Is This Even a Baby Step?

Before wrapping up what's been one of the least exciting CPU launches in recent memory, I thought I'd do some clock-for-clock testing. For this we moved the Skylake processors to the same Z270 motherboard for testing, so all things should now be equal. We also upgraded the GPU to the GeForce Titan XP.

So with the Kaby Lake and Skylake processors both locked at 4.5GHz on the same motherboard we receive pretty much the exact same scores. Where are those IPC improvements Intel?

Gears of War 4 is a CPU demanding game and it will happily use all eight threads of a Core i7 processor. Here we see when matched clock-for-clock using an extreme GPU both the Kaby Lake and Skylake processors deliver the exact same performance. This makes Kaby Lake feel more like a Skylake refresh than the next step forward in Intel's Core architecture. Even the efficiency improvements we've seen are along the lines of what you would expect from a matured process, rather than a refined architecture.

... there isn't much to see here.

The only noteworthy improvement we can think of is the slightly improved overclocking headroom and the fact that those buying non-K models can expect slightly better performance out of the box thanks to a bump in operating frequency.

Beyond that, there isn't much to see here. Even the 200-series chipsets are relatively dull, though we really like the Z270 motherboards we received from Gigabyte and Asrock, it's fair to say the same boards could have been created around the Z170 chipset. Granted you do get more PCIe and HSIO lanes which is a good thing, but honestly those seeking more lanes would have just gone with Broadwell-E.

What about pricing you ask? Intel's 1ku price guide suggests that the Core i7-7700K is set to come in at $305 while the 7600K will cost at least $200. Given that the 6700K currently costs $350, this is roughly the launch price I expect to see stamped on the 7700K. Meanwhile, the 6600K is going for $240 and again this is about where we see the 7600K coming in.

Shopping shortcuts:

We're having a hard time seeing how this release or 'update' is meant for consumers who build their own computers. Instead it seems more like a way for Intel to sell more processors and keep OEMs happy. "Has our bloatware bogged down your 6th-gen Intel PC? Fret not, the 7th-gen is available today..."


Pros: Tad more overclocking headroom than Skylake. Minor efficiency improvements. Z270 boards bring more PCIe and HSIO lanes.

Cons: No reason for Skylake owners to upgrade.