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AMD unveils Ryzen 5000 series CPUs at CES 2021— why Intel could be in trouble

AMD Ryzen 5000
(Image credit: CES)

AMD announced today Ryzen 5000 mobile CPUs based on the Zen 3 architecture. These 7-nanometer chips will arrive in portable and gaming laptops from leading brands in the coming months, putting pressure on Intel. 

The company promises the fastest performance in mobile along with improvements in efficiency, meaning longer battery life. Included in this latest series of chips is what AMD claims to be the only 8-core x86 processor available for ultra-thin notebooks. 

"These new chips offer both tremendous performance and long battery life... You can expect to do more, to be more productive and to have more immersive gaming experiences with a notebook powered by our new Ryzen 5000 mobile processors," AMD CEO Lisa Su said at CES 2021. 

AMD announced a trio of new chips including the Ryzen 7 5800U, Ryzen 9 5900HX and Ryzen 9 5980HX. The one U-series chips is an 8-core/16-thread processor with a 4.4Ghz maximum boost clock. AMD says the Ryzen 7 can outperform Intel's 11th Gen Core i7-1185G7 by 44% in Adobe Premiere video encoding and 39% in Blender 3D Ray Tracing. 

Battery life was also a point of emphasis with AMD claiming the Ryzen 7 5800U can deliver 21 hours of video playback and 17.5 hours on MobileMark 2018. This is a big step up from Ryzen 4000, the latest-gen chips that consistently brought 10+ hours of juice to ultra-thin notebooks. 

While the Ryzen 7 5800U will find its way into more portable laptops, the Ryzen 8 5900HX and Ryzen 9 5980HX will power gaming rigs and laptops meant for creatives, like photo and video editors. Digital content creation using PCMark 10 OCC leads to 18% faster performance using the Ryzen 7 5800U CPU. 

The Ryzen 9 5900HX is an 8 core, 16 thread processor with a 4.6Ghz boost clock and 20MB of cache. At the top of the stack is the Ryzen 9 5980X; it has the same core and thread count but goes up to 4.8Ghz with 20MB of cache. 

What do all these numbers mean in real-world terms? These cards are theoretically capable of playing Horizon Zero Dawn at 1080p resolution at over 100 frames per second. 

Compared with Intel's Core i9-10980HK CPU, the Ryzen 9 5900HX supposedly delivers 13% faster single-threaded performance, 35% faster overall CPU performance and 19% better game physics. We'll do our own comparisons when we get Ryzen 5000-equipped notebooks into our labs, but these figures sure sound promising — and they're sure to put Intel on edge.

Outlook

AMD is playing its music loudly, and laptop brands are listening. Reps from Microsoft and HP took the stage at CES to taut AMD's mobile progress. And the progress shows. 

Ryzen 3000-series chips were found in 70 mobile systems, Ryzen 4000 were seen in 100 system, and now Ryzen 5000 CPUs are expected to find their way into 150 laptops starting in February. 

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.