In addition to announcing new desktop chips, Intel is also expanding its Alder Lake architecture to laptops. Intel has announced 12th-generation Core chips for everything from high-end gaming laptops to thin-and-light ultrabooks, with low-end Pentiums and Celerons thrown in for good measure.
These laptop chips use Intel’s new hybrid processor architecture, which combines larger, faster performance cores with smaller, more efficient cores (P-cores and E-cores, respectively). How many P-cores and E-cores you get depends on the processor you’re buying, and you’ll need an operating system that supports Intel’s “Thread Director” technology to get the most performance out of the chips. Windows 11 supports it now, Linux support is in the works, and Windows 10 doesn’t have it and won’t be getting it.
High-performance: H- and P-series CPUs
Intel’s H-series processors are its top-performing laptop GPUs, and 12th-generation H-series chips will begin shipping in laptops starting in February. We’ve provided the tables with all of the core counts and clock speeds above, but to quickly summarize the differences between the eight different H-series CPUs:
- The Core i9 models include six P-cores and eight E-cores, plus an integrated GPU with 96 execution units (EUs). The i9-12900HK is the sole overclockable laptop processor across Intel’s entire 12th-gen lineup.
- The Core i7 chips also use six P-cores and eight E-cores, but with somewhat lower clock speeds. Their GPUs also include 96 EUs, but the lowest-end i7-12650H only uses 65 EUs.
- The Core i5 chips use four P-cores and eight E-cores, which lowers the maximum turbo power from 115 W to 95 W. Their GPUs include 80 EUs, except for the 48 EU i5-12450H.
Intel’s performance numbers focus mainly on the tippity-top-end Core i9-12900HK, which the company compares favorably to the last-gen i9-11980HK, the AMD Ryzen 5900HX, and Apple’s M1 Max and M1 Pro, though there aren’t many Apple comparisons, and Intel’s own slides indicate that Apple’s chips use a lot less power. Intel’s performance comparisons also don’t account for the just-announced Ryzen 6000-series laptop chips.
The integrated GPUs in these chips will usually be paired with some kind of dedicated GPU, since they mostly show up in gaming laptops and workstations. But the Intel GPU in these laptops is still usually responsible for driving internal and external displays, so decent performance is still relevant.
Intel is also introducing P-series CPUs, which will be shipping in the first quarter of this year—a lot of these models are essentially identical to the H-series at a hardware level but with reduced base power and max turbo power consumption numbers. This means that their clock speeds aren’t as high, and they won’t be able to run at their maximum boost speeds for as long, but they’ll be able to fit into thinner and lighter PCs with smaller cooling systems.
Most of the P-series Core i7 and Core i5 CPUs include four P-cores and eight E-cores, with L3 cache, clock speeds, and the number of GPU EUs you get going gradually down as you move down the stack. There is no Core i9 option, though the Core i7-1280P does offer the same combination of six P-cores and eight E-cores. And at the bottom, you’ve got a single Core i3-1220P, with two P-cores and eight E-cores.