Intel Core i9-10980HK Review: Flagship Laptop CPU

Julio Franco

Posts: 8,674   +1,547
Staff member

The Core i9-10980HK is Intel's flagship mobile processor in their 10th generation line-up. This is the third CPU we've looked at in the Comet Lake H-series, after the Core i7-10875H and Core i7-10750H, so we're starting to get a pretty comprehensive outline of where Intel is positioned in the market right now. This Core i9 chip is typically found in the most expensive laptops you can get, but it also promises to be the fastest.

Permalink to review.

Laptops Used for Testing:

  • MSI GE66 Raider 10SGS
  • Asus TUF Gaming A15 FA506IV
  • MSI GL65 Leopard 10SEK
  • MSI GS66 Stealth 10SE
  • Asus TUF Gaming A15 FA506IU
  • Asus TUF Gaming A15 FA506II
  • Gigabyte Aorus 15G XB
  • Asus Zephyrus G14 GA401IV
  • Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX481FL
  • Razer Blade Stealth 2019
  • MSI Prestige 14 A10SC
  • Gigabyte Aorus 15
  • MSI GE75 Raider 9SF
  • Rader Blade Pro 17
  • Asus ROG Strix Scar III G531G
  • Gigabyte Aorus 15 XA
  • Acer Predator Helios 300 (9750H)
  • HP Omen 15
  • HP Envy x360
  • Asus ZenBook UM433D
  • Asus ROG Zephyrus GA502D
  • Asus TUF Gaming FX505D
  • Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 Kaby Lake G Version
  • Asus ROG Strix Scar II
  • Asus ROG Strix Hero II
  • Gigabyte Aero 15 X9
  • MSI GS75 Stealth 8SG
  • Alienware m15
  • Acer Predator Helios 300 2017
  • Acer Predator Triton 700 2017
  • MSI GS65 Stealth Thin
  • Gigabyte Aero 15X
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,478   +3,321
"This is especially true when you consider that most Core i9 laptops will come with a powerful GPU like an RTX 2070 or higher. Because AMD laptops are currently unavailable with top-end GPUs, this makes Intel the default choice for a high performance DaVinci Resolve system or best-in-class gaming machine, just to cite two examples. "

TECHSPOT:

When I read this article, I was focused solely on the components and the price. I'd really like it if you could put the price and the basic specs: CPU + GPU + RAM + STORAGE in the main photo or opening paragraph. I blew right through all the benchmarks looking for gaming tests specifically because that's the software I directly understand based on resolution at 1080p, 1440p or 4k above 60fps.


That said: this is a great looking laptop. I personally will wait till DDR5 is on the market with 3000 series Nvidia GPUS before I make my upgrade.
 
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redgarl

Posts: 161   +220
"This is especially true when you consider that most Core i9 laptops will come with a powerful GPU like an RTX 2070 or higher. Because AMD laptops are currently unavailable with top-end GPUs, this makes Intel the default choice for a high performance DaVinci Resolve system or best-in-class gaming machine, just to cite two examples. "

TECHSPOT:

When I read this article, I was focused solely on the components and the price. I'd really like it if you could put the price and the basic specs: CPU + GPU + RAM + STORAGE in the main photo or opening paragraph. I blew right through all the benchmarks looking for gaming tests specifically because that's the software I directly understand based on resolution at 1080p, 1440p or 4k above 60fps.


That said: this is a great looking laptop. I personally will wait till DDR5 is on the market with 3000 series Nvidia GPUS before I make my upgrade.
It's a desktop in disguise. You cannot have those performances unless plugged in. It is a joke.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,478   +3,321
It's a desktop in disguise. You cannot have those performances unless plugged in. It is a joke.
I have a 17" and a 15" Core i7 Alienware laptop with 1080 GPU inside. to my knowledge, I've never used either without them being plugged in and treated them as "desktop replacements" either while on the airplane or while in my workshop.

I have never, ever expected a gaming laptop to be used without plugging in simply because I've always known that CPU step down when they aren't plugged it.
 
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Irata

Posts: 855   +1,210
TechSpot Elite
"This is especially true when you consider that most Core i9 laptops will come with a powerful GPU like an RTX 2070 or higher. Because AMD laptops are currently unavailable with top-end GPUs, this makes Intel the default choice for a high performance DaVinci Resolve system or best-in-class gaming machine, just to cite two examples. "
Why is that, do you reckon ?

Funny though, that the only reason to get an Intel based laptop is not due to an Intel part (although technically it may very well be due to Intel, the company)....
 
Is thermal throttling not an issue? I would have expected a high end laptop review to include a section on throttling. No point sticking an i9 in the laptop if it ends up performing like a turnip. Relevant for both GPU and CPU or is that not an issue at all?
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,587   +1,616
TechSpot Elite
This isn't a laptop review, it's a CPU review. TS concentrated on power throttling, not thermal throttling, so you can see what level of CPU performance is available in a standard 45W thin(ish) chassis or a larger 75W chassis.

If you want a standard type laptop review with thermal throttling/undervolting etc. of the CPU and GPU, head over to the Jarrod's Tech YT channel, though I don't know if he's reviewed this unit yet. His laptop reviews are great!
 

mrvco

Posts: 90   +79
Battery life? Oh yeah, since it cannot have those performances on battery, this is simply a desktop in disguise...

It makes me wonder why they even bother with the battery... remove the battery (or leave enough for stand-by only) and you can reduce both the weight and size.
 
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scavengerspc

Posts: 558   +414
TechSpot Elite
I have a 17" and a 15" Core i7 Alienware laptop with 1080 GPU inside. to my knowledge, I've never used either without them being plugged in and treated them as "desktop replacements" either while on the airplane or while in my workshop.

I have never, ever expected a gaming laptop to be used without plugging in simply because I've always known that CPU step down when they aren't plugged it.
Thank you for this. The advantages of being able to carry around a laptop that is more powerful than 80% of desktops out there is simply lost on some.
 
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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,478   +3,321
It makes me wonder why they even bother with the battery... remove the battery (or leave enough for stand-by only) and you can reduce both the weight and size.
I removed the battery from one of my gaming laptops. The battery eventually discharged and died by losing the ability to charge.
 
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redgarl

Posts: 161   +220
@Privery That wattage is peak. I edited to post to add that.
It doesn't matter, this thing is not made for portability. It is another Intel moment trying to stay relevant. My G73JHA1 was requiring being plugged all the time. That thing was almost 20 pound with the power supply. It was honestly a piece of garbage. The worst purchase I ever did. This is exactly the same thing... it is not a laptop, but a desktop in disguise. Categorizing it as a laptop is a joke. It is a desktop in a laptop format while performing worst and costing a premium. I am done with gaming laptop. Now I am waiting for a 4700u/4800u/4900u. 3 members of my family is also waiting for those. I am going to buy 4 of them. This is a laptop, 12 hours battery life and great productivity and media rendering.
 
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Amariami

Posts: 16   +1
I removed the battery from one of my gaming laptops. The battery eventually discharged and died by losing the ability to charge.
hmmm that's unsafe, can kill your component when electricity suddenly goes out
Why not enabling the plugin not charging feature ? or UPS lol ?
 
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scavengerspc

Posts: 558   +414
TechSpot Elite
It doesn't matter, this thing is not made for portability.
Are you sure? Cause I pick mine up and carry it everywhere.
My G73JHA1
I loved the old G73 series. I had one with an i7 and a Radeon 5870 in 2010-11. But it didn't weight anywhere near 20 lbs. BTW, if you still have it and it works I will buy it if for sale.
it is not a laptop, but a desktop in disguise
So you do get it. That is exactly what it is. Except it is in a laptop.
It is a desktop in a laptop format while performing worst and costing a premium
Not if it is a true desktop replacement. The i9 9900k in mine (MSI GT76 Titan) is full desktop and the 2080 has a 205 watt TDP. And yes it does cost a lot, but I no longer needed a desktop
I am waiting for a 4700u/4800u/4900u. 3 members of my family is also waiting for those. I am going to buy 4 of them. This is a laptop, 12 hours battery life
Dull. Better be well under $1000 if it cant game. I'm sure if I limit my Laptop to low wattage and a wuss low power GPU I could get much better battery life. But its not what I wanted.
 
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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,478   +3,321
Why is that, do you reckon ?

Funny though, that the only reason to get an Intel based laptop is not due to an Intel part (although technically it may very well be due to Intel, the company)....


To be perfectly honest, I think a lot of it comes down to advertising.

I THINK in "Intel". I understand exactly what a Core i3, i5, i7 and i9 are.

I don't think in AMD. I don't understand their technology nor do I care too.

When you buy a regular laptop, you're usually shopping for the best bang for your budget and the issue is that in trying to undercut intel, it leaves the shopper believing that they are missing out on something. It's like buying an Audi instead of a Mercedes to save money. There's "badge equity" built up in that intel advertisement.

I can hear the intel chime in my mind from their ads.

Does AMD even have any jingle?

In the movie "Supersize me" it's referred to as "Brand implementation for later actualization". If you advertise better, people will desire your product and buy it when they can afford it. They will choose The name brand over brand X.

Has no one learned anything from Apple? Apple's marketing is so untouchable that everyone pretty much knows everything about their products.

Move on down to the GPU: Nvidia has made "RTX" and "ray tracing" something we feel we need even if we don't. PS5 and XBOX SX will be measured on how well they can trace rays.
 

OortCloud

Posts: 429   +276
Why are benchmarks all rendering and mathlab etc these days and no game benchmarks?
How many people are buying a laptop like that with a 2080 in it to play blender?
How many people care how fast their machines run cinebench?
Or is it because, as we all know, AMD chips do well in these very specific, very highly threaded edge cases that only about 1% of people who bought a laptop like this would actually be using?
 
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neeyik

Posts: 1,330   +1,413
Staff member
Why are benchmarks all rendering and mathlab etc these days and no game benchmarks?
To do so would require all of the laptops tested to have exactly the same GPU and in the case of this review, a GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q. However, the other laptops used have the likes of the RTX 2060 or GTX 1660 Ti. With such a difference in the GPUs, it would very difficult to isolate the differences in the CPUs.
 
Why are benchmarks all rendering and mathlab etc these days and no game benchmarks?
How many people are buying a laptop like that with a 2080 in it to play blender?
How many people care how fast their machines run cinebench?
Or is it because, as we all know, AMD chips do well in these very specific, very highly threaded edge cases that only about 1% of people who bought a laptop like this would actually be using?
Because the laptops have different gpu. How do you measure cpu gaming performance if they have different gpu? Obviously intel with rtx 2080 win meanwhile AMD laptops only have rtx 2060 at most
 

scavengerspc

Posts: 558   +414
TechSpot Elite
Because the laptops have different gpu. How do you measure cpu gaming performance if they have different gpu? Obviously intel with rtx 2080 win meanwhile AMD laptops only have rtx 2060 at most
There is really no harm in running game benchmarks. It is easy to go online and compare results to other reviews with the same hardware or even just to give readers ballpark figures.

The last thing to do is just leave us guessing.
 

Bamda

Posts: 98   +45
To be perfectly honest, I think a lot of it comes down to advertising.

I THINK in "Intel". I understand exactly what a Core i3, i5, i7 and i9 are.

I don't think in AMD. I don't understand their technology nor do I care too.

When you buy a regular laptop, you're usually shopping for the best bang for your budget and the issue is that in trying to undercut intel, it leaves the shopper believing that they are missing out on something. It's like buying an Audi instead of a Mercedes to save money. There's "badge equity" built up in that intel advertisement.

I can hear the intel chime in my mind from their ads.

Does AMD even have any jingle?

In the movie "Supersize me" it's referred to as "Brand implementation for later actualization". If you advertise better, people will desire your product and buy it when they can afford it. They will choose The name brand over brand X.

Has no one learned anything from Apple? Apple's marketing is so untouchable that everyone pretty much knows everything about their products.

Move on down to the GPU: Nvidia has made "RTX" and "ray tracing" something we feel we need even if we don't. PS5 and XBOX SX will be measured on how well they can trace rays.
To do so would require all of the laptops tested to have exactly the same GPU and in the case of this review, a GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q. However, the other laptops used have the likes of the RTX 2060 or GTX 1660 Ti. With such a difference in the GPUs, it would very difficult to isolate the differences in the CPUs.
I thought that was oblivious.
 
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There is really no harm in running game benchmarks. It is easy to go online and compare results to other reviews with the same hardware or even just to give readers ballpark figures.

The last thing to do is just leave us guessing.
Well, because the above commenter(OortCloud) wanted to compare gaming performance of Intel cpu(with rtx 2080 in this article) and AMD cpu. If he wanted to compare between intel laptops, feel free to do so. But if he wanted to compare intel and AMD laptop with maximum configuration, even other reviews dont have laptop with AMD + rtx 2080 combination