Skylake and Kaby Lake: 10 Differences

It is important to know the differences between two processors if you have to make a choice, for example between a Skylake and a Kaby Lake processor.

These processors are certainly not just an upgrade of the previous versions but there are lots of improvements made in them separately.

This article will let you know about those differences and help you to decide which among the two is better for you to use.


  • The Skylake processor is older than the Kaby Lake processor and is considered to offer much higher performance with much better features included in it.
  • Usually, the Kaby lake processors come with two memory channels but the i9 Skylake-X processors in particular come with four memory channels.
  • The TDP rating of the Kaby Lake processors is usually higher than a Skylake equivalent apart from the X-series processors.
  • The Kaby Lake processors are much more power efficient and also come with much better graphics, higher PCI Express lane support and clock speeds in comparison to the Skylake processors.

The 10 Differences Between Skylake and Kaby Lake Processor

Skylake vs Kaby Lake

1. Year of Release

The Intel Skylake processors were launched in August 2015. This microarchitecture succeeded the Broadwell microarchitecture.

On the other hand, the Intel Kaby Lake processors succeeded Skylake processors on January 3, 2017.

2. Fundamentals

The Intel Skylake, depending on the specific model, is considered to be the ‘extreme’ processor for any generation.

The i7 models of it usually come with 6 cores but the top-of-the-line i9 processor may come with as many as 18 cores.

On the other hand, Kaby Lake processors are not considered to be high-end at all.

These processors usually come with 4 cores and few models, such as the i5s, do not even support hyperthreading.

3. Memory Channels

All Core i7 and i9 Skylake-X models support quad-channel memory but the maximum speed may be different.

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On the other hand, the Intel Kaby Lake equivalent processors usually come with dual-channel DDR4 RAM.

4. Thermal Design Power

The Intel Kaby Lake processors typically come with a Thermal Design Power or TDP ratings which can be overclocked even further.

However, the Kaby Lake X-series processors have a lower TDP, being 112 watts as compared to 140 watts of the Skylake X-series processors.

On the other hand, the Intel Skylake processors normally do not come with a higher TDP rating in comparison to the Kaby Lake equivalent processors.

5. Integrated Graphics

As is in the case of the Intel Kaby Lake processors, the most significant difference is in the architectural improvements made in the integrated graphics with the silicon bumped off and the performance level increased, especially in the 3D graphics of the mobile chips.

On the other hand, the graphics department of the Intel Skylake processors equivalent seems to lag behind significantly.

6. Power Efficiency

The Intel Kaby Lake processors seem to be more power efficient, which is good news for the laptop users in terms of battery life.

On the other hand, the Intel Skylake processors are not as power efficient as the Intel Kaby Lake processors.

7. Performance

The Intel Kaby Lake chips are better than the Intel Skylake processors in terms of performance since their base clock speeds are higher than their Skylake processor equivalent.

On the other hand, whether it is in the base clock speeds or the Turbo Boost frequencies, the Intel Skylake processors lag a little bit.

8. 4K Video

The Intel Kaby Lake processors support 4K videos much better than the Intel Skylake processors due to the built-in support for high-end videos.

The Intel Skylake processors on the other hand seem to lag significantly behind the Kaby Lake processors in terms of 4K video support.

9. Optane Support

The Intel Kaby Lake processors offer Optane memory support even if you use a 100-series chipset.

On the other hand, an Optane memory will usually not work if a Skylake processor is installed on a 200-series chipset.

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10. PCI Express Lanes

The number of PCI Express lanes supported by the Kaby Lake processors can be up to 24 from PCH or Platform Controller Hub.

On the other hand, the number of PCI Express lanes supported by the Intel Skylake processors is up to 16.

Which is Better – Skylake or Kaby Lake?

Differences Between Skylake and Kaby Lake Processor

This is a difficult question to answer because both these are good based on their respective characteristics and whatever that is apparent may not actually be the case.

Rushing your decision is never recommended.

As it is clear from the differences between the Intel Kaby Lake and Skylake processors, if you are given a choice, you would surely go for an Intel Kaby Lake processor, whether you want to use it in your desktop computer or a laptop computer.

However, a closer look may reveal a completely different fact.

Given the integrated graphics, you can expect to have a performance boost of about 65% when you use the Kaby Lake processors.

Whether it is for the 3D graphics or 4K video, the Intel Kaby Lake processors will outshine the Intel Skylake processors, thanks to its Iris Plus GPU.

Apart from the better performance, you will also save on the battery life of your laptop with an Intel Kaby Lake processor due to its greater power efficiency and advanced video support.

However, do consider the price because it can be prohibitive.

Moreover, you will also need to make some additional upgrades and expenses in the form of motherboards and other components because all Kaby Lake processors may not support your existing computer hardware.

The Kaby Lake processors are faster with better power delivery, higher thermal headroom for overclocking but it may not be suitable for you if you are a multi-tasker and need more cores.

The Intel Skylake processors, especially the X-series models, are designed for the professionals and mega-multi-taskers who feel that time is more valuable than money.

Some users, to start with, usually spend less on a low-end Kaby Lake processor and then upgrade to Skylake down the line.

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However, if you want to follow their footsteps, keep in mind that you will also need to spend on new RAM and other components to take advantage of that difference.

This will however push the costs way higher.

Therefore, comparing all the positives and negatives it can be said that in spite of a few significant improvements made in the Kaby Lake processors, these are simply not persuasive enough to influence the average users to go for it who are already using the Intel Skylake processors.

It is true that the enhanced 3D graphics, 4K video support, and faster clock speeds are compelling enough for the multimedia junkies and avid gamers, but these do not seem to be all that important for a general or basic user.

It is the same with the slight increase in the number of Peripheral Component Interconnect Express or PCIe lanes and support for the Optane memory.

Therefore, whether you should use an Intel Skylake processor or an Intel Kaby Lake processor will directly and entirely depend on the kind of performance you want from your computer and the processor.

However, do make it a point to check out the official website of Intel to find the availability of a particular Skylake processor or a Kaby Lake processor you choose eventually.

This is because there is a high chance that the particular model of any of these processors that you feel will be best suited for your desktop or laptop computer may not be available anymore because Intel may have discontinued it already.

This is a high possibility in the case of the desktop processors.


Therefore, with all these things said about the Intel Skylake and Intel Kaby Lake processors mentioned in this article, now you surely know the differences between them and are more confident to make the right choice among them to get a higher value in return.

About Puja Chatterjee

Puja ChatterjeePuja Chatterjee is a technical writer with extensive knowledge about computers. She graduated from BIMS. Her expertise includes technology writing and client relationship management gained through over 12 years of experience. Follow Her at Linkedin.