Intel have just announced three new 11th gen Tiger lake mobile processors for ultra portable gaming laptops. Intel refers to these new chips as the H35 series, presumably because they have a 35 watt TDP. Based purely on the specs, they just look like better binned versions of the other quad core Tiger Lake chips that are currently available, like the i7-1185G7, which is a 28 watt part.
Where H35 fits in with U and H series
Anyway the three H35 processors include the 11300H, 11370H and 11375H, but the names are kind of misleading. In the past, H series processors were the higher end, while U series were a step down below these. These new CPUs appear to sit in between the existing H and U series processors to create something that Intel are saying is for ultra portable gaming. The idea seems to be that these lower wattage parts will be paired with next gen Nvidia graphics for thinner and lighter gaming laptops.
6/8 core 11th gen laptop processors
This slide from Intel seems to explain what’s going on. Today they’re announcing these H35 processors for ultraportable gaming, as shown on the left. They’re also giving us a little teaser for the 11th gen H series for high performance gaming which is coming later, as shown in the middle of this image.
These would be your 45 watt 6 and 8 core parts to replace things like the 10750H and 10875H, so the ones that we traditionally think of when we see an Intel H series mobile processor in a laptop. This slide just notes that they’re coming soon, from what I’ve heard unofficially this may be in March, so a couple of months away. They’ll also bring PCIe 4.0 and Thunderbolt 4 for higher end gaming laptops. Here are some other aspects of H35, something that may be of interest is Resizable BAR support with Nvidia graphics, which may help improve performance in some games.
Why H35 now?
Now the timing of this announcement is interesting. Intel is putting this information out less than 24 hours before AMD’s CES keynote event, where they’re rumoured to announce Ryzen 5000 for laptops. Considering that Intel rarely does these style of “coming soon” style announcements, it just gives off “hey don’t forget about us” vibes.
How early 2021 gaming laptops will look
If higher end H series 11th gen processors aren’t coming until later, then the options for laptop manufacturers this year at CES are as follows. They can either offer existing Intel 10th gen H series processors with next gen Nvidia graphics in this kind of awkward transitionary period for a couple of months until 11th gen comes along, or they could instead pair next gen Nvidia graphics with next gen AMD Ryzen mobile processors. Different companies are taking different approaches here, I’ll cover who is doing what in CES videos throughout the week. Personally if it were me and I knew the higher end 11th gen H series processors were just around the corner, I’d just wait a couple more months instead of buying 10th gen.
10th gen lives on
Intel are noting that there are going to be 40+ refreshed 10th gen designs this month with next gen Nvidia graphics, though they also note that their processors use 16 PCIe lanes for the GPU. It’ll be interesting to see what next gen AMD mobile processors will use tomorrow. If next gen Ryzen is 8 PCIe lanes again, then that could be a potential bottleneck in certain scenarios.
H35 misleading naming?
Also we need to talk about the H35 naming a bit more. It seems a bit strange for these three H35 processors to all be 4 core 8 thread parts, yet the 11300H is an i5 and for some reason the other two are i7 parts. The i7 components do have more cache and can reach higher clock speeds, but still, are we really going to keep referring to quad cores as i7 class in 2021? Maybe I’m being pedantic, but I think they should just be i5.
4 cores vs 6 cores in games
I guess to be fair to the quad cores, the last time I compared a 4 core laptop against a 6 core laptop in a bunch of games, the 6 core laptop on average wasn’t all that much better, though it does of course depend on the specific game as well as the setting levels in use.
The higher clock speeds of H35 combined with other aspects like faster memory and the improved IPC from 11th gen Tiger Lake are probably going to offer a pretty good experience in games.
11th Gen Cinebench performance
From what I’ve seen so far, 11th gen Tiger Lake is offering nice improvements over alternatives, particularly when it comes down to single core performance. With the higher 35 watt power limits, the new H35 options should also be capable of even higher multicore performance compared to the highlighted tiger lake results on this graph.
H35 performance compared to Ryzen
Intel isn't making too many performance claims for H35 at this stage. This is all that has been provided so far, and because Intel chose to put this information out a day before AMD’s CES event, they’re only able to compare to Ryzen 4000, which is essentially last gen now. I’ll let you decide whether or not that’s a coincidence.
Do ultra portable gaming laptops have a place?
Don’t get me wrong, I think the idea of ultraportable gaming laptops for those that want smaller machines and are willing to accept the performance trade offs is great, but the H35 processors, at least on paper, just don’t look all that different from the existing Tiger Lake options.
My main problem with Intel H35 CPUs
Basically to summarise, it feels like Intel are slapping an H on lower powered quad core processors and using the i7 branding to sell gaming laptops in lieu of proper 11th gen H series parts. Maybe that’s too harsh, but even if they will perform well in games with next gen graphics, you can’t argue that that’s not going to be confusing for the average consumer buying a gaming laptop. A better solution may have simply been to use a letter other than H, as that previously signified higher wattage laptop processors.
Perhaps Intel are so confident in the performance of the H35 processors that they see this as fine. I guess we’ll see once we get them in for benchmarking. I’m really keen to hear what you think about this down in the comments, am I just making a big deal out of nothing?