Another year, another mediocre performance increase from everyone’s favourite processor manufacturer that has a blue logo and starts with the letter “I”. Intel is effectively mimicking the big publishers of the AAA games industry by pumping out iterations of the same product to make the big bucks. Next thing you know, you’ll be able to download new features and a few extra megahertz of overclocking headroom via microtransactions.
As we briefly touched upon during the New Year Podcast (009), Kaby Lake’s lineup is in and it does not look very promising. The i7-7700K features a 4.2GHz base clock and a 4.5GHz boost clock over the 6700K’s 4.0GHz base and 4.2GHz boost. Meanwhile the i5-7600K has a base of 3.8GHz and a turbo of 4.2GHz compared to the 6600K’s 3.5GHz base and 3.9GHz boost.
Internet scuttlebutt says the benchmarks score only a few points above their much more epically named predecessors once they are overclocked to match Kaby’s updated speeds. This likely means a bump for customers of the locked processors (which will see a similar increase in clock speed), but only warrants a shrug of disinterest from owners of the unlocked chips.
Of course, an underwhelming performance jump is nothing new. I’ve only noticed a minor increase upgrading several generations from my old i7-2600K to the i7-6700K. Unfortunately, this iteration is extra disappointing to this Intel fan. Not content with the old “tick-tock” model of coming out with a new chip and then refreshing it (and so on and so forth), Intel headquarters apparently has a broken clock…having gone for a “tick-tock-tock” method this time around. We must wait patiently for the next “tick” in Cannonlake. In Intel’s defense, however, there currently only seems to be about a $20 premium on the high end Kaby Lakes vs Skylakes.
Enthusiast whining aside, CPU advancements have slowed to crawl and we’ve been shifting our attention to efficiency concerns, such as power draw. So how much of an improvement can we see on that front? The 7700K TDP drops down a whopping 4W from the 6700K, down to 91W. The 7600K apparently fares no better than its predecessor, as both are rated for a 91W TDP. Not earth shaking, but certainly an improvement on the i7 side. If you believe the marketing material, the true improvement on this front lies in the lower power laptop chips, which boast an improved battery life.
There is one very interesting glimmer of hope on the horizon of our lake called Kaby, and that is the i3-7350K. While most enthusiasts have ignored the i3 level processors for generations, we now have a reason to lend our ears Intel’s way. The 7350K represents an unlocked i3, something I’ve personally wanted to test out ever since the rise of the popular dual-core overclocking monster Pentium G3258. Unfortunately, the price seems to be around $250 CAD, which lands it somewhere around the locked i5s of last generation and a whopping $20 less than the i5-7500….and certainly well beyond the average “just for fun” price range. Still, it’s a nice gesture by the CPU giant – at least in principle.
In summation, there’s not a fireball’s chance in Canada I’m upgrading from my Skylake. Any Skylake users out there have any additional thoughts? I’d love to see them in the comments.