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Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake chips arrive at CES 2022 for its most powerful laptops ever

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Intel’s x86 revolution continues with its latest mobile chips

Intel has announced its latest 12th Gen Alder Lake featuring the company’s new hybrid architecture at CES 2022 with its first laptop chip using the new design, led by the Core i9-12900HK, which Intel boldly claims is “the fastest mobile processor. Ever.”

Intel’s first wave of 12th Gen Alder Lake chips on desktop last fall were one of its biggest successes in years, allowing the company to offer a chip that could beat or compete with AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X flagship across productivity and gaming. And now, Intel is bringing that same new approach to chip design — with its Arm-esque performance and efficiency cores — to laptops, starting with its most powerful 45W H-series models of chips.

But the laptop world also has gotten a lot more crowded of late, with Intel not just having AMD’s resurgent Ryzen chips to contend with, but also Apple’s superlative M1 MacBooks — including the recently released M1 Pro and M1 Max chips in the company’s 2021 MacBook Pro models, which offered the best performance we’ve ever seen from any laptop The Verge has ever tested.

In other words: Intel has a lot of catching up to do.

The good news is that Intel is coming out swinging at CES 2022, making the bold claim that its new Alder Lake chips — and specifically, its flagship Core i9-12900HK design and its 5.0GHz boosted clock speed — can outclass both AMD’s Ryzen 5900HX and Apple’s M1 Max as the top laptop processor around, for both gaming or productivity tasks.

Specifically, Intel boasts that the Core i9-12900HK offers up to 28 percent faster gaming over its predecessor, the Core i9-11980HK, although the largest jumps are still in older titles like League of Legends. Newer games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or Gears 5 show far more modest generational improvements.

The company also touts big jumps in productivity tasks, with a 44-percent boost in PugetBench for Premiere Pro benchmarks (a task in which Intel says its new chip also can outclass Apple’s M1 Max), along with significant gains in Autodesk benchmarks. Additionally, it’s important to note that Intel is focusing its improvements here primarily on performance improvements: the company isn’t boasting of any big jumps in battery life, an area in which Apple’s chips in particular tend to excel. (As an additional caveat, Intel says it conducted its tests on December 10th, before the latest round of Adobe Premiere Pro updates, which added additional M1 Mac optimizations — so those numbers may shift a bit.)

Of course, all those benchmarks are from Intel, so we’ll have to wait until laptops featuring the new chips make their way out into the world so that we can put them through their paces to see if Intel really has retaken its mobile chip crown.

Like the Alder Lake desktop chips from last fall, the new laptop chips offer dramatically boosted core counts, split between Intel’s “performance core” for jobs that need the most processing power and “efficient” cores for less demanding or background tasks. Intel is releasing a variety of Alder Lake chips in this latest batch, spanning 14-core i9 and i7 models with six performance cores and eight efficient cores. Other less powerful i7 and i5 models drop those numbers considerably, though, down to eight total cores (four performance, four efficient) on the base i5 model.

Intel 12th Gen Alder Lake H-series chips

Model Cores (performance / efficiency) Threads Max turbo frequency L3 cache Processor base power
Model Cores (performance / efficiency) Threads Max turbo frequency L3 cache Processor base power
i9-12900HK 14 (6P / 8E) 20 5.0GHz 24MB 45W
i9-12900H 14 (6P / 8E) 20 5.0GHz 24MB 45W
i7-12800H 14 (6P / 8E) 20 4.8GHz 24MB 45W
i7-12700H 14 (6P / 8E) 20 4.7GHz 24MB 45W
i7-12650H 10 (6P / 4E) 16 4.7GHz 24MB 45W
i5-12600H 12 (4P / 8E) 16 4.5GHz 18MB 45W
i5-12500H 12 (4P / 8E) 16 4.5GHz 18MB 45W
i5-12450H 8 (4P / 4E) 12 4.4GHz 12MB 45W

In addition to the performance gains, the new 12th Gen chips also come with a variety of other improvements, including Wi-Fi 6E, Thunderbolt 4, PCIe 4.0, and support for the latest in memory standards (with support for DDR5 memory at up to 4,800MHz and LPDDR5 at up to 5,200MHz both offered). Notably missing, however, is integrated support for the latest in HDMI standards (Intel’s chip tops out at HDMI 2.0b) and PCIe 5.0 lanes (the latter of which Intel does offer on its desktop Alder Lake chips).

It’s also important to note that Intel’s new mobile chips that it’s announcing at CES are just the first wave of laptop chips it’ll be offering in 2022 with its new hybrid architecture design. Today’s news is just focused on the company’s most powerful 45W H-series models of chips meant for gaming or high-performance productivity laptops. But Intel also has plans for 15W and 9W U-series chips designed for “modern thin and light” designs, along with a new P-series class of 28W chips also in the works that’ll utilize it’s P-core and E-core designs.

And while it’ll still be some time before those chips make their debut (right now, Intel is only saying that they’ll arrive later this year), the company has already released a look at the SKUs for the new Alder Lake-based P-series and U-series chips.

The first H-series Alder Lake laptops are set to be announced at CES 2022 for an early 2022 release, while computers with the lower-powered P-series and U-series chips should be announced and released later on in the year.


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