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Intel Kaby Lake: New i7-7740K coming soon?


Kaby Lake is Intel's latest CPU architecture. This article contains everything you need to know, including the specifications of every processor launched so far for laptops and desktops, plus the latest news on an impending specs refresh.

Key details

  • NEW: Kaby Lake-X expected soon
  • Originally launched at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017
  • Offers minor performance bump over Skylake

Latest news: i7-7740K coming soon?

As we get closer to Computex, there are rumours abound for Kaby Lake. The most popular theory so far is that Intel is planning on launching a higher-specification i7-7740K to to replace the current flagship 7700K, but to add new options for ultra-enthusiast PC builders. The reason for this is that all signs are pointing towards the 7740K (and new i7-7640K) supporting a new socket type (LGA 2066) and chipset X299. The chips collectively will probably be called Kaby Lake-X.

This information can be gleaned from the recent Core i9 leak, which detailed Intel's new line of up-to 12-core chips, with the 7740K and 7640K appearing at the bottom of the leaked slide. We don't know the exact specifications of these new chips, but they're expected to both have four cores, with the 7740K getting Hyper-Threading for eight threads. They are both expected to have higher thermal design power (TDP) figures of 112W, versus the 91W of the regular Kaby Lake models.

What does this mean for you if you're building a PC now? Unless you were planning on creating an absolute monster, it probably won't mean much. X299 motherboards are likely to be substantially more expensive than the motherboards that support the current-gen Kaby Lake chips. The X299 platform is more advanced than Intel's so-called 'mainstream' platforms such as Z270, and will support more advanced instruction sets, more PCIe lanes for high-end components.

With that in mind, then, it looks like the next big upgrade for PC gamers might be Coffee Lake, which is expected to launch later this year.

What is Kaby Lake?

Kaby Lake is a minor upgrade because Intel has ditched its "Tick-Tock" approach to processor design, meaning there are no major structural changes to the chip or what it’s capable of.

Video: We explain Kaby Lake as fast as possible

Previously, each generation of Intel processors would see a reduction in process size (smaller, lower power consumption) and then an improvement in architecture (more powerful). This was called Tick-Tock.

Related: The best gaming PC you can build yourself

Instead of Tick-Tock, Intel has now stretched out the lifespan of a given process size – in this case, 14nm (nanometers) – to three phases. Its new approach first sees a reduction in process size, then an upgrade to architecture, with a final "optimisation" phase added to make the most of what’s been done so far.

Process, Architecture, Optimisation. Drum that into your head.

This is bad for fans of big-number upgrades, but obviously great for Intel, which is able to make the most of what has become an increasingly complex process of designing chips.

It also means it’s able to offer up fairly small, semi-annual upgrades with brand-new model names, which laptop and desktop manufacturers can use to show off and shift more units.

In the case of this generation of 14nm hardware, 5th-gen "Broadwell" was the process redesign; Skylake was the architecture redesign (meaning an entirely new socket); with Kaby Lake the last hurrah for 14nm before Intel moves onto "Cannonlake", which will be a 10nm design.

For more information on some of the more technical aspects of Kaby Lake, see our other articles:

For its 7th-generation Core, Intel is describing its 14nm process as 14nm+. With the move to Broadwell, Intel started to manufacture taller and thinner transistor fins. This essentially allows for increased drive current and performance.

A continuation of this technology is enabling Intel to drive greater performance for Kaby Lake with the same power consumption as 6th-generation Core. Better efficiency in the chip also means that the processors can Turbo Boost to higher speeds for longer.

Perhaps the biggest change to the processor is the addition of a new media engine, which can decode Ultra HD video on-chip. While previous Core chips may have been powerful enough to do so in software, the effect on battery life was noticeable.

By shifting decoding into hardware, Intel can improve battery life and reduce heat, and is quoting three times the battery life when decoding 4K video. That figure will depend on the particular laptop, but it’s certainly an impressive feature. Intel’s media engine will decode VP9 and HEVC 10-bit codecs, which covers the most popular Ultra HD formats – especially for streaming.

Aside from increased efficiency and higher clock speeds, Intel's so-called Speed Shift technology will see processors able to change clock speed faster than previous generations. This means in short-burst tasks such as opening apps, Kaby Lake chips will be snappier.

There's also an updated set of chipsets, with desktop motherboards receiving a minor specs bump in line with Kaby Lake chips' new capabilities.

In short, there will be more PCI-E lanes than before, which means you'll be able to connect more high-end peripherals without running into speed bottlenecks. There are 24 in the new Z270 chipset versus the old Z170 chipset.

Kaby Lake 5

You also now get support for Intel Optane, a new technology Intel previously talked about in relation to ultra-high-performance storage for servers.

Here, Intel has incorporated Optane support into motherboards, which will allow users to install a low-cost, low-capacity Optane module onto their system. These modules will likely be low-capacity storage devices that are faster than an SSD but slower than system memory (RAM), providing a performance boost in a similar way to how hybrid hard disks work today.

There's also been a big improvement in terms of graphics, which could prove to be a big deal for gamers on a tight budget. While Intel HD graphics doesn't appear to have been hugely improved, new Intel Iris Plus 640 and 650 graphics should see gaming performance improve significantly.

Specifically, Intel claims that processors equipped with Intel Iris Plus 650 will show 65% better graphics performance than regular HD Graphics 630. That's a big deal – and actually makes some lighter 3D games, such as Overwatch, playable in Full HD. We'll have to test this ourselves to see if there are any caveats.

Kaby Lake 1

The first set of Kaby Lake laptop chips actually launched in late 2016, with various low-power chips making their debuts on laptops such as the Dell XPS 13, Razer Blade Stealth and Acer Spin 7.

Kaby Lake 4

Intel also snuck out an interesting new desktop processor in the form of the Intel Core i3-7350K. This is a follow-up to the firm's Pentium Anniversary Edition G3258, and brings overclocking to a Core i3 chip for the first time. It gets a clock speed of 4.2GHz and has a dual-core architecture with Hyper-Threading, meaning a lack of cores shouldn't prove a huge bottleneck in most games.

This chip should be much more competitive than the Pentium when it launched, although the price will be higher as well.

As of today, this is the full range of Intel Kaby Lake chips for consumers. We’ve not included Intel Xeon chips for servers.

Complete list of every 7th-gen Intel Core i “Kaby Lake” processor


Extreme low-power chips, “Y-Series”, formerly Core M

You’ll find these in high-end, ultra-thin laptops. For more, read our Core M explainer.

Chip Cores/Threads Base/maximum clock speed (GHz) Graphics TDP
i7-7Y75 2/4 1.3 / 3.6 HD 615 4.5W
i5-7Y57 2/4 1.2 / 3.3 HD 615 4.5W
i5-7Y54 2/4 1.2 / 3.2 HD 615 4.5W
m3-7Y30 2/4 1 / 2.6 HD 615 4.5W

Ultra low-power “U-series”

U-series chips are the most common Intel processors around. You’ll find them in everything from a budget 15.6-inch machine all the way up to the high-end MacBook Pro 13-inch (if Apple decides to update its 2016 MacBooks with Kaby Lake).

Pay special attention to the last two numbers. Those ending in “00U” get basic Intel HD Graphics, while those ending in “60U” get Intel Iris Plus 640 – better for gaming, 3D and video-effects work. You’ll find these on base model MacBook Pros.

Those ending in “67U” and “87U” get Intel Iris Plus 650 and also have a higher TDP, which lets them run faster for longer. You’ll find them on high-end laptops, including the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

For more, read our Core i3, i5 and i7 comparison article.

Core i7

Chip Cores/Threads Base/maximum clock speed (GHz) Graphics TDP
i7-7600U 2/4 2.8 / 3.9 HD 620 15W
i7-7500U 2/4 2.7 / 3.5 HD 620 15W
i7-7660U 2/4 2.5 / 4 Iris Plus 640 15W
i7-7560U 2/4 2.4 / 3.8 Iris Plus 640 15W
i7-7567U 2/4 3.5 / 4 Iris Plus 650 28W

Core i5

Chip Cores/Threads Base/maximum clock speed (GHz) Graphics TDP
i5-7300U 2/4 2.6 / 3.5 HD 620 15W
i5-7200U 2/4 2.5 / 3.1 HD 620 15W
i5-7360U 2/4 2.3 / 3.6 Iris Plus 640 15W
i5-7260U 2/4 2.2 / 3.4 Iris Plus 640 15W
i5-7287U 2/4 3.3 / 3.7 Iris Plus 650 28W
i5-7267U 2/4 3.1 / 3.5 Iris Plus 650 28W

Core i3

Chip Cores/Threads Base/maximum clock speed (GHz) Graphics TDP
i3-7100U 2/4 2.4 (locked) HD 620 15W
i3-7167U 2/4 2.8 (locked) Iris Plus 650 28W

High-performance “H-series”

You’ll find these on high-end multimedia laptops such as the Dell XPS 15 and MacBook Pro 15-inch (if the two firms announce Kaby Lake refreshes).

Those with “Q” on the end are quad-core chips. “K” represents an overclockable quad-core chip.

Chip Cores/Threads Base/maximum clock speed (GHz) Graphics TDP
i7-7920HQ 4/8 3.1 / 4.1 HD 630 45W
i7-7820HQ 4/8 2.9 / 3.9 HD 630 45W
i7-7820HK 4/8 2.8 / 3.8 (overclockable) HD 630 45W
i7-7700HQ 4/8 2.8 / 3.8 HD 630 45W
i5-7440HQ 4/4 2.8 / 3.8 HD 630 45W
i5-7300HQ 4/4 2.5 / 3.5 HD 630 45W
i3-7100H 2/4 3.0 (locked) HD 630 45W

Desktop chips, “S-series”

Overclockable 91W chips

These are processors for PC building enthusiasts and are the fastest consumer processors you can buy.

Chip Cores/Threads Base/maximum clock speed (GHz) Graphics TDP
Core i7-7700K 4/8 4.2 / 4.5 (overclockable) HD 630 91W
Core i5-7600K 4/4 3.8 / 4.2 (overclockable) HD 630 91W

65W, 60W and 51W chips

These are more standard parts found in pre-built gaming PCs, and are often cheaper than their 91W siblings. They’re still powerful, but don’t come with the overclocking ability of the 91W range.

Chip Cores/Threads Base/maximum clock speed (GHz) Graphics TDP
i7-7700 4/8 3.6 / 4.2 HD 630 65W
i5-7600 4/4 3.5 / 4.1 HD 630 65W
i5-7500 4/4 3.4 / 3.8 HD 630 65W
i5-7400 4/4 3 / 3.5 HD 630 65W
i3-7350K 2/4 4.2 (overclockable) HD 630 60W
i3-7320 2/4 4.1 (locked) HD 630 51W
i3-7300 2/4 4 (locked) HD 630 51W
i3-7100 2/4 3.9 (locked) HD 630 51W

35W chips, (“T-suffix”)

These are usually found in all-in-one PCs and compact systems, and are downclocked versions of the higher-wattage range.

Chip Cores/Threads Base/maximum clock speed (GHz) Graphics TDP
i7-7700T 4/8 2.9 / 3.8 HD 630 35W
i5-7600T 4/4 2.8 / 3.7 HD 630 35W
i5-7500T 4/4 2.7 / 3.3 HD 630 35W
i5-7400T 4/4 2.4 / 3.0 HD 630 35W
i3-7300T 2/4 3.5 (locked) HD 630 35W
i3-7100T 2/4 3.4 (locked) HD 630 35W

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