Buy Intel’s fifth-generation Broadwell desktop processor or wait for Skylake?

Intel has finally revealed the prices of its first Broadwell desktop processors – the  i5-5675C and the i7-5775C, marking the era of 14-nanometer chips in the desktop world.

Intel’s fifth-generation Core i desktop processors are coming exactly 9 months after the first Broadwell chips – the Core M aimed at laptops – were announced.

The new Broadwell chips have allowed Intel to finally surpass AMD in the latter’s key area of strength – the performance of integrated graphics processing units. But should you buy them or wait for Skylake, due before the holiday season this year?


Against the norm of releasing new generation chips after one year, Intel has taken exactly two years to upgrade its desktop chips from 4th generation to 5th generation, making it one of the biggest upgrade gaps in the company’s recent history.

As a result, the market is unlikely to set off fireworks over the launch. In fact, many may consider it worthwhile to wait for another 4 months and buy Intel’s sixth-generation desktop processor based on the Skylake technology.

In fact, Broadwell is a ‘tick’ update – implying that other than energy efficiency, nothing much will be gained over Haswell. On the other hand, Skylake will be a ‘tock’ upgrade, which promises more notable improvements in actual performance.


Tick updates usually mean a move to a smaller technology or process, with Broadwell moving from 22 nm to 14 nm.

Not surprisingly, therefore, there is a 23% reduction in the thermal envelope (maximum heat generated or power consumed) by the fifth-generation Core i desktop processors and their equivalents released two years ago.

While the fourth-generation i5-4670 consumed a maximum of 84 watts of power, the fifth-generation  i5-5675C has been designed with a maximum power draw of 65 watts in mind.

The same difference can be seen between the older i7-4770 and the newer i7-5775C.

In other words, the move from Haswell to Broadwell does not call for an update of your system, as performance would be largely similar, while the lower power draw is unlikely to justify the upgrade cost.


There is, however, one serious improvement that Intel has made to the first fifth-generation Core i5 and i7 processors over their predecessors – both come with massive improvements to their integrated graphics units.


For example, the newer  i5-5675C scores 20.4 fps in the Cinebench OpenGL benchmark, while the older i5-4690K scores only a measly 2.7 fps. Similarly, the Broadwell i7-5775C scores 21.0 fps while the older i7 4770S scores only 3.7 fps.

That is a pretty massive difference for a ‘tick’ upgrade.

However, Intel is in the middle of boosting the performance of its integrated graphics processors in an attempt to deny one of the key advantages that its rival AMD can claim in the desktop arena.

With the new Iris Pro graphics contained in the Broadwell line, it would be safe to assume that Intel has finally bridged the performance gap between its own and that of AMD’s desktop processors.

For example, the AMD A10 7850K processor, one of the company’s top processors, scores only 15.4 fps in Cinebench, well below the score posted by the i5 5675C.

Of course, AMD is not out of the game yet. For example, the 95-watt AMD A10-7850K is priced at only $130, while the  i5-5675C has been priced at $277 and the i7-5775C at $377.00.

That said, the new Intel chips offer far more processing power than AMD A10 7850K. For example, in Google Octane web test, the i7-5775C scored 36,500 and the i5-5675C scored 35,560, while the AMD A10-7850K managed a score of just 20,090 points.

In other words, with fifth-generation Core i, Intel’s chips have demonstrated that they are better than anything else out there in three of the key parameters – power, efficiency and graphics.

Until AMD releases its Zen-based chips in the second half of next year (by which time, Intel would have moved further ahead with the launch of Skylake), it will face little competition in the desktop market, except at the extreme budget end.

Notebook and tablets will, however, be a different story as ARM Holdings’ new Cortex A72 architecture is threatening to punish Intel’s own offerings in this area with their superior power efficiency coupled with acceptable performance.

In short, for those who cannot or do not want to go for add-on graphics cards and want decent amount of power from their desktops, Intel’s fifth-generation processors offer the ideal solution.


In fact, if you do not require ‘a lot of power’, Intel released its low-voltage 5th-generation processors about three months ago, and these have thermal envelopes of 15-28 watts only (in the i5 brand), while offering an acceptable level of performance.

For example, the Core i5-5287U, available to OEMs at a price of $315, scores 3500 on Geekbench 3 in single-core mode and 7,300 in dual-core (all-core) mode — enough power for 95% of PC users out there. It comes with Intel Iris Pro 6100 graphics too.

In other words, with Broadwell, the game has largely shifted to the low-voltage market for most customers, and for serious gamers who prefer discrete graphics units, the integrated graphics is probably not going to suffice either.

Still, for those who want to make moderately powerful PCs by hand instead of buying the NUC or mini PCs from Zotac or Asus, the latest chips offer a better deal than the Haswell. For upgrades, however, we suggest waiting for another 4-5 months.



Intel® Core™ i5-5675C

Processor(4M Cache, up to 3.60 GHz)

Q2’15 4 65 W BOX : $277.00

TRAY: $276.00

Intel® Iris™ Pro Graphics 6200
Intel® Core™ i7-5775C

Processor(6M Cache, up to 3.70 GHz)

Q2’15 4 65 W BOX : $377.00

TRAY: $366.00

Intel® Iris™ Pro Graphics 6200


Intel® Core™ i5-4670 Processor(6M Cache, up to 3.80 GHz) Q2’13 4 84 W BOX : $224.00TRAY: $213.00 Intel® HD Graphics 4600
Intel® Core™ i7-4770 Processor(8M Cache, up to 3.90 GHz) Q2’13 4 84 W BOX : $312.00TRAY: $303.00 Intel® HD Graphics 4600

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