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Not Upgrading to Skylake could be Worth the Wait

Posted September 25, 2015 by Josh Jackson in CPU & Motherboards

Some people out there don’t understand what waiting to upgrade means. The rest of us know that once we sink a few hundred dollars into a nice upgrade, we aren’t putting anything new in our computers for a while, possibly even years. Skylake has been a great release with the return to good overclocking and some amazing chipset features on the Z170 boards, but if you’re still on the fence about whether to upgrade or not, there could be one good reason to hold out for just another year.

In case you haven’t noticed, memory is in a state of flux. You may be thinking that DDR4 isn’t that big of a deal, and you’d sort of be right. Where memory is making huge improvements is in graphics cards, storage and caches in CPUs. The ability to 3D stack memory chips on top of one another is revolutionizing the way typical computing handles various memory work loads by exponentially increasing bandwidth. In the case of Skylake, the architecture is doing a great job, but the CPU cache is made up of the same ole’ same ole’. Broadwell didn’t get as much attention as Skylake because on an enthusiast level, it was pretty difficult to overclock. However, Broadwell introduced us to 128 MB of eDram in the L4 cache. If the number doesn’t blow you away on it’s own (128 MB of L4 cache!!!), the fact that the i7 5775C outperforms the 6770K in gaming performance should be enough to get your attention and I’m not talking about the integrated graphics. So how does this fit into holding out on your next upgrade?Intel-Skylake-Core-i7-6700K

If you’re like me, you have to carefully plan and budget your upgrades to try and get the best you possibly can for a ways to come, while trying not to fall too far behind as well. Skylake gives you exceptional compute and overclocking power at the slight expense of gaming performance, while Broadwell does the exact opposite. However, AMD’s Zen is looking like it will incorporate some form of HBM into it’s cache system and INTEL is very likely to release a new chip that will introduce eDram to its Skylake architecture. My guess is we are going to see a huge gaming boost in 2016 with these changes that will be well worth the wait.

With only a year or less to go, waiting a tad longer for the perfect upgrade doesn’t seem like a long shot. We can only speculate, but it feels like next year is going to be a big year for hardware improvements, with 2015 acting as a bit of spring board to get us into the good stuff. i wish I had a crystal ball, but what I can say is that this is enough for me to keep holding out. Honestly, the biggest issue I see with waiting for next year is HBM2. With AMD and NVIDIA introducing the new memory in their GPUs, we may find out there’s just too much hardware to upgrade our rigs than our wallets can handle!




    Back to the waiting fence for me. I’m currently using Bloomfield that has been part of my current build from 2009 (when my laptop died, I tried to use it for gaming =X). I had pinned my hopes on buying i7 6700k, but after reading (from this article) Broadwell 5775c, thinking waiting longer is a better option for me.


      @ Amy,

      Good call. I would also not rule out Core i7 6800/6900K on X99 platform. 6900K could be a $599 8-core CPU. Also, Skylake is the least improved architecture from an IPC perspective compared to the moves from Nehalem/Lynnfield to Sandy Bridge (about 15-16% IPC increase), from Sandy Bridge to Haswell (about a 15-16% increase). Skylake seems more like an 8-13% increase over Haswell depending on the DDR4 memory used and benchmark review. Since you have held onto Bloomdfield for so long, I think if you don’t mind learning how to overclock, a 6-core i7 6800K would be a far better investment than a quad-core i7 6700K.

      Keep in mind that for gaming performance, the focus is still on the graphics card. If you have something older such as HD5870/6970 or GTX670/680, do not expect Skylake or Broadwell-E (6800K) to suddenly solve all of your low FPS 🙂

      I am currently awaiting Broadwell-E as I refuse to pay $350+ for a quad-core i7 with an iGPU that I won’t use. I’d rather lose 10% IPC and have 50% more cores. The X99 platform’s beauty is that it can also take up to 18-core Xeon processors and the 10-core i7 6950X. If you look at some gamers grabbing budget $100 Xeon X5650/5670 CPUs and dropping them into their 2008-2009 X58 platforms, and achieving huge overclocks, it tells me that HEDT (X99) platform has a far more flexible upgrading future in 4-5 years from now once 12-18 core Xeons drop in price.

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