Laptops Are Getting 5GHz CPUs (Kind Of)

Laptops Are Getting 5GHz CPUs (Kind Of)
Image: Intel

There might be some healthy competition among CPUs in the desktop market, but for the last decade laptops have been well and truly Intel’s domain. And to make sure the status quo remains, Intel has fired off a rather sizeable bullet for 2019 by announcing the release of 5GHz octacore CPUs for the laptop market.

Of course, there’s always a caveat when it comes to laptops. They’re more thermally constrained than their desktop counterparts, and have to get the job done with half the power. So it’s really interesting to see the existence of the i9-9980HK, an overclockable CPU that can hit 5GHz.

Laptops Are Getting 5GHz CPUs (Kind Of)

The 9980HK and the 9880H both support Intel’s Thermal Velocity Boost, which lets CPUs boost another 100MHz over their maximum boost depending on the available power and temperature of the current laptop. The majority of laptops all hit some kind of thermal wall, however, so unless you’ve decided to invest in one of absurd laptops that weighs several kilos and has watercooling, you’re not going to find a device that stays at 5GHz for too long.

But a ramped up line of H-series CPUs will mean Australians will start getting some laptops with a genuine performance upgrade. Most devices over the last couple of years have been using Intel’s 8th series CPUs. Hell, Huawei launched their 2019 MateBook 13 line only yesterday, which is built off the third refinement of Intel’s 14nm process.

Of course, what would be really nice is to see Ice Lake – the second generation of Intel’s 10nm CPUs – hit reset on all of this. Apart from the obvious power efficiencies and performance boost you get from moving to a more efficient process, Ice Lake chips should have in-silicon solutions for the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. The current range of 14nm chips require a combination of hardware and firmware solutions for the biggest security issue in the last decade, with the latter having the most impact on performance (depending on what you’re doing).

Going back to the new 9th gen chips, there’s also a bunch of features that are standard across the lineup. Support for Wi-Fi 6 is the big one, offering up to three times more speed than the current 802.11ac most routers support today. Intel reckons Wi-Fi 6 will improve latency by as much as 75%, although who knows what that figure actually looks like in real terms.

Intel’s H10 hybrid SSD and Optane drive is supported as well, which might be the one that impacts gaming the most. The CPU maker reckons it can open gaming levels 129% quicker than your bog standard SSD, but according to the footnotes in the press deck the gaming level was actually just the amount of time it takes to load Total WARHAMMER 2 (and it doesn’t mention whether it’s loading into a battle, or the campaign map). I would have preferred the test open some kind of large open-world with a lot of streaming – any Ubisoft game would have done the trick.

A bunch of OEMs have already announced devices using the new 9th gen CPUs, including Lenovo, Acer, ASUS, MSI, HP, and Dell. They’re expected to be available for prodding and poking at Computex next month.

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