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Haswell refreshed

The competition has gotten more potent since Kaveri's initial release, too. Intel has refreshed its Haswell lineup from top to bottom, raising clock speeds while generally keeping prices the same. Here's a relevant sampling of current Haswell models.

Model Base
clock
(GHz)
Max
Turbo
clock
(GHz)
Cores/
threads
L3
cache
(MB)
Intel HD
Graphics
Max
graphics
clock
(MHz)
TDP
(W)
Price
Core i7-4790K 4.0 4.4 4/8 8 4600 1250 88 $339
Core i5-4690K 3.5 3.9 4/4 6 4600 1200 88 $242
Core i5-4590 3.3 3.7 4/4 6 4600 1150 84 $192
Core i3-4360 3.7 - 2/4 4 4600 1150 54 $138
Pentium G3258 3.2 - 2/2 3 - 1100 53 $72

As I've mentioned, the A10-7800 is priced in between the Core i3 and i5, so we don't have an exactly direct competitor to test against. Instead, we'll bracket the 7800 with higher- and lower-priced Intel CPUs.

The very cheapest Core i5 on Intel's price list is the i5-4460 for $182. There are some slower models, but Intel has priced them at $182, too—a sign that they're on the way out. Thing is, you can also grab the Core i5-4590 for only $10 more than the i5-4460. The 4590 has a 100MHz faster base clock and a 300MHz higher Turbo peak. I figure I'd take that deal if I were buying a CPU in this range, so I chose the 4590 as our representative from the Core i5 lineup.

The Core i3-4360 stands in for the Core i3 camp. The $138 price you see for it in the table above comes from Intel's price list. Intel CPUs typically stay close to list, but we paid $153 for our i3-4360 when we ordered it from Amazon recently. AMD probably wouldn't want to admit this, but the Core i3-4360 may be the A10-7800's closest competition, truth be told.

We also have the A6-7400K lined up against a stock-clocked Pentium G3258 in a pitched battle among budget chips. We fully intended to overclock both chips as part of a larger battle, but... well, many things didn't go as planned in the making of this review.

About that...
I started out with big plans. It's been a while since we've had one of our epic, full-scale CPU reviews, and I figured it was time to produce another one with updated tests, games, and CPUs of every stripe. I collected a ton of chips and threw myself into the task. Nearly everything would be new, and we'd try all manner of intriguing tests, including our famous inside-the-second analysis of frame-by-frame gaming performance. I tested the A10-7800 versus the Core i5-4590 in some particularly difficult gaming scenarios: the "Welcome to the Jungle" level of Crysis 3, wandering the city in Watch_Dogs, Battlefield 4 with and without AMD's Mantle API. And much, much more.

Then I looked up. Four days had passed. My weeked was gone. So was Monday. And I'd only managed to test two of the planned eight or nine CPU on my list. Whoops.

The review I'd envisioned was going to be glorious. But it was also going to kill me—and severely delay our coverage of the new Kaveris—in the process.

Ultimately, I had to pull the ripcord and slim down the selection of CPUs and tests. What you see on the following pages is just a down payment on a larger CPU roundup that's still in the works, but it should be sufficient to tell the story of AMD's new APUs. We'll get into more detailed gaming coverage and the like, with a broader selection of CPUs, once I've had more time to prepare.

You'll see results for the AMD FX-8350 and the Core i5-2500K in the following pages. Consider them a bonus. I had the sockets open, so I was able to test them alongside the other processors. The FX-8350 is AMD's fastest CPU—save for the crazy 220W parts that require a water cooler. With eight integer cores and four FPUs, the FX-8350 is an interesting reference, at least. The Core i5-2500K, meanwhile, was introduced at the start of 2011 and was an enthusiast favorite from the start. When the 2500K went end-of-life in early 2013, it cost $224, a little more than the Core i5-4590 costs now. I'm intrigued to see how today's chips fare against it.

Our testing methods

The test systems were configured like so:

Processor AMD FX-8350 Athlon X4 750K
AMD A6-7400K
AMD A10-6700
AMD A10-7800
AMD A10-7850K
Motherboard Asus Crosshair V Formula Asus A88X-PRO
North bridge 990FX A88X FCH
South bridge SB950
Memory size 16 GB (2 DIMMs) 16 GB (4 DIMMs)
Memory type AMD Performance
Series
DDR3 SDRAM
AMD Radeon Memory
Gamer Series
DDR3 SDRAM
Memory speed 1600 MT/s 1866 MT/s
2133 MT/s
Memory timings 9-9-9-24 1T 10-11-11-30 1T
10-11-11-30 1T
Chipset
drivers
AMD chipset 13.12 AMD chipset 13.12
Audio Integrated
SB950/ALC889 with
Realtek 6.0.1.7233 drivers
Integrated
A85/ALC892 with
Realtek 6.0.1.7233 drivers
OpenCL ICD AMD APP 1526.3 AMD APP 1526.3
IGP drivers - Catalyst 14.6 beta

Processor Core i5-2500K Pentium G3258
Core i7-3770K Core i3-4360
Core i5-4590
Core i7-4770K
Core i7-4790K
Motherboard Asus P8Z77-V Pro Asus Z97-A
North bridge Z77 Express Z97 Express
South bridge
Memory size 16 GB (2 DIMMs) 16 GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair
Vengeance Pro
DDR3 SDRAM
Corsair
Vengeance Pro
DDR3 SDRAM
Memory speed 1333 MT/s 1333 MT/s
1600 MT/s 1600 MT/s
Memory timings 8-8-8-20 1T 8-8-8-20 1T
9-9-9-24 1T 9-9-9-24 1T
Chipset
drivers
INF update 10.0.14
iRST 13.0.3.1001
INF update 10.0.14
iRST 13.0.3.1001
Audio Integrated
Z77/ALC892 with
Realtek 6.0.1.7233 drivers
Integrated
Z97/ALC892 with
Realtek 6.0.1.7233 drivers
OpenCL ICD AMD APP 1526.3 AMD APP 1526.3
IGP drivers - 10.18.10.3652

They all shared the following common elements:

Hard drive Kingston HyperX SH103S3 240GB SSD
Discrete graphics XFX Radeon HD 7950 Double Dissipation 3GB with Catalyst 14.6 beta drivers
OS Windows 8.1 Pro
Power supply Corsair AX650

Thanks to Corsair, XFX, Kingston, MSI, Asus, Gigabyte, Intel, and AMD for helping to outfit our test rigs with some of the finest hardware available. Thanks to Intel and AMD for providing the processors, as well, of course.

Some further notes on our testing methods:

  • The test systems' Windows desktops were set at 1920x1080 in 32-bit color. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled in the graphics driver control panel.

The tests and methods we employ are usually publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.