Sky's The Limit: 5 New Features Of Intel's First Skylake Processors

For The Gamers

Intel revealed its first two CPUs of its new sixth-generation Skylake microarchitecture platform Wednesday at video game tradeshow Gamescon in Cologne, Germany.

System builders have long waited for the 14nm successor to Intel's Broadwell platform, and the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company did not disappoint by revealing the Intel Core i7-6700K and the less expensive Core i5-6600K, available for purchase Wednesday.

The two new processors target gamers and PC enthusiasts, according to Intel. "The PC market has matured, so the chip industry is looking at PC enthusiasts who will still upgrade," said Jim McGregor, founder and principal analyst at Tirias Research.

Following are five new features that Intel's Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K processors will tout.

5. Clocking And Cache

The high-end, quad-core Core i7-6700K, which has four cores and eight threads, is clocked at 4 GHz, while the Core i5-6600K, which has four cores and four threads, is clocked at 3.5 GHz. Core i7-6700K will have features that enable CPU and graphics overclocking with finer-grain tuning.

In addition, the new processors contain 8 MB of Intel Smart Cache, allowing customers to gain faster access to their data.

The Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K contain native support for newer DDR4 RAM for mainstream gaming systems, with two channels of DDR4-2133 and DDR3L-1600 memory.

4. Z170 Chipset

Intel also launched a new Z170 chipset, which allows for CPU overclocking enablement and graphics overclocking enablement. In addition, the processors' new overclocking capabilities enable the ability to increase memory frequency and contain finer-grain increments.

Wallace Santos, CEO of Maingear, a Kenilworth, N.J.-based boutique computer manufacturer specializing in high-performance gaming computers, stressed that the Skylake CPUs' overclocking abilities are their best features.

"This is a huge launch for gamers, especially because these processors overclock really well," he said.

3. Wintel Relationship

The Skylake launch comes with a new Z170 chipset and LGA1151 CPU socket, so customers will also need a new PC or motherboard along with the brand-new processors. This fact, coupled with the release of Microsoft's Windows 10 just a week ago, means system builders are expecting to see a flurry of PC upgrades.

Josh Covington, director of marketing and sales at Velocity Micro, a system builder and Intel partner based in Richmond, Va., said his business will see a boost from this impact.

"First with the release of Windows 10 and now with Skylake, we’ve already seen a significant uptick in business," he said. "We expect that momentum to carry through the remainder of Q3 and into Q4."

2. Modest Performance Increase

According to Intel, its new Skylake CPUs will boost performance for one-year-old PCs by up to 10 percent, with a 20 percent to 40 percent Intel HD graphics performance improvement.

The processors include Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, increasing the processor frequency to up to 4.2 GHz when applications need more performance, as well as Intel Hyper-Threading Technology to allow multitasking for processor cores.

"Intel was already the performance leader as well as the leader in power efficiency before this release," said Covington. "Skylake just widens that gap with more processing power, better on board graphics, less power consumption, better integration with Windows 10 and superior overclockability."

1. Pricing And Availability

The Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K are available for purchase starting Wednesday, according to Intel. The Core i7-6700K is priced higher, at $350, while the Core i5-6600K is priced at $243.

"This is a huge step forward for gamers, media creators and CAD designers, and even standard home office users," said Randy Copeland, president and CEO of Velocity Micro, the system builder based in Richmond, Va.

"We're excited to offer next-gen enthusiast desktop Intel Core Processors as a part of our ongoing pursuit to create award winning, ultra-performance desktop PCs."