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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  • Alistair - Monday, May 17, 2021 - link

    no, that's not right, Tiger Lake is mainly clock speed improvements, not IPC, running Tiger Lake or Comet Lake in a desktop at the same 4.8GHZ all core would get you almost exactly the same performance Reply
  • heickelrrx - Monday, May 17, 2021 - link

    are u drunk? Reply
  • laduran - Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - link

    No Reply
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - link

    > Tiger Lake is mainly clock speed improvements, not IPC, running Tiger Lake or Comet Lake
    > in a desktop at the same 4.8GHZ all core would get you almost exactly the same performance

    You're confusing Comet Lake with Ice Lake. IPC of Tiger Lake isn't much improved above that of Ice Lake.
    Reply
  • Qasar - Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - link

    can you blame him ? its time intel started using different names for their cpus. Reply
  • mode_13h - Thursday, May 20, 2021 - link

    I didn't mean that in a pointed way. If anything, I thought it would partially validate the statement.

    And yes, I wish Intel would've left the Lakes behind with 14 nm, but I guess there are just too many "lake" names for them to part with it for the mere sake of naming consistency. More annoyingly, they're even using "lake" names for some things that aren't CPUs.
    Reply
  • Qasar - Thursday, May 20, 2021 - link

    it seems they are staying with lake and cove names so unless you are using a slide ruler and a decoder ring, you have no idea which cpu is what :-) i gave up trying to keep track of their names are which cpu line a while ago. Reply
  • mode_13h - Friday, May 21, 2021 - link

    > it seems they are staying with lake and cove names

    Sapphire Rapids is the next server CPU. Also, the little cores seem to be Monts, while the big cores are Coves.

    I think the biggest groaner is "Lakefield", which is that mobile CPU with one big core, 4 little cores, and a chunk of eDRAM. MS used it in a Surface model.
    Reply
  • Qasar - Friday, May 21, 2021 - link

    mode_13h, still doesnt change the fact that the names intel gives its cpus, are confusing has he double hockey sticks :-) Reply
  • mode_13h - Sunday, May 23, 2021 - link

    Oh, for sure. It was so nice when *Bridge = LGA 1155, *Well = LGA 1150, and *Lake = LGA 1151.

    ...then, it seemed like nearly everything became a Lake!
    Reply

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