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Intel launches the world’s first 16-core mobile CPU

Intel launched a new range of processors at its Vision event on Tuesday, May 10. The new 55W HX-series CPUs are part of Intel’s 12th-gen family, and they’re built to deliver the highest performance possible in a mobile form factor, at least according to Intel.

The flagship Core i9-12950HX lends some credibility to the claim of being the first 16-core laptop CPU ever. Like other 12th-gen Alder Lake processors, it splits the cores across performance and efficient cores, and the chip can boost up to 5GHz. Like other HX-series processors, it comes with a 55-watt power limit, as well.

Specs for Intel HX-series processors.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

As you can see in the spec sheet above, Intel isn’t only focusing on flagships with the range. The Core i5-12450HX still has access to 55W to power a 4.4GHz max boost clock and eight cores. This class of mobile CPU seems positioned to compete with AMD’s recently announced Dragon Range chips.

For performance, Intel says the new chips provide up to a 17% improvement in single-thread performance and up to a 64% improvement in multi-thread performance compared to last-gen’s Core i9-11980HK. These are Intel’s first-party benchmarks, and as always, we recommend waiting for third-party benchmarks before drawing firm conclusions.

Performance for Intel HX-series processors.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Intel didn’t provide comparative data for gaming, though the company said the Core i9-12900HX is capable of delivering up to 128 fps in Far Cry 6 and up to 149 fps in Forza Horizon 5 when paired with a mobile RTX 3080 Ti. Gaming performance in laptops largely comes down to the individual machine, however, so we recommend sticking with dedicated laptop reviews instead of Intel’s benchmarks.

The new chips come with a boost in core count, but also new platform features. These include support for DDR4 and DDR5 memory, including Error Correcting Code (ECC) memory, as well as support for PCIe 5.0. Multiple chips support Intel vPro, as well, bringing ISV certification to apps like Adobe Premiere Pro and AutoCAD.

Like Intel’s previous mobile flagship, the Core i9-12900HK, the new chips support memory and core overclocking. You can manually tune the efficient and performance cores, as well as overclock memory and store the setup in an XMP 3.0 profile. Although all of the new chips support overclocking, some have “limited core OC,” as noted in the chart above. We have reached out to Intel to clarify what is limited on these chips.

Intel is stressing the importance of I/O in the new chips compared to its H-series processors. The chips support up to eight SATA 3.0 connections, 14 USB 2.0 and 10 USB 3.0 connections, and two discrete Thunderbolt controllers. This is enabled by the larger size of HX-series processors, which are nearly as large as Intel’s 12th-gen desktop chips.

HX chips should be arriving soon, but Intel didn’t announce a firm release date. The company still showed off multiple machines arriving with the new chips, including the Lenovo Legion 7, MSI GE77 Raider, and Dell Prevision 7670.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
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