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Intel 10th Gen vPro CPUs promise performance, security boost for new business laptops

(Image credit: Intel)

Intel unveiled today new 10th Gen Intel Core vPro processors in Core i9, Core i7 and Core i5 variants. These chips are expected to power the next generation of business laptops, from Lenovo ThinkPads to Dell Latitude notebooks. 

Intel's announcement comes just days after AMD revealed its Ryzen Pro 4000 chips for enterprise systems. The rival chipmaker made some aggressive claims about how its new processors compare with 10th Gen Intel CPUs. Instead of refuting those claims, Intel is taking a different path by touting improved management and security.  

Intel is using four main tenants to promote its new chips: performance, security, manageability and stability. Let's take a closer look at each of these areas to see how it compares to previous chips and AMD's new Ryzen Pro 4000.

Intel 10th Gen vPro performance 

Intel was shy about the performance of its new 14-nanometer chips, at least, when compared with AMD, which went right for its rival's throat. 

Instead of giving us head-to-head numbers against Ryzen Pro, Intel compared its new 10th Gen CPUs to those from a three-year-old laptop. This might feel artificially inflated but Intel argues that consumers and businesses update their laptops about every three years, so these are the performance changes they'd want to know about.

With that in mind, Intel claims the new vPro chips have 40% better overall performance when compared with a 3-year-old business notebook. They also bring a 36% improvement to "office productivity" and 44% boosts to data analyzing. 

(Image credit: Intel)

These benchmark numbers are fine, but when you're buying a laptop, you'll want to pay attention to the CPU SKU, or model. At the top of the 10th Gen vPro H-series stack is the Intel Core i9-10885H CPU with 8 cores, 16 threads and a base frequency of 2.4Ghz. This specific processor will power only the most premium business notebooks.

One step down gets you either a Core i7-10875H CPU or a Core i7-10850H processor. There is an important distinction to make here: the Core i7-10875H has 8 cores while the Core i7-10850H drops down to six. More affordable business notebooks will likely run on the Core i5-10400H, a 4-core/8-thread CPU with a base frequency of 2.8Ghz. 

Intel also updated its U-series 10th Gen vPro CPUs for thin and lightweight notebooks like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon or the HP Elite Dragonfly. The most powerful new chip is the Core i7-10810U CPU with 6 cores and 12 threads. There is a lower-tier Core i7-10610U with 4 cores and 8 threads and a mid-tier chip, the Core i5-10310U, with 4 cores and 8 threads.

Finally, Intel is also updating its Xeon processors. Meant for workstations, the 10th Gen vPro versions of these are the W-10885M (8 core, 16 thread) and the W-10855M (6 core, 12 thread), which have a base frequency of 2.4GHz and 2.8GHz, respectively. 

Intel 10th Gen vPro Security 

Intel needs to win back the public after several high-profile security vulnerabilities -- including Spectre and Meltdown -- were discovered in certain processors. Step one of regaining the faith of businesses is by beefing up Hardware Shield, a v-Pro specific layer of security that protects against firmware attacks. 

The new 10th Gen CPUs will receive advanced threat detection that Intel says will prevent malicious software injections by locking down critical resources. According to Intel, it dynamically ensures the "OS and virtual environment are running directly on Intel hardware shield." 

Intel 10th Gen vPro features: Wi-Fi 6 and more 

No surprise here. Just like the consumer-grade processors, these vPro chips will support Wi-Fi 6 for faster speeds across more devices and reduced interference. 

Wi-Fi 6 supports a theoretical maximum throughput of 9.6GBps under ideal conditions. With that sort of speed, you can have multiple devices streaming 4K video, playing games in VR or browsing the web, all with a home full of smart devices always connected to the network. 

(Image credit: Intel)

Of course, Wi-Fi 6 will only benefit you if you have the equipment (modem and router) and internet plan to support it.

As part of Intel's Project Athena initiative, the 10th Gen vPro CPUs will support instant wake for quickly getting back to work after your laptop goes to sleep. Intel also promises long battery life and systems with various form factors, like 2-in-1 laptops.  

Overview 

This update was long overdue and now that it's here we can start looking forward to new business laptops with vPro CPUs. The numbers Intel released for these 10th Gen chips suggest small improvements to performance, which could be a problem against AMD's Ryzen 4000 Pro chips. Regardless, we expect most vendors to either stick with Intel, or offer chips from both major chipmakers, on their flagship laptops.