Intel Skylake i5 6600K & i7 6700K 1151 Z170 Review
Published: 5th August 2015 | Source: Intel | Price: BUY @ OCUK |
There are many things to be impressed about with any new Intel release. Whether it's the energy efficiency of the Devil's Canyon CPUs, the graphical prowess of the Broadwell, or the sheer grunt of the Haswell-E platform, every one has something to get the juices flowing.
In fact the consistency of their releases is unquestionably the key element. Whereas a decade or so ago there were always caveats, nowadays every processor is so well rounded that there is very little to say beyond the obvious 'it's excellent' mantra. If you'll allow us to divert for a moment there is an expression amongst guitarists called GAS. Guitar Acquisition Syndrome. No matter how good the axe you own is, the new ones always leave you reaching for your wallet. A similar statement (PAS?) would hold true with new Intel releases. Even if you own an i7-4770K it's difficult to look at the capabilities and overclocking potential of the Skylake CPUs and Z170 chipset and not find yourself thinking it's about time you upgraded.
Those overclocking capabilities are probably the star of the show. If you've been tinkering with CPUs for as long as we have then you'll remember the delicate balancing act between FSB/BCLK and the CPU multiplier. Trying to extract as much performance from all your hardware as possible. When the BCLK was locked it was a shock to the system and we all learnt new ways of overclocking. Gradually Intel have freed up that feature again from big steps (100/133/166) to today's Skylake SKU which frees you up to overclock in whichever manner you choose. It's largely why we did a 200x20, just for old times sake. Combining this BCLK freedom with the insane memory performance really sets things apart though. Our i7-6700K was running and 4.8GHz CPU 3.6GHz Memory. Even the i5-6600K had 4.75GHz/3.3GHz available. If that doesn't excite you we're not sure what will, particularly in light of how these big clocks responded in our benchmarks.
Intel have combined all the elements that have been spread across a range of their products and packaged them all together. We have the HD530 graphics, admittedly not as good as Iris but much better than the HD4600 of yore. Multiplier and BCLK overclocking freedom we saw from the X99 range. DDR4 compatibility from X99 whilst also supporting the DDR3 that most of us currently have, saving us a fair bit of cash on the upgrade price. There is plenty of connectivity too with the 10 USB 3.0 ports, 6 SATA ports, 20 PCI Express 3.0 lanes and M.2 storage support. It's almost a greatest hits package. Perhaps most striking of all is how good the i5-6600K is. We expect the i7's to be excellent, and it is, but the i5 is a true successor to the legendary i5-2500K.
If you've been holding off upgrading because either the Devil's Canyon didn't quite offer enough and the Haswell-E was ludicrously expensive, then the Skylake SKU is the one for you and we'd recommend it highly to anyone with a 3 series CPU or below. It's an Intel greatest hits and utterly worthy of our OC3D Gold Award.
We must also thank our friends at ASUS, Corsair, G.Skill and Kingston for enabling this review to happen. The ASUS Z170-A is an incredibly capable motherboard that feels much more premium than its £116 price tag and feel that for getting us through all of this testing without skipping a beat and giving us no real issues other than that 3600XMP issue which Asus has now fixed with a new bios and also thoroughly deserving of its own OC3D Gold award.