The new Intel “Skylake” line of 6th generation processors is as exciting as all new processor lines are: things are faster, stronger, and pull less power. Here is a little guide to what you need to know about Intel Skylake processors before you upgrade your PC.
How do I know if it’s Skylake?
Skylake is just the code name of the new 6th generation Intel processors. Like the 5th, 4th, and previous generations, the generation number is shown in the name of the processor (ie. i5-6500T or i7-6700K). You may also notice the slick new box art:
Where’s the VGA?
With the release of Skylake, Intel has officially dropped the support of the Video Graphics Array (VGA) interface. This means that if your monitor only support a VGA video connection, it’s probably time to upgrade that as well. Motherboards supporting the new Skylake processors will not come with VGA outputs and many do not come with DVI outputs either. Most boards supporting Skylake processors include HDMI and DisplayPort connections only.
I need a motherboard too?
Yep, Skylake processors use the new LGA 1151 socket which means you’ll need a motherboard with an 1151 socket to hold your new Skylake processor.
Unless you’re already using DDR4 memory, you’ll need some RAM as well. Skylake processors and socket LGA 1151 motherboards only support new high-speed DDR4 memory, with some motherboards also supporting Low-Voltage DDR3 memory (DDR3L) and even fewer boards supporting both types. Unless you happen to have some DDR3L already laying around, it’s best to with DDR4.
This sounds like a lot, what do I get out of it?
Integrated Graphics 530
Intel’s new integrated graphics support some surprising new levels by integrated graphics standards. The 530 graphics support up to 5 monitors connected via HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2, or Embedded DisplayPort (eDP) interfaces. If you’re someone that’s invested in 4K monitors or TVs, you’re not left out in the rain. The integrated graphics on Skylake processors can support up to three 4K displays at one time. This doesn’t mean you can run games in 4K on the integrated graphics, you’ll still need a high end graphics card for that, but you can utilize the ultra-high resolution of 4K for normal computing like surfing the web.
Skylake processors adopt new technologies that allow applications to run faster and allow for faster interfaces inside the computer. One notable aspect of Skylake is the addition of four more PCI Express 3.0 lanes (now at a total of 20 lanes). The addition of PCIe 3.0 lanes increases potential throughput for additional interfaces such as Thunderbolt 3.0, USB 3.1, and PCIe Solid State Drives without taking bandwidth away from processing units like graphics cards that also utilize PCIe lanes. This means that everything can run at full speed rather than having your internal PCIe Solid State Drive get throttled because you’re running a graphic-intensive game.
Better Mobile Devices
Skylake is also coming to mobile devices such as phones, tablets, and laptops. Intel has said that the biggest performance increase is seen in mobile devices. This is because Skylake processors pull less power, run cooler, and run even faster in mobile platforms. Intel has stated that users can expect a 2.5x increase in CPU processing, 30x better graphics performance, and 3x the battery life of 5th generation mobile processors.
As you can see, it does take quite the upgrade to move to a new processor. This is due to mainly the adoption of DDR4 memory, as motherboards are having to make the transition at the same time as processors. But you can see obvious improvements with Skylake and there are many new technologies included with Skylake that aren’t covered in this article such as the graphics technologies DirectX 12, OpenCL 2.0, and OpenGL 4.4 that bring many graphics processing enhancements that are now utilized by Intel Integrated Graphics 530. So if you’re looking for a speed boost, extended battery life, and support for new technologies, you’ll want to look for Skylake in your new system. Whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet or phone, Skylake is going to be in it in no time.
Besides my love for computers, I am a motorcycle fanatic. I have a background in Office 365 support and windows server.