Intel Ups The Ante With New 5 GHz 10th Gen Core H-Series Notebook Chips

By Patrick Moorhead - April 23, 2020


There has been an on-going battle between the two major CPU manufacturers ever since AMD’s Ryzen series of CPUs started to gain some steam. This battle has resulted in not only faster CPUs but better value CPUs and has pushed Intel to continue to push the envelope on what’s possible. Intel’s 10th Gen series of CPUs, which was announced mid last year with their U and Y series parts is getting an upgrade in the high-performance H-Series segment of mobile processors for laptops with 45W TDP. Intel teased these processors at CES giving some performance previews, but now we’ve got a real look at what Intel has and how it might stack up against AMD’s Ryzen 4000 mobile offerings that were also teased at CES and announced recently.

Intel’s H-Series of processors is traditionally a higher wattage mobile part focused primarily on gaming and productivity. This means that these chips will carry most Intel’s high-performance mobile parts throughout the year. That’s why Intel’s mobile H-series is the first mobile processor to break past 5 GHz, which Intel set last year with the Desktop Core i9-9900K and Mobile i9-9980HK. The H-Series processors are already gaining a lot of momentum with Intel’s customers with over 30 design wins already in the pipeline.

New features

The new H-Series has many features that are designed to enable the highest performance laptops in existence, not just looking at the highest clock speeds. Intel is including the new Turbo Boost Max 3.0 technology, which is a more intelligent power and clock speed boosting methodology as well as Speed Optimizer for one-click overclocking. The new 10th Gen H-Series will also support up to DDR4-2933 memory, which should bring the H-Series closer to desktop-level performance. Additionally, Intel is integrating the AX201 Wi-Fi 6 into the chipset to ensure high-performance wireless connectivity as a standard.

High performance at lower wattage

The new 10th Gen Core-i7 for creators is going to deliver up to 5.1 GHz with 8 cores and 16 threads, meaning that 5 GHz will finally be possible on laptops as well as desktops. I have an Alienware Area-51m laptop, which already has a 5 GHz processor, but that laptop uses a 9900K desktop processor to achieve this and is more than double the TDP. However, Intel’s new 10th Gen processors do a great job of narrowing the gap between desktop-class and mobile performance so that a desktop processor is no longer needed to achieve 5 GHz clock speeds and performance.

The new Intel Core i9-10980HK processor is even faster than the Core i7 with 8 cores and 16 threads, but with a peak clock speed of 5.3 GHz, which is unheard of in a laptop. Intel’s focus on frequency makes sense if you think about it, since many applications are still single-threaded or not fully optimized for multi-threading. Simply put, having a higher clock speed in many applications and benchmarks results in better benchmarks and overall system performance. That said, more cores is also important for creators, which is why Intel is sticking with 8 cores on these parts.

Intel will feature 6 different 10th Gen H-Series SKUs with 2 SKUs having 8 cores, 2 SKUs having 6 cores and 2 SKUs having 4 cores. Clock speeds also range from 4.5 GHz on the low-end and 5.3 on the high-end, with 4/6 processors shipping with a single core max turbo of 5 GHz. A lot of Intel’s performance comparisons are against a 3-year-old PC, which I guess is somewhat valid, but Intel aren’t comparing themselves at all to AMD at all. Intel is in a somewhat difficult place because they don’t want to fully acknowledge their competitor, but I also think that it’s too late to act like they don’t exist anymore. I think this may be because Intel only wants to talk about performance leadership, which is where they are the strongest.

Wrapping Up

Intel’s new H-Series is without a doubt in line with what many people would expect the company to announce in today’s market. Intel is feeling the pressure from AMD, so the company is doing what they know how to do best with its current architecture, which is crank up the clock speeds. For the longest time, AMD struggled to keep up with Intel purely because of clock speeds, but that gap has narrowed over the years. Intel’s new H-Series processors should be quite competitive with AMD’s new Ryzen 4000 series, but now that both are out, we can soon take stock of both and see how they stack up against one another. I believe that the competition between AMD and Intel is good and is driving both companies to innovate faster and improve performance in amounts never seen before. I’m excited to see how these 10th Gen Core i9 processors are received by consumers and what that performance profile looks like compared to similar TDP chips from both Intel and AMD from last gen.

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.