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Skylake Review: Intel's 6th-gen CPU arrives with nice presents for gamers and enthusiasts

Gordon Mah Ung | Aug. 6, 2015
Intel's newest CPU was worth the wait—if you don't have unrealistic expectations.

Don't worry, I did do some game testing with a real GPU too. I also dug up an older Sandy Bridge Core i7-2600K in an Asus Z77-Deluxe system for some of the testing but didn't run our complete benchmark suite against it.

One last system I threw into the mix was AMD's A10-7870K running 16GB of DDR3/1600. Yeah, AMD fans will crow a $140 CPU shouldn't be rubbing shoulders with CPUs that all exceed $340, but this comparison is to see just how Intel's graphics have come against a budget part. AMDers should also expect Skylake graphics cores to be slung their way when Intel introduces Skylake into Core i3 CPUs.

Cinebench R15

First up is Cinebench R15. This is a 3D rendering application using Maxon's Cinema4D engine. It's multi-threaded and is purely a CPU test. You may look at the bars and yawn because of the close gap between the Skylake Core i7-6700K and the Haswell Core i7-4790K but the Skylake has its performance gap despite running at a lower clock speed. Remember, the Skylake Core i76700K runs from 4GHz to 4.2GHz, while the Haswell Core i7-4790K runs form 4GHz to 4.4GHz. The much lower-clocked Broadwell and Sandy Bridge CPUs aren't even close. 

PCMark 8 Home performance

PCMark 8 uses synthetic workloads in web conferencing, browsing and casual gaming to measure system performance. Skylake again comes out on top of the higher-clocked Haswell chip. Because it's a mixed work load, I'm attributing the win to Skylake's improved 3D performance in the casual gaming, as well as the greater bandwidth of DDR4 and the improved Skylake cores in the CPU. As maligned as Broadwell desktop is, its gigantic cache helps push it right up along the CPUs that are running several hundred megahertz faster. I saw the same spread in PCMark 8 Creative too, so I'm leaving that chart out to save on Internet bandwidth.

PCMark 8 Work performance

I like running PCMark 8's Work test load. because it leaves gaming out of the equation and concentrates on browsing, word processing, video chat and a spreadsheet function. I also like this test because lower-end CPUs actually perform just fine for basic tasks. The slow but usable Intel Computestick and its Atom CPU, for example, scores 1,375, and there's a world of difference between an Atom and Skylake.

The test actually shows that it doesn't matter much. Despite running at a slightly lower clock speed, the Skylake Core i7-6700K is the winner by a small margin. 

Handbrake encoding

In this test, we use Handbrake 0.10.02 to encode a 30GB MKV 1080P file to the Android Tablet preset. It's a hefty test, heavily multi-threaded, and is almost all CPU-bound. Skylake Core i7-6700K comes up with a nice, big win here, with an almost 10-percent performance win between it and the Haswell Core i7-4790K chip. Again, considering the clock speed differences between the two, this is a big win for Skylake. Broadwell's low clock speed put it at a distant third place.


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