Intel gives gaming laptops a boost with its first six-core 8th gen Core i9 mobile CPU

Intel is bringing its big guns to laptops with a range of new processors introduced today, including its first round of mobile chips to offer six cores and 12 threads to throw at tasks.

We have been hearing of this lineup for a long time now, and the new parts are finally official. Jumping straight to the top, the burliest entry is the Core i9-8950HK, the first Core i9 built for laptops. It has a 2.9GHz base clock with the ability to ramp up to 4.8GHz via Turbo Boost, along with 12MB of L3 cache.

"It comes fully unlocked and features the new Intel Thermal Velocity Boost (TVB), which opportunistically and automatically increases clock frequency up to 200MHz if the processor temperature is low enough and turbo power budget is available. This translates to a turbo frequency of up to 4.8GHz," Intel says. What does "low enough" mean? We asked Intel and it says TVB kicks in when CPU temperatures are below 50C, so this is not intended as something that will run continually, but rather a short-term burst of speed.

According to Intel, the specs translate to 29 percent faster performance in everyday tasks compared to its previous generation Core i7-7820HK processor, and is 59 percent faster at 4K video editing. In gaming, Intel says the Core i9-8950HK delivers a 41 percent improvement. Those performance metrics rise even higher for an overclocked system, with Intel expecting its partners to offer overclocked laptops in the range of 5GHz and higher.

Intel did not discuss pricing, but we don't expect the Core i9-8950HK to be an inexpensive option by any means. Fortunately it is the not the only path to 6-core/12-thread computing on a consumer laptop. Intel also announced Core i5 and i7 processors that are based on its 14nm++ architecture (Coffee Lake). Here's a look at the performance lineup:

Excluding its Xeon processors for workstations, there are two other 6-core/12-thread 8th gen Core  processor options for laptops, including the Core i7-8850H and Core i7-8750H. Below that are a couple of 4-core/8-thread chips, the Core i5-8400H and Core i5-8300H.

These are the parts that will more commonly be found in higher end laptops, including gaming systems. In addition, Intel launched a range of lower power Coffee Lake processors. Here's a look at those:

What Intel has effectively done is cover most of its bases in the laptop category with modern processor options. Combined with its hybrid processors featuring AMD Radeon Vega graphics, Intel has options for everything from 2-in-1 convertibles and thin and light laptops, to beefier gaming notebooks.

Intel also introduced some new designations, including Core i5+, Core i7+, and Core i9+, as shown above. These are related to Intel bringing its Optane Memory and other Optane solutions to mobile and desktop platforms. Devices that bear one of these new badges will offer a combination of a Core processor with any form of Optane storage, whether that's Optane Memory, Optane 800P, or Optane 900P. The plus designation is to indicate a higher level of responsiveness, thanks to the use of Intel's 3D XPoint technology.

Optane Memory has also received an update, with new support for data drive acceleration. This will mostly benefit desktop gamers who already have an SSD for their OS/boot drive, as you can keep that performance and use an Optane Memory module to instead accelerate data access on your secondary drive. You'll need Intel's RST driver version 16.0.2 or later to take advantage of this feature.

Intel's partners have already started announcing refreshed laptops with these new processors inside. You'll want to be on the look out for these if shopping a notebook. In addition, the introduction of new mobile chips could mean some tantalizing sales on previous generation systems.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).