Why it matters: Alder Lake mobile CPUs might bring a lot of performance improvements over their Tiger Lake predecessors, but we still know too little about them to draw any conclusions. Intel is hopeful that it can one day earn back Apple as a customer, but the latest leaks suggest the latter company made the right choice in going with custom Arm-based silicon for the Mac.
Most of the leaks around Intel's Alder Lake platform we've seen so far have been about the desktop lineup, but now we have more information about the company's 12th generation laptop processors, which will include low-voltage and high-end parts under a unified Alder Lake-P branding.
The latest benchmark, which was spotted by Benchleaks, gives us the first look at the potential of Intel's upcoming Core i9-12900H processor. The yet-to-be-released mobile flagship CPU will come in a 14-core, 20-thread configuration, and was paired with 16 gigabytes of RAM and Nvidia's RTX 3080 Laptop GPU in the test system. However, it was wrongly recognized as a 20-core CPU, as developers have yet to add support for Intel's new hybrid architecture.
This configuration apparently scored 10,600 points on the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark under the minimum 1080p preset. This makes the result difficult to compare against those of other members of the Alder Lake family as well as AMD processors, but it does paint a more accurate picture of how the Core i9-12900H might perform in a more CPU-bound workload. When compared to the 8-core 11th generation Core i9-11980HK (Tiger Lake) CPU, that's double the performance in this particular scenario.
Of course, the two architectures aren't directly comparable, and it's only been one week since Intel released an optimization guide for game developers looking to squeeze the best possible performance from Alder Lake CPUs. Furthermore, the Core i9-12900H is likely an early engineering sample, as Intel is targeting Q1 2022 for Alder Lake-P's mass production.
The timing of this leak is interesting, as Apple just unveiled its latest MacBook Pro lineup earlier this week. The new devices are powered by the Cupertino company's fastest silicon to date, the M1 Pro and M1 Max chipsets. Apple says these offer up to 3 times faster CPU performance than the Intel Core i9-9980HK found in the 2019 version of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. They also come with impressive GPUs that Apple says are almost as fast but more efficient than current generation high-end mobile GPUs from AMD and Nvidia.
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is hopeful his company can win back Apple's business. However, even if Alder Lake is as impressive as these leaks might suggest, Team Blue has a lot of catching up to do in the performance per watt department.