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Intel Reveals its Kaby Lake 7th-Gen CPUs for Desktops and Performance Laptops

Intel's 7th-gen Kaby Lake processors dropped in late August for ultra-thin and ultra-portable designs, but until now there hasn't been a Kaby Lake high-end option. The H-series Kaby Lake CPUs will target performance laptops and mobile workstations, while the S-series will target high-end desktop computing.

Unfortunately, if you upgraded to Skylake last year, Kaby Lake doesn't offer any real incentive to upgrade. Compared to their Skylake brethren, the new i5-7600k and i7-7700k only provide a modest clock rate boost. One Kaby Lake CPU of interest though is the i3-7350k. This dual-core, four-thread CPU clocks at 4.2 GHz, and is unlocked for overclocking. At only $168, this would make a great discount CPU for use in Micro-ATX HTPCs or an entry-level gaming PC.

The big feature set improvements with Kaby Lake come with the Intel 200-series chipset. The 200-series chipset adds support for up to 24 PCIe 3.0 lanes and 10 USB 3.0 ports. Kaby Lake also adds support for Windows 10's PlayReady 3.0 DRM and decoding support for 10-bit HEVC, which allows for Netflix 4K viewing on PC. Also, Netflix 4K streaming only works in the Microsoft Edge browser for now.

Intel is also debuting their Optane Memory technology. Optane Memory plugs into an M.2 connection and is said to bring SSD-like system speeds even when using a magnetic head HDD. You could just use an M.2 SSD instead, but maybe when more details come out, we'll learn about additional benefits to using Optane Memory.

I'll be skipping the Kaby Lake series of Intel CPUs. I purchased an i5-6600k last year, and upgrading now is just not worth it. For those who haven't upgraded since the Sandy Bridge days, Kaby Lake would be the best choice if you just have to have a new CPU now. However, if you can, I'd wait for Cannonlake, slated to come out late this year, which will be the first chip to feature 10 nm fabrication and likely bring more features and performance. 

Intel's Kaby Lake CPUs will be available to purchase later this month or early February.

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