Some quick overclocking tests
One of the biggest questions about Kaby Lake is whether Intel's improved 14-nm process technology opens up any additional overclocking headroom for the company's unlocked CPUs. To find out, we dived into our motherboard's firmware to see just how much more performance we could extract from our particular i7-7700K. We stuck to basic multiplier overclocking for this test and raised the Vcore of our chip as needed to achieve stability. We continued in this way until we ran into thermal limits.
After several cycles of increasing multipliers, running Prime95, and increasing voltages as needed to achieve stability, we ended up at 4.8 GHz and around a 1.32V Vcore. Our system could boot at 4.9 GHz, but we ran into thermal throttling when we tried increasing the Vcore further to achieve stability. Considering the i7-7700K's 4.5 GHz stock Turbo speed, a 6% overclock ain't much—especially when it's threatening to overcome a $110, 280-mm liquid cooler.
A beefier liquid loop or even more exotic cooling solutions might perform better, but we're just regular folks with regular coolers here. We've successfully taken a Core i7-6700K to 4.7 GHz before, so another 100 MHz seems like it falls within the chip-to-chip variations inherent in semiconductor manufacturing.
We unfortunately didn't have time to overclock every CPU on our test bench, but we did overclock our evergreen Core i7-2600K to 4.5 GHz to see how it performed against the Core i7-7700K at 4.8 GHz. We re-ran a few of our productivity tasks to see just how each chip performed. Here's what we found.
So, uh, yeah. Overclocking the Core i7-7700K makes a fast chip a little bit faster at most everything, but the improvements are pretty modest considering the extra fan noise and heat production involved. A new Sandy Bridge this isn't.
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