Intel Kaby Lake: Things to Know About 7th-Gen Core CPUs

Intel has a new family of processors. Dubbed Kaby Lake, the 7th-Generation Core processors should be of particular interest if you’re making do with an older machine, like to stream a lot of high-resolution video or enjoy gaming on the go — or some combination of all three.

Intel built the 7th-Gen Core chips on the same Skylake architecture it introduced last year, so don’t look for Intel to reinvent the architecture but rather refine it.

Intel has made a change to the way it names its low-power chips, eliminating the Core m5 and Core m7 designations and turning those two 4.5-watt chips into Core i5 and Core i7-branded SKUs. The company hopes this change will help consumers, many of whom didn’t understand the difference between a Core i5 and a Core m5. However, because the 4.5-watt CPUs, also known as Kaby Lake Y series chips, are lower-power, they won’t perform the same as a U series 15-watt CPU. If you see a “Y” at the end of the SKU, you have one of the chips formerly known as Core m5 or m7.

To make matters more interesting, Intel is keeping the Core M brand for its entry-level Core m3 chip, which is the slowest and least expensive of the bunch. So in order of performance, the 4.5-watt chips are named Core m3, Core i5 Y series and Core i7 Y series.

You’re probably not going to ditch that Skylake-powered machine you picked up last winter in favor of one with a 7th-Gen Core CPU. But Intel says that if you were to do so, you’ll notice a faster machine. Using SYSmark to measure productivity, Intel found a machine powered by a 7th-Gen Core i7-7500U processor notched a 12 percent gain over a 6th-Gen Core i7-6500U CPU. That 7th-Gen-powered machine also recorded a 19 percent boost in web performance as measured by WebXPRT 2015.

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