Kaby Lake Core i7-7500U Versus Skylake Core i7-6500U on Dell XPS 13

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Power Consumption and Conclusion

The Dell XPS 13 has amazing battery life and it easily lasts over 12 hours with light web surfing, so we didn’t take the time to do a full battery test to the death on each laptop due to time constraints. What we did do was measure the power at the wall during a handful of tasks to see how much power was being used and the results were pretty interesting.

At idle the new Dell XPS 13 9360 with the Intel Core i7-7500U Kaby Lake processor used almost 16% less power, but that wasn’t the most shocking result. During our Tears of Steel HEVC video playback test the Kaby Lake system used over 67% less power than the Dell XPS 13 system with the Intel Core i7-6500U Skylake processor! In Blender the Kaby Lake system was basically on par with the Skylake system and that is impressive since the Kaby Lake system was 9.2% faster in that benchmark. The Kaby Lake processor wasn’t less in everything though as in the AIDA 64 Stress Test it used about 6% more power with everything maxed out. Very impressive results and you can see that battery life will greatly depend on what you are doing with the system.

Dell XPS 13 9350 Versus Dell XPS 13 9360

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

For months we’ve heard people talking about how Kaby Lake is going to suck and that there is no reason to upgrade to it since it’s basically just an updated Skylake processor. We can understand that some people might look at the specifications and minor architecture changes and come to that conclusion, but the benchmark results speak for themselves. Intel was able to work their magic and the higher clock speeds at basically the same power consumption is impressive. The performance gains that Intel has gotten from their 7th Gen Intel Core Processor U-Series at 15W TDP is nothing short of impressive. The Intel Core i7-7500U might only be a dual-core processor with four threads, but thanks to being able to run at up to 3.5GHz those two cores are really responsive and can handle pretty much anything.

The new video decoder block was also impressive and if you want full hardware decode for HEVC Main10 or playback a ton of videos, you’ll want to get Kaby Lake over Skylake for the battery life alone. If someone out there found this article trying to decide between the Intel Core i7-6500U or the Intel Core i7-7500U in a new laptop we hope that you now feel better informed by what you’ll get. The Dell XPS 13 9360 as we have configured is $1,459.99 shipped and you can still buy last years Dell XPS 13 9350 as we have configured for $1,289.98 shipped. There is a $170 price premium for the new model, but it also has an upgraded Killer Network wireless card. If you are a PC enthusiast we think we know what model you’ll be going for.

Let us know if you have any questions below and we really look forward to looking at Kabylake on the desktop in 2017 and to finally get our hands on AMD’s upcoming Ryzen processors in 2017 as well. It looks like 2017 is going to be a great year for processors!

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  • Alfred Zanini

    I have an option for an i7 6500u model for 940$ us. Worth it?

  • YOUDIEMOFO

    Not sure if I’m just seeing it wrong, but would these scores not be the same if core “clock speeds” were the same…!? I get that there is more performance to be had on the kaby, but this would not be enough for me to jump ship for such a small incremental performance increase.

  • Spineman

    Great review. Thanks. Intel should have just waited on this one. Not enough to warrant an upgrade. They need to acquire Nvidia and get some real graphics pros on board. Yawn! It will hopefully lower the Surface Pro 4 pricing even more as rich boys upgrade to this “power” processor. lol.

    • AdamBoy64

      True, if you’re already using an i7-6500u there’s not much of a jump.

      It’s good for those in the market though to be able to compare. I was considering a 6500u as it didn’t seem much different, but it seems like there’s more of a jump than I expected.

  • Greg Zeng

    Running on battery makes the upgrade very worthwhile. These improvements should also be visible on other products with the new CPU.

  • Patrick DuChene

    Great article. Its not very often we see such thorough information. Thanks for that. Helps clarify a bit more of the true benefits on Kaby Lake over Skylake.
    Nice work

  • anon

    10% more performance for 10% higher clock speed? If scores are not normalized its difficult to compare when products are sooo similar.
    The performance boost could be alleged to a higher absolute performance, but its not.

    Also in the power comsumption chart, HEV (page 8) decoding power use seems missleading. You cannot use a line graph to compare different usages of power because the lines between the points mean a progression which is non existant. Should be a bar chart as well.

    I like very much legit, and I think you should pay attention to this kind of details.

    • anon

      The claim is the 14nm+ process achieves a higher clock with equivalent TDP.

    • Nathan Kirsch

      I get your point on the chart, so I updated it! Thanks for the feedback and we always strive to make the reviews as good as possible!

      • anon

        This kind of feedback is what makes legit what it is. Kudos for you.

  • Earl Keim

    Excellent article, Nathan. Nice to see one can have a long flight overseas, etc. and never run out of battery.