Intel’s Kaby Lake desktop processors are right around the corner, and are set to launch sometime in Q1 of 2017, right alongside AMD’s new Zen processors. Kaby Lake appears to have been delayed several times as Intel struggled to get Broadwell and Skylake sales into their proper places on the calendar year, and a January launch for Intel will be really weird – after the Christmas season and after the back-to-school sales, which means that it might get off to a slow start. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing in itself, because Kaby Lake isn’t set to be a game-changer for the CPU market. If recent benchmark leaks are anything to go by, it also won’t be setting records for performance benchmarks just yet, but it’s still an ideal upgrade from anyone still on Nehalem, Sandy Bridge, or Ivy Bridge platforms. Hit the jump to see where it stands performance-wise.
The leaked benchmarks were seen on Chinese tech website PCOnline, who somehow managed to get their hands on a working Intel Core i5-7600K quad-core processor before anyone else. Up to now, any leaks were from engineering samples sent to Intel’s hardware partners for validation, so this leak means that we’re about a month away from reviews being released from their embargo. The Core i5-7600K is the successor to the Core i5-6600K, and sports the same number of cores, the same amount of L3 cache (6MB).
Improvements include a revised 14nm process for lower power usage and temperatures, a clock speed window of 3.8GHz base and 4.2GHz boost, and more PCI Express 3.0 lanes to facilitate faster solid state drives using the NVMe protocol. The new chip family shares the LGA1151 CPU socket with the Skylake family, and thus most motherboards will work with Kaby Lake processors as long as a BIOS update has been made available.
Things start looking interesting when you notice the precise way in which the new chip draws ahead – it’s about 7% faster than the Core i5-6600K. The Core i5-6600K has a boost clock of 3.9GHz, which is almost 8% lower than the 4.2GHz boost clock of the Core i5-7600K. Couple that with some minor process improvements to increase yields, and slight IPC tweaks to fix bugs, and you end up with a chip family that is on average faster than the outgoing models, but only due to increased clock speeds. The power limits shouldn’t change too much either, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are identical.
While the Core i5-7600K might not be the chip we were all hoping for, a 5-10% performance improvement is exactly what AMD needs to make Zen look like a bargain buy. If it is able to get anywhere close to the peformance of a Skylake processor, then Intel may have a problem on their hands holding on to market share.