Every year around September, Intel releases a new set of processors that are significantly improved over the previous generation. This year’s Kaby Lake marks the seventh generation since Intel began the Core series of CPUs, and it’s going to make your next computer a lot faster.
Without even having to explain anything, the one absolute about the newer generation is the noticeable performance improvement in both real-world usage and benchmarks. You can also expect lighter power drain, which has been the case since mobile devices began becoming the center of internet consumption. As for Kaby Lake, it’s considered an overhauled successor to 2015’s Skylake. This year’s product carries over the same 14nm microarchitecture of Skylake, meaning the physical design remains the same, but the feature set is a step above.
What Intel strongly emphasized in their announcement is how Kaby Lake processors are specifically geared towards 4K Ultra HD and 360-degree videos, as well as Virtual Reality to an extent. This is the first time Intel processors are natively able to support 4K content, so you’re not obliged to purchase a dedicated video card for Ultra HD videos anymore. On top of that, the company claims much improved battery life over older units, but that’s something we hear every year, and we’ll find out for sure once we have actual retail units in our hands.
The gaming side of things has been given a boost, too. While it may not sound impressive, Kaby Lake is capable of outputting games such as Overwatch at 30 frames per second on Medium settings with a 1080p resolution. This can be done on a thin notebook without any discrete graphics card, so casual gamers will have access to a larger database of recent games.
An interesting thing to note is the absence of the Core m7 and m5 series, which were introduced just last year as top-end CPUs for laptops and tablets. Intel decided to release only revamps of the Core i7, i5, i3, and m3 models this year, while Core m7 and m5 will now be part of the Core i7 and i5 families, respectively. This is simply in line with Intel’s yearly restructuring of lineups, so there’s no need to worry about a lack of choices.
So, let’s set aside the features to ask the most important question: How exactly are consumers affected by this release? In order to be properly future-proofed, it’s advisable to always choose Kaby Lake when shopping for a new laptop or building a desktop PC. The benefits over older processors won’t be clear at first, since previous generations are actually still good enough by today’s standards, but as new types of content are produced, it’s best to own the latest technology.
To ensure you’re buying the right one, watch out for the number seven after the hyphen in the number sequence of the model name. For example, the Intel Core i7-7500U, Core i5-7200U, and Core m3-7Y30, are all 7th-generation variants. It goes without saying that the Core i7-6500U was released last year.
Intel claims that computers sporting Kaby Lake will begin shipping in early September, with a lot more arriving by the time the holiday season trickles in.