead (assuming memory cost is a non-issue). Anyone who already owns Devil's Canyon, Haswell Refresh, Haswell, Ivy Bridge, or Sandy Bridge can likely hold off.

(Thanks, iBUYPOWER, for the loaner Skylake platform).

- Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke.


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Last modified on August 06, 2015 at 8:40 am
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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