Shall we keep hanging out under the Sandy Bridge or head on down to Kaby Lake?

Subject: Processors | January 16, 2017 - 04:11 PM |
Tagged: kaby lake, sandy bridge

Not too long ago the release of a new processor family meant a noticeable improvement from the previous generation and the only question was how to upgrade, not if you should upgrade.  Like many other things, that has passed on into the proverbial good old days and now we need reviews like this one published by [H]ard|OCP.  Is there any noticeable performance difference between the two chips outside of synthetic benchmarks? 

The test systems are slightly different as the memory has changed, the 7700K has 2666MHz DDR4 while the 2600K has 2133MHz DDR3; both CPUs are clocked at 4.5GHz however.  Their results show actual performance deltas in productivity software such as HandBrake and Blender, justifying the upgrade for those who focus on content creation.  As for gaming, if you have no GPU then you will indeed see performance increases; but nothing compared to buying a GPU.

View Full Size

"There are many HardOCP readers that are still running Sandy Bridge CPUs and have been waiting with anticipation of one day upgrading to a new system. One of the biggest things asked in the last month is just how the 2600K stacks up against the new 7700K processor. So we got hold of one of our readers 2600K systems and put it to the test."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:


Source: [H]ard|OCP

Video News

January 16, 2017 | 04:21 PM - Posted by John H (not verified)

RyZen or Coffeelake are better choices for 2600K users imo

January 16, 2017 | 05:28 PM - Posted by Hindsight (not verified)

So basically around 20% increase in framerate at best when benchmarked at the lowest settings possible and extremely low resolutions like 640x480 or 1024x768.

That difference will only grow smaller when tested at normal resolutions such as 1920x1080 or 2560x1440 and medium/high/ultra settings. I'm guessing a 10% difference in that case, depending on the game?

Six years it's been. Very happy with my 2600K. There's certainly that itch to upgrade after all these years, but I can safely wait for another generation or until my current system breaks down. Currently cash-flow restricted, so that's good, I suppose.

January 16, 2017 | 07:31 PM - Posted by Brox

Same here, 2600k still running fine. But will get Ryzen in a few months.

January 17, 2017 | 03:15 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have an overclocked i5 2500k and don't see the point of paying through the nose for any of the recent Intel offerings. SHE's offering is interesting but I will wait until people have been able to benchmark it before I jump in.

January 17, 2017 | 03:17 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That should have been "AMD's" not "she's" stupid auto-correct (and stupid human for not proof reading!)

January 16, 2017 | 05:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yeah, really hope Ryzen impresses but I'm not sure if it's even supposed to be considerably faster than what intel has out now. Intel are just holding out major advances until they're pressured in some way so there might be something worthwhile from Intel soonish.

January 16, 2017 | 11:44 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I kind of doubt that there will be anything drastically new anytime soon. Completely new re-designs take a long time. Even the tweaks and process shrinks take a long time. AMD took years because they not only did a complete re-design, they completely re-designed their standard cell libraries for high density. I wouldn't assume that Zen is that much faster compared to intel yet either, but it is looking pretty good. The high-density libraries along with 14 nm should provide them with a huge amount of transistors to increase IPC. The lower clock with very high IPC should be good for mobile also. Even if it doesn't perform that well with lower core counts, the APUs should be very good for mobile. Intel has not been competitive with integrated graphics, and that is comparing intel 14 FinFET to 28 nm planar. With AMD on 14 nm FinFET also, intel's IGP will look even worse.

January 18, 2017 | 01:02 PM - Posted by Dusty

Even Intel isn't faster than what they have out now. Tick-Tock was abandoned because they couldn't make gains significant enough on full architecture changes. If Intel had some secret sauce, they would have had to slather it on this generation. By waiting they will get under cut if Ryzen is even close on performance and 99% of consumers aren't going to buy more components one year later just because.

January 16, 2017 | 06:22 PM - Posted by Stefano from Italy (not verified)

I still have a i7 2600k and a 7970 (rx 280)
The reality is that this cpu is good today and with 16gb of ram and a ssd is pretty good for editing video ( i use media encoder befor editing is very fast).
Of corse you can say a new 7700k could give me more performence but for the upgrade i will have to change : cpu, motherboard and ram (i have ddr3) .
At the end my next upgrade will be a new gpu

P.s : sorry for my very bad english

January 16, 2017 | 07:07 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

For you, the upgrade would not make sense. 

Also, your english was much better than many of the supposedly fluent commenters.

January 18, 2017 | 01:04 PM - Posted by Dusty

I have the same CPU, and a HD 7950. I really am hurting on GPU side, especially for 1440p gaming. CPU I don't feel needs an upgrade quite yet, but I am itching to build a new system just for fun.

January 18, 2017 | 02:07 PM - Posted by Bill (not verified)

Exactly what I'm running right now. I just bought a Radeon RX 470 due in no small part for the free Hitman game for $150 to get me by another year or so. This article had bizarre timing for me as I was wondering if it was finally time to upgrade my old 2600k. Looks like I'm still good there!

January 16, 2017 | 06:31 PM - Posted by Stefano from Italy (not verified)

Sorry for the second post but i don't understand this articole :
they use a very stupid resolution just to increse the fps difference : who have a 2600k have at least a 1080p monitor.

on the Multimedia Testing the resoults are very good for 7700k .

January 16, 2017 | 07:07 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

That is how you would test CPU graphics, the low resolution takes out variables to provide a look at what differences exist in the architecture.  It's not really a gaming benchmark, but a CPU benchmark.

January 17, 2017 | 05:06 AM - Posted by Stefano from Italy (not verified)

Yes i know this is how they test the cpu performance in games but is a non realistic scenario. In my opinion at 1080p the fps difference will be much lower

January 23, 2017 | 11:47 AM - Posted by Rroce (not verified)

Thats the age old question for benchmark, isn't it? If a synthetic benchmark is able to give a score that compares one's "performance", does it really correlate with its performance in actual practical use? So why would this test gets so far away from a realistic scenario and still be considered valid? What other test that we can draw conclusions that doesn't pertain to realistic scenarios can we do?

January 16, 2017 | 10:08 PM - Posted by remc86007

I have a 4770k (4.4Ghz) and there is only one game that makes me wish I had a faster cpu: Battlefield 1 (multiplayer). In 64 player matches it dips down into the high 60s at times while my gpu usage simultaneously drops and a cpu thread is pegged at 100%. First world problems; I know...

January 17, 2017 | 11:36 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I think its questionable that Kaby Lake would improve on that really. If you have a maxxed core it more seems like Battlefield would stand to handle multi threading better.

January 17, 2017 | 04:29 PM - Posted by remc86007

I agree, better threading would help, although I see an average overall usage of over 80%, which strikes me as pretty good for a hyperthreaded part. I won't be buying anything till I see Ryzen benchmarks, and might not even then. If nothing else I should get a 14% bump in performance going from my 4.4Ghz to 5 (which it seems most Kaby Lake parts can do).

January 16, 2017 | 10:51 PM - Posted by Zaxx

I'm a just a 'moderate' gamer for the most part...still running a 2500K @ 4.6 24/7 and ofc I'd 'like' to move up to Sky or Kaby...but atm I'm still not 'noticeably' bottle-necked by my cpu. Added 8gb to my existing 8gb of ram and every 2 years I try to up to the best mid-range gpu out...just got a Saphire 4gb Nitro 480...easily the best card 'for the money' I've ever bought. Since I'm happy at 1080 and 60fps...anything more is pointless cuz I'd have to spring for a 1440 and/or 120hz monitor w/ freesynch plus the 8gb 1070.

What DOES eat at me is no support for a shiny new Samsung 960 Pro nvme m.2 ssd system drive. Being an SSD junkie since the beginning...this REALLY stings. Running a pair of R0 boot 850 Pros atm...still not even close.

That being said, I'm still pretty damn proud of my 'affordable' lil i5...I sorta suspected Sandy was gonna be a 'long-winded' chip but man...6 years...I'm impressed. Ofc running SSDs and 16gb ram does go a looong way toward how 'quick' a (any?) system actually feels.

Another good one was/is the E8400 C2D 3ghz...just add an SSD and some memory...the 6MB of L2 cache does the rest. But that's a whole 'nother

January 16, 2017 | 11:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Skylake is probably going to be good enough if you game on the RX480/1080p, and priced better now that Kaby is here. Maybe Ryzen will force the retailers to bargain price their remaining stocks of Skylake and older Intel CPU SKUs in an effort to get the older stocks off their inventories. It all really dependends on Ryzen's actual benchmarking numbers but there will probably be some great Skylake deals/sales if Ryzen is up to Skylake levels of IPC performance. With PC sales going on 5 stright years of declines there may be more pressure on Intel/Retailers to cut pricing on Skylake than is usual and add to that Ryzen getting to market may see some of the best deals in many many years for folks looking to upgrade to not the leading edge Intel offerings but those of the previous years offerings like Skylake and older.

One question though will the latest Intel motherboards support Skylake or would it be better to maybe get whatever older model MB SKUs that where available at the time of Skylake's release, there should be deals all around this year with so much real competition from AMD and Ryzen/Vega/AM4 to maybe push Intel based motherboard pricing down also.

January 16, 2017 | 11:11 PM - Posted by _xcomponent_ (not verified)

I'm interested to see 4.6 Ghz Sandy (which for most chips is the highest AUTO clock) vs 4.2 Ghz Kaby (Stock).

January 17, 2017 | 12:43 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What are similar xeon counterparts to these? I do not see any reason to invest in another latest i7 for life cycle refresh and to catch up to needed virtualization improvements, when most of the space and resources seem wasted on graphics and multimedia I will not be using.

January 17, 2017 | 03:16 AM - Posted by Dood (not verified)

Just pulled up Ark and no new Xeons have been released so far. The last batch are the E3 V5 (Skylake) and E5 V4 (Broadwell-E). Give it a couple of months to come down the pipeline for E3 V6. Who knows when the Skylake-E or Kaby Lake-E will hit.

January 17, 2017 | 06:40 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It does not even have to be latest. New xeons tend to be hugely expensive, especially since more designed towards huge workloads. Xeon from few years ago that was designed for workloads of back-then, would do fine for limited home professional use. So it can be 3+ year old and still perform as well as sandy bridge for my purpose but without multimedia fluff. The situation is similar to what the article is proposing, that we are stage where upgrades may not always be worth it. Therefore, I am researching a model that would be comparable i7 2600K, for example, regardless of release date.

January 17, 2017 | 09:42 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Digital Foundry compares stock vs stock and OC vs OC CPUs across multiple games:

Core i7 7700K vs 6700K vs 4790K vs 3770K

January 17, 2017 | 06:52 PM - Posted by John Pombrio

This could be said for ANY combination of CPUs except for the really low end ones. I think the best reason to upgrade is from my friend. I gave him my 4.4Ghz Sandy Bridge machine when I upgraded to Devil's Canyon at 4.4Ghz. Now I just gave him the DC machine when I upgraded my computer to a Kaby Lake running at 4.7GHz (on air 83C max temp when running stress tests). He wrote back saying that he NOTICED that the new computer was a lot faster. He did not do benchmarks, he was not talking about how fast it booted, he was talking about just using it for normal tasks. He is not a gamer. When you can feel a noticeable difference, it is worth the upgrade. So many people do not take that into account that when using a computer all day, you save time, get more done, and spend less time waiting for things to respond or for a website page to come up. Frankly, it was painful to visit him and watch how slowly things were taking even after a clean install.
Mind you, his Sandy Bridge computer would do all of the things that my new Kaby Lake computer can do, it just was pokey. I will stick to Windows 10 and my new Kaby Lake computer. It is worth the money to me.

January 18, 2017 | 01:46 AM - Posted by Fubar (not verified)

Does he also FEEL that the energies are syncing around him and make the power crystals align with the stars' harmonic frequencies while you spew out the same stuff that is coming from his rear end.

January 19, 2017 | 01:17 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What a ridiculous posting. It "feels" faster?? Feelings don't count in the the real world. Why don't you read all of the articles around the internet from reputable sites testing the 7700K. With rare exceptions, nearly every single one of them, including the "buy the new Intel CPU every year" ones were saying don't bother upgrading!! Clock for clock KL is identical to SL, in fact, slower in some instances. The truth of the matter is Intel has done nothing for the architecture since SB. Adding some graphics core codec processing is not an improvement, but a late edition that should have been there for years. Also, the argument that oh the 270 series MBs have Optane support. Optane, as it stands, is broken. Broken so badly it won't be released this year. Oh, but the 270 series have 4 more PCIe lanes. Yes, for Optane that won't be released. Optane, if magically released will be used as a cache addition and not as a high speed storage medium as originally promised. No one likes cache chips.It doesn't help the actual storage when used in its entirety. By the time or if Optane is ever released, it won't be compatible with KB. The platform that has it will have a new version that's incompatible with KB. KB is an incremental, in some features, NOT speed only. Intel has dropped the ball and is charging through the nose for it. Hopefully AMDs 8 core will add some sorely needed competition because this generation of Intel chips is embarrassing.

January 17, 2017 | 09:42 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

These subtle suggestions to upgrade from Sandy Bridge i respected the first time i saw one. But the same articles come out with every cpu release i think we can start to appreciate the stalemate between us and intel now. And the paid press articles.

Guess what, im still not going to upgrade, and the more articles suggesting i should only inspires me to keep it longer.

For the record im running a standard mini itx board (non enthusiast), a silly old thermaltake cooler and 4.2 24/7. Whats telling is i didn't even TRY to push it harder, easy, works, thanks. Because i was not and still am not cpu bottlenecked by anything.

January 18, 2017 | 12:44 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

As I clearly stated in the post, you have to upgrade or you will be arrested and tortured.

January 18, 2017 | 01:07 PM - Posted by Dusty

Give me last gen or give me death!

January 18, 2017 | 02:12 PM - Posted by Bill (not verified)

I can hardly believe I'm still using the same processor almost 6 years later. My 2600k has probably, no definitely, been the best bang for the buck computer component I've ever bought. Had I known then that I would still have it all this time later I'd have sprung for the best motherboard available then. My Asrock Z68 Extreme 4 is still chugging along nicely though so no complaints.

August 7, 2017 | 05:45 PM - Posted by Innyve89 (not verified)

Will I see a massive improvement from a 4770k overclocked to 4.4, compared to a ryzen 1700 oc'd to 4? Sorry I this has been asked already I can't seem to find it.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.