The transition from Intel’s Skylake architecture to the new and improved Kaby Lake is apparently only a few months from now. As well as a new series of newly ‘Optimized’ processors, we can also forward to the new Z270 chipset and a range of new motherboards to go with it. It is interesting however to try and predict just how much love from the overclocking community we will see. Will the Z270 platform offer any improvements other than a relatively minor 5-10% boost from the CPU, or will it arrive as a much more mature platform generally speaking, building on the previous work done for the Z170 platform? Here are some interesting thoughts on the subject.
There are currently 142 Intel Z170-based motherboards in the HWBOT database. This is significantly more than what we had with previous Z87 boards (87 models) and also Z97 (137). Why such a broad range of motherboard offerings? Well, before go and blame GIGABYTE (just kidding guys….) we can see that most major vendors have opted for deeper segmentation within their product ranges, with more models than in previous platforms.
In terms of Z87 boards on the HWBOT database. ASUS produced 25 models, GIGABYTE 25, MSI 18 and ASRock 19. Fast forward to the Z170 platform and we see ASUS have produced 28 models, GIGABYTE in fact remain on 25, MSI have actually created the most with 29 models while ASRock have also expanded their portfolio to bring to market 25 boards. Why the expansion in SKUs? Well, that’s probably an article for another day, but I would suggest the rise of both ‘Gaming’ and ‘OC’ boards, plus specific regional models with game bundles (in China for example) are factors to consider.
If we go back to those original numbers from Z87 to Z97 however, we can see that particular transition saw a significant increase in the number of models in the database, a rise from 87 models, to 137 models – that’s 57.5% more models! If we are making predictions, could we therefore say that there will even more board models for the Z270 platform? Will we see a similar transition? The reasoning for this is simple enough – Z270 motherboards will effectively serve two processor markets, previous-gen Skylake and current-gen Kaby Lake.
Backwards compatibility aside, Z270 will also most likely offer better performance and add new storage support among other things. There is also the momentum factor, as motherboard vendors and indeed Intel grasping much more mature platform with Kaby Lake. Take a BIOS engineer’s perspective; Haswell to Skylake was a wholly new architectural transition, requiring a ton of seemingly endless hard work. Kaby Lake will be a much easier transition and one that should offer mature, solid performance gains from day one.
There certainly is evidence that we will see more overclocking attention arriving on the Z270 platform, with even more motherboard model options than previously seen with Z170. Chime in with your thoughts in forum link below.