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Intel Corporation’s Kaby Lake-X Gaming Chip Promises to Be a Beast

By Ashraf Eassa - Aug 21, 2016 at 11:05AM

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Intel's investment in segment-specific products could be set to pay off nicely here.

Image credit: Intel. 

Website Coolaler recently leaked information about a few of microprocessor-giant Intel's ( INTC -0.51% ) upcoming processors targeted specifically at the gaming market based on its upcoming Kaby Lake architecture. The highest end of these parts, the Core i7 7700K, will pack four processor cores running at a base clock of 4.2GHz and a maximum single core turbo speed of 4.5GHz -- a solid increase from its Skylake-based predecessor, which ran at 4GHz base and sported a single-core turbo speed of 4.2GHz.

Although this part, which is part of the Kaby Lake-S family of processors, should be quite compelling for both gamers and enthusiasts, I can't help but be even more excited for another part that the chipmaker plans to release, known as Kaby Lake-X.

Based on the leaks, Kaby Lake-X looks as though it'll be based on the same basic silicon as Kaby Lake-S, but it will plug into the company's upcoming high-end desktop motherboards rather than the mainstream desktop motherboards that Kaby Lake-S will. The leaks also show that Intel plans to rate these chips at a 112-watt thermal design power, up from the 95-watt thermal design power of the Core i7 7700K.

Here's why Kaby Lake-X could be a big deal for gamers and PC enthusiasts.

Freakish out-of-the-box speeds coming?

The Kaby Lake-S based Core i7 7700K will already feature the fastest out-of-the-box single core speed that Intel has ever shipped in a consumer product, at 4.5GHz. This will beat out the Core i7-4790K that the company released back in 2014, which hit a maximum single-core turbo of 4.4GHz out of the box.

Note that the i7 7700K is rated at a 95-watt thermal design power. By bumping up the thermal design power to 112 watts for Kaby Lake-X, Intel should have additional headroom to boost out-of-the-box speeds beyond what the company will ship with the 7700K.

Now, 112 watts represents a roughly 18% increase in power budget. It might be too optimistic to expect frequency to scale linearly with the increased power budget, so perhaps a part that runs at 18% higher base/boost speeds might be too optimistic to expect.

However, if Intel really wants to make something of a splash with this part -- and if we assume that the actual silicon can handle it -- a part that runs at 4.5GHz base/5GHz boost could potentially turn heads. More importantly, it's the kind of part that Intel could probably charge a significant premium for as games tend to benefit greatly from very high per-core performance.

At the very least, we can expect base frequency in excess of 4.2GHz and a maximum single core turbo in excess of 4.5GHz.

It's good to see Intel building enthusiast-targeted parts

At the end of the day, it's important for Intel to be aggressive in building segment-specific products, particularly for segments that are growing, such as gaming. Based on what I'm seeing, it looks like the company understands this and is making a genuine effort to build such compelling, targeted products.

If Intel is successful, these efforts should ultimately pay off in the form of increased unit volume shipments, as well as richer average selling prices.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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