Skip to main content

High-end gaming laptops are finally switching to AMD, and it’s Intel’s fault

For the first time in a long time, high-end gaming laptops are choosing AMD over Intel. At CES 2021, companies like Asus and Lenovo moved over a majority of their PCs and gaming laptops to AMD’s new Ryzen 5000 platform. It’s a huge success for AMD, which has been the budget brand in the past, especially on the laptop front.

In 2021, however, online retailers will be filled with AMD-powered gaming machines featuring high-end graphics cards like the Nvidia RTX 3080. AMD gamers are rejoicing, but why the change? AMD will say that building trust takes time — and that’s undoubtedly true. But there’s more to it than that.

There’s no doubt that 2020 was the year AMD set out to stake a claim in the world of laptops with its Ryzen 4000 series processors — and it was a rousing success. Ryzen 4000 stuffed multi-core performance into 15-watt laptops in a way that the world hadn’t seen before. Eight cores and 16 threads in a laptop thinner than a MacBook Air? Yup — and at lower price points than the standard Intel configurations too.

Intel showed up to CES without a new 45-watt gaming processor.

But the year came and went, and one laptop category AMD largely missed out on was high-end gaming. Brands like Alienware, ROG, and Predator stuck with Intel on their most powerful systems. We didn’t see any AMD-powered laptops with anything beyond an Nvidia RTX 2060. That was big chunk of the pie that Intel had for itself.

I would have assumed that Intel would keep that advantage going into 2021. But then, Intel showed up to CES without a new 45-watt gaming processor.

Sure, it had its 35-watt Tiger Lake-H chip — which is neat in its own right. But that processor is meant for ultrathin-and-light gaming laptops, not the kind that would sport Nvidia’s high-end graphics. Intel said its 45-watt Tiger Lake-H chip was “coming soon,” but when laptop manufacturers are wanting to update their systems to Nvidia’s new graphics, not having a new generation of processors to match may have been a problem. The delay of 10nm is starting to take its toll.

AMD, on the other hand, struck while the iron was hot. The company launched a new series of Ryzen 5000 processors aimed specifically at this type of performance, the HX series. With the top unlocked configuration boosting up to 4.8GHz, AMD was starting to look like a serious competitor in mobile gaming. And that’s why brands like Asus ROG and Lenovo Legion bought in.

Asus, in particular, updated its entire lineup to AMD Ryzen 5000, including its most powerful systems that support the RTX 3080 like the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE. That’s a first for Asus — and a first for AMD.

Now, that doesn’t mean these companies have forgotten about Intel entirely. Some manufactures, like Razer and Alienware, will continue to support Intel, and will likely update their systems again later this year with Intel’s eventual release of its Tiger Lake-H chips. Even Asus may end up offering Intel alternatives to its all-AMD lineup.

Even so, AMD’s climb to the top is meaningful. Intel can’t rest on its laurels, thinking it has loyalty in certain segments. Everything is up for grabs these days, which makes it an exciting time to be a PC enthusiast.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Larsen
Senior Editor, Computing
Luke Larsen is the Computing Editor at Digital Trends and manages all content covering laptops, monitors, PC hardware, and…
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D vs. Intel Core i9-13900K: only one choice for PC gamers
AMD's Ryzen 9 7950X3D inside of its packaging.

The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D and Intel Core i9-13900K are undoubtedly two of the best processors you can buy, but they aren't equal. We threw both of the CPUs on the test bench to answer the age-old question: is AMD or Intel better?

Based on our testing, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D wins this bout, mostly on the back of the excellent gaming performance AMD's 3D V-Cache technology brings. Intel's Core i9-13900K still holds up, particularly in productivity apps, but Team Red takes the win this time around.
Pricing and availability

Read more
AMD might finally beat Intel for the fastest mobile gaming CPU
AMD Ryzen 6000 laptop chip.

AMD's Ryzen 9 7945HX, the mobile flagship for this generation, was just spotted in some early benchmarks. The test results show that AMD might be really competitive in gaming laptops this year.

The CPU outpaced its last-gen equivalents by miles, and it kept up with Intel's best processors despite having far fewer cores.

Read more
New AMD laptop CPU destroys its predecessor, winning by 90%
AMD CEO holding the Ryzen 7040 series processor.

New benchmarks suggest that there's a lot to be excited about if you're a laptop gamer. The leaked tests show off the performance of the upcoming AMD Ryzen 9 7845HX, as well as AMD's latest Ryzen 7040 laptop APU.

The former completely destroyed its predecessor, while the latter proved itself to be a strong alternative to a traditional gaming laptop -- perhaps even better than Valve's Steam Deck.

Read more