After debuting its hybrid 12th-gen CPUs for desktops in October, Intel is ready to bring them to notebooks. To recap, the company's new CPUs (previously codenamed Alder lake) combine performance cores (P-cores) and efficient cores (E-cores) on a single chip. The idea is that they'll be able to better handle the demands of real-world computing, like juggling gaming on the faster cores while the slower ones power your livestream. In addition to faster performance, that tag-team approach could also lead to better battery for laptops.
Intel's 12th-gen laptop CPUs will top out at 14 cores, consisting of six P-cores and eight E-cores (that's two fewer P-cores than the desktop versions). At this point, Intel is mainly focusing on its powerful H-series 12th-gen chips, which are meant for 14-inch ultraportables, gaming notebooks and other beefy machines. The company also unveiled specs for its its U and P-series chips, which it'll discuss further in the first quarter. Those will be aimed at smaller ultraportables, as well as "performance thin and light" machines (like Dell's new XPS 13 Plus), respectively.
As for other new features, Intel's 12th-gen mobile hardware will also support DDR5-4800 and low-power LPDDR5-5200 RAM. Expect to pay a premium for DDR5-equipped machines, though, as PC makers predict stock will be limited throughout 2022. Wi-Fi 6E is also baked in, just in time to hop onto the new 6GHz bands from last year's 6E routers. And of course, Thunderbolt 4 is back to deliver 40Gbps of bandwidth goodness.
While we haven't been able to test out Intel's 12th-gen desktop chips, early reviews have praised their multitasking performance, especially with the increased bandwidth from DDR5 RAM. We'd expect a similar upgrade on the notebook front. For now, though, all we have to go on are Intel's numbers: the company claims 12th-gen is up to 40 percent faster than 11th-gen chips overall. The top-end Core-i9 12900HK is also up to 28 percent faster in gaming, and it has a commanding lead over the Ryzen 9 5900X across many titles.
In Hitman 3, a notoriously CPU-heavy game, the 12th-gen chips saw an 8 percent FPS bump through better workload prioritization. The P-cores handled rendering and more demanding tasks, while the E-core focused on background audio. As for productivity tasks, the 12900HK was 44 percent faster than 11th-gen hardware in the Premiere Pro PugetBench test, as well as 30 percent quicker when it came to Blender rendering. Intel's own benchmarks also showed Apple's M1 Pro and M1 Max, as well as the Ryzen 5900HX, trouncing the Core i9-11980HK in Blender. In many ways, the 12th-gen hardware feels like an apology for last year's chips.
More so than the fastest 12th-gen hardware, it'd be interesting to see what sort of performance gains Intel can eke out from its more accessible Core i5 and i7 chips. The i5-12450H features 8 cores (4P and 4E) with a max Turbo speed of 4.4GHz, whereas last year's 11500H had six cores that maxed out at 4.6Hz on a single core. Both chips have 12 threads (only P-cores support Hyperthreading, so their thread number is doubled), but the 12th-gen chip should be able to use its power more wisely. That could be good news for mainstream PC buyers who can't quite justify a core i9 machine.