Benchmarking Intel's Skylake-U Series Core i7 Processor For Laptops

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Skylake Core i7-6500U, Yoga 900 Specs And Features

Intel's 6th Generation Skylake family of Core processors has been available for some time now. We previously gave you a look at the desktop variant that Intel initially rolled out. However, the mobile variant of Skylake is perhaps Intel's most potent incarnation of the new architecture that's power-optimized on 14nm technology and with a beefier graphics engine, for more capable thin and light notebooks. In late Q3, Intel started rolling out Skylake-U versions of the chip in a 15 Watt TDP flavor. This is the power envelope that most "ultrabooks" are built with and it's likely to be Intel's highest volume SKU of the processor series, which will ship in many OEM configurations this holiday shopping season.

One of the first ultralight Intel Skylake-based machines to hit our test bench was delivered by team Lenovo. The company has refreshed and revamped their Yoga series notebook line-up with Skylake and the new Lenovo Yoga 900 is one of their more premium configurations with a 3K display, that just started shipping in the channel recently.

Lenovo Yoga 900 Stand Mode
Our Test Vehicle - Lenovo's Yoga 900 - Upward-Facing Geek?

Seeing as this was one of the first Skylake-U series machines we had in for testing, we decided to work up a quick performance profile of the new platform here, replete with benchmarks in a number of areas and a quick and dirty heavy load battery test. In terms of quick specs, here's what the new Yoga 900 is made of...

Lenovo Yoga 900
Specifications & Features
Processor Up to 6th Gen. Intel Core i7 (i7-6500U and i5-6200U)
Operating System Windows 10 Home
Display QHD+ (3200x1800) IPS with 10-point Multitouch (300 NIT)
Video Graphics Intel HD graphics
Storage Up to 512GB SSD (256 and 512 GB)
Memory Up to 16GB LP-DDR3 (8GB and 16GB)
Audio Support JBL stereo speakers with Dolby Home Theater certification
Camera 720p
Integrated Communications Intel 802.11 A/C 2x2
System Weight 2.84 lbs. (1.29 kg.)
System Dimension 324 x 225 x 14.9 mm / 12.75" x 8.86" x 0.59" inches
Li-Ion Battery Life 66Whr (Up to 9 hours of local video playback*)
Slots/Ports 2 x USB Type A 3.0, 1 x USB Type C 3.0 w/ video out, 1 x DC-in with USB 2.0 function, 4-in-1 card reader (SD, MMC, SDXC, SDHC), Audio Combo Jack
Price:$1400, as configured and tested

You might recall that Skylake's memory controller supports both DDR4 and DDR3 memory technology. As you'll note here, this machine is configured with 16GB of dual-channel LP-DDR3 1600 memory, which will likely be common for most Skylake ultrabooks that are first arriving to market.

Next, let's look at some quick Skylake-U and system vital signs...

CPU Z1 CPU Z2

CPU Z3

The Lenovo Yoga 900 we tested was configured with an Intel Core i7-6500U dual-core processor that also supports Intel HyperThreading for 4 logical processing threads available to the system. Its base frequency is 2.5GHz, but the chip will Turbo Boost to 3GHz, and as you can see, down clocks way down to 500 - 600MHz when idle. The chip also has 4MB of shared L3 cache and 512K of L2 and 128K of data cache, total.

As an aside, with a DDR3-1600 memory configuration, this system also reports in 18.22GB/sec of memory bandwidth in SiSoft SANDRA's memory bandwidth test, which calculates total memory bandwidth inclusive of both system RAM and processor cache.

Core i7 6500U Idle

Core i7 6500U Load

At idle the Lenovo Yoga 900 is stealthy quiet and virtually inaudible. Under load, we do here a small cooling fan spin up but it's actually one of the quieter notebook fans we've heard in a long time. With a decibel meter app held up close to it, the system was emanating only about 28db. Above you can see, at 100% load the system does in fact scale up to 2.95GHz - 3GHz, though only for shorter bursts. There was a bit of throttling evident but this is the case with many ultralight notebooks by design. Under idle conditions, Skylake-U is scaled way back, however, and reports in at only 490MHz in Task Manager Performance Monitor. Though we've only been able to run heavy workload battery tests thus far, it will be interesting to see what the system does under light duty conditions like web browsing, for example, which we'll be sure to run through in our full review of the Yoga 900.

Let's look at standard compute performance next...

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