Should you upgrade to Intel’s new Core CPUs? 5 things to know about Intel’s Kaby Lake


Intel, one of the world’s largest computer chip manufacturers, has just unveiled its seventh generation of Intel Core CPUs. Last year’s Skylake chips represented a huge leap in performance for Intel’s chips, bringing new microarchitecture to Intel’s 14nm process. Kaby Lake won’t be quite the same stratospheric leap, offering up performance improvements and optimisations over Skylake’s year-old architecture.

Feeling a little lost? Don’t worry, CPU chat is always a little bit too dry and flaccid. Instead of boring you with new clock speeds, power improvements and snazzy buzzwords, you really just want to know if it’s worth finally taking the plunge on a new Intel-powered device after years of waiting to upgrade to “something better”.

5 things Intel’s Kaby Lake Intel Core CPU can do for your PC

1. It’s faster and more power-efficient than ever

Not only does Intel claim Kaby Lake is 70% faster than five-year-old Intel Core M architecture, it’s also going to bring about a whole new range of ultra-powerful, ultra-thin devices. This means you’ll find traditional laptops and convertibles thinner than 10mm, and detachable 2-in-1s coming in at less than 7mm thick – that’s thinner than an iPad Air.

2. 4K laptops finally make sense

There’s nothing worse than sitting down to watch a film on your laptop only to find out it’s going to run out of juice well before the end. What’s the point of a portable device if you have to plug it in to use it the way you want to? With Kaby Lake, Intel says it’s done away with battery-life woes.

Put it this way, a current 4K laptop, such as the HP EliteBook Folio G1 will finally be useful when equipped with a Kaby Lake processor. Intel’s benchmarks show that you’ll get seven hours of 4K playback time compared to the four hours a Skylake chip in the same laptop would offer. That’s 1.75 times more efficient than before. This also means that 1080p playback will see significant improvements in terms of power usage and, any notebook combined with the power of Nvidia’s new laptop-ready GTX chips, will see better battery life when playing games in 1080p.

3. It’s better for creatives

YouTubers and professional home-movie makers can rejoice as Kaby Lake is better for those who love to get their creative juices flowing. While drawing comparisons to a five-year-old PC is a little unfair when it comes to 4K image processing (because who did that five years ago?) Kaby Lake is capable of quick 4K encoding and editing and can apparently “beautify 1,400 photos in one minute”. You’ll also be able to stream and save multiple pieces of video content with ease, and access 4K 360-degree video streams.

Kaby Lake is also capable of decoding HEVC 10-bit content, meaning it’s completely 4K-ready so your Ultra HD Netflix account and 4K YouTube videos will look as beautiful as they should. It’ll also support the full-colour palette for 4K, meaning…

4. Games will look and run better than ever

Playing games on a laptop that relies upon Intel’s integrated graphics for power is far from ideal, but with Kaby Lake, Intel’s improvements to its Skylake Gen9 architecture means 3D games run smoother than ever before. Intel claims its chips are capable of playing Overwatch in HD (presumably 1080p, but who knows) while on the go. Kaby Lake’s “Turbo Boost 2 Technology” should also mean you get increased graphical performance when you need it, as the processor drives power to where it’s needed most.

5. If you use Skylake, don’t worry about upgrading just yet

Despite Kaby Lake offering up “12% increased productivity”, “19% increased web performance” and a slew of new features versus Skylake, those of you who went out and bought Intel’s new chip – or a laptop equipped with one – probably don’t need to worry about upgrading.

Not only are the stated improvements based on five-year-old PC hardware, but Kaby Lake is only an overhaul of existing technologies. Next year’s Cannonlake is where we’ll see an improvement to chipset power, and this should really be the next chip update serious PC users should consider moving to. Granted, these are only the mobile chips, so when it comes to Kaby Lake’s fuller-power desktop CPUs, we’ll have to wait and see if the performance boosts are really worth the extra cost.

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