Kaby Lake For Desktop, The Wrap Up
Performance Summary: The Kaby Lake-based Core i7-7700K is the highest-performing, quad-core processor released by Intel to date. With that said, its performance improvements over the previous-generations Skylake-based Core i7-6700K are relatively small. Kaby Lake’s core CPU architecture is virtually identical to Skylake, so save for some tweaks the multi-media engine which give Kaby Lake the ability to accelerate 4K HEVC 10-bit transcoding and VP9 decoding in hardware, the performance differences come by way of the Core i7-7700K’s higher base and boost clocks. Power consumption with the Core i7-7700K and a Z270X based motherboard is in-line with Skylake, though overclocking is somewhat improved. We only hit a marginally higher peak clock speed with our setup, but with more powerful cooling frequencies in the 5GHz range should be possible.
Intel has a wide array of Core i3, i5, and i7 processors based on Kaby Lake either already on the market or coming down the pipeline. For the most part, the line-up is similar to Skylake, but there are some additional interesting wrinkles. The breakdown of desktop SKUs is as follows...pricing of $339, which is in-line with the Core i7-6700K’s launch price. The rest of the stack gets more affordable from there, with the two flavors of Core i3-7300 arriving at a $117. Like Skylake, desktop Kaby Lake with also arrive with an unlocked Core i5-7600K that lacks HyperThreading, but a new addition to the line-up is an unlocked, dual-core i3-7350K at 4.2GHz. That $168 processor could be a really fun piece of gear for overclockers looking to hit extreme frequencies, without spending a lot of coin.
All of the Kaby Lake desktop parts listed here feature the same graphics engine and memory support, though, they do offer different TDPs and arrive with various feature sets.
Ultimately, Kaby Lake for desktops isn’t a huge departure from Skylake. The processors have slightly increased performance and more features than Skylake at every price point, but they are not huge departures over the previous generation. Intel’s motherboard partners, however, have really embraced the 200 series chipsets, and a slew of interesting boards are slated to arrive loaded up with bleeding edge features – like support for upcoming Intel Optane Memory, RGB lighting, and the latest networking and IO connectivity.
If you’ve got a high-end Skylake setup, you probably won’t be compelled to make a move to Kaby Lake, but if you’ve got a system that’s a couple of generations old, these new processors and their companion motherboards may be tempting.