Intel claims its 12th-gen ultraportable chips are a huge step forward

They're up to 70 percent faster for multithreaded performance.

Tyrone Siu / reuters

After unveiling its beefy H-series 12th-gen laptop chips during CES, Intel is finally ready to shed more light on its new U and P-series CPUs for ultraportables. And, much like AMD's upcoming Ryzen 6000 chips, it looks like Intel is aiming to deliver a huge performance boost, while consuming less power than last year's hardware.

The big takeaway? It's going to be an interesting year for ultraportable PCs, which could offer enough power to play a few games and give Apple's custom processors some serious competition.

With the Core i7-1280P, Intel's fastest 28-watt P-series CPU, the company claims you'll see up to 70 percent faster multithreaded performance than last year's i7-1195G7. Notably, Intel says it also offers better multithreaded performance than the Core i9-11980HK, one of its fastest processors from 2021, while consuming around half as much power. And of course, that also means it beats out the Ryzen 7 5800U from last year (Intel didn't have access to AMD's new processors for benchmarking, naturally).

Like the rest of its 12th-gen lineup, Intel's U and P-series chips are a new hybrid design that combines Performance cores (P-cores) and Efficient cores (E-cores) on a single die. The i7-1280P is a 14-core chip (6 P-cores along with 8 E-cores) that maxes out at 4.8GHz on its P-cores. Its 28-watt base power consumption puts it in thin and light territory, but it can scale up to 64-watts to reach Max Turbo speeds. (That's for when you're plugged in and not worrying about energy consumption as much.)

Intel's 12th-gen U-series processors, which are targeted at the slimmest ultraportables, are spearheaded by the Core i7-1265U. That's a 10-core chip (2P and 8E) that also maxes out at 4.8GHz. Its 15-watt base power consumption is on par with previous U-series chips, but it can go up to 55-watts to reach its Max Turbo speed.

While Intel's hybrid design is clearly a leap forward for the P-series CPUs — the i7-1280P is around 20 percent faster than last year's chips in the Crossmark benchmark — we're still waiting to see how the U-series chips will compare. It's surprising that Intel still isn't saying much about U-series performance, but we'd wager there would be a significant speed bump from the architecture changes alone.

The 12th-gen laptop CPUs will also feature Intel's Xe graphics, though it doesn't seem like much has changed since last year. The P and U-series chips will still offer up to 96EUs (execution units). According to Intel's benchmarks, the i7-1280P hits 82fps in Grand Theft Auto V and 53fps in Chorus while playing with medium graphics settings in 1080p. With high quality settings, it sees up to 115fps in League of Legends and 81 fps in Rocket League—but that's not a huge surprise for less demanding titles.

While we're still waiting to get our hands on new systems with Intel and AMD's latest ultraportable hardware, the landscape feels far more exciting than last year, when Intel's 11th-gen CPUs were a pretty ho-hum upgrade. Perhaps 2022 will finally be the year ultraportables can finally solve most of our gaming needs.