Another year passes and another batch of new CPU’s have been released by Intel, their code name is Haswell and they are the 4th generation replacements for the Ivy Bridge processors.
Are they any good?
Is it worth upgrading from your existing PC to them?
I’ll answer these questions for you and let you know where they fit into our line-up of multiple monitor computers.
What Chips Are Actually Available?
As with all recent Intel CPU releases, the Core i5 and i7 versions are the first out of the gate. There are no new i3 processors at this time, expect them to follow later on though.
Similar to the Ivy Bridge CPU’s, the i5’s and the i7’s are both quad core processors with the i7’s having Hyper Threading enabled and a faster clockrate.
Hyper Threading is a clever technology which makes the chips better at running multiple commands at the same time, essentially Windows would see 8 cores available to it instead of the 4 physical cores that the chip actually has.
There are a number of Haswell i5 chips to choose from ranging from the i5-4430 (3.0GHz quad core) to the faster i5-4670K (3.4GHz quad core).
For the i7’s there are essentially two desktop options to go for, the i7-4770 (3.4GHz quad core) and the i7-4770K (3.5GHz quad core). The only difference apart from the slightly faster clockrate is that the 4770K is classed as ’unlocked’, this means you can overclock it to achieve faster performance if you wanted to.
What Is Performance Like?
Basically what you need to know is that performance of the Haswell chips is improved over the Ivy Bridge equivalents, but not by a massive amount.
Toms Hardware has an indepth performance test of the new i7 4770k v’s the Ivy Bridge 3770k, the Sandy Bridge 2700K and the Six Core i7 3930K.
Overall the Haswell chip beats the Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge variants in every test. In tests where the software is optimised for using multiple cores more effectively then the Six Core i7 3930k chip wins, but in single core optimised software the Haswell is the best performing chip out there.
View the full tests here: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i7-4770k-haswell-review,3521.html
Improved Onboard Video Performance
Motherboard / CPU graphics, i.e. graphics without a dedicated graphics card, have traditionally had poor performance. Intel are making great strides in this area to improve performance levels.
The reason for this is mainly due to them wanting to support tablets and ultra-thin laptops and give them decent graphical ability without the need for a dedicated video card.
Games benchmarked over the latest Haswell onboard graphics chips have shown big improvements over previous onboard solutions, however they will always (for the foreseeable future) lose out to dedicated graphics hardware.
Haswell does give you the ability to run 3 monitors directly off the motherboard however like previous efforts, this requires a lot of adapters to get working along with the right motherboard.
For the time being we will stick with our preferred route of utilising multiple dedicated graphics hardware in our multi-screen computers. It’s easier to setup, performs better and allows for bigger screen arrays to be connected.
Is It Worth Upgrading?
The answer is that it depends on what you are currently running.
If you are already on an Ivy Bridge system then I can’t really see any reason to upgrade, yes performance of the Haswell’s is better but often you are only talking a small percentage improvement.
Looking back at the Toms Hardware test results, a task like encoding video which took 2 minutes and 3 seconds on the Ivy Bridge chip took just 10 seconds less with the Haswell. If you think that something like this which is heavily dependent on the processor is only marginally faster, then for most tasks, which are not processor dependent there will be hardly any noticeable difference in performance.
For people with Sandy Bridge systems (which is now 2 generations old) the performance improvement is more pronounced than with Ivy Bridge. Combine this with the fact that supporting hardware like motherboards and solid state hard drive have seen gains in performance across the last couple of years then you will likely notice a performance jump if you moved to a new Haswell setup.
Anybody working with an AMD based system, or a pre-Sandy Bridge Intel system will be amazed by the performance offered by Haswell and I’d definitely recommend moving across to the new platform if you are in the market for a new PC.
Can I Buy a Haswell System Now?
Yes, Haswell is fully available and ready to go.
We have moved our Ultra Multiple Monitor computers across to the Haswell platform and they will be shipping with immediate effect on all new orders.
The standard spec will use the top i5 4670K CPU, with the best i7 4770K being the upgrade option available on all Ultra PC’s and Bundles.
Our Pro PC’s are sticking with Ivy Bridge for the time being due to the lack of a new Haswell Core i3 CPU. As soon as these become available we will migrate the Pro’s across to the Haswell architecture as well. Update: Haswell i3’s are now available and are in all our Pro PC’s.
For the Extreme series we are keeping them with the Sandy Bridge-E processor line. These CPU’s are 18 months old now however they have not actually been replaced as of yet. They are the only consumer level processors which go to 6 cores, and as you can see in the Tom’s Hardware benchmarks, they still perform very well for any software which is capable of utilizing all the cores available to a system.
Although there has been no specific details released, the Sandy Bridge-E replacement CPU’s are rumoured to be coming late 2013, you can be sure that when they arrive we will be reviewing them and, most likely, migrating across to them.
In the market for a new PC? Check out our full range of: Multiple Monitor Computers.