Intel wants everyone's attention focused tightly on its fourth-generation mobile Core product line. And the vast majority of new computers that major OEMs will announce this week will indeed be notebooks. But when it came to providing us with samples for benchmarking, the only part Intel provided was a desktop processor.
While that's a curious turn of events, the good news for hard-core gamers, enthusiasts who enjoy building their own computers, and families who want all-in-one computers is that Intel has no intention of walking away from this market. With all its talk of notebooks, tablets, and hybrid convertibles, the company today released details on a dozen new desktop CPUs
But where's Iris?
Perhaps recognizing that most desktop PC buyers (aside from all-in-one aficionados) prefer to use a stand-alone video card with a stronger graphics processor from the likes of AMD or Nvidia, Intel has so far unveiled just one desktop CPU featuring its ballyhooed Intel Iris Graphics 5200 graphics processor: The Core i7-4770R. And that part will be available only in a BGA package (the acronym stands for "ball grid array," a design for mounting the microprocessor permanently to the circuit board at the factory). You can expect to see this part in high-end all-ones and perhaps in new form factors, such as tabletop tablets.
The other 11 desktop parts (five in the Core i7 family and six in the Core i5 family) use Intel's other new integrated GPU, the Intel HD Graphics 4600. These processors arrive in the more familiar LGA-1150 package, so they can be mounted to (and removed from) a socket on the motherboard. Of these, the Core i7-4770K and the Core i5-4670K have unlocked clock multipliers. If you're unfamiliar with the term, it basically means you can tweak the CPU to run faster than its factory setting.
The process of overclocking can wring additional performance from the CPU--sort of like tuning your car's engine to produce more horsepower--but pushing it too far can render your system unstable. Unlocked processors are very appealing to PC enthusiasts.
All of the new desktop processors will benefit from the same power-efficiency features found in the fourth-generation mobile Core processors, but they will have higher clock speeds and much higher TDPs, ranging from a low of 35 watts to a high of 84 watts. The aforementioned Core i7-4770R doesn't look to be any wallflower, either, with a TDP of 65 watts and a base frequency of 3.2GHz.
Intel provided us with its unlocked Core i7-4770K processor and DZ87KLT-75K motherboard to evaluate the processor's performance. We built out the rest of the test bench with 16GB of Crucial Ballistic DDR3/1600 memory (two 8GB sticks), a Cooler Master M2 Silent Pro 80 Plus Silver-rated 1000-watt power supply, and a Kingston HyperX SH103S3 240GB SATA 6Gbps SSD. For graphics, we relied solely on the Intel HD Graphics 4600 integrated into the CPU.
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