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Review: Intel Core i5-6600K (14nm Skylake)

by Tarinder Sandhu on 11 August 2015, 16:09

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qactl2

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Introduction

Intel released the Skylake architecture on the desktop just last week. Available to the enthusiast in the K series flavours across two chips - Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K - Skylake requires a new supporting platform that takes advantage of DDR4 memory and provides more bandwidth to the system.

Core i7-6700K is the chip that most enthusiasts initially gravitate to. The four-core, eight-thread processor beats out previous Broadwell and Haswell chips by a small margin in pure CPU tasks, though with a street price of £275, it ain't cheap.

The more prudent enthusiast will look towards the Core i5-6600K as a sensible purchase. It loses out on the hyperthreading goodness, mitigating performance by a reasonable degree, but a £200 price generally more than makes up for that.

And opting for the second-rung chip isn't a bad play; it has the same integrated graphics capability and, going by previous editorial, the lack of threads doesn't have an overly negative impact upon gaming with a discrete card, especially at higher resolutions.

Here's how the 6600K lines up against other recent Intel processors:

Desktop

Model
Cores /
Threads
CPU Clock
(GHz)
Turbo Boost
(GHz)
Process
Die Size
Cache
IGP
IGP Clock
(MHz)
DDR Support (MHz)
TDP
Launch Price
(US 1ku)
Skylake Core Processor Family (6th Generation, LGA1151)
Core i7-6700K
4 / 8
4.0
4.2
14nm
TBC
8MB
HD 530
1,150
Dual 2,133 (DDR4)
91W
$350
Core i5-6600K
4 / 4
3.5
3.9
14nm
TBC
6MB
HD 530
1,150
Dual 2,133 (DDR4)
91W
$243
Broadwell Core Processor Family (5th Generation, LGA1150)
Core i7-5775C
4 / 8
3.3
3.7
14nm
TBC
6MB
Iris Pro 6200
1,150
Dual 1,600
65W
$366
Core i5-5675C
4 / 4
3.3
3.8
14nm
TBC
4MB
Iris Pro 6200
1,100
Dual 1,600
65W
$276
Haswell Core Processor Family (4th Generation, LGA1150)
Core i7-4790K
4 / 8
4.0
4.4
22nm
177mm²
8MB
HD 4600
1,250
Dual 1,600
84W
$339
Core i7-4770K
4 / 8
3.5
3.9
22nm
177mm²
8MB
HD 4600
1,250
Dual 1,600
84W
$339
Core i5-4690K
4 / 4
3.5
3.9
22nm
177mm²
6MB
HD 4600
1,200
Dual 1,600
84W
$242
Core i5-4670K
4 / 4
3.4
3.8
22nm
177mm²
6MB
HD 4600
1,200
Dual 1,600
84W
$242
Ivy Bridge Core Processor Family (3rd Generation, LGA1155)
Core i7-3770K
4 / 8
3.5
3.9
22nm
160mm²
8MB
HD 4000
1,150
Dual 1,600
77W
$313
Core i5-3570K
4 / 4
3.4
3.8
22nm
160mm²
6MB
HD 4000
1,150
Dual 1,600
77W
$212
Sandy Bridge Core Processor Family (2nd Generation, LGA1155)
Core i7-2700K
4 / 8
3.5
3.9
32nm
216mm²
8MB
HD 3000
1,350
Dual 1,333
95W
$332
Core i7-2600K
4 / 8
3.4
3.8
32nm
216mm²
8MB
HD 3000
1,350
Dual 1,333
95W
$317
Core i5-2500K
4 / 4
3.3
3.7
32nm
216mm²
6MB
HD 3000
1,100
Dual 1,333
95W
$216

Core i5-6600K

Intel differentiates the two leading chips through both architecture snips and frequency alterations. We know all about the Core i5 losing hyperthreading, but some frequency is also lost in the transition. The Core i5 model is typically clocked in about 10 per cent lower, so the 3.5GHz base and 3.9GHz boost frequencies come as no surprise. Installing the processor at a higher speed, which is a cinch, would make future Core i7 processors marginally less attractive in Intel's eyes.

The chip giant specifies these latest 14nm chips with a surprisingly high TDP of 91W. Be aware that the Ivy Bridge processors of three years ago have 15 per cent lower thermal design points. We could understand the ballooning of the power budget if Intel had, like the two Broadwell chips, improved the onboard graphics by hearty degree; that's not happened here as the HD 530 Graphics are as basic as Skylake gets.

There are two schools of thought as to whether Intel's latest chips are good. The first compares them against any Intel processor of the last four years and finds the lack of evolution and performance baffling. Those with Core i5-2500Ks - remember them? - will have no real urgency to upgrade. But if you're coming to desktop computing with a clean slate then the platform improvements of Skylake make it the obvious, and frankly only, choice available... and this is the line of thinking Intel is banking upon.

Constituting the guts of a new platform, a Core i5-6600K, decent motherboard and 8GB of DDR4-2,133 will set you back about £350. Enough for a cutting-edge build in 2015? Let's find out.