Intel held a press conference at Computex on Tuesday to talk about processors, things that processors go inside, and the newer, faster things those processors can do. There was some jabber about the Internet of Things and servers and low-power mobile Atom chips that don’t have much to do with gaming, but there was also a long-overdue announcement about its delayed 5th generation Core series, Broadwell. Broadwell processors are finally here for the desktop. Well, almost here: Intel says they should be available in the next 30 to 60 days.
And when they are available, you shouldn’t buy one.
To be more precise, the desktop processors you’ll hear most about, but definitely shouldn’t buy, are the Core i5-5675C and the Core i7-5775C. With Broadwell, Intel has replaced its “K” designation with C to indicate unlocked, overclockable chips. These two processors are the Broadwell equivalents of the high-end processors that have been our go-tos for gaming over the past several years, like the i5-2500k, i5-3770k, i7-4790k, etc. But you shouldn’t buy them.
Why? First, because Skylake will be here in a matter of months. Skylake is Intel’s next processor release, and it represents the bigger “tock” in Intel’s “tick tock” release cycle. That means we’ll likely see a bit more of a performance improvement out of Skylake. But far more importantly than a few percentage points of increased speed, Skylake will be launching with a new chipset, the Intel 100 series. That chipset will bring with it DDR4 support, more PCIe lanes, and greater bandwidth between processor and chipset. Buying Broadwell now means locking yourself into a soon-to-be-abandoned socket.
That’s the forward-looking reason not to buy a Broadwell processor. But the here-and-now answer is even simpler: these aren’t high performance CPUs. The i5 and i7 are clocked at 3.1 GHz and 3.3 GHz with 65 watt TDPs. Our current recommended gaming CPUs, the i5-4690k and i7-4790k, are clocked at 3.5 GHz and 4GHz. They’re faster out of the box—and with TDPs of 88 watts, they’re far more overclockable.
The new Broadwell i5-5675C and i7-577C are unlocked, but they’re not built for that overclocking. These aren’t going to be great gaming CPUs. Their real noteworthy improvement comes in Intel’s integrated Iris graphics, but no desktop gaming rig is ever going to run off those graphics when a dedicated graphics card is vastly more powerful. Broadwell is a much more important CPU release on the mobile side; Intel always needs to up its integrated graphics game for laptops. But on the desktop, Skylake will be a far better buy.
For now, if you’re building a new rig, stick with Intel’s current Devil’s Canyon processors (the 4690k and 4790k). But if you can wait a few months, Skylake is coming, and even if performance is only slightly better than the existing CPUs, the move to DDR4 and more PCIe lanes will be worth the wait.
For the full list of new Broadwell desktop CPUs you shouldn’t buy, you can read Intel’s press release from Computex.