Last week Intel launched their Tiger Lake-H family of laptop processors. Aimed at the larger 14-inch and above laptops, this processor family is Intel’s newest offering for the high-performance laptop market, stepping in above Intel’s mobility-focused U and Y series of chips. Based on the same Tiger Lake architecture that we first became familiar with last year, Tiger Lake-H is bigger and better (at least where the CPU is concerned), offering up to 8 CPU cores and other benefits like additional PCIe lanes. Overall, Intel’s H-series chips have long served as the performance backbone of their laptop efforts, and with Tiger Lake-H they are looking to continue that tradition.

While last week was Tiger Lake-H’s official launch, as has become increasingly common for laptop launches, the embargoes for the launch information and for hardware reviews have landed on separate dates. So, while we were able to take about the platform last week, it’s only today that we’re able to share with you our data on TGL-H – and our evaluation on whether it lives up to Intel’s claims as well as how it stacks up to the competition.

Like Intel’s other laptop chips, Tiger Lake-H has multiple facets, with the company needing to balance CPU performance, GPU performance, and power consumption, all while ensuring it’s suitable to manufacture on Intel’s revised 10nm “SuperFin” process. Balancing all of these elements is a challenge in and of itself, never mind the fact that arch-rival AMD is looking to compete with their own Zen 3 architecture-based Ryzen 5000 Mobile (Cezanne) APUs.

Intel Tiger Lake-H Consumer
AnandTech Cores
Threads
35W
Base
45W
Base
65W
Base
2C
Turbo
4C
Turbo
nT
Turbo
L3
Cache
Xe
GPU
Xe
MHz
i9-11980HK 8C/16T - 2.6 3.3 5.0* 4.9 4.5 24 MB 32 1450
i9-11900H 8C/16T 2.1 2.5 - 4.9* 4.8 4.4 24 MB 32 1450
i7-11800H 8C/16T 1.9 2.3 - 4.6 4.5 4.2 24 MB 32 1450
i5-11400H 6C/12T 2.2 2.7 - 4.5 4.3 4.1 12 MB 16 1450
i5-11260H 6C/12T 2.1 2.6 - 4.4 4.2 4.0 12 MB 16 1400
*Turbo Boost Max 3.0

Intel’s Reference Design Laptop: Core i9-11980HK Inside

For our Tiger Lake-H performance review, Intel has once again sent over one of their reference design laptops. As with the Tiger Lake-U launch last year, these reference design laptops are not retail laptops in and of themselves, but more of an advanced engineering sample designed to demonstrate the performance of the underlying hardware. In this specific case, the BIOS identifies that the laptop was assembled by MSI.

Wanting to put their best foot forward in terms of laptop performance, Intel’s TGL-H reference design laptop is, as you’d imagine, a rather high-end system. The 16-inch laptop is based around Intel’s best TGL-H part, the Core i9-11980HK, which offers 8 Willow Cove architecture CPU cores with SMT, for a total of 16 threads. This processor can turbo as high as 5.0GHz on its favored cores, a bit behind Intel’s previous-generation Comet Lake-H CPUs, but keeping clockspeeds close while making up the difference on IPC.

Unfortunately, their desire to put their best foot forward means that Intel has configured the CPU in this system to run at 65W, rather than the more typical 45W TDP of most high-end laptops. 65W is a valid mode for this chip, so strictly speaking Intel isn’t juicing the chip, but the bulk of the Tiger Lake-H lineup is intended to run at a more lap-friendly 45W. This gives the Intel system an innate advantage in terms of performance, since it has more TDP headroom to play with.

Intel Reference Design: Tiger Lake-H
CPU Intel Core i9-11980HK
8 Cores, 16 Threads

2600 MHz Base (45W)
3300 MHz Base (65W)
5000 MHz Turbo 2C
4500 MHz Turbo nT
GPU Integrated: Xe-LP Graphics
32 Execution Units, up to 1450 MHz
Discrete: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop
30 SMs, up to 1703MHz
DRAM 32 GB DDR4-3200 CL22
Storage 2x OEM Phison E16 512GB SSD (NVMe PCIe 4.0 x4)
Display 16-inch 2560x1600
IO 2x USB-C
2x USB-A
Wi-Fi Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E + BT5.2 Adapter
Power Mode 65 W
(Mostly tested at 45W)

Meanwhile the focus on CPU performance with TGL-H does come at a cost to integrated GPU performance. TGL-H parts include Intel’s Xe-LP GPU, but with only 32 EUs instead of the 96 found on high-end Tiger Lake-U systems. With TGL-H, Intel is expecting these systems to be bundled with discrete GPUs, so they don’t dedicate nearly as much die space to an integrated GPU that may not get used much anyhow. To that end, the reference system comes with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop graphics adapter as well, which is paired with its own 6GB of GDDR6.

Rounding out the package, the system comes with 32GB of DDR4-3200 installed. Storage is provided by a pair of Phison E16-based OEM drives, allowing Intel to show off the benefits of PCIe 4.0 connectivity for SSDs. Finally, Wi-Fi connectivity is also Intel-powered, using the company’s new AX210 adapter, which offers Wi-Fi 6E + BT5.2 on a single M.2 adapter. It’s worth noting that the AX210 is a fully discrete adapter, so it doesn’t leverage TGL-H’s integrated (CNVi) MAC, as that doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6E.

And, in keeping with making this reference system look as close to a retail design as reasonably possible, Intel even put the usual Intel Core and NVIDIA GeForce stickers on the laptop.

Unfortunately, we’ve had relatively little time with the system ahead of today’s embargo. The embargo on performance figures was originally scheduled for last Thursday (May 13th). However due to delays in shipping these laptops to reviewers, we didn’t receive the system until the end of last week, and Intel bumped back the embargo accordingly. So with just over two days to look over the system, we’ve really only had a chance to take a look at the most critical aspects of the system when it comes to performance.

Power Consumption - Up to 65W or not?
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  • Andrei Frumusanu - Monday, May 17, 2021 - link

    As a note, we're just finishing up this review at the very last minute due to us getting our hands on the reference laptop only in the last 48h. I'll be completing the missing page texts in the next few hours as we're tidying up the article. Reply
  • EliteRetard - Monday, May 17, 2021 - link

    Did you have a description/specs of the test systems?
    If it was there I missed it, even after going back to look.
    Differences in RAM / storage etc. can affect some tests.

    I'm guessing the size based on the name of the Asus...
    Looks like you're comparing a 16" workstation vs a 13" thin/light?

    Would the AMD CPU perform better in a larger/cooler chassis?
    Reply
  • timecop1818 - Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - link

    > Would the AMD CPU perform better

    lol
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - link

    > timecop1818

    lol
    Reply
  • Qasar - Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - link

    gotta love timecrap181... Reply
  • at_clucks - Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - link

    Come on, the Intel CPU actually performs decently... for a slowish desktop CPU stuck in a laptop chassis. Still not that bad. Reply
  • Spunjji - Thursday, May 20, 2021 - link

    It performs very well, but timcarp1488 was completely misreading what had actually been said just to shitpost his usual anti-AMD nonsense. Reply
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - link

    "Did you have a description/specs of the test systems?"
    A brief description of the Intel reference system is in this review, more detail of the AMD system is available in the review these test results came from.

    "Would the AMD CPU perform better in a larger/cooler chassis?"
    A 45W variant of the AMD CPU in a larger chassis would see higher sustained multi-core performance, but single-core is probably quite similar.
    Reply
  • Gondalf - Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - link

    Strange article Andrei.
    5980HS is rated 35-54 W or 45W+. How can you judge that 45W Intel is less efficient?? Have you data about TDP settings of Asus X13 ? Likely the AMD SKU run at the highest TDP for more performance on Asus device, for several minutes or continuously.
    Bet you neeed to be more informed in your articles, OEMs can go at the max TDP of a cpu since the Tskin of the laptop allow this.
    Bet Intel Tiger Lake H will be faster than in your article on the right chassis ?
    Bet direct power measures are better than generic comments ?
    Reply
  • Retycint - Thursday, May 20, 2021 - link

    Strange comment Gondalf.
    The graph of the 5980HS on page 2 shows that the Asus X13 runs at 42W for about 300s and then drops to 35W for the rest of the time.
    Bet you didn't read the article and just came down instantly to try and feel smug?
    Bet you need to be more informed when making hate posts?
    Reply

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