In fall 2017, Intel released its latest CPU platform, which is known as 8th Gen Core or “Kaby Lake Refresh.” The latest chips offer a huge performance increase over the 7th Gen “Kaby Lake” processors that power most laptops today. They also move the most common processor line, the U series, from dual-core to quad-core, which means that you have eight threads (two per Core) to help with multitasking and productivity tasks.
According to our tests, 8th Gen Core chips are between 50 and 92 percent faster than their predecessors on multi-threaded tasks. For example, in our tests, a Dell XPS 13 9360 with Core i7-8550U processor completed a giant Excel macro in just 1 minute and 8 seconds, compared to an identical XPS 13 with Core i7-7500U CPU that finished in 2:30. Even on single-threaded tasks, we saw a noticeable 10 to 11 percent improvement.
Right now, you can only get laptops with Intel 8th Gen Core i5 and Core i7 U series processors. Mainstream laptops have had these CPUs since fall 2017 while business laptops with 8th Gen processors just began rolling out in January 2018. Later this spring, we will see laptops with Intel’s new 8th Generation “Kaby Lake G” series processors that come with AMD graphics built into the CPU.
However, a number of Intel’s processor series are still stuck on 7th Generation Core. Nearly ubiquitous in gaming laptops, the 45-watt H series chips are still 7th Generation as are the low-power Y series CPUs that appear in a few super-thin, fanless tablets. There’s no 8th Gen Core i3 chip for laptops nor is there an 8th Gen Celeron or Pentium processor for low-end systems. Intel’s super-powerful Xeon chip for mobile workstations also hasn’t been updated.
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