Maximum PC - - 2017 TECH PREVIEW -

4K TVs are now a dime a dozen. In that sense, you’d be mad to buy a new HDTV that wasn’t 4K. That’s true de­spite the fact that there’s rel­a­tively lit­tle 4K con­tent to watch. For the PC, how­ever, the same logic doesn’t quite ap­ply. At least, it hasn’t done up un­til now.

That’s be­cause what lit­tle 4K con­tent does ex­ist hasn’t tended to be avail­able on the PC. Mainly, that re­flects DRM and pi­rat­ing con­cerns, which meant stream­ing video providers like Net­flix have de­clined to open up their 4K stream­ing for the PC. It’s been re­served for closed set­top boxes and smart TVs.

How­ever, that could all be set to change with the in­tro­duc­tion of In­tel’s new Kaby Lake sev­enth-gen­er­a­tion Core CPUs, known as the 7000 Se­ries. The big news in­volves new DRM fea­tures built into Kaby Lake’s 2D video en­gine. Re­port­edly, it could be enough to con­vince Net­flix and other rights hold­ers that the PC is now suf­fi­ciently se­cure for pre­mium 4K con­tent stream­ing. For sure, In­tel has con­firmed that Kaby Lake will be cer­ti­fied for Sony’s 4K movie and tele­vi­sion stream­ing ser­vice, known as Ul­tra, some­time in 2017. So, fin­gers crossed.

An­other as­pect of Kaby Lake that could make hav­ing a 4K mon­i­tor worth­while again re­lates to that new 2D video en­gine. It has full fixed­func­tion hard­ware ac­cel­er­a­tion sup­port for the most im­por­tant 4K video codecs—HEVC 10 and Google’s VP9. The up­shot is that a Kaby Lake chip can de­code eight 4K streams in par­al­lel. In other words, pair­ing a Kaby Lake thin-and-light lap­top with an ex­ter­nal 4K mon­i­tor is a goer in terms of 4K video. For games, not so much. But all in good time.

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