Intel’s 7th-Gen Core processor family for laptops can be divided into two categories: there are 15 watt Kaby Lake-U series chips that offer higher performance, and 4.5 watt Kaby Lake-Y chips that are designed for use in thin and light computer, often with fanless designs.

For the past few chip generations, Intel has branded its Y series processors as “Core M,” but with the introduction of 7th-gen “Kaby Lake” chips, the company took a different approach. There’s a 1 GHz Core m3 chip, but other Y series processors include models with Core i5 and Core i7 branding.

The new names suggest the Core i5 and Core i7 models will offer the kind of performance you’d expect from a more powerful chip. But is that what you really get? I’m working on a review of an Acer Swift 7 notebook with a Core i5-7Y75 processor, and while it’ll be a little while before I have a full review, I wanted to share some initial performance benchmarks.

swift-7_02

Some folks have criticized Intel’s new naming convention, suggesting it’ll confuse computer shoppers. Intel’s response is basically that a) the old names were confusing and b) Y series chips have gotten so good that you might not really see much difference anyway.

That’s… kind of true.

In terms of day-to-day performance, the Swift 7 feels plenty fast. The notebook has no problems running software for editing documents or images, streaming HD video, or even handling some gaming tasks. It also multitasks like a champ.

Some of that is surely due to the computer’s 8GB of RAM and relatively zippy solid state drive. But the processor seems capable of holding its own.

But if you’re wondering how it stacks up against other recent processors? That’s a slightly different story.

I ran a series of tests to measure CPU and graphics performance, among other things. Generally speaking, the Acer Swift 7 is much faster than the Asus Zenbook UX305 laptop with a 5th-gen Core M-5Y10 Broadwell processor I reviewed about a year and a half ago.

But compare it with any other 5th or 6th-gen Core i5 or faster processor, and it’s pretty clear the Core i5-7Y54 can’t quite keep up.

The Kaby lake chip does have Intel’s latest graphics architecture, which helps it out in some situations. For example, check out the results of this Handbrake video encoding test:

handbrake_7

The QSV results show what happens when you leverage Intel’s QuickSync technology, which uses the processor’s integrated GPU to speed up video encoding. The Acer Swift 7 was able to complete the task almost as quickly as computers with Core i5 Skylake chips.

But the H.264 results show that without leveraging the GPU, the Swift 7 was one of the slowest computers with a Core i5 chip that I’ve tested in the past few years.

Here are results from a few other tests, including PCMark, 3DMark, and the Street Fighter IV benchmark (which is getting a bit old… but which I included because it’s interesting how the scores are virtually identical for most of the systems tested except for the Zenbook UX305 with the older Core M chip).

Nearly across the board, it’s pretty clear that the Core i5-7Y54 chip isn’t as fast as other recent chips with Core i5 branding. But it’s not that much slower… and offers performance that’s far above what you’d expect from an Intel Atom, Celeron, or Pentium chip based on Cherry Trail or Braswell architecture (I haven’t had a chance to test any new Apollo Lake chips yet, so I can’t make any comparisons there).

More importantly, it allows for thin, fanless systems like the Acer Swift 7. The laptop measures just 0.4 inches thick, weighs just 2.5 pounds, and has a fanless design, which means it runs silently.

swift-7

Acer also says the laptop should get long battery life from a relatively small 2,770 mAh battery. I’ll have more notes about real-world battery life after I’ve had more time to test the laptop, but Acer says the notebook should run for up to 9 hours on a charge.

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8 replies on “Some Intel Kaby Lake-Y benchmarks (4.5 watt Core i5-7Y54)”

  1. Was thermal throttling an issue. Once these fanless Core I7-Y get hot, how do they compare. Some reviewers for previous coreM verified thermal design was a significant factor on performance

    Will any coreM or coreY part come with a decent LTE modem.

  2. These are actually very impressive.

    For context, the new fastest Core M(7) is about x2 faster than the previous slowest Core M(3).
    And the fastest 5-watt Core M7 (aka Core i7-Y) is about as fast as the 15-watt slowest Core i5-U.

    Why is it impressive?
    Because plenty of people found the slowest Core M3 to be “plenty fast”… so doubling means a significant boost. And for those naysayers about Core M who always responded “just get a Core i5-U instead”… well it seems they are equally as fast and more than enough for day-to-day tasks in HD.

    The Intel Atoms?
    Braswell, Cherry Trail, Apollo Lake…. they will still lag/hang/hiccup on everyday tasks.
    But at least there is an alternative in the new Skylake Core i-Y series for everyone.

    1. Yep. The biggest problem is that these are priced like core I and not atom… And they’re being used in premium machines.

      The Acer Swift 7 I’m reviewing is an $1100 laptop.

      The good news is that I think it really is fast enough to be a primary laptop for some people, rather than a secondary computer. But suspect some people will still complain that you can get a more powerful PC for half the price (although it wouldn’t fanless).

      1. +1

        I doubt you could get a more powerful pc for halfprice…that’s Chromebook territory.
        I think Intel would be wise to offer their weakest Core M3’s to fill in the market where the previous Cherry Trail’s inhabited. But this may not be possible with the pressure exerted by their investors who are looking for “larger profits”.

        If Intel is wise, they would do such a move and we should see the market mature.
        However, they could convince their investors this is not charity and its actually an “investment strategy” to put the Intel brand name out there, and fight the pressures of devices using ARM SoC’s and the soon-to-be AMD Zen processors.

        1. Half of $1100 is $550. That’s a durned expensive Chromebook, wouldn’t you say? There are dozens of Windows and Linux laptops in the $550 price range that land in the “good but not great” category, so I have to disagree with you here.

  3. Nice to see the low power CPUs making progress. My last buy was a 15 watt device, but I’d love to get that even lower next time.

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