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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.

Valve Particle Benchmark

This last CPU benchmark I'm showing in this section is Valve's Particle Benchmark. Created for the launch of the first quad-core CPUs, Valve designed the test to measure game physics. As there are graphics involved in the test, you may consider this a test of the platforms graphics and compute performance.

I've also long suspected memory bandwidth and latency to be factors, too. The win here is big for Skylake again. Even though the Broadwell Core i7-5775C has better graphics performance with its large cache, it takes a distant second place. 

Keep reading--yes, more benchmarks on the next page.

Integrated graphics performance

Gamers all run discrete graphics but the performance of the integrated graphics chip is probably half the value of Skylake. Sure, you disagree as you stop to lovingly look over your GeForce GTX 980 Ti, but think of what we're seeing here as what people will get in their Skylake laptops when they finally ship. The contestants here are largely the same, but I've also inserted the AMD A10-7870K chip for comparison. There's nothing to fear from a $145 CPU, right?

3DMark Firestrike Performance

First up is 3DMark's Firestrike test. It's a little heavy-duty for this level of GPU, but we can see the Skylake's HD530 graphics is a nice bump up from the HD4600 in the Haswell CPU. But that big old cache in the Broadwell chip and its Iris Pro 6200 graphics are not to be triffled with. Oh yeah, and then there's that $145 AMD APU too. This will change once Intel pushes out versions of Skylake with embedded DRAM for cache but, umm, yeah.

3DMark Sky Diver Overall

3DMark's Sky Diver test is more suited for this level of graphic power, but we're seeing similar performance gaps. 

Tomb Raider

So you know how well Skylake does in synthetic benchmarks, what about actual game benchmarks? To find out, the first test I threw at the systems was Tomb Raider running at 1366x768 resolution at normal quality. This makes frame rates playable and doesn't sacrifice the visual quality settings to the point they're downright ugly. It's actually what a person would do. No surprise, the Broadwell CPU and its big cache win again, but the AMD A10-7870K starts to lose its luster. Why, I'm not entirely sure. I know from 3DMark that on a pure graphics load it's faster, so the only thing I can attribute to this reversal of fortunes is the x86 side of the house, where its four 3.9GHz cores can't cut it.

BioShock Infinite

My results in Tomb Raider weren't a fluke. The Skylake part in an actual game again aces AMD's best APU. While this review isn't about the A10-7870K, it does indicate that mobile Skylake is going to give AMD's APU's a good run for their money in actual gaming tasks. We won't know until we get actual laptops, but I'm surprised at how well Skylake is doing here. In fact, it performs surprisingly close to the Broadwell CPU. Once Intel introduces a variant with cache, the performance of Skylake is likely to be stellar, finally offering low-end discrete gaming in a chip.


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