Intel Counters AMD Ryzen Laptop CPUs With Comet Lake H

'We expect 60 percent of people going out and buying a 10th-gen processor to get that level of performance at 5 GHz or greater,' Intel's Fredrik Hamberger says of the chipmaker's 10th-generation Core H-Series processors for gaming and content creation laptops.


Intel is seeking to counter AMD's momentum in the high-performance laptop space with new 10th-generation Core H-Series processors that will deliver up to 5.3 GHz in boost frequency and eight cores for gaming and content creation notebooks.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company announced the new 14-nanometer processors, code-named Comet Lake H, on Thursday, only a few days after rival AMD had the official launch of its 7nm Ryzen 4000 mobile processors that are expected to go in more than 100 laptops this year.

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Comet Lake H is the third processor series in the 10th-generation Core lineup, which launched last summer with 10nm Ice Lake processors for improved graphical and artificial intelligence capabilities for ultra-thin laptops like the Dell XPS 13. Intel also introduced 14nm Comet Lake processors designed for multithreaded and productivity workloads in ultra-thin laptops.

With the new 10th-generation Intel Core H-Series, the chipmaker is promising the world's "fastest" mobile processors in more than 100 laptops in consumer, commercial and workstation segments this year, with more than half of them landing before July and more than 30 coming in ultra-thin form factors, according to Fredrik Hamberger, Intel's general manager of premium and gaming laptops. All six SKUs in the stack have a thermal design power of 45 watts, allowing more performance than Intel's lower-watt Ice Lake and Comet Lake parts.

The new flagship processor, the Core i9-10980HK, will support a maximum single core turbo frequency of up to 5.3 GHz and eight cores, but Hamberger said customers buying further down the stack will also benefit from fast clock speeds, with three Core i7 SKUs supporting turbo frequencies of 5 GHz or higher — which he expects to drive most of the volume in the new series.

"We expect 60 percent of people going out and buying a 10th-gen processor to get that level of performance at 5 GHz or greater," he said in a briefing with journalists.

For the flagship Core i9-10980HK, the company is promising up to 54 percent more frames per seconds in games, up to 44 percent better overall performance and up to two times faster 4K video rendering and export time compared to a three-year-old laptop running seventh-generation Core i7 processors.

An executive at one Intel channel partner organization, who asked to not be identified, said he was impressed with the new Core i9-10980HK sporting nearly 1,000 MHz more in max turbo frequency than AMD's new top-end Ryzen 4900H despite relying on an older manufacturing process than its rival.

"If Intel has found a way to increase performance without increasing wattage on the gigahertz, that's impressive. That's like the holy grail of CPU performance," he said.

However, the executive said feeds and speeds mean nothing without direct benchmark comparisons between the competing processors, which Intel did not provide.

"Until you actually see benchmarks of the new high end, you're not going to know," he said.

Intel's other major talking point for Comet Lake H is that it features an i7 processor, the Core i7-10875H, that not only has a 5.1 GHz turbo frequency maximum but also eight cores, which Hamberger said is designed for gamers who also use content creation applications. The two other i7s — the Core i7-10850H and Core i7-10750H — only feature six cores.

One thing that surprised Intel, according to Hamberger, is that 50 percent of people who buy gaming laptops are using the devices for content creation applications like photo editing and video editing while half of those people are using gaming laptops strictly for that purpose, based on internal research.

"So if you had a performance need, that's naturally what you gravitated to," Hamberger said.

For that reason, Intel has worked with Acer, Asus, Dell, Gigabyte, HP Inc., Lenovo, MSI and Razer on more than 30 laptops focused on content creation out of the 100-plus planned designs.

In addition to the higher core counts and clock speeds, new features in the 10th-generation Core H-Series lineup include Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0, Intel Speed Optimizer, integrated Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 support and support for DDR4-2933 memory. The processors will also feature Intel Adaptix Dynamic Tuning Technology and Intel Extreme Tuning Utility, support of up to 128 GB in DDR4 memory capacity, up to 40 platform PCIe lanes and support for Thunderbolt 3 and Intel Optane memory.

Kent Tibbils, vice president of ASI, a Fremont, Calif.-based Intel distributor, said the increased competition between Intel and AMD is good news for channel partners because it pushes both companies to deliver faster, better performing products at a quicker pace.

"It also gives them the opportunity to be able to demonstrate their expertise and their value and knowledge to business owners by being able to help them identify which product is really truly going to be best for them," he said, explaining what the new laptop processors mean for the channel.

The complete Comet Lake H lineup is as follows: Core i9-10980HK (2.4 GHz base clock, 5.3 GHz turbo clock, eight cores, 16 threads, 16 MB cache), Core i7-10875H (2.3 GHz base, 5.1 GHz turbo, eight cores, 16 threads, 16 MB cache), Core i7-10850H (2.7 base, 5.1 turbo, six cores, 12 threads, 12 MB cache), Core i7-10750H (2.6 GHz base, 5 GHz turbo, six cores, 12 threads, 12 MB cache), Core i5-10400H (2.6 GHz base, 4.6 GHz turbo, four cores, eight threads, 8 MB cache), and Core i5-10300H (2.5 GHz base, 4.5 GHz turbo, four cores, eight threads, 8 MB cache).