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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.

DiRT Showdown

Our third and final real-world game is DiRT Showdown. Again we see the Skylake part surprisingly close to the Broadwell chip. Two is a coincidence, but three is a trend. What's clear to me is AMD's APU is going to have its hands full with Skylake in lower-end CPUs. The embedded-cache variant of Skylake is going to be monster.

Luxmark 3.0

The last GPU workload I'll throw at the chips is LuxMark 3.0. OpenCL is basically tasking the graphics chip with a compute load. It's actually a lot closer between the Skylake and Haswell chips than I expected. 

Yes, there's even more

The average gamer isn't going to run integrated graphics. No, he or she will run discrete graphics so who gives a chip about IGP performance? I know that so I did run a few tests using a GeForce GTX 980 card. To help put even more perspective on it, I also threw the card into the Sandy Bridge Core i7-2600K system. I've long said gaming is 90 percent about the GPU but it's been a while since I visited that idea. So is it?

Yes.

For this first test, I ran 3DMark FireStrike with the GTX 980 installed on all the rigs with the same drivers. The result actually give the highest clocked Haswell CPU the win but it's really a tie between all three isn't it? Even more revealing is the performance of that Sandy Bridge Core i7-2600K box. It's a tad bit in back, but it's so close who cares?

The same thing is apparent in Tomb Raider at the popular resolution of 1920x1080. It's pretty much a tie but oddly, the Skylake is a slightly behind the Broadwell system. The reason isn't clear to me, but it's possible it's just kinks still being worked out from early motherboards and drivers on Skylake. But again, if you're running a Core i7-2600K, you're in good shape if you have a new video card.

The final benchmark chart is all four CPUs locked down at the same clock speed with Turbo Boost off. I then ran Cinebench R15 using a single-CPU thread. It's actually a pretty sobering look at it at the small steps forward we've made. This isn't totally fair though because it doesn't account for the improvements made around the CPU. If you scroll back up to the first Cinebench R15 chart I showed, the situation doesn't look quite as dismal either.

Keep reading--it's the big finale...

Conclusion

Even though the hype train got a little out of control, Intel's Skylake CPU is still a solid new CPU offering. It offers maybe 5 to 10 percent more performance than a Haswell CPU that runs at higher clock speeds, and it's noticeably faster in graphics work loads too.

 

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