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

Intel's 7th-gen Kaby Lake processors only offer small boost compared to Skylake.


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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  • reply
    January 3, 2017 11:29 AM

    Jason Faulkner posted a new article, Intel Reveals its Kaby Lake 7th-Gen CPUs for Desktops and Performance Laptops

    • reply
      January 3, 2017 11:38 AM

      is the chip we've been waiting for? or is it the next intel chip?
      i have an old (5+ year) computer, but it still plays things ok.

      how much longer should i wait?

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        January 3, 2017 11:40 AM

        oh I missed this line, sorry.
        "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. "

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        January 3, 2017 11:43 AM

        I jumped on Kaby Lake from a Sandy Bridge. This isn't a big jump from Kaby Lake. Next up in 10nm but you'll be waiting a while for that. Anything is going to be a huge upgrade from a 5+ year old system and you won't regret it, I haven't.

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          January 3, 2017 11:44 AM

          it's getting long in the tooth. i think my fans are dying and my case is huge.
          i really want to go something that sucks less power and is a smaller case, but there's nothing really forcing me to do it yet.

          maybe Cannonlake will be the push i need.

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          January 4, 2017 4:50 AM

          Kaby Lake is less than 2x faster than Sandy Bridge :-( six years, less than twice as fast :-(

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        January 3, 2017 12:13 PM

        If you're wanting to pull the trigger before Cannonlake debuts, I recommend waiting to see if the Kaby Lake release drives down the prices on the i5-6600k or i7-6700k. If you can get a Skylake processor on the cheap I think that's the way to go at the moment.

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          January 3, 2017 12:23 PM

          Usually this doesn't happen since Intel has a tight control over supply. The chips may get cheaper for about a week or two at best, then they disappear from the market forever.

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        January 3, 2017 12:24 PM

        i think if you can wait a little longer for amd's zen or ryzen or whateverthefuckitscalled, it might spark some price competition

    • reply
      January 3, 2017 12:27 PM

      Im going to upgrade this year as my 3570k has lived a good life. But I think it would be wise right now to wait and see what kaby vs ryzen looks like

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      January 4, 2017 12:30 AM

      I'm fucking pumped for the i7 kaby lake NUC. Almost bought last year's model but decided to hold out just a little longer... Thank God. It'll probably be the only PC upgrade I do this year.

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      January 4, 2017 5:13 AM

      I've not upgraded my machine since 2010, outside of a Geforce 970 GTX. I'm still running a i5-760, and quite frankly, most games still run very well for me.

      How much will I be gaining if I upgrade to, for instance, a i7-6700K, or one of the chipsets listed in the article? Heck, how much of a potential difference will I see with a 7600T, which is also listed at 2.80 ghz?This whole CPU business has just been downright super confusing to me ever since clock speeds stopped going up much.

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