Intel’s new 8th generation brings some surprises to the table. One of the notable one being the fact that the Kaby Lake Refresh ULV chips will now feature four physical cores and eight threads. We are very interested at the Core i7-8550U which we have in our labs. We already published our comparison to the direct predecessor – the Core i7-7500U but why stop here?
Spoiler alert! The Core i7-8550U came out to be way more powerful than the Core i7-7500U. That’s why we want to test it to the Core i5-7300HQ and the Core i5-6300HQ just for reference. So just how well does an 8th gen Core i7 ULV chip stack up to a 7th and 6th gen Core i5 HQ processors? Let’s find out.
Where do we start? There are a few key features that we must look at when comparing these processors. The first one is the number of cores and threads. As of gen 8th, even ULV chips have four physical cores which are the same count as the Core i5-7300HQ and Core i5-6300HQ. The Core i7-8550U also has Hyper-Threading technology which doubles the amount of threads – a total of eight. The other two CPUs do not support Hyper-Threading, therefore, they are stuck with only four threads.
However, the base clock speed of the Core i7-8550U is quite lower than the other two – 1.80 GHz vs 2.50 GHz and 2.30 GHz for the Core i5-7300HQ and Core i5-6300HQ respectively. On the other hand, the maximum Boost clock of the Core i7-8550U is much higher – 4.00 GHz vs 3.50 and 3.20 GHz.
Maybe what is most important is the TDP (Thermal Design Power) of the CPUs. The Core i7-8550U is a ULV chip which means its TDP is just 15W while the other two are HQ (high performance) CPUs and their TDP is 45W. You see, the Core i7-8550U provides us with double the threads for just a third of the power needed compared to its rivals.
Another advantage of the Core i7-8550U is the fact that it has more cache than the other two – 8 MB vs 6 MB.
Benchmarks and performance
We ran all of our usual benchmark tests including Cinebench 11, Cinebench 15, Novabench and Fritz. We also performed our Photoshop test to see how well do the benchmarks represent real-life performance. You can see the result from the benchmarks in the table below:
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||672||12765||956|
|Intel Core i5-7300HQ||5.82||516||9775||527|
|Intel Core i5-6300HQ||5.39||465||8802||489|
The table speaks for itself. It is clear that the Core i7-8550U is
just a tad much better than the Core i5-6300HQ. In fact, the Core i5-7300HQ is just around 5 to 8% better than 23% behind the Core i7-8550U in Cinebench 11/15 and Fritz.
It’s amazing how a 15W ULV chip can outperform three times as powerful 45W processors. It seems that the higher amount of threads and higher Boost clock do make a difference. However, let’s take a look at the Photoshop test:
|Adobe Photoshop Action (lower is better)|
|Intel Core i7-8550U||9.75 sec|
|Intel Core i5-7300HQ||13 sec|
|Intel Core i5-6300HQ||14.51 sec|
Here the results are even more in favor of the Core i7-8550U. It seems that the Hyper-Threading technology really does its job. It took around 30 to 40% less time to complete the same set of actions performed on the same image as the others. You might say that 3-4 seconds aren’t a big of a difference and you will be right but when you load something more intensive a 3-4 minute gap (for instance) would make a difference.
As a conclusion, we can safely say that the Core i7-8550U is much better than Core i5-7300HQ and Core i5-6300HQ. Despite the lower base clock, eight threads are just better than four in almost any case. But what does this mean for the general user?
Overall, the Core i7-8550U can handle any daily task you throw at it. You can even do some work on it like editing photos and videos though if you are looking for some serious computing power you still should rely on the Core i7 HQ models. However, the Core i7-8550U seems to be just powerful enough even for some CPU-demanding software as long as you are not seeking top-notch performance.
And as for gaming, well we have previously have concluded that the Core i5-7300HQ is just enough for most gamers and will not bottleneck even high-end GPUs. With that taken into consideration, the fairly equal in terms of performance Core i7-8550U should deliver enough horsepower to run your favorite games.
Finally, with all that said, we want to emphasize on the fact that the Core i7-8550U has a TDP of just 15W compared to the Core i5-7300HQ and Core i5-6300HQ which are rated at 45W. This means that you are basically getting the same performance for three times less the power consumption. In other words, even though the Core i7-8550U isn’t the fastest processor on the planet it has probably the best performance per watt ratio at the moment.
Laptops with Intel Core i7-8550U
HP ENVY 17
HP ENVY 17