Details have been released regarding Intel’s 7th generation of desktop and enthusiast grade processors that form part of the Kaby Lake family and the reception has been lukewarm.
Kaby Lake was announced in August 2016 but Intel chose only to reveal the Y-series and U-series of CPUs which are aimed at two-in-one notebooks and ultra thin notebooks. The CPU promised to make UHD video more accessible to users and the PC community has been waiting patiently to see what other improvements Intel would offer to customers.
As it turns out, if you happen to be using an older 6th Generation Skylake processor, your PC might not be in much of an upgrade.
So what’s new?
From what we’ve seen on Ars Technica’s review of the Intel Core i7-7700K, the latest high-end CPU, there isn’t much in the way of improvement. The base and boost clock speed have been bumped up to 4.2GHz and 4.5GHz respectively, which while an improvement on the older i7-6700K (base 4.0GHz and boost 4.2GHz), isn’t much to write home about.
What is new is support for UHD media decoding within Windows PlayReady 3.0 DRM. Simply put, if you want to stream Netflix at UHD resolutions then this is the CPU you should consider.
Intel also announced Optane, a new non-volatile memory developed with Micron that will act as a high speed cache for hard drives and SATA SSDs. Sadly there is no news about when these modules will be available but we know that they will be available in 16GB and 32GB iterations when they do land.
Other than those two improvements, there’s much left to be desired.
A tale of two lakes
This being the follow-up to Skylake, which was and still is great, but the PC world expected to see dramatic improvements in Kaby Lake and perhaps those expectations were too high. In Ars Technica’s benchmarks of the i7-7700K, specifically Cinebench R15, the latest CPU only just beats out an overclocked i7-6700K.
Overclocking the i7-7700K yields greater performance but it’s marginally good improving a score of 998 at 4.5GHz to 1085 at 5.0GHz. The Skylake processor scored 997 when overclocked to 4.5GHz.
In gaming the 7700K offers marginal upgrades hitting 15.39 frames per second in Tomb Raider while the 6700K performs marginally better at 15.42 frames per second. That difference seems small but at the bleeding edge of enthusiast computing every frame counts.
So there is very little reason to upgrade your CPU should you using an a 6th Generation Intel CPU, Ars Technica even says that those running a now six year old Sandy Bridge CPU might not have much reason to upgrade unless they must stream Netflix at a UHD resolution.
“As it stands, what we have with Kaby Lake desktop is effectively Sandy Bridge polished to within an inch of its life, a once-groundbreaking CPU architecture hacked, and tweaked, and mangled into ever-smaller manufacturing processes and power envelopes,” writes Ars Technica.
The path is now open for AMD to bring the thunder with its Ryzen CPUs which we’ll likely hear more about at CES this week. We already know that Ryzen is able to compete with Intel’s 6900K Broadwell-E processor.
Whether it can compete with Skylake and Kaby Lake in performance and most importantly at an attractive price point will be the deciding factor for whether Team Red can take back some of the market share it has lost over the years.[Via – Ars Technica]