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Intel announces 7th Gen 'Kaby Lake' processors for the desktop with little excitement

Intel's new 7th gen Kaby Lake processors have been featured in Ultrabooks for the last few months, but only in their dual-core variant. Quad core and desktop-class iterations were "coming soon" and that day appears to be right now at CES 2017.

That's the good news. The bad news is that these processors are not even part of the famed 'tick-tock' transition builds for Intel. Instead, Kaby Lake is more about optimization of the current architecture. That's not a terrible thing as it matters a lot for laptops where power consumption is critical. For the desktop, though, there's a lot less to get excited over.

Here is what was announced by Intel today.

Intel 7th Gen Desktop Processors

SKUPriceUnlockedCachePowerSpeed
i7-7700K$339Yes8 MB L395 W4.2 GHz, w/ 4.5 GHz Turbo Boost
i7-7700$303No8 MB L365 W3.60 GHz, w/ 4.20 GHz Turbo Boost
i5-7600K$242Yes6 MB L395 W3.80 GHz, w/ 4.20 GHz Turbo Boost
i5-7600$214No6 MB L365 W3.50 GHz, w/ 4.10 GHz Turbo Boost
i5-7500$192No6 MB L365 W3.40 GHz, w/ 3.80 GHz Turbo Boost
i7-7700T$303No8 MB L335 W2.90 GHz, w/ 3.80 GHz Turbo Boost
i5-7600T$213No6 MB L335 W2.80 GHz, w/ 3.70 GHz Turbo Boost
i5-7500T$192No6 MB L335 W2.70 GHz, w/ 3.30 GHz Turbo Boost

As always, the "K" branded Intel chips are the high-end enthusiast class editions that can be overclocked depending on your setup. The "non-K" versions lack an unlocked base-clock multiplier and draw less power (65W versus 90W).

Intel also announced new energy-efficient editions of its processors designated with "T" branding with lower speeds, Turbo Boost, and draw almost half the power of the non-K chips.

All the newly announced chips feature Intel HD 630 graphics, which is not a step up from the current HD 530 edition.

The big draw, if any, to these Intel chips is the new 4K media decoding support (10-bit (HDR) HEVC and VP9 hardware acceleration) through Windows 10's PlayReady 3.0 DRM. That should allow easier 4K streaming of media from Netflix and YouTube by offloading the work from the CPU and save some power too.

The site Ars Technica already did a full review of the new Core i7-7700k and were not impressed. While it did not under-perform, there appears to be little reason to upgrade your current hardware leaving enthusiast gamers wanting more. At least consumers should see the newer chips in upcoming desktop PCs in the next few months.

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

32 Comments
  • I don't see why Kaby Lake was even necessary in the first place. Just delay Canon Lake and leave it at that, keep promoting Skylake until Canon Lake is ready.
  • Personally, I'd say it's because people expect a new chip and a lot of people sit and wait for the next new one to upgrade to even if the upgrade is minimal. This would allow Intel to make back some of the money they spent developing the chips. That being said, since mine is pretty old at this point, my next one may be the i7-7700k
  • Yeah that makes sense, but I doubt people who are already on Skylake will see much reason to upgrade to Kaby Lake. I think Intel could've made more money back by heavily promoting Skylake or improving Skylake by offering higher clock speeds, more cores, etc. Would've probably been cheaper than the money spent on R&D for Kaby Lake.
  • Not everyone is on Skylake, though. If they didn't release Kaby, I wouldn't even consider Intel seriously for my next PC build. Bad enough they bailed on desktop Broadwell. I'd have been 100% waiting for Zen, rather than waiting to compare the two and choose. I gave up on AMD when they stopped releasing desktop stuff. I wasn't buying 2-year-old CPUs that were inferior just for a brand. In the same vein, I wouldn't look to replace my Haswell i5 with a Skylake one when Intel skips a year and AMD comes back with something.
  • Actually I just read that Cannonlake still isn't going to be the upgrade people are looking for. Yes, it'll be a die shrink of Skylake but but unfortunately, Intel is having yield problems and Cannonlake will be limited to the U and Y variants for low power and mobile devices. For higher devices like more powerful laptops and desktops, Intel will be releasing Coffee Lake which is basically Cannonlake but on the 14 nm process. Idk what happened to Intel, but AMD has now caught up to them and Samsung/Qualcomm have surpassed Intel in terms of die shrinks. I remember Intel used to be this powerhouse of advancements and was always 1-2 generations ahead of its competitors with die shrinks. But now it looks like Intel has staggered and given AMD's Ryzen the chance to pass Intel. Not to mention opened the door for Qualcomm to start nibbling away at Intel's dominance.
  • Nah. The giant sells processors and, if you're selling a bucket load there's NO reason to rush.
  • The issue with Intel is because of their fast paced tick tock scheme combine with Microsoft which made some great strides with the coding of Windows OS these two factors really slowed down the consumer purchasing new computers because they can efficiently run an updated OS from Microsoft. Some or even many of the computers where I work were update from XP to Windows 7 Enterprise where there is some notable slowness on bootup but after that the programs runs just fine...
  • Theres nothing wrong with what Intel is doing, it's just not exciting. Minor improvements are improvements none the less, and it's up to the buyer to decide if it's worth it. Besides, this seems like a much more complete rollout of SKUs versus Broadwell and Skylake, so I suspect that Intel might have got the node figured out. Kaby Lake may be the 14nm Intel process worth upgrading to.
  • Here i am still rocking a q9650.... I really wanna build a broadwell-e system but maybe ill just wait for am4/zen
  • Haha 😆 I'm still using a q6600, wasn't that in the same league? These are from 2007 or something..
  • Yeah... My utilities company was very happy with me while I ran that. So I'm actually good with a lower power consuming i5-7600 as replacement, not in the least because of 64GB Ram support. P35 could only do 8.
  • Still waiting for my ten core 4 GHz K baby.
  • I rather use laptop cpu for my desktop...
  • Cool story. Hope it fits.
  • That's...uhh...what? "I want to mix the negatives of a laptop with the negatives of a desktop--I want it slow AND bulky!!!"
  • still waiting for cannon lake.
  • Unfortunately Cannonlake isn't going to have any desktop or high end laptop CPU's. Intel is still have yield problems with 10 nm chips and therefore Cannonlake will only be available for the low power U and Y variants of Intel's Core chips. Basically tablets and ultra books. For desktops and high end laptops, you'll have Coffee Lake which is basically Cannonlake but on the older 14 nm process.
  • Even f its not a big step up, it is still worth waiting for if you are in the market to buy a new laptop in the next few weeks.
  • def for laptops
  • Yea and then buy the previous gen anyway because of the price drop:)
  • How much faster are these compared to a i7-2600k?
  • I am on i7 2600 and thinking if I should get an i7 6700K (hopefully the price will drop now) or i7 7700K...
  • If cheaper I'd go with the 6700K (what I use, actually). But if you plan on doing a lot of 4K streaming I guess it'd be okay? I imagine if you get a 6700K you'd also have a beefy GPU to go with it.
  • Yeah, need to wait and see how the prices shape. I wonder, when we will see the 7700K in Europe? Hope sooner than later =) I don't do streaming at all, but I do record and mix music, so a powerful processor is important. Anyway, if I update to either of those, I'll need to change MB and RAM (afaik one can't put DDR3 ram into new Z170 MB). My GTX 970 and the rest of the components will stay the same.
  • Might as well wait for Ryzen at this point. Even if it doesn't top Intel, you'll likely see some better pricing. 
  • Yep, good point. Hope they release it soon.
  • I'm staying as i am. built my 6700K rig in Aug '16 it should be good for a few years plus Windows 8.1 isn't supported by the new Chip. GPU is a GTX7800 with 3GB RAM
  • Windows 8.1? Gross
  • I really hope intel steps their "ARM" system on a chip game up this year.Cause they really need something to they help them slay the dragon.
  • Intel has really screwed up themselves. Just wait few months to see Intel running for their money when Qualcomm will start to eat lower to low-mid end market.
  • I was under the imopression that the ture upgrade reasons for Kaby Lake was the new Chipset supporting it.  Sadly, I have not been able to find any good updated inforamtion on this.
  • I keep misreading it as "Baby Lake".