Summing Up: Up to 11 Times the Performance

When we put the pieces together and started writing this article, we didn't mean to make an upgrade guide out of it. Rather, we wanted to look back at how Intel's CPUs have progressed over the years, if only for the bibliographic value and how interesting it might be. Seldom do we feature more than a few product generations in our processor reviews as we typically only compare products to what they're replacing and competing with.

With Intel's new Skylake architecture arriving next week, we thought it a good time to examine Intel's advances over the past decade before checking out their next major creation.

In 2006 the Core 2 Duo E6600 retailed for $316 and in its place today we have the Core i7-4790K for roughly the same price at $339. The 4790K is clocked at almost twice the frequency, features twice as many cores, and four times as many threads.

Actual performance gains are more impressive.

The Core i7-4790K is eleven times faster in Excel 2013 and Hybrid x265, six times faster in 7-Zip, Photoshop CC, and HandBrake. When it came to gaming, the 4790K was twice as fast in BioShock Infinite and Crysis 3, seven times faster in Metro Redux, three times faster when testing with Hitman Absolution and just barely faster in Tomb Raider.

Although the Core 2 Quad Q9650 performed considerably better than the E6600, it was still worlds slower than the i7-4790K and often found itself outpaced by the Pentium G3220 (Haswell) and even the Celeron G1820.

The Core 2 processors were fine for general usage under Windows 8.1, though it has to be said a 4-10w SoC provides about the same experience.

With almost eight years of separation, it should be unsurprising to find that the newer processor is between 6 and 12 times faster – some folks might have even expected bigger gains. This is certainly true when looking at the four year gap between the Core i5-760 and Core i5-4690K.

The 4690K is just 32% faster than the 760 in Excel, 25% faster in 7-Zip and just 17% on average when comparing gaming performance. That said, the 4690K enjoys a 60% performance advantage in Illustrator CC, while it's 90% faster when testing with Photoshop CC and 111% faster with HandBrake.

Another perspective to consider between the Core 2 Duo E6600 and Core i7-4790K is that the 6 - 12x performance gain is delivered while consuming no extra power. On a similarly impressive note, the Pentium G3220 often matched or even beat the Core 2 Quad Q9650 while consuming almost half as much power.The two year gap between the Sandy Bridge and Haswell architecture shows reasonable gains at times, but for the most part the difference is minimal. For example, the Core i5-4690K is 20% faster on average when comparing application performance and only 11% faster when comparing the encoding results (keep in mind that it's clocked a mere 6% higher). In gaming tests, virtually nothing separates the two processors.

If you enjoyed this article make sure you share it with friends and watch out for our coverage of Intel's Skylake CPUs next week. In the meantime check out some great related reads below.

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