We can safely say that the performance advantages are minor on average and knowingly tinier than the jump between Core i5 and Core i7, after challenging over 10 diverse laptops with 45 W Core i9-8950HK processors. At best, users can expect a raw multi-thread performance boost of 25 percent over the average Core i7-8750H, but performance can actually be slower than the best laptop Core i7 at worst depending on the laptop.
The Dell XPS 15 9570 and MacBook Pro 15 2018 Core i9 configurations are perhaps the preeminent samples of this. The processor must run at high Turbo Boost clock rates for long periods in order to best exploit the Core i9 CPU. For the task and so performance throttling inevitably occurs to keep core temperature in check, unfortunately, most laptops like the Dell or Apple just don’t have powerful enough cooling solutions. The CPU would swiftly stabilize to ultimately be just a hair faster than the Core i7 at its base clock rate.
Laptops are about to get a heck of a lot faster. Intel’s 9th Generation H-series CPUs for mobile are finally here, bringing a boost in performance along with useful features we’ll be using long into the future, including Wi-Fi 6 support. That means tamers, streamers and content creators who need brawny components will all benefit from the new CPUs. Intel only revealed its H-series CPUs, so we’re still waiting on U-series and Y-series chips for power-efficient Ultrabooks, like the XPS 13 and 13-inch Spectre x360.
Here is everything you need to know about the processors and what they mean for upcoming laptops.
Serious Power Boost
Starting at the top end, the new Core i-9980H is a 5Ghz CPU with 8 cores and 16 threads, matching the desktop-version Core i9-9900K. This CPU offers up to 18% higher frames per second when gaming and up to 28% faster 4K video editing when compared with last year’s 8th Gen Intel Core i9-8950HK.
Intel also provided specific benchmark comparisons for the new 4.6Ghz Intel Core i7-9750H (8 core, 8 thread), which it claims are up to 33% faster than a three-year-old system with an Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU. Tamers can expect up to 56% higher fps and 38% faster game turn times, while content creators will enjoy 54% speed boost when editing 4K video in Adobe Premiere Pro.
The performance figures Intel did provide are pretty impressive but the margin is likely much smaller when you compare the new CPUs with their immediate 8th Gen predecessors. Intel likes to compare new CPUs to ancient processors because people typically upgrade their laptops after several years, but doing so conveniently inflates those figures.
We’ll have a better idea of the performance gap between the 2018 and 2019 chips when we get some 9th Gen CPU-equipped laptops into our labs.
Wi-Fi 6 Support
As with any new CPU, Intel emphasized the raw power offered by the new chips, but the benefits go far beyond numbers. Perhaps our favorite new feature is support for Wi-Fi 6 Gig+, the latest wireless standard that supports a maximum throughput of 10 gigabits per second.
As expected the chips will include Intel’s newly announced Wi-Fi 6 AX200 adapter, which supports the 802.11ax standard with a maximum speed of 2.4Gbps using the 5 GHz band. That’s roughly three times faster than the maximum speeds offered by 802.11ac (867 MBPS).
That is only a theoretical throughput (you won’t actually those speeds), but it means your laptop will have more bandwidth to play 4K content, run PC games, and stream videos, even as you add more connected devices to your home. Only a few routers support Wi-Fi 6, but like 802.11ac (now called Wi-Fi 5), the version will eventually become ubiquitous across your devices.
While you might not need those speeds, there’s a good chance the number of connected devices in your household is growing. Wi-Fi 6’s ability to handle many devices at once means you shouldn’t experience any connection slowdown on your laptops, even when your smartphone, thermostat and smart toilet are all connected.
Faster SSD, RAM
Intel Optane was originally intended to accelerate PCs that had slower but larger-capacity hard drives. That solution included an Optane memory module for caching your computer’s most frequently used processes alongside a discrete hard drive.
Supported by these 9th Gen CPUs, Intel’s new Optane Memory H10 takes that super-fast memory and combines it with high capacity flash drives and all in a single M.2 form factor. Like before, the Intel Optane memory is available in 16GB and 32GB flavors. However, now, they are combined with up to 1TB of Intel QLC 3D NAND storage.
The clever combo enables 2.29% faster PC game load times and 1.63x faster file opening when compared with a 3-year-old system using a triple-level cell SSD.
Laptops equipped with Intel’s 9th Gen Core CPUs will also support up to 128GB of DDR4 memory. That’s overkill for most folks, but it could come in handy if you want workstation-level performance in a consumer package.
Form Factor and Efficiency
Laptop makers have unveiled some strange laptops that contort in all sorts of ways. For example, the Asus Mothership, a powerful gaming machine, has an adjustable kickstand and a detachable keyboard while the Acer Triton 900 has an adjustable display that can flip into a number of different modes.
These new chips also promise improvements to battery life, though Intel didn’t say how much more endurance we can expect from systems equipped with 9th Gen CPUs. We’ll get a better idea of
real-world battery life when the first flock arrives in the coming weeks.
Laptops with 9th Gen CPUs
Laptop manufacturers didn’t waste any time arming products with these new 9th Gen CPUs. The first wave of 9th Gen-equipped machines, comprised of gaming laptops, was unveiled alongside Intel’s announcement.
Here is a list of notebooks with the new H-series chips that we’ve gone hands-on with,
- Razer Blade 15
- Razer Blade Pro 17
- Asus ROG Mothership
- Asus ROG Strix Scar III, Strix Hero III and Strix G
- Asus TUF Gaming FX505 and FX705
- Asus Zephyrus S
So, I would suggest carefully considering if the i9 configurations are worth the significant premium OEMs ask for in these ultra-portables while it would be a mistake to draw any general conclusions on this matter and carefully looking into detailed reviews that take a close look at the performance in the scenarios you’re planning to use the notebooks yourselves. For a fraction of the cost, there’s a good chance you’ll get similar or nearly similar results with the i7s.