Intel is squeezing Alder Lake desktop CPUs into laptops with Core HX-series chips

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Enlarge / Intel’s HX-series laptop processors bring the company’s desktop CPUs into high-end, high-performance laptops.

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Earlier this year, Intel announced three iterations of its 12-series Alder Lake CPU architecture for beefier workstations and gaming laptops with more room for large processor fans and heatsinks.

Now Intel is adding another series of chips: the HX series, designed for even faster laptops. Despite sharing a letter with the H-series chips, the H and HX CPUs don’t have much in common. The H-series chips are beefed-up versions of Intel’s laptop processors, with beefier integrated GPUs, integrated Thunderbolt, and an integrated chipset controller in the same package as the rest of the CPU. The HX chips, on the other hand, use the same chips as Intel’s Alder Lake desktop chips, but are soldered onto a laptop’s motherboard rather than plugged into a CPU socket.

CPU P and E wires P-Core Clocks (Boost) Base TDP Turbo TDP
Core i5-12450HX 4P/4E 2.4GHz (4.4GHz) 55W 157 w
Core i5-12600HX (vPro) 4P/8E 2.5GHz (4.6GHz) 55W 157 w
Core i7-12650HX 6P/8E 2.0GHz (4.7GHz) 55W 157 w
Core i7-12800HX 8P/8E 2.0GHz (4.8GHz) 55W 157 w
Core i7-12850HX (vPro) 8P/8E 2.1GHz (4.8GHz) 55W 157 w
Core i9-12900HX 8P/8E 2.3GHz (5.0GHz) 55W 157 w
Core i9-12950HX (vPro) 8P/8E 2.3GHz (5.0GHz) 55W 157 w

These CPUs have higher TDPs than their H-series counterparts, with 55W base TDPs instead of 45W and 157W turbo TDPs instead of the 95-115W H-series TDPs. The increase in performance means these chips will run faster than H-series processors for longer, at the expense of higher power consumption and heat dissipation. However, our testing of these desktop chips suggests that the Core i7 and i9 processors will benefit more from the increased performance caps than the lower core count Core i5 versions.

A downsized and repackaged desktop chip has some advantages and disadvantages compared to regular H-series laptop processors. On the plus side, the Core i7 and Core i9 chips offer an additional pair of P-cores and eight efficiency cores for 16 cores and 24 threads. As long as your laptop can handle the extra power demands, these should be helpful for CPU-heavy productivity and rendering tasks.

These processors also support PCI Express 5.0, although it doesn’t make much sense just yet – current GPUs and SSDs aren’t using the new standard yet and won’t be for a while. They also support memory overclocking, just like their desktop counterparts, and the vPro-compatible versions also support ECC memory.

The HX-series chips offer the same features (and disadvantages) as Alder Lake's desktop chips, meaning you do get PCIe 5.0 but no onboard Thunderbolt.
Enlarge / The HX-series chips offer the same features (and disadvantages) as Alder Lake’s desktop chips, meaning you do get PCIe 5.0 but no onboard Thunderbolt.

intel

Whether the downsides bother you depends on what you’re doing. The chips’ integrated GPUs have a maximum performance of 32 execution units (EUs), versus a maximum of 96 in the H-series CPUs. Laptops with HX processors almost certainly contain dedicated GPUs, which isn’t usually a big deal, but the CPUs’ lack of built-in Thunderbolt 4 connectivity is more noticeable. Up to two dedicated Thunderbolt controllers can be added, but this increases cost and complexity.

The Core i7 and i9 HX series chips might make sense for people who need all the CPU power they can get in a laptop, but the odd Core i5 HX offerings are probably best avoided. They only contain four P-cores and either four or eight E-cores, no more than the regular H-series chips, and with those core counts they probably won’t benefit much from their increased TDPs.

Intel didn’t give a specific availability date for laptops with HX-series CPUs, but said “more than 10 workstation and gaming designs” would be coming from the PC companies “this year”.

Listing image from Intel


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