Intel's New Kaby Lake CPUs Do Not Provide Performance Gains

By Victor Thomson , Jan 10, 2017 11:33 PM EST

According to some tech experts, the new Intel Kaby Lake processors are not worth the upgrade, because they do not provide any performance gain.

Kaby Lake's Specifications And Features

Intel has broken off from its usual "tick-tock" manufacturing cycle with the introduction of the new Kaby Lake processors. Now the tech giant has chosen a new "Process-Architecture-Optimization" technology model. The 14nm manufacturing process also belongs to this "Optimization" cycle, but it was already implemented in the previous 14nm Skylake and Broadwell generation that followed the old "Tick-Tock" model.

According to News Factor, Intel has increased the default base clock speeds of the new Kaby Lake i7-7700K chip to 4.2 GHz. Its turbo boost clocks are increased to 4.5 GHz compared to the previous Intel i7-6700K processor with base and boost speeds of 4GHz and 4.2 GHz.

The new generation of Kaby Lake processors also has memory support up to DDR4-2400. Intel has also integrated the HD Graphics 630 GPU on the i7-7700K processor, on the graphics side. The new iGPU that replaces the previous HD Graphics 530 can decode 4K video content on the Microsoft Edge browser at 60 frames per second up to 120 Mbps.

The i7-7700K and other new Kaby Lake processors will be the first to support Intel's Optane non-volatile memory technology that's over 1000 times faster than NAND technology. The new Intel Optane technology has the potential to revolutionize high-performance computing and big data, virtualization, gaming, cloud, gaming and more.

Other new features offered by the new Kaby Lake processor include support for USB 3.1 Type-C protocol, U.2. and Thunderbolt. The new chips feature 24 PCI-E x16 Gen 3 lanes.

No Performance Gains

Despite the new features and specs, performance tests are suggesting that there is little to no gain at all from Kaby Lake over the prior generation Intel CPUs. The first to bring this issue to public attention was the Chinese hobbyist site Expreview that published one month ago a series of tests of Kaby Lake vs. Skylake. Even if normally Kaby Lake runs at a higher clock speed than Skylake, the tech experts altered the clock speed in one test, so the two CPUs both ran at the same clock speed.

According to Network World, Expreview's performance tests show that when run in the stock settings, the Core i7-7700K (Kaby Lake) is up to 8.88 percent faster on average in multi-threaded and up to 7.40 percent faster on average in single-threaded performance to the Core i7-6700K (Skylake). When both chips were tested through the same 11 CPU benchmarks while clocked at 4.0 GHz, the Core i7-7700K is 0.02 percent slower in multi-threaded and 0.86 percent slower in single-threaded. These slight performance differences are so insignificant that a regular user would not be able to notice any difference in daily tasks.

More reviews, including one coming from Ars Technica, confirm the fact that any performance gains in Kaby Lake are negligible. And they are most likely gained only due to the fact that the clock speed went up. In fact, there are no major architectural changes in Intel's new generation Kaby Lake processors.

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