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Intel's 11th-gen H-series CPUs are finally ready for powerful gaming laptops

·Senior Editor
·3-min read

When Intel announced its first batch of 11th-gen H-series mobile processors at CES, we were a bit surprised. Unlike the typical "H" processors, they weren't meant for the most powerful gaming laptops. Instead, those first CPUs were aimed at ultraportable gaming systems. You know, the sort of machines only meant for basic 1080p performance, which didn't really need more than four CPU cores. Now, Intel is finally ready to show off the 11th-gen H-series chips that could power your next dream gaming notebook.

Intel 11th-gen H series notebook CPUs
Intel 11th-gen H series notebook CPUs

These new CPUs promise up to a 19 percent speed improvement over last-gen hardware, according to Intel. And just like the less powerful H-series lineup (which are dubbed H35 by Intel, due to their lower thermal profile), the new chips are built on the company's 10nm Willow Cove architecture. That allows for faster and more efficient performance than Intel's aging 14nm platform, so the speed jump doesn't come as a huge surprise.

Intel 11th-gen H series notebook CPUs
Intel 11th-gen H series notebook CPUs

Intel claims these H-series processors offer the fastest single-threaded performance of any mobile chip (that's also what it said about the H35 hardware). The top of the heap is the Core i9-11980HK, an eight-core CPU that can reach up to 5GHz across two cores with Intel's Turbo Boost 3.0 technology. It's also capable of reaching 4.5GHz across all of its cores, which should be useful for demanding multithreaded applications like video editing and 3D rendering. The 11980HK is fully unlocked, so you'll be able to overclock it to your heart's content (within the limits of your laptop's case, of course).

Compared to last year's Core i9-10980HK, the new chip is up to 21 percent faster in War Thunder. But of course, the improvements depend on the game you're actually playing. It's only five percent faster in Far Cry: New Dawn and six percent faster in Hitman 3. The latter is particularly surprising, since Hitman's intricate maps and physics usually demands more from CPUs.

Intel 11th-gen H series notebook CPUs
Intel 11th-gen H series notebook CPUs

Intel is trying to make a bigger splash with its AMD comparisons: The i9-11980HK is 26 percent faster than the Ryzen 5900HX in Grid 2019, and 21 percent faster in Rainbow Six Siege. Even the less powerful Core i5-11400H makes a strong showing, clocking in 12 percent faster than AMD's Ryzen 9 5900HS in Troy: A Total World Saga: Siege. That i5 occasionally gets overtaken by AMD's hardware — it's 3 percent slower in War Thunder — a sign that Intel may only have a performance lead with its faster i9 chips.

Intel 11th-gen H series notebook CPUs
Intel 11th-gen H series notebook CPUs

The 11th-gen H-series processors also feature PCIe 4.0, which will support faster memory and storage performance; 32 graphics EU cores, with Intel's new Xe architecture; and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity. Notably, these beefy chips have far fewer graphics cores than the H35 CPUs and Intel's less powerful Tiger Lake CPUs, which sport up to 96 Xe EUs. But you won't need all that onboard graphics power if you're actually using a dedicated GPU, like every H-series system will. You'll still see some graphics benefits though, including hardware support for 4K60 fps video and a dedicated AV1 decoder.

As always, we won't actually know if Intel's claims are true until we test these new chips ourselves. But judging from the slew of announcements this morning, which includes new systems from Razer, Dell and ASUS, it shouldn't be too long until we get a closer look.