Note: This article was first published on Jan 4, 2017.
Intel has finally taken the wraps off its high-performance Kaby Lake chips, which includes models for both desktops and gaming notebooks. The new chips join Intel’s low-power U-series chips that were first announced in August in completing the Kaby Lake line-up, and arrive just in time for users looking to upgrade their machines in the new year.
The seventh-generation Kaby Lake desktop chips launch alongside Intel’s new Z270 chipset, and we’ll be using one of these new motherboards to showcase some preliminary performance figures.
We’ve paired an MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon board with the new flagship mainstream chip, the Intel Core i7-7700K (4.2GHz, 8MB L3 cache). As we saw with the U-series chips before, Kaby Lake is just a refreshed Skylake architecture, so expect just modest performance increases compared to last generation’s Intel Core i7-6700K (4.0GHz, 8MB L3 cache).
Here’s the configuration of the test setup we used:
Cinebench is a benchmark tool used to compare CPU performance across different systems, so we’ll be using it to evaluate how well the best of Kaby Lake goes up against the best of Skylake. The test scenario uses all of the system’s processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene, making use of various algorithms to stress all available processor cores.
The Intel Core i7-7700K was found to be around 9 per cent faster than the Core i7-6700K – in other words, a decent performance bump but nothing game-changing.
SPECviewperf is used to measure the 3D graphics performance of systems in professional applications. Each individual workload, called a viewset, represents graphics and content from an actual real-world application.
The Kaby Lake chip inched ahead of its Skylake counterpart here with less than exciting performance differential.
The synthetic 3DMark benchmark tests graphics and computational performance at different resolutions, starting at 1080p and going all the way up to 4K. A series of two graphics test, one physics test, and then a combined test stresses your hardware in turn to assess its performance. And because of the physics test that keeps the GPU load low while running gameplay physics simulations on the CPU, all three 3DMark Fire Strike tests scores also include an element of CPU performance.
However, as expected, the step up to Kaby Lake isn’t going to make that much of a difference in terms of gaming performance and the new CPU was topped out at being a mere 4 per cent quicker than the Core i7-6700K in Fire Strike. You could almost conclude that the performance difference is very much in direct co-relation to the Core i7-7700K's increased clock speed over the 4GHz base clock of the Core i7-6700K.
In an actual game like Ashes of the Singularity, performance improvements were once again on the low side, with the Core i7-7700K managing to squeeze out just a few extra frames. The extra performance is likely due to its 200MHz clock speed increase, but gaming performance is otherwise much more dependent on the GPU.