Intel’s Got Some Big Changes That Have Me Excited About Its Mobile Processor Line-Up

Intel’s Got Some Big Changes That Have Me Excited About Its Mobile Processor Line-Up
Screenshot: Intel

Not content to talk about only its desktop processors, Intel had a lot to say regarding its mobile processor line-up, too. The chipmaker is releasing two new 10th-gen mobile processors, new 11th-gen mobile processors, and Chromebooks will even get Intel’s Tiger Lake processors for the first time, plus some extra goodies.

To start, Intel is adding two new processors to its 10th-gen mobile H-series line-up: the Core i7-10870H and Core i5-10500H. The i7-10870H will sit just below the Core i9-10980HK and will have 8-cores/16-threads with up to a 5.3 GHz boost clock. The i5-10500H will sit above the Core i5-10400H and will have 6-cores/12-threads with up to the same boost clock. Both CPUs will be compatible with PCIe 4.0 and Wi-Fi 6E, which unlike Wi-Fi 6 can use new, unlicensed wireless blocks in the 6 GHz range.

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It’s also bringing its 11th-gen H-series CPUs to a new gaming laptop segment which it calls “ultra portable,” or gaming laptops that are super thin and super light, but can still handle over 70 frames per second on games set at 1080p with graphics on high: the Intel Core i7-11375H Special Edition. There are two additional new SKU that are a part of the same series, the Core i7-11370H and the Core i7-11300H.

They’re all based on the same 4-core/8-thread, 10nm SuperFin tech that’s been powering 11th-gen Intel laptops already out in the market place, but will feature up to a 5.0 GHz boost clock and support for next-gen discrete graphics with PCIe 4.0. These new chips will also support Resizable BAR, a feature that allows the CPU to talk directly to the GPU. AMD has already enabled this feature on its new CPUs and GPUs — what it called Smart Access Memory — to boost frame rates, but Intel has been working closely with Nvidia to make its CPUs talk to Nvidia’s GPUs in the same way. That will roll out on 11th-gen and select 10th-gen systems.

And according to Intel, the Core i7 Special Edition is faster than both AMD’s 4800HS and 4900H mobile processors, but we have yet to hear if AMD will be releasing new mobile processors to complement its latest desktop CPU line-up, so these may not be the fastest on the market. However, Intel did mention that even though the Core i7 Special Edition is only running on 4 cores/8 threads, its multithreaded performance is roughly equivalent to one of its own 10th-gen 6-core/12-thread CPUs, which is more ideal for anyone looking for a laptop that can double for work and play.

Intel will also be releasing a PCIe 4.0-compatible 8-core/16-thread 11th-gen mobile processor, which can hit up to 5.0 GHz on multiple cores. This CPU also includes Wi-Fi 6/6E and Thunderbolt 4. It did not say when that would be available to consumers, but the company said it would be going into production on these chips in the first quarter of 2021.

Screenshot: Intel Screenshot: Intel

Intel is also bringing its 11th-gen processor to Chromebooks by the end of March 2021. According to Intel, these new chips will give a decent performance boost to Chromebooks compared to last-gen. Pitting a Core i7-1165G7 against a Core i7-10610U, the new Chromebook chips have a 2.5x multitasking productivity performance boost over 10th-gen, as well as between a 1.23x-1.77x performance boost in other tasks like photo and video creation, and media multitasking.

The new Chromebook processors will also: be Evo-certified, which meets certain Intel requirements for battery life, charging, and wake times; include Intel’s Visual Sensing Technology, which automatically detects if you are looking at the screen or not and then brightens or dims, and even locks, the display accordingly; and Thunderbolt will be available on Chromebooks for the first time thanks to Intel’s 11th-gen processors.

Now that AMD Ryzen processors will soon be available in Chromebooks, it seems Intel isn’t done competing with AMD in as many PC industry segments as possible. Both tout the same “better performance, better battery life” talking points, which often times amounts to minor differences, as long as we’re not comparing raw core performance. But Intel will have an edge over AMD if it can bring Resizable Bar to laptops paired with Nvidia GPUs before AMD does with its own mobile components.

Aside from the Chromebooks, Intel’s ultra portable gaming laptop segment could be the space to watch this year, assuming laptops don’t become as hard to find as PC hardware components again. My eye is on Intel’s 11th-gen Core i7 Special Edition processors and how those will compare to current and future AMD mobile processors.