Local PC maker Aftershock among the first in the region to sell machines with new Intel chips

The Aftershock S-15 gaming laptop is powered by Intel's latest sixth-generation processor.
The Aftershock S-15 gaming laptop is powered by Intel's latest sixth-generation processor. ST PHOTO: VINCENT CHANG

SINGAPORE - Home-grown start-up Aftershock PC is one of the first companies in the region to sell computers powered by Intel's latest processors.

The local PC builder has partnered with the chip giant to offer Intel's sixth-generation Core processors, also known as Skylake, in its updated line of gaming desktops and laptops.

Officially launched today (Sept 2), Skylake has a new chip design that promises better performance and longer battery life than the previous generation chips. It also supports the latest DDR4 memory, which has higher data transfer rates and consumes less power, compared to the DDR3 memory used in current computers.

Intel claims that a Skylake-powered laptop is up to 2.5 times faster than a similarly-priced five-year-old notebook. For users on the go, these new laptops will have three times longer battery life, with some models touted to last up to 10 hours on a single charge.

Some Skylake laptops will have special 3-D cameras to support Windows Hello, a Windows 10 feature that lets users unlock their PCs using facial recognition. Other notable features include USB 3.1, and dedicated hardware for smooth 4K video playback.

Other PC vendors are expected to launch their own Skylake-powered PCs in the following weeks. Acer and Asus have limited models on sale this month, while Dell Alienware gaming PCs with the new processors will go on sale from Friday. Other Dell computers will get the chip upgrade later this month. Lenovo plans to have its entire line-up of Skylake PCs in retail stores by next month.

Skylake hands-on impression

I tested a pre-production Aftershock S-15 gaming laptop (with an Intel Core i7-6700HQ chip) last week, and system performance was slightly higher on the new machine. It scored 3,239 in PCMark 8 (Home) compared with 3,002 for an older Aftershock S-15 with an Intel Core i7-4720HQ processor.

The new Intel chip also appeared to fare better in graphics performance. It managed 34 frames per second in the OpenGL segment in the Cinebench R15 benchmark test, compared with 23 fps for the older version.

But gamers will still require a dedicated graphics chip, because the new Intel chip alone is not able to run games such as first-person shooter Bioshock Infinite smoothly. Even at 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution, and with graphics settings at Low, the Skylake Aftershock S-15 managed just 16 fps in Bioshock Infinite.

However, Skylake impressed with its relatively low idle and peak CPU temperatures. While idling, the processor was around 37 degrees Celsius. While this increased to 71 degrees Celsius when running an intensive system benchmark, it was still significantly lower than the 98 degrees Celsius recorded on the older Aftershock S-15 (Intel Core i7-4720HQ).

For laptop gamers, this thermal improvement is probably the biggest reason to upgrade their machines to one powered with the new Intel chip.

The Skylake-powered Aftershock S-15, with has 8GB of memory and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M costs $2,178. Prices will vary depending on the selected configuration.