Skylake is the codename for Intel's sixth-generation range of Core laptop and desktop PC processors which, like Broadwell, will be based on 14nm technology. See also: Skylake vs Broadwell

Update 6 May 2016: Intel has launched three new Skylake processors at almost the same time as announcing it is backing out of the PC business. The super-quiet launch is for new Skylake-H chips, the Core i7-6785R, the  Core i5-6685R, and the Core i5-6585R. These are all aimed at all-in-one PCs rather than standard desktops (they use the BGA 1440 form factor and are soldered down instead of a socket), and are essentially updates from the equivalent Broadwell-based chips, the Core i7-5775R, Core i5-5675R and Core i5-5575R. 

The new trio support DDR4 (the old ones didn't) and also have the new Intel Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580 GPU. This is interesting as it has a redesigned 128MB eDRAM cache which should make the GPU considerably faster than the old version. All three chips are quad-core, although the Core i7 additionally supports HyperThreading which effectively gives it eight cores.

Skylake release date and price

Intel had manufacturing issues with Broadwell, which caused big delays. This has meant that while you can buy a laptop with a Broadwell processor (Core M variants), the desktop versions are effectively dead in the water. 

This is because desktop chips based on Skylake are already available. The enthusiast-level Core i7-6600K and Core i7-6700K went on sale on 5 August, and now the 'non-K' desktop chips including Core i5 and i7 launched at the start of September 2015.

PCs with Skylake chips are available to buy right now

Skylake release date price and specs

Here are the key specs for the Skylake desktop processors:

Core i5-6400

  • Socket 1151
  • Quad-core (4 threads)
  • 2.7GHz, with Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz
  • 6MB L3 cache
  • Intel HD 530 graphics @ 350MHz, boosting to 950MHz
  • 65W
  • Price: £149.99 inc VAT

Core i5-6500

  • Socket 1151
  • Quad-core (4 threads)
  • 3.2GHz, with Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
  • 6MB L3 cache
  • Intel HD 530 graphics @ 350MHz, boosting to 11050MHz
  • 65W TDP
  • Price: £159.99 inc VAT

Core i5-6600

  • Socket 1151
  • Quad-core with HyperThreading (8 threads)
  • 3.3GHz, with Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
  • 6MB L3 cache
  • Intel HD 530 graphics @ 350MHz, boosting to 1050MHz
  • 65W TDP
  • Price: £179.99 inc VAT

Core i5-6600K

  • Socket 1151
  • Quad-core (4 threads)
  • 3.5GHz, with Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
  • 6MB L3 cache
  • Intel HD 530 graphics @ 350MHz, boosting to 1150MHz
  • 91W TDP
  • Price: £199.99 inc VAT

Core i7-6700

  • Socket 1151
  • Quad-core with HyperThreading (8 threads)
  • 3.4GHz, with Turbo Boost up to 4.0GHz
  • 8MB L3 cache
  • Intel HD 530 graphics @ 53MHz, boosting to 1150MHz
  • 91W TDP
  • Price: £244.99 inc VAT

Core i7-6700K

  • Socket 1151
  • Quad-core with HyperThreading (8 threads)
  • 4.0GHz, with Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz
  • 8MB L3 cache
  • Intel HD 530 graphics @ 53MHz, boosting to 1150MHz
  • 91W TDP
  • Price: £263.99 inc VAT

Skylake specifications: features and chipsets

One of the reasons to buy a PC with a Skylake chip is the sheer number of new features it will bring. Intel says the chips have the biggest PC innovations for the last 10 years. Rather than being a simple performance bump, Skylake will bring support for DDR4 memory and usher in so-called 'wire-free' computing.

Skylake release date and specifications

Part of this will involve wireless charging using the Rezence standard, which is applicable only to laptops, but it also means wireless displays. Neither of those things are new technologies of course, but wireless charging is new to laptops and - hopefully - the wire-free display tech will be considerably better than the frankly disappointing Wi-Di which was Intel's last attempt at wirelessly beaming video to a separate display.

Although we initially thought the 'S' variant of Skylake would be the first available desktop chip, the unlocked K series launched first for desktop PCs.

Skylake also means a new '100-series' chipset, codenamed Sunrise Point. The Z170 Express is the replacement for Z97, which itself was not a massive upgrade from Z87. It supports up to 20 PCI Express 3.0 lanes, up to 10 USB 3.0 ports and 14 USB 2.0 ports. Motherboards with the Z170 Express chipset can have up to six SATA ports and an eSATA channel, plus Intel's Rapid Storage Technology for PCIe storage devices including NVMe.

The Core i7 chips have 16 PCI Express 3.0 lanes for graphics which can be split into 1x 16-lane, 2x 8-lane or 1x 8-lane and 2x 4-lane channels. The memory controller supports dual-channel DDR4 or DDR3L DRAM, and they use the Socket 1151.

The H170 chipset will replace the H97 for mainstream PCs, while the H110 will be the 'value' offering, replacing the H81 and various other chipsets.

Overclocking

The K versions of Skylake are multiplier unlocked. Interestingly, the base clock is separate from the PCI-E bus. This means you can adjust the core clock frequency of the chip without affecting anything else. However, overclockers will still change the multiplier and voltage to see the biggest performance gains, so there's not much change overall.