Published on April 3rd, 2020 📆 | 7405 Views ⚑0
Intel’s 10th generation H-series laptop CPUs break 5GHz
Yesterday, Intel announced the launch of its newest laptop CPUs, the tenth generation Comet Lake H-series. If you’re not up on all the minutiae of CPU naming schemes, H-series parts (for both Intel and AMD) are specialty high performance parts with much higher thermal design power than the standard U-series, and without on-die integrated graphics.
Pay careful attention to the word “fastest”
The big news Intel is pushing on the tenth series Comet Lake H-series is their high turbo clockrate. All of the i7 SKUs, as well as the lone i9, are capable of breaking 5GHz on the high end of their turbo clock rate.
Most consumers would define the “fastest” processor in terms of real performance—time to complete benchmarks, frames per second achieved in AAA gaming titles, and so forth. Intel talks a lot about the “fastest” processor, but seems careful to hide their definitions away in the fine print.
The footnote 22 referenced at the end of “10-10980HK: The fastest mobile processor” reads:
Based on Intel Core i9-10980HK’s highest achievable max turbo frequency of 5.3GHz, exceeding all other mobile products available as of April 2020. Includes use of Intel Thermal Velocity Boost. User experience varies with workload. See end notes for details.
For reference, Intel’s Thermal Velocity Boost is roughly equivalent to AMD’s Precision Boost Overdrive—it’s an automatic, dynamic overclocking mode that takes temperature and power levels in account when deciding just how far into the red it can drive a core right now for a little additional performance.
While it’s certainly true that the 5.3GHz turbo claimed here for the i9-10980HK—or even the 5GHz claimed for the lowest-tier i7, the i7-10750H—are higher maximum clock speeds than we’ve seen out of the factory until now, it strikes us as likely that many users may not achieve clock rates quite that high—or be able to keep them there for very long.
A final note on clock speeds: the i9-10980HK is fully frequency-unlocked. We have no idea how you’re supposed to cram additional cooling into a laptop chassis to support any additional, out-of-spec overclocking—but if that’s your dream, the i9-10980HK will be ready to fulfill it. May the Force be with you.
Much faster than January 2017
The performance charts in Intel’s slides only compare the new SKUs to seventh generation Intel CPUs—and not something fancy like going head-to-head with desktop parts, either. The slide which touts the 10th gen i9-10980HK as designed to be amazingly faster vs 3-year old enthusiast PC seems to imply that it might—but referring to the footnotes, the comparisons are against seventh-generation laptop parts. Even the actual part being compared isn’t consistent in this slide; Game FPS is compared against an i7-7920HQ, while overall performance, video rendering, and export are compared against an i7-7820HK.
These slides are, frankly, a mess. It’s difficult to get a solid grasp on how much of an improvement the 10th generation H-series is against anything meaningful—whether that be Comet Lake’s U-series parts, AMD’s Ryzen 4000 parts, or even a simple generation-on-generation against last year’s Coffee Lake i9-9980HK. None of the benchmarks shown here offer any direct, raw numbers at all—so there really isn’t anything to be learned here beyond “faster than our products from 2017.”
Intel had no performance slides at all for the i5 H-series line, but we’re confident that those, too, are faster than equivalent 2017 models.
We try very hard not to dogpile on a CPU manufacturer that’s having a bad year or two—the hardware market truly needs multiple sources for compatible products to stay viable and consumer-friendly. With that said, it seems clear that Intel is heading into a very, very bad year in 2020. And we must note that a common reader complaint—”you’re rating their marketing slides”—is unavoidably on-point this time around, since there’s so little real data present.
Intel’s presentation on its newest, fastest laptop parts clearly targets users who are considering upgrading from a much older model, and aren’t really looking any farther than Intel itself. And to be fair, we agree with their conclusions in that regard—you will absolutely see a significant performance boost if you upgrade a 2017-era laptop to a 2020-era laptop.
So if your only criterion is “will this be faster than the laptop I have?” and you’re firmly on Team Intel, Comet Lake’s 10th-generation H-series won’t disappoint you. However, consumers looking for either the fastest system or the smartest purchase would be well-advised to wait until some of these systems hit the streets for independent testing.
- Definitely faster than January 2017 models
- Crazy high turbo speeds, serious overclocking technology
- AX201 Wi-Fi 6 support
- Thunderbolt 3 support
- DDR4-2933 RAM, up to 128GiB
- Unlikely to compete strongly with AMD Ryzen 4000 models
- No Deep Learning Boost / AVX-512 support
- No mention of battery life whatsoever
- No i5 H-series performance slides at all
- No usable comparisons with modern parts at all
Listing image by Intel Corporation