A few days back Intel officially launched its eighth generation of processors. Apart from the new Coffee Lake and Cannonlake architectures, a refreshed version of Kaby Lake also falls under the 8th gen branding. Four processors were announced as Kaby Lake Refresh CPUs. These are the Intel Core i5-8250U, Intel Core i5-8350U, Intel Core i7-8550U and Intel Core i7-8650U.
Today we are going to take a look at the Core i7-8550U which is the direct successor to the last gen Core i7-7500U. Although there are no changes on an architectural level between the two chips, the new 8th generation brings some major upgrades. Just how much do the extra cores improve performance? We are about to see.
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The major upgrade of Core i7-8550U over Core i7-7500U is that it doubles the previously existing cores. Now the Core i7-8550U has four physical cores and Hyper-Threading for a total of eight threads compared to just two cores and four threads on the Core i7-7500U. Nonetheless, the TDP of the Core i7-8550U remains just as every previous ULV chip was – 15W. To compensate for the number of threads, Intel had to cut down the base frequency if they wanted to remain at 15W. This is why the Core i7-8550U is clocked at the mere 1.80 GHz which is significantly lower than the 2.70 GHz clock of the Core i7-7500U. However, the Boost frequency remains very high, even surpassing the old generation – 4.00 GHz vs 3.5 GHz.
The new Core i7-8550U also has double the amount of cache – 8 MB vs 4 MB. The Core i7-8550U, as well as all other Kaby Lake Refresh ULV chips, comes with the new UHD Graphics 620 integrated GPU which you can read more about here.
Benchmarks and performance
We managed to get a hold off the new processors and of course, we didn’t take long to run a few tests on it. We ran the usual set of benchmarks including Cinebench 11, Cinebench 15, Novabench and Fritz as well as our Photoshop test to rate its real world performance. Here are the results compared to Core i7-7500U:
Update: We just tested a final unit and it turns out that the Core i7-8550U makes a huge improvement!
|Cinebench 11||Cinebench 15||Fritz||NovaBench|
|Intel Core i7-8550U||7.56 (+107%)||672 (+105%)||12765 (+90%)||956 (+81%)|
|Intel Core i7-7500U||3.65||328||6730||527|
What we see is that despite the lower base clock of the new Core i7-8550U, more threads makes all the difference. The Core i7-8550U with its four cores and eight threads scores about 50% higher in every benchmark. That is quite impressive!
However, benchmarks aren’t all there is about performance. Real-life tasks show the true potential of a given CPU. That’s why we performed our Photoshop test which consists of a set of actions that are applied to the same image on every computer we test. We record the time taken for the CPU to process all the actions, therefore, lower scores are better.
|Adobe Photoshop Action (lower is better)|
|Intel Core i7-8550U||9.75 sec|
|Intel Core i7-7500U||17.49 sec (+79%)|
Here we see that the Core i7-8550U managed to run all the tasks almost two times faster than the Core i7-7500U – 9.75 vs 17.49 sec. This may not seem like a big deal but if you load the CPU with a more intensive task the time taken from both models will increase. And waiting for 9 minutes vs 17 starts to make a difference.
By the looks of it, Intel’s 8th generation will indeed bring quite a performance increase at least in multi-threaded scenarios. Notebooks will benefit the most as now low-powered ULV chips can deliver some serious computing power comparable to last gen’s HQ series.