Technology moves faster than we’d probably like it to sometimes. As soon as we’ve upgraded our systems, there’s no doubt something just around the corner that will be better. It’s one of the pitfalls of the IT industry. A year after you’ve bought something, it can be considered outdated. Who can blame the tech industry, though? After all, they’re only trying to better themselves and their products. Increased power, added features, and most importantly to some… more affordability.
Look at Intel, one of the market leaders and kingpins of the IT industry. Whatever they do and wherever they take their semiconductor technology, other companies will surely follow. They’re no different to anyone else, in that every 12 to 18 months, they launch new technologies with the exact key points listed at the end of the last paragraph. And, with the end of 2016 on the horizon, Intel bring to us… Kaby Lake! Their new family of processors, launching throughout Q4. So what will this year’s update bring? And why consider Kaby Lake as the right time for your PC rollout?
A ‘refined’ Skylake
Kaby Lake looks to be Intel’s last release under the 14nm process, so every refinement that’s been made for this architecture is going into this platform. Intel has made sure that Kaby Lake is the best possible release it can be before they move their efforts to Cannonlake, which is launching at the back end of 2017 marking Intel’s first foray into the 10nm process.
Intel suggests that Kaby Lake will run around 12% faster in terms of productivity compared to its current Skylake model, which is no surprise. Every Intel platform release consistently improves on its predecessor and never once has the company made a backwards step in terms of reduced Ghz per £.
Despite it being around for longer than you’d believe, 4K still isn’t really mainstream. But it’s slowly crawling its way into the spotlight. With the sale of 4K TV’s and monitors up 165% in 2015 compared to 2014, and streaming platforms Netflix and Amazon Prime now offering 4K streaming options, it truly is here to stay.
Up until now, you needed a dedicated graphics card to run 4K video, but Kaby Lake changes that by bringing to the table the ability to decode HEVC 10-bit (the file format that 4K video is native to). It seems that Intel too has spotted the trend in the market in 4K, and want to make sure their technology is ready for their consumers (assuming, of course, you have a 4K ready monitor already).
Consider as well that Kaby Lake supports Thunderbolt 3, which can power two 4K displays simultaneously. Intel isn’t just testing the waters with this technology, they’re taking all their clothes off and jumping in with two feet.
Better battery life
Skylake massively improved the battery life that it brought your laptop, so it’s fairly safe to say that Kaby Lake should improve even on Skylake’s accomplishments. As mentioned, this is because Kaby Lake is a more ‘refined’ version of Skylake. Actual numbers vary on what websites and blogs you read, so I won’t go ahead and make something up just to put here. Yes, your battery life WILL improve on the Kaby Lake CPU, but right now, nobody truly knows by how much. Still… this is good news for everyone.
Kaby Lake will not support any Windows operating system prior to Windows 8.1
Well. It was a case of so far, so good up until this point. Kaby Lake will be the first Intel processor family that only supports Windows 10. It’s not going to be a one-off either, as future processor releases from Intel and AMD are going to be following the same rules. This isn’t something that Intel have done, this one’s on Microsoft…
“Going forward, as new silicon generations are introduced, they will require the latest Windows platform at that time for support.”
Check out the full release from the Microsoft Windows Blog.
Now, this may not actually mean that Kaby Lake isn’t compatible with Windows 7, but Microsoft sure aren’t going to be helping you out with updates for it. Until someone gets their hands on some Kaby Lake processors and puts it to the test on a Windows 7 machine, we’ll just have to wait and see. Check back in a few months’ time to see what the resolution is.
So is Kaby Lake the right time for you to upgrade your PC? Absolutely… if you’re on an older platform. Right now is the perfect the time to jump in when you consider the full range of optimisations that Intel have made to their processors (not to mention ever other company in the industry). If you’re looking to move from a more recent build, say a Skylake machine, you might not even notice the difference.