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PC Builders’ Preferences For Intel i7 Versus i5 CPUs And Skylake Versus Haswell Microarchitectures

In August, 2015, Intel launched a new microarchitecture for its CPU products. The Skylake microarchitecture was a slight improvement (a 12% gain in processing power according to this article) over the last popular consumer microarchitecture, the Haswell, which was released in 2013. The recent popularity of the CPUs based on Skylake in the builds on PCPartPicker demonstrates a very strong interest that may soon surpass the total number of builds that include a Haswell CPU.

This data reflects consumer preferences in builds on PCPartPicker. Although it may be an indication of purchase history, it does not reflect actual purchases. Additionally, as time has progressed, building on PCPartPicker has likely increased, which makes later releases more popular due to increasing traffic to PCPartPicker.

Among gamers, Intel holds a strong market lead. 78% of the Steam users have an Intel CPU in their gaming computer.

The Most Popular Haswell CPUs

The most popular Haswell CPUs on PCPartPicker were the i5–4690K and the i7–4790K. These overclocking Haswell CPUs were included in 2,704 and 3,059 builds in the last 31 months respectively. The builds that included an i5–4690K were, on average, $1,308. Meanwhile, the builds with an i7–4790K were, on average, $1,852. The i7 is a higher performance build and is currently retailing for $339 on Newegg. The i5–4690K would save Newegg customers about $100 right now and is retailing for $239. Based on this slight difference, you may wonder why i7–4760K builds are almost $550 more expensive on average. It’s probably because these builders are opting for other high performance parts that bring the entire build price up significantly.

The Most Popular Skylake CPUs

The most popular Skylake CPUs on PCPartPicker have been the i5–6600K and the i7–6700K. On 12/29/2016, the i5–6600K and i7–6700K were actually retailing for the same price as the i5–4760K and i7–4770K on Newegg. Builders are definitely opting for the higher performance Skylake (i7–6700K) versus the i5 version. The builds that include the i7–6700K are, on average, about $700 more expensive than the builds with the i5–6600K.

The Skylake Processors Are Really Taking Off On PCPartPicker

From the build history on PCPartPicker, it looks like builders are demonstrating really strong interest in the Skylake CPUs versus the previous generation. Growth in builds including the new microarchitecture is accelerating and the total builds including the new Skylake CPUs will probably overtake the older Haswell CPUs soon.

i7 Models Clear Favorites Over i5 Models

The more powerful i7 models have outperformed their i5 counterparts in both the Skylake and Haswell microarchitectures. The builders on PCPartPicker are definitely enthusiasts who spend many hours building their machines for high performance use-cases, so it’s understandable that among this crowd, the i7 would be the preference. The i7 comes with a larger cache and hyper-threading, but this isn’t really necessary for most consumer use-cases. It may be valuable for video editing and products like that, but for gaming, it’s not really necessary, especially when paired with a GPU.

Why Are The K Models More Popular Among PC Builders?

On a side note, PCPartPicker builders seem to really like “K” models. Intel only officially supports overclocking on the “K” models of the Skylake and Haswell microarchitectures. The overclocking capability makes these models significantly more popular among gamers and computer enthusiasts. You can get a lot more out of these due to the overclocking, but it’s really not necessary for most use-cases.

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