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Coffee Lake: Intel’s push back against AMD’s Ryzen

What a disappointment. Though an unsurprising one!

Here is what Intel has confirmed on its upcoming Coffee Lake desktop version (released on the 21st of August 2017 by Intel):

  • It’ll bring in anywhere between 10% to 15% performance improvements compared to the previous generation (Kaby Lake).
  • It will be using the same Integrated Graphic module ( HD Graphics 630 ) as in the previous 7th Gen CPUs (you guessed it: Kaby Lake).
  • Base clocks will be significantly lower, but every CPU gen will gain 2 cores in i3s and i5s series, and 4 cores on i7s (none of which are threaded).
  • Higher L3 cache memory. 33% more for i3s and i5s. 25% more for i7s.
  • Coffee Lake CPUs WILL NOT be compatible ot z170 and z270 motherboards.
  • Z370 motherboards will not support any generations before Coffee Lake.
  • Same Skylake based micro architecture (14nm process).
  • Price will almost perfectly match the current Kaby Lake generation.
  • Intel loves using footnotes to warrant their outburst of  self gratification.
  • Intel is running out of imagination when it comes to code names.

 

What we have :

So far, Intel has only confirmed the immediate launch of its Coffee Lake mobile CPU version. And I struggle to be excited.

Sure, the first thing that should jump to our eyes is that all processors doubled its core count (physical and threaded), and that’s good!

But to control heat, Intel has reduced DRASTICALLY its new CPUs base clocks. In comparison, the previous generation of processors was running significantly higher base clocks (600Hz to 1GHz more).

The i7-7660U would boast a 2.5Ghz/4Ghz per cores. Of course, more threads will mean performance gain. But, less than I would have expected. A gentle 10% to 15% maybe. In line with its desktop siblings.

Of course, more physical cores does translate in more L3 cache. Again, L3 cache is only as good and as fast as its equating core can compute. In other words, a 1.9 GHz clocked core will be the sheriff in town and is the bottleneck in many cases.

Did I mention I was NOT HAPPY with this?

Coffee Lake mobile CPUs
Coffee Lake mobile CPUs

As far as integrated graphics goes, sure … now Intel calls it its UHD Graphics ( replacing its Graphics Processor ).

Since the desktop line up will not upgrade its integrated graphics from its previous generation, I have no doubt that Intel UHD Graphics 620 represent as much as an improvement as an empty glass cup is an improvement to an empty paper cup in a desert.

Not exactly the answer I was expecting. And not the calibre required to gain back the market share looted by AMD’s latest Zen architecture (mobile or desktop).

This is not the major release Intel wants you to believe.

8th Gen Core
8th Gen Core

Price wise :

This is not a cheap upgrade. If you already purchased a Kaby Lake CPU, say earlier THIS YEAR,  you will need to let go of the Z170 or the short-lived Z270 powered motherboard (the later would have enjoyed a short year of relevancy). If you want to run the latest, shiniest Intel’s gen CPU family, you will have to go through the expensive and cumbersome exercise of acquiring and installing a soon to come Z370 chipset motherboard.

In addition, if the Z370 chipset upgraded specs are in line with Coffee Lakes… we are in a world of pain!

So double expense, for a single upgrade.

 

Market wise:

The X-series CPU line and the soon to be launched desktop based Coffee Lake CPU line, were both rushed through the release pipeline to serve one purpose, and one only: counter the surprisingly excellent and affordable Zen based CPU lines, released by AMD, in consecutive waves this summer.

Compared to AMD’s Zen based CPUs, Intel X series CPU lines were to be, either too expensive for comparable performances, or not performant enough for a comparable price range.

In addition, the X series CPUs were/are open to punishing competition both from the Ryzen 7 1800X and the Threadripper. They both propose CPUs which can equal X CPUs performances with a lower dollar price tag.

Let’s not mention the current Intel 7th Gen Kaby Lake processors, which are now, not only obsolete but expensively so (prices have not been revised by Intel yet).

 

Keep an eye open:

Even-though Coffee Lake’s mobile version has been released and should be already available on selected laptops, the desktop iteration is to be made available in Q3 or Q4 2017.

If you have the luxury to wait a few months before upgrading or buying a new system, I would seriously consider waiting. Either you could buy a reduced-price Kaby Lake CPU / Z270 motherboard, which will deliver 90% of Coffee Lake performances for at least a third cheaper, achieving the best bang for your buck, or switch directly to a Ryzen based system.

And that brings me to the following point:

When selecting the Z370 platform for its latest generation of mainstream CPUs, Intel made a fateful decision. Since customers have to swap motherboards anyways… why would they stick with an underperforming and overpriced Intel product???

Why not jumping to AMD? Sure will cost them less, and sure will give them more!

PS: Intel, please…get your s**t together!

 

 

 

 

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Laurent

The never aging alpha geek is still here! Don't you dare question me!

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