8550U vs 7700HQ review – Laptop CPU Comparison

8550U vs 7700HQ review – Laptop CPU Comparison

8550U vs 7700HQ review – Laptop CPU Comparison. Which CPU is better in a laptop? The 7700HQ or newer 8550U from Intel? We’ll find out in this video with a series of benchmarks to see how they perform, and discuss the differences between them to help you decide which you should get, or if it’s worth upgrading. Late last year Intel launched their 8th generation of mobile processors known as Kaby Lake R, which were a refresh of the 7th generation known as Kaby Lake, rather than being Coffee Lake based.

First let’s note the similarities between these two mobile chips. Both have 4 CPU cores with 8 threads, which is the main reason that I wanted to compare them, and both are based on a 14nm manufacturing process. That’s where the majority of important similarities ends, so how do they differ? The main difference is that the clock speed of the newer 8550U varies quite a bit, with a base frequency as low as 1.8GHz and a turbo boost up to 4GHz, while the slightly older 7700HQ has a 2.8GHz base and 3.8GHz turbo speed.

This is because the 8550U is a lower powered chip. The 7700HQ also has 6MB of cache, or cash, while the 8550U has a bit more at 8MB. So we can see there are some interesting differences, namely with the clock speeds. How much of a performance difference does this make practically? To test this I’ve run some CPU specific benchmarks on two different laptops with these processors to find out.

Both laptops are running Windows 10 with all available updates installed on an SSD. The 7700HQ laptop has 16GB of DDR4 RAM running at 2,400MHz, while the 8550U laptop only has 8GB of LPDDR3 at 1,866MHz, so the laptops aren’t too different in terms of specs, we should still be able to compare the CPUs, but just keep in mind that a small percentage of difference could be due to this.

In Adobe Premiere I’ve rendered my review video on the ASUS Zephyrus gaming laptop, which goes for around 10 minutes at 1080p. No GPUs were in use for the test, these results are CPU tests only. We can see that the results are pretty close together, and although the times could be higher with larger projects this shows that they aren’t too far apart. Next i’ve used Handbrake to encode a 4K video file to 1080p, and a separate 1080p video file to 720p, and in both cases the 7700HQ has taken the lead by a noticeable amount, although as seen in the Premiere result this will only make a little difference on longer tasks. I’ve used Veracrypt to test the AES encryption and decryption speeds, and in my testing the 8550U performed slightly better than the 7700HQ in both.

The 7-Zip benchmark was used to demonstrate the decompression and compression speeds of both CPUs, and interestingly although the 8550U was quite far ahead in terms of compression speeds, it was a little slower when it came to decompression. In Cinebench I’ve tested both single and multi core performance, and as expected in the single core the 8550U is out in front as the single core was able to reach 4GHz.

Things change in the multicore results however, as the 8550U had to downclock itself quite a bit to stay cool, resulting in the 7700HQ performing better. Interestingly things change a bit in Geekbench4, although the single core performance is slightly ahead as expected, the multicore performance result here jumps even further ahead. A similar result was observed in Passmark 9, where the single core score of the 8550U was just a little ahead, while in the multicore test the 8550U moved out a bit more from the 7700HQ.

The PCMark 10 results weren’t too far apart, but the 7700HQ was out in front of the 8550U in this case. The Corona benchmark renders a scene using the CPU, and it almost completed a full minute faster on the 7700HQ, again because the 8550U was downclocking itself under a full multicore workload. The results were a bit of a mixed bag, with the 8550U winning in single core performance as expected, and in general losing in multicore performance, at least in the tests that I’d classify as being more real world.

The single core wins by the 8550U were expected, owing to that 4GHz turbo boost, which is just slightly above the 7700HQ’s 3.8GHz. In practice I found that the 8550U with all cores in use quickly thermal throttled to around 2.7GHz on all cores, at least in this case with the Dell XPS 13 that I was testing with, which is quite thin and doesn’t seem to be up to the job of running it flat out for longer periods of time. With proper cooling the 8550U is meant to run at 3.7GHz on all 4 cores, making it slightly better than the 7700HQ’s all core 3.4GHz boost. As a lower power chip it’s been placed into a small laptop here, so there’s not enough thermal headroom to achieve maximum performance.

There were no issues running a single core at 4GHz with the 8550U though, which explains why it’s ahead in many of the single core tests, but occasionally behind in the multicore. With proper cooling I suspect that the 8550U would come out on top in almost all cases, due to that higher clock speed. These two CPU’s also have inbuilt graphics, and while I don’t expect anyone to buy these CPUs for their inbuilt graphics, it’s worth comparing them to see if there are any differences.

The 7700HQ has Intel HD 630 Graphics, while the 8550U has Intel UHD 620 Graphics. I’ve done one quick OpenCL based test using Geekbench 4, and we can see that the graphics in the newer 8550U seem to be quite far ahead. As for a real game, here are the differences in Dota 2, something you can actually play pretty well at minimum settings even during intense game play. We can see that the 8550U is making larger differences at the lower settings compared to the higher settings, getting close to 60 FPS In my test.

Of course if you want to play games properly I’d recommend a laptop with discrete graphics, I haven’t tested any other games as both laptops had different Nvidia graphics cards, so the comparison in gaming wouldn’t only show the CPU differences, which is what this video is about. Based on these tests in most cases the 8550U seems to be an incremental upgrade on the 7700HQ, which makes perfect sense when you consider that the 7700HQ is a 7th gen Kabylake CPU while the 8550U, despite being part of the 8th generation, is a Kabylake-R CPU, where the R stands for refresh.

If you’re already running a laptop with a 7700HQ there’s no real reason to upgrade to the next generation 8550U, unless perhaps you need to buy a new laptop anyway for other reasons or really want that better single core performance. So what did you guys think about the differences in performance between Intel’s 7700HQ and 8550U CPUs? Personally I think it’s a bit strange to classify a Kabylake refresh as part of the 8th generation, I feel like that should have been left for Coffee Lake mobile CPUs. In any case the extra single core performance is always welcome, and the multicore performance should be better too if you actually get it in a laptop with adequate cooling.

Be sure to let me know your thoughts down in the comments, and leave a share this post if you found it useful. 

Louise Martin

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