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Intel 11th Gen Tiger Lake-H CPUs launch — gaming laptops get speed boost

Intel H-series
(Image credit: Intel)

Intel unveiled today its new 11th Gen H-series processors set to power the latest batch of gaming laptops and creator laptops. Formerly known as Tiger Lake-H, the new 10 nanometer chips deliver 19% faster multi-threaded performance over the previous 10th Gen processors while providing support for PCIe 4.0 for faster storage and support for the latest graphics cards.  

There are five flavors of the latest 11th Gen H-series CPUs ranging from a Core i5 with six cores to a Core i9 packing 8 cores and 16 threads and capable of reaching a turbo clock speed of 5.0Ghz.

We'll give you the rundown of these new 11th Gen H-series chips below, with performance comparisons against 10th Gen CPUs and AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs. We will also describe what this means for the next wave of gaming and creator laptops, dozens of which were announced today. 

11th Gen Intel H-series CPUs: New hardware and availability 

Intel says its new chips will find their way into more than 80 designs, or laptop models, in the next couple of months with vendors like Acer, Dell, Gigabyte, HP, Lenovo, MSI, Asus, and Razer jumping on board. If you're looking for a portable laptop, 30 of those models will be 0.8 inches or thinner. As for Intel's EVO program, it does not apply to H-series chips, only ultra-thin laptops using U-series processors.

Lenovo Legion 7i gaming laptop

(Image credit: Lenovo)

According to Intel, the new chips will be found in laptops that fit within three categories: Essential, Thin Enthusiast and Hero Enthusiast. By this definition, Essential laptops are gaming laptops ranging from $700 to $1,000, like the Acer Nitro. Thin Enthusiast devices start at $1,000 and are meant to bring gaming power to a portable design. Then there are the "halo" devices; the beastly rigs that will cost you thousands of dollars and come with the latest tech, including RTX 3080 graphics. Despite shortages and increased competition, Intel says it is shipping more than a million 11th Gen H-series chips to OEMs at launch. 

Many laptop makers will start taking pre-orders today, on March 11, with shipments going out as soon as March 17. Among the design trends we're seeing from these machines are thin display borders and 16-inch displays with up to 360Hz refresh rates.

Asus ROG Zephyrus M16

(Image credit: Asus)

Intel is also unveiling 11th Gen H-series vPro chips as part of this announcement, meaning new powerful business laptops and workstations will be arriving soon with performance and security improvements.

Intel 11th Gen H-series performance

Moving away from 14-nanometers, the 11th Gen H-series processors are based on Willow Cove architecture and come with 10nm SuperFin technology. They have up to 8 cores and 16 threads. While the node size has decreased, the max turbo drops to 5.0Ghz in these latest chips compared with 5.3Ghz in the 14nm 10th Gen Core i9 CPU. Don't let those numbers sound alarms yet; Intel promises performance gains across the board with these latest chips, including 19% gen-over-gen multi-threaded performance.

(Image credit: Intel)

Digging into the numbers, the Intel Core i9-11980HK CPU, the most powerful of the new chips, supposedly delivers 105% faster performance when playing Far Cry New Dawn versus the Core i9-10980HK. Looking at those same CPUs, the 11th Gen SKU offers 115% faster speeds in Grid 2019, 111% in Total War: Three Kingdoms, and 121% in War Thunder. 

(Image credit: Intel)

Support for the latest components will ensure laptops with these latest chips also have the quickest SSDs and memory available on the market. The 11th Gen CPUs now support GDDR6 memory on graphics cards for the highest frame rates and lowest latency. Certain 11th Gen Intel chips can be overclocked and performance is optimized with Intel Turbo Boost Max 3.0, which identifies the best cores.

The new 11th Gen chips use integrated graphics based on Iris Xe architecture but are still branded as UHD, using 32 execution units.

Intel Core i9-11980HK vs. AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX 

Gamers will be interested to hear how the new 11th Gen chips compare against AMD's latest Ryzen 5000 CPUs. Based on Intel's own benchmarks, the Tiger Lake-H Core i9-11980HK chip gets up to 26% faster performance when gaming than the Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU. On Hitman 3, the gap was 15% in favor of Intel, while Team Blue won by 17% in the Far Cry New Dawn test, and 22% in War Thunder. 

(Image credit: Intel)

Wanting to emphasize the advantage its new chips have against its age-old rival, Intel showed how the mid-tier Core i5-11400H CPU could keep up with the more expensive Ryzen 9 5900HX chip. Intel's 6-core chip supposedly outpaced its AMD rival in Troy: A Total War Saga by 12%, and matched it in Hitman 3 and Grid 2019. 

Intel did not provide any comparisons with Apple's M1 chips but said it was currently undergoing testing to see how 11th Gen fares.

11th Gen H-series features and connectivity

Performance increases usually hog the spotlight with any chip release, but just as important is extended support for new technologies. To that end, these 11th Gen H-series processors now support 20 PCIe 4.0 with RST bootable RAID0 for the latest GPUs from Nvidia (GeForce RTX 30-series) and AMD (Radeon RX 5000) and the fastest SSDs so content should load instantly. 

Intel 11th Gen H

(Image credit: Intel)

Speed boosts in other areas include support for Thunderbolt 4 for up to 40Gbps transfer speeds and connecting to multiple 4K monitors. You also get Intel Killer Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6e support for the quickest home and office internet speeds, and the ability to use DDR4-3200 RAM. 

Outlook

Plenty of gaming and business laptops with these new 11th Gen H-series processors have already been announced and will be arriving in the coming weeks. Based on Intel's own benchmarks, we can expect decent performance gains over the previous generations and processors that can go up against AMD Ryzen 5000. Perhaps more important than those speed boosts is support for PCIe 4.0, GDDR6 graphics memory, Thunderbolt 4.0 and Wi-Fi 6/6e, all of which ensure your laptop has the fastest components available.

We expect to receive review units equipped with 11th Gen H-series processors in the coming weeks and months. Once they arrive, we'll subject them to our own benchmarks to see how they fare against AMD and Apple.