Another year has passed and August 2015 has seen the release of the latest Intel mainstream CPU series which is badged as Skylake.
Skylake is the replacement for the Haswell and Broadwell CPU line and is classed as a 6th Generation chip, you can tell if you are looking at a Skylake by the chip designations as they begin with a 6 (funnily enough).
At the time of launch only the Quad Core i5 6600K 3.5GHz and the Quad Core (with Hyperthreading) i7 6700K 4GHz were made available, Intel will follow up with some more i5’s and the Dual Core i3 Skylake processors later on this year.
Normally when Intel’s new chips come out we move straight across to them however there has been massive shortages of these new Skylake chips which has slightly delayed our rollout, now that we have a stock of them though we have upgraded all the Ultra PC’s to use them.
What Has Changed?
Over the past few years each new generation of CPU’s have generally increased performance somewhere in the region of 10% over the previous generation of processors, Skylake sort of follows this.
Looking through the ever useful ‘AnandTech CPU Reviews’ you can see that Skylake gives a 6% jump in performance over the i7 4790K and improves around 19% over the original Haswell 4770K CPU.
These performance gains mean that any tasks which are reliant on the CPU of the computer to process will complete faster on the new Skylake processors.
A new CPU means a new motherboard chipset to support it and the top performing chipset for Skylake is the Z170. These new motherboards feature a wide range of improvements such as PCI 3.0 slots, USB 3 and even the new USB Type C port.
The other major change with Skylake is support for DDR4 RAM. RAM is the memory that the computer uses to store your files and programs whilst operating the PC, when you open a program the files needed to run it are stored in your RAM and it basically runs from there.
For many years DDR3 has been the fastest type of RAM and has been in widespread use however on the top end Enthusiast CPU’s, released late 2014, Intel dropped DDR3 in favour of the faster and more efficient DDR4 RAM, it has now followed suit with Skylake and introduced it here.
Because DDR4 is still relatively new, some Skylake motherboards still allow the use of DDR3 RAM, whilst this is cheaper it doesn’t offer the best performance levels, as such we have switched all our Skylake systems to the faster DDR4 modules.
Pairing the new DDR4 with the new Z170 motherboard and Skylake CPU’s means you are getting the best possible performance out of your Ultra PC.
Worth An Upgrade?
This is always a tricky thing to call and it depends on what you currently have in your system.
The 6% increase in performance over a 2014 Haswell CPU wouldn’t make me upgrade to be honest however if you are running on one of the original Haswell’s, an Ivy Bridge or even a Sandy Bridge CPU then you will see definite performance jumps of between 20% – 40% which is a significant jump.
DDR4 RAM also makes a positive impact on performance and might be the deciding factor if you do have an older system.
Something also to consider if thinking about an upgrade would be the recent release of Windows 10. Whilst it is still early days with it I believe that it is a very good operating system and is only going to improve over the coming months. Pairing it up with a new Skylake system will be a solid combination that will stand you in good stead for the next few years.
Buy A Skylake PC
As mentioned, all of our Ultra PC’s now run Skylake with DDR4, we have managed to hold the pricing on these computers despite the increased cost of the CPU’s and the newer DDR4 RAM.
Although we are still defaulting to Windows 7 as the operating system, switching it over to Windows 10 is a zero cost upgrade and is something we are ever more tempted to recommend to customers.
Buy a new Ultra Multi-Screen PC Online.
Written by Darren @ Multiple Monitors
Last Updated: September, 2015