Intel’s Biggest Move Forward in YEARS!

Intel’s laptop processors haven’t really changed much over the last few years. This ends now with Intel announcing their new 12th gen CPUs for laptops today! Just before we get to the specs, here’s a quick run down on Intel’s new 12th gen hybrid  architecture. Basically the processors now have both P and E cores. P cores,  or performance cores, are basically your regular cores as we’ve had before with hyperthreading,  while the new E cores, or efficient cores, are smaller lower powered cores that can  handle less important background tasks, and these do not have hyperthreading.12th gen mobile will be split into these different processor categories. U series will have up to 10  total cores, so 2 P and 8 E cores as pictured here, and they’re a lower wattage 9 to 15  watt option, so think thin and light designs. The P series of processors are new this year,  and meant to be for performance thin and light designs with up to 14 total cores,  which breaks down to 6 P cores and 8 E cores.

With P series we’re looking  at 20 to 28 watts for PL1 and 64 watts for PL2. Now H series is the enthusiast lineup,  also with up to 14 cores but with higher power limits, and these are what we’ll see in gaming  laptops. We’re looking at a 45 watt PL1 and up to 115 watt PL2, though of course specific power  limits, and by extension performance, will depend on the OEM laptop design. That’s all of the information that we’ve currently been given for U  and P series. Apparently we can expect the rest later in Q1 this year.  Otherwise the focus of this announcement is on H series, which is fine by me  as those are the processors that we’re actually going to see in gaming laptops.

Now in terms of memory support, Intel 12th gen is going to support both older DDR4  and newer DDR5 memory. The actual memory slots on the laptop’s motherboard aren’t  compatible with both types though, so it will be up to the laptop manufacturer to  decide if they want to sell their laptop with DDR4 or DDR5 support. After speaking with a lot of laptop makers,  it sounds like a lot of them are just going to go with the newer DDR5 memory,  so that’s probably going to be the most common in the new gaming laptops seen this year.  The thought process behind this seems to be that memory manufacturers are going to be ramping up  DDR5 and producing less DDR4, so in future there should be more DDR5 readily available.

So by that  logic it does make sense to have a laptop that can actually use the memory that’s going to be around. Now that said I am still seeing DDR4 memory appearing in  lower end cheaper budget friendly gaming laptops,  and it will probably still make sense there as long as DDR5 memory comes at a price premium.

Something else that’s a bit different this year is the number of available PCIe lanes.

Intel 12th gen mobile processors are still offering PCIe Gen 4 support,  just like 11th gen before it. Basically Intel’s reason for not supporting PCIe Gen  5 was that it’s not worth it right now as there aren’t any devices to validate with. The key difference to pcie lanes is that 11th gen offered 20 PCIe Gen 4 lanes for  the laptop OEM to configure, so they could have chosen to dedicate 8 or 16 lanes to the  discrete GPU in a gaming laptop for example, but this is no longer the case with 12th gen.  Instead, 12th gen has 16 lanes total instead of 20,  with 8 lanes dedicated for the discrete graphics and two sets of 4 lanes for M.

2 SSDs. So basically a new 12th gen laptop can only have 8 PCIe lanes between the CPU and discrete graphics,  and that’s half as much compared to what was available last year with 11th gen.  Granted many 11th gen machines were also configured to only use 8 lanes.  Personally I don’t think this will matter all that much, at least in the majority of games,  granted it will of course depend on the specific game, resolution and setting levels for instance.  But yeah my reasoning for this is last gen we did see a number of 11th gen laptops that had 8 PCIe  lanes to the discrete graphics and a number that had 16, and while I didn’t do a direct  comparison between the two I didn’t really see any obvious differences between them worth noting. Basically I’m not too bothered by it.

Sure more is always better, but it is what it is. 12th gen also still has Thunderbolt 4 with 4 lanes of PCIe,  so nothing different for you eGPU users this generation. These are the specs of Intel’s new 12th gen mobile H series processors,  so these are the CPUs that we’re going to see in gaming laptops throughout 2022. We’ve got two i9 options at the top of the stack, the 12900H, and 12900HK, which appear the same  in terms of the specs listed here, but presumably like in the past, K represents that it’s unlocked  and can be overclocked.

Given overclocking headroom in the past from laptops has been small,  you probably don’t need to spend more to get the top end HK option. Unless of course 12th gen mobile is a great overclocker, make sure you’re subscribed  for all of my upcoming testing. Though I don’t really have high hopes for it just  based on what we’ve seen with 12th gen on the desktop side and previous Intel generations on  the laptop side as well.

Put simply, I think the overclocking glory days are behind us. In terms of core, thread and cache count, the lower tier i7-12800H and i7-12700H  options offer the same as the two i9’s, they just reach slightly lower maximum clock speeds.Given the clock speed difference is so small, for most workloads where time isn’t money, I think the  i7 lineup will offer much better value compared to the i9 options, which is also what we’ve seen in  the last few Intel generations too.

The i7-12650 is a little different though. It’s still got 6 P  cores like the other i7’s and i9’s above it, however it’s got 4 E cores instead of 8, so  less multi threaded performance, but hey still 16 threads total is what we had best case last gen. Quad cores make a comeback in the i5 lineup, well,  kind of. All three i5 processors have 4 P cores, however the 12600H and 12500H also have 8 E cores,  while the 12450H has 4 E cores, so despite them sounding like quad cores,  we’re still looking at either 12 or 16 threads, much more than a traditional quad core.

Compared to last gen, the 11th gen Tiger Lake i9-11980HK and i7-11800H both have 24MB of cache  too, just like these newer 12th gen replacements. The maximum clock speeds are quite similar too,  both the 12th gen and 11th gen HK i9 top out at 5GHz single core boost,  while the i7-11800H is 100MHz lower than the newer i7-12800H.

Those are just minor changes, and of course there will be other IPC changes too,  clock speed isn’t directly comparable, it’s not the end of the world. The biggest difference will  of course be in the core and thread counts. Best case, 11th gen offered us 8 cores and 16 threads  with hyperthreading.

With 12th gen, well we’re able to get 16 threads out of the better i5’s. Basically this means any workloads that rely on multi threaded performance are probably  going to see a pretty big performance boost compared to anything we’ve had previously.

We should also expect single threaded gains too. Just to illustrate, here’s what I saw in Cinebench  R23 when comparing Intel’s desktop processors. 12th gen was offering both the biggest improvement  to multi threaded, but also single threaded out of any generational leap in the last five. Basically I’d expect a similar deal with these new mobile processors in laptops as well. Intel has also provided a graph outlining performance per watt for the workload  listed in the fine print underneath it. The Ryzen 5000 and Intel 11th gen results look  correct just based on my own personal testing, as I found AMD to do better at lower power limits  but then Intel 11th gen to pull in front with more power. Apple’s M1 Max is able to defeat  both around the 35 watt mark in this test, but then 12th gen is apparently ahead of them all.  Of course this is yet to be seen until I get to test it myself, but it’s sounding promising. Now of course we can’t forget that AMD literally announced their new Ryzen 6000  laptop processors today as well. So that will definitely change things up, but considering  they’re still offering 8 core 16 thread parts in multi threaded workloads I think Intel 12th  gen is probably going to have the edge.

Again I will be testing that out as soon as possible. I asked Intel if we could expect battery life improvements with 12th gen. Surely  if the operating system is capable of moving a process from a P core to an E core when running  on battery we’d see better battery life right?

 Now Intel said that it’s possible, but it depends. I’m paraphrasing a bit, but basically they said  simply running a process on E cores might not necessarily give better battery life.  Apparently it will depend on the specific workload, it’s not as simple as just saying  E cores are more power efficient than P cores. Now they did say something like this could be  possible with some optimizations, but yeah nothing out of the box I guess. Now when it came to gaming, generally speaking Intel 12th gen desktop processors weren’t too  much better than 11th gen based on my own testing – at least compared to the  huge lead in productivity workloads where the additional cores are better utilized.

Don’t get me wrong, there were of course gains in games with 12th gen, it’s just that after  a certain point most games don’t really see a benefit of adding more cores and threads. These results are provided by Intel, so take them with a grain of salt until we  can get our hands on these new laptops to do our own third party benchmarks,  I’ll explain why they’re a bit dodgy shortly. According to Intel, their best i9-12900HK CPU from  this generation was up to 28% faster in gaming compared to their best i9-11980HK from last gen.

It is worth noting that the games that are doing better on 12th gen are eSports titles,  which makes sense as these generally see the biggest improvements from a CPU upgrade. The more  AAA titles towards the left hand side see much smaller differences comparatively.

Now in the next graph they’ve added a Lenovo Legion 7 with AMD’s Ryzen 9 5900HX processor  in orange, but now they’re listing the GPU power limits for the Intel 11th and 12th gen machines.  Although both processors were tested in the same MSI GE76 chassis, the newer 12th gen model seems  to have a 10 watt higher maximum GPU power limit, which may actually be affecting some  of the results.

I’ll admit this is less likely as we’re talking dynamic boost range here, so  it will depend on the game, but still I wouldn’t say it’s apples to apples for a CPU comparison. Look I know exactly how hard it is to try and fairly compare  two laptop processors between each other, and hey if the point of the test was to demonstrate how  MSI’s GE76 last gen compares against the GE76 this gen then it’s perfectly valid.

Given  this is Intel we’re talking about and this is obviously meant to be a processor specific test  it just seems pretty weird to me that they couldn’t have just worked with Nvidia or  something and got a custom VBIOS so that both GPUs were the same.

I don’t know, it sounds like  something they could probably sort out and it would make for a much fairer comparison.

Anyway it’s not surprising at all to see Intel 12th gen ahead of AMD’s Ryzen 5000,  I’ve shown in my own videos that even 11th gen was typically ahead when it came to gaming.  The real question is how does AMD’s newly announced Ryzen 6000 processors compare?  Again make sure you’re subscribed for my upcoming CPU comparisons. Intel also mentioned that 89 of the 91 games that had problems running on 12th gen due to Denuvo DRM  have been fixed, but that was a few weeks ago so it might even be more complete now. Basically the  reason I bring this up is to illustrate that 12th gen has by no means been a smooth launch,  but that said I am imagining that 12th gen laptops will probably be a bit smoother because  we’ve had all those desktop users out beta testing for us for a few months now.

So I’m  guessing they’re will probably be less major show stopping bugs in popular applications.  Now I’m definitely not saying that 12th gen is going to be a smooth launch on laptops,  just that I think it’s probably going to be a bit better compared to the desktop side. Now for some non-gaming benchmarks,  again wait for third party benchmarks and reviews like mine before making purchasing decisions.  The Adobe Premiere boost looks great, a 44% gain is huge, but again I’m skeptical.

When I personally compared 12th and 11th gen desktops, I found 12th gen was about 20% ahead,  so yeah kind of hard for me to see such a large gain on mobile. The Blender results wouldn’t surprise me though, the 12900HK being a 14 core  20 thread part should demolish the others in this test as it relies on more cores. Unfortunately the integrated graphics with 12th gen don’t appear to be anything special.  Intel mentioned that 12th gen H series processors get Intel Iris Xe graphics,  so similar to what we had in 11th gen Tiger Lake with 96 execution units. So then, when can you actually get your hands on a 12th gen gaming laptop? Intel said that this  is one of their largest ramps for H series ever, so they’re expecting to have adequate stock with  availability starting in early February, so about a month from this initial announcement. I think it’s going to be super interesting this generation to see how Intel’s 12th gen with higher  core and thread counts compare against AMD’s Ryzen 6000. You’re definitely going to want to make sure  that you’re subscribed to the channel for my upcoming comparisons, and of course for all my  gaming laptop testing, benchmarks and reviews this year. For now you can find out more about  the gaming laptop models coming out this year in the rest of my CES 2022 coverage, or check this  one if you want to see what AMD’s got coming this year. So I’ll see you over in one of those next!

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