Intel's creating a new level of Ultraportable gaming laptop all its own with 35W Tiger Lake CPUs

Intel Tiger Lake
(Image credit: Intel)

Intel has announced a whole new segment of gaming laptops, with specifically designed, higher-performance, 10nm Tiger Lake processors. The new Ultraportable gaming laptops are designed specifically to offer "great mobility with enthusiast level of gameplay", according to Intel's recent CES 2021 event. 

The takeaway specs Intel is touting cover machines under 18mm thick which are capable of delivering 70+ fps at 1080p with game settings on High. In current PC gaming parlance 'High' settings are a step or so down from the top graphics presets in most titles.

To enable such performance this new kind of gaming laptop gets its own Tiger Lake H35 series of 10nm CPUs. They are essentially the same quad-core Tiger Lake chips but running at 35W as opposed to the 28W maximum of the current Ultrabook range. That will deliver single threaded performance around 4 - 5 percent higher than the top 28W Tiger Lake chips around today, and with around 10 percent higher multi-threaded performance too.

There are three new chips in the Tiger Lake H35 range, all ready to be dropped into new Ultraportable gaming laptops presumably from now, with the promise of over 40 designs in the first half of the year. 

The Core i7 comes in plain 11370H and Special Edition 11375H trims, which means you get a single-core max of 5GHz with the SE and 4.8GHz with the standard chip. There is also an Intel Core i5 11300H, which comes with a lower maximum frequency and less L3 cache, but all three are four core, eight thread chips.

Interestingly they can all be configured down to hit 28W, with correspondingly lower frequency potential, which means that they should be able to be retro-fitted into any current Tiger Lake laptop that is using the 28W SKU. The obvious benefit being that even configured down to 28W the new H35 chips are capable of higher clock speeds than their forebears. 

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Header Cell - Column 0 Intel Core i7 11375H SEIntel Core i7 11370HIntel Core i5 11300H
Cores | Threads4 | 84 | 84 | 8
cTDP Up Base clock3.3GHz3.3GHz3.1GHz
cTDP Down Base clock3GHz3GHz2.6GHz
Max 1-Core Turbo5GHz4.8GHz4.4GHz
Max 2-Core Turbo4.8GHz4.8GHz4.4GHz
Max 4-Core Turbo4.3GHz4/3GHz4GHz
L3 Cache12MB12MB8MB
cTDP Up35W35W35W
cTDP Down28W28W28W

The Core i7 1165G7, for example, has a 28W base clock speed of 2.8GHz, while the Core i7 11370H comes with a 28W base clock of 3GHz. 

The new mildly higher-spec Tiger Lake CPUs ought to pair up nicely with the less thirsty members of Nvidia's soon-to-be-unveiled RTX 30-series laptop GPUs, as they also come with PCIe Gen4 and support for Resizable BAR.

Intel says it has "partnered closely with Nvidia and ecosystem to bring more performance leveraging standard PCIe protocols." In case you've forgotten, Resizable BAR is the protocol AMD brought to the fore with its Smart Access Memory feature, where it allows the CPU unfettered access to the GPU's memory pool, rather than just in 256MB chunks as it is now.

Nvidia is expected to announce support for Resizable BAR in its own CES presentation tomorrow, and Intel is also promising that support will cover select 10th Gen chips too. Given that a lot of this year's new laptops will still be sporting 10th Gen Intel CPUs that is handy. Realistically it's not going to make a huge difference in performance terms, but every little helps, especially within the tight constraints of an Ultraportable gaming laptop.

This whole Ultraportable schtick is a smart play, as it allows Intel to talk about its 11th Gen gaming laptops and claim it's now launched the 11th Gen Tiger Lake-H series at the start of the year. That's vital in marketing currency when AMD is about to unleash a whole slew of new Ryzen-powered laptop APUs tomorrow. Sure, Intel still dominates gaming laptops, but the majority of new machines we'll see at CES 2021—all sporting the new Nvidia RTX 30-series GPUs—will be shipped with the last-gen H-series versions of its Comet Lake processors.

That's because its high-end 10nm gaming laptop chips aren't coming for a while yet—probably well into the spring or even summer—because the real Tiger Lake H-series of mobile gaming CPUs is still 'coming soon.'

(Image credit: Intel)

Those will eventually be the full-fat eight-core, 16-thread notebook chips, with 5GHz+ clock speeds, and "desktop caliber performance." This delay before we get to see genuine 10nm gaming laptop CPU SKUs from Intel likely explains why it had to backport its 10nm architecture to 14nm for the Rocket Lake, else it would have been a very long time before Intel could wrestle back the top gaming CPU crown from AMD.

If it could have gotten the 10nm production process running to a level where it could release high core count mobile CPUs hitting over 5GHz at the start of this year, then surely it wouldn't have needed to backport anything, and we'd be seeing the same Tiger Lake core hitting the desktop.

As it is, it couldn't and the result is Tiger Lake-H later in the year, a mild 35W update launching today, and Rocket Lake sometime later.

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.