Desktop PC users have had few reasons for joy recently. The market is stagnating, so the manufacturers turn to other fields, disappointing loyal fans of the classic desktop computer. One of the latest examples of such a disappointment is Intel's Haswell microarchitecture. Despite the developer’s claims, the new generation of Intel CPUs is very dubious in its desktop implementation. The Haswell was developed for mobile and ultra-mobile applications in the first place, so it is really good for portable computers and doesn’t suit classic desktop configurations well enough. You can refer to our special review for details. In brief, the Haswell-based desktop CPUs are not much faster than their Ivy Bridge predecessors but require a new platform with a new CPU socket. They consume more power and have lower overclocking potential. All of this can hardly entice you into a hardware upgrade, so the whole Haswell story only serves to prove that it is not quite appropriate to use a mobile CPU design for desktop products.
Well, Intel doesn't seem to care much about the opinion of desktop PC enthusiasts. The market trends go the opposite way and we have to put up with the Haswell anyway. Moreover, this microarchitecture seems to be meant for a longer lifecycle than its predecessors. As far as we know, the Broadwell microarchitecture, which is going to replace the Haswell and transition to 14nm tech process, will not be used in desktop CPUs at all. Instead, Intel will just release a new chipset series, compatible with existing Haswell-based CPUs, to modernize the platform without redesigning it. It looks like we'll only see a new design of desktop CPUs in 2015. That's when the Skylake microarchitecture is planned to be introduced.
So it turns out the Haswell just cannot be ignored. People will have to build computers with Haswell CPUs and we, on our part, cannot neglect our duty of reviewing them. In our first review we covered the senior desktop Haswell-based product - Core i7-4770K. It is a rather expensive processor priced at over $300. The Core i5 series is targeted at a broader audience. It is cheaper but not much worse in its specs. The fundamental difference of the Core i5 series from the Core i7 is the lack of Hyper-Threading. Otherwise, the Core i5 looks very good with four x86 cores and clock rates comparable to those of the Core i7. The difference in the amount of L3 cache (6 MB as opposed to 8 MB in the Core i7) doesn't show up in practice as we know from our tests of previous-generation CPUs.
Thus, we didn’t have to think long about the topic of our second review of Haswell CPUs. Today, we are going to tell you about the Core i5 series based on the Haswell design which includes four regular desktop Core i5 models (there are also seven specific S, T and R-indexed models we'll discuss some other time).