Intel launches 10th-gen Comet Lake H-series CPUs for high-end gaming laptops and productivity

Scorpus

Posts: 1,975   +231
Staff member

We’ve already seen Comet Lake U-series come to market last year targeting the ultraportable space, so this is just rounding out Intel’s line-up with 45W parts. As this is Comet Lake, we are still getting 14nm parts with essentially the same architecture as Skylake but with a few tweaks, as expected.

The big one is the introduction of a new 8-core processor into the Core i7 range. The Core i7-10875H essentially takes what Intel was offering previously with the Core i9-9880H, but brings it down from the expensive Core i9 tier to the more mainstream Core i7 family.

We don’t have unit pricing on the new parts just yet but as an example, the customer price for a 9880H was $556, compared to $395 for the six-core 9850H and 9750H. With 8 cores now in the Core i7 line-up, it should be cheaper for OEMs to offer such a part. Laptops that previously used the Core i7-9750H should be getting a Core i7-10875H this generation, for around the same retail price everything else being equal.

Outside of the 10875H, most of the other CPUs are minor revisions to what we had previously. The Core i5 line-up remains at 4 cores and 8 threads, there are still two other Core i7 processors offering 6 cores and 12 threads, while at the top of the stack is the Core i9-10980HK continuing to offer the best 8 core performance in this line-up with the highest clock speeds in an unlocked package.

Intel is touting single-thread performance a lot and how they’re pushing clock speeds up with this 10th generation. You’ll see across the line-up that we have at least 5.0 GHz single core Turbos for the Core i7 line and up. However, there are some caveats that make these clock speed figures less impressive than they might appear.

Take the Core i7-10750H, for example. There’s been no change to the base clock, it still sits at 2.6 GHz. The boost clock has jumped up to 5.0 GHz on paper from 4.5 GHz, but some of that is down to Intel’s Thermal Velocity Boost which is now available in Core i7 processors.

This means the 5.0 GHz boost clock figure will only be achievable when the CPU is running under a certain thermal threshold, which Intel told us was 65C. Between 65C and 85C the maximum available turbo clock will drop one notch, and then above 85C it will drop another notch. The end result is under stress – and let’s not forget that lots of H-series laptops run hot – boost clocks will top out at 4.8 GHz, possibly 4.9 GHz if you get a good cooler. This is a single-digit percentage improvement over the 9750H’s maximum clock.

Similar story right at the top of the stack with the Core i9-10980HK. A 2.4 GHz base clock on 4 cores is identical to what Intel were offering with the i9-9980HK. However now we get a 5.3 GHz Thermal Velocity Boost, up from 5.0 GHz. Intel says above 85C, that drops to 5.1 GHz, which is 300 MHz higher than the non-Thermal Velocity Boost numbers on the 9980HK. Intel also told us the chip has a 4.4 GHz all-core turbo, up from 4.2 GHz with the previous gen.

Then for the 10875H we’re basically getting a Core i9-9880H as we mentioned, with a slightly higher turbo frequency provided by Thermal Velocity Boost, ~300 MHz higher in the best case. And this remains the same for the rest of the parts. If we’re lucky we’re seeing a 100 MHz higher base clock and 400 MHz higher turbo clock, which at the absolute best is a 10% improvement.

The rest of these processor specs remain similar to previous generations, too. Cache sizes are kept the same at 8MB for quad-cores, 12MB for hexa-cores and 16MB for octa-cores. Memory support has received a small bump, from DDR4-2666 to up to DDR4-2933 support. Other new features are partially integrated Wi-Fi 6 support, and a one-click overclock method for unlocked CPUs.

Intel has also disabled undervolting on 10th-gen CPUs in response to a vulnerability called “PlunderVolt”. Undervolting was a common way for users to get more performance out of their laptop CPUs. You turned the voltage down, this lowered power at a given frequency, so you can get more performance in the same power envelope. This won’t be possible with these new processors.

Bottom line is we’re getting a minor clock speed bump to existing parts, as well as the introduction of a new 8-core part into the Core i7 series.

Intel’s performance figures for this new generation mostly focus on comparing 10th-gen to 3-year-old 7th-gen configurations. This does have its place given a lot of people will be making that sort of upgrade, but omitting performance compared to the previous generation is disappointing. Oh, and take note Intel, on a slide discussing gaming performance between 7th to 10th gen systems, the GPUs used for each system are substantially different, pitting a GTX 1080 versus an RTX 2080. That’s not very useful data.

Based on the information we have today, we don’t feel this is a particularly strong response to AMD’s Ryzen Mobile 4000 series, which we know is significantly faster than Intel’s existing 8-core mobile processors in most workloads and massively more efficient. We’ll have to see how these chips perform in benchmarks -- coming up soon when embargos expire -- but on paper it doesn’t look like it’ll be enough to compete.

Intel has pulled what’s possibly the best move they could in bringing 8 cores down to Core i7 to match the 8 cores AMD offers in that segment, and are testing the waters with a huge 5.3 GHz on their top end part. Intel has dominated the laptop space for a long time, they have the relationships and the clout, so it will be up to AMD to win customers and bring their Ryzen range on the best ultraportable and gaming laptop offerings from the likes of Dell, Razer, HP, MSI, Acer, Lenovo and the rest of makers.

Permalink to story.

 

Evernessince

Posts: 4,985   +5,105
So ultimately these are just like the 10 series desktop CPUs, same chips just clocked higher. Only in the case of laptops "up to 5.3 GHz" means "up to 5.3 GHz only in a bulky gaming laptop for 5 seconds tops". After all, Intel has not made any improvements to efficiency or IPC.

Intel will continue to sell well in laptops because of their brand regardless but I would have rather Intel gone from improved efficiency over clocks, which for their current architecture hit diminishing returns over 4.5 GHz.
 

AS692313

Posts: 34   +44
Still wondering what the actual performance increase is with these cpus, but I guess intel wanted to hype people up who are too dumb to look at the details. Of course a brand new high end laptop will be way better than one from 3 years ago, all of the hardware has changed since then. Sad to see how many people will buy these products just because it has a sticker that says Intel Inside
 
  • Like
Reactions: Irata

Lounds

Posts: 408   +300
That base clock speed is so low, honestly I think when needed the CPU is going to thermal throttle quite badly. 5.3Ghz on a single core but for how long? I can't believe they have gotten away with 4 years of rebranding the same architecture and just added more cores when the heat was turned up by AMD. I'm sure intel will bounce back but they're definitely on the ropes.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 2,647   +2,267
I’m just using my computers for internet browsing, gaming and occasional audio encoding or video editing.

It’s gonna be a long time before I’ll need to upgrade to one of these, but when I do, the power jump is gonna be insane.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 2,647   +2,267
Power as in power use ? 🤔

I'm talking about noticeable real world everyday use.

I can clearly see the speed difference between my 4790 and my Core i9 Extreme when I change audio from MP4 to MP3 or finalize a 4K video.

I would imagine that the next generation of CPU will be even that much more obvious.
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,292   +1,244
TechSpot Elite
If you have enough cooling capacity, these Intel chips will be as good as or better than AMD for gaming and any apps which benefit from low latency and lower thread counts (maybe <6) as these CPUs will be able to keep their turbo clocks up at the obvious expense of power draw.

However that does restrict you to a large, heavy "laptop." Really a "portable computer", considering you also need to lug a big power supply along as well. The huge AMD advantage here is in the much lower carry weight and the lower cost of cooling and power brick. That is an easy win for AMD but that may not matter as it takes a loooong time to change people's opinions, no matter the facts.

There were some complaints about the "low" end GPU options with the 2060 MQ the best available but that speaks to the carry weight I mentioned. If you opt for a 2070 or even a 2080 MQ, you need more cooling, and thus more weight and more cost, reducing some of the advantage AMD will have with this design. Hopefully in the future we'll see 15" R5 with maybe an 2070 MQ which may be a reasonable compromise of weight and power.
 
Last edited:

iABDOzz Mustafa

Posts: 10   +2
My Dell G5 5590 -i7 7950H is very fast and very hot, I'm not going to feel good with more cores without real heat improvement - my old i7 7700HQ felt like haven -- stop that intel do real improvement !!!
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Evernessince