May 27, 2024

Intel has unveiled an all-new 55W tier in its 12th Gen ‘Alder Lake’ laptop CPU portfolio. The seven new CPU models, known as the HX series, are essentially desktop-class Alder Lake CPUs repackaged to fit into laptops. The 55W nominal TDP can rise as high as 157W with an adequate cooling system. These CPUs, announced today at Intel’s Vision technology conference, will be aimed at a new class of high-end gaming and workstation laptops. With up to 16 heterogenous cores, PCIe 5.0, overclocking support, and high-speed connectivity, these processors are not for the thin-and-light segment.

The top-end Core i9-12950HX has eight performance cores with Hyper-Threading and eight efficiency cores, for a total of 24 threads. The P cores can reach a 5GHz Turbo Boost frequency. There’s 30MB total cache memory. This model supports Intel’s vPro manageability framework, but is otherwise identical to the Core i9-12900HX which is more likely to be seen in consumer or gaming laptops. There are also three Core i7 models and two Core i5 models, positioned lower in the stack. 

Compared to the Alder Lake H series, you get more cores and a higher TDP limit but some models have slightly lower clock speeds and feature less powerful integrated GPUs. DDR5 and DDR4 memory is supported with optional error correction and XMP profile switching, but not the equivalent low-power standards. Memory and core overclocking are supported on the HX series, with independent controls for P and E cores. 

The company claims performance that beats AMD’s current top-end Ryzen 6000 series and Apple’s M1 Max SoC, particularly in professional and media encoding workloads. 

Intel’s Thread Director feature is tightly integrated with Windows 11 to help assign workloads to the most appropriate available core or thread. Laptop OEMs can use the 16 PCIe 5.0 lanes to interface with a discrete GPU, while additional PCIe 4.0 lanes can be used with up to four NVMe SSDs. There’s also Wi-Fi 6E, and optional Thunderbolt.

Laptop manufacturers including Lenovo, HP, Dell, Asus, MSI, and Gigabyte are amongst the first to announce laptop models based on these new CPUs. They might also show up in compact desktops or all-in-ones, such as Intel’s own NUC series.