A cutting-edge laptop computer sits on a wooden desk.
Enlarge / This MSI-built reference system is powered with a Tiger Lake i7-1185G7, the highest-end CPU in Intel’s upcoming lineup.

Jim Salter

We have been very inquisitive about Intel’s upcoming laptop computer CPUs, codenamed Tiger Lake, because the firm’s Structure Day occasion in August. Tiger Lake’s official launch occasion earlier this month did not provide a lot crimson meat for anybody already up-to-date on the information—however in the present day, we lastly have our personal hands-on check outcomes to share.

A lot as Intel did throughout Tiger Lake’s launch occasion, we’ll focus closely on Intel versus AMD in our personal exams and evaluation. In our opinion, the present generation-on-generation inside Intel’s personal lineup is pretty boring (sure, it is sooner than its previous components). As an alternative, the actual query is whether or not Intel lastly has a solution to AMD’s Renoir structure—and the reply is not so simple as “sure” or “no.”

Our reference system has the top-of-the-line Core i7-1185G7 CPU, tuned for a 28W default TDP—though that, too, will get sophisticated. For now, we’ll simply be aware that it is the quickest Tiger Lake CPU to be introduced. Nevertheless, assuming one i7-1185G7 system is very like the subsequent could be a mistake.

Our Tiger Lake reference system

Earlier than we dive into the efficiency evaluation, let’s get to know the prototype laptop computer provided to us by Intel. The system was constructed by MSI and, in some ways, it probably resembles what’s going to develop into MSI’s new Status 14 Evo retail system. That stated, please do not draw any particular conclusions a couple of last retail system—significantly the Status 14 Evo—from what you see right here.

Intel warned us that this was a reference system, not retail-ready, and certain not tuned the best way retail variations might be. The platform additionally virtually actually does not have the retail port structure: this technique has two USB-C ports, each on the left hand facet, and completely nothing else.

The system additionally exhibited noticeable capacitor whine. In case you have an excellent ear for electronics, you may really hear the system “considering” from the change within the faint, high-pitched noise because the CPU shifts out and in of turbo frequencies, which it does quickly.

We additionally didn’t check and won’t speak concerning the system’s battery life on this assessment. Once more, this is not actually a laptop computer to be reviewed—it is only a platform that permits us to place the i7-1185G7 to the check. We did, nevertheless, verify the system energy consumption on the wall utilizing a Kill-A-Watt meter. Desktop idle varies from 7.5W-8.2W, and peak consumption (as measured in the course of the first a number of seconds of a Cinebench R20 run) is about 66W-68W.

Efficiency

At first blush, you’d suppose the Core i7-1185G7 on this reference system is a principally even match for the Ryzen 7 4700U in our Acer Swift SF314-42. As examined the best way the system ships, it usually runs a bit slower on multithreaded CPU exams, and it is noticeably sooner on single-threaded CPU exams.

This already is not actually a match to brag about—the Swift 3 wrapped round our Ryzen 7 4700U is a funds laptop computer that does not have the very best thermals, and the 4700U itself is roughly in the midst of AMD’s Renoir lineup. The 4700U is just second from the highest in AMD’s U sequence, and there is a whole H sequence for high-powered techniques above that.

After all, Intel has been getting sand kicked in its face for some time now, and seeing one thing like efficiency parity is refreshing, even when we have now to match the corporate’s top-of-the-line CPU in a high-powered reference system versus a middling-high AMD CPU in a funds laptop computer. The comparability nonetheless has issues we have to iron out, although.

CPU energy consumption / thermal funds

Tiger Lake, not like earlier generations of Intel cell CPUs, solely has just a few SKUs. This seems like a blessing for shoppers, nevertheless it’s probably extra of a curse. Laptop computer OEMs have an extremely broad configurable vary for every SKU’s TDP (Thermal Design Energy).

Which means that one i7-1185G7 system is more likely to carry out little or no like one other—so now your less-technical colleagues not solely will not take note of the distinction between one i7 and one other, they will not discover whether or not the very same i7 SKU is configured for TDP of 12W, 28W, or wherever in between.

Any i7-1185G7 system can briefly attain most turbo frequency and hit a power-consumption max of upwards of 50W, however the system does not keep there for various seconds, earlier than dropping clock sufficient to fall again to its configured TDP.

The size of time which the system is allowed to remain on the highest PL2 consumption is known as “tau.” Tau, together with the TDP itself, is configurable by the OEM. We significantly doubt tau might be disclosed on the field or within the promoting copy for a lot of techniques—and it will probably probably have a fair greater influence than the TDP. A laptop computer allowed to run at PL2 (and draw 50+W) for minutes at a time will carry out significantly larger (and exhibit a hellaciously larger energy draw) than a competing system with the identical TDP however a tau of only some seconds.

At its out-of-box defaults, Intel’s reference system—set on the center of three notches in Home windows 10’s “efficiency” slider, discovered when clicking on the battery icon within the toolbar—is configured for a 28W TDP. Sliding the efficiency slider to the left units TDP to 15W. The tau on the reference system is not specified, nevertheless it seems to be roughly 25-30 seconds no matter TDP, judging from our observations and Anandtech’s.

For those who slide the efficiency widget all the best way to the correct, the TDP stays 28W. However tau, however, turns into ruled by Adaptix, an algorithm that extends turbo time by dynamically regulating clock frequencies down when the CPU itself is not the bottleneck. Generally, customers who allow Adaptix can count on a modest multithreaded efficiency acquire with a considerably bigger corresponding energy draw.

We didn’t straight check Adaptix, as a result of very restricted time out there with the reference system.

Multithreaded efficiency

In its default configuration, with a 28W TDP and roughly 25-second tau, the i7-1185G7 reference system runs just about neck-and-neck with a Ryzen 7 4700U-equipped Swift 3. We see the identical primary relationship amongst all techniques on each Cinebench R20 and Passmark. Geekbench 5 flattens the variations between all of the processors generally, nevertheless it places the 1185G7 on the head of the pack.

Nevertheless, we suspect many retail 1185G7 techniques will not be configured for a 28W TDP—they’re going to probably be configured at 15W TDP, simply as each the Ryzen 7 4700U within the Swift 3 and the Ice Lake i7-1065G7 within the Dell XPS 13 are. Once we drop the reference-system TDP restrict to 15W by shifting the slider laborious left, we see a major drop in efficiency. It really falls barely beneath the Dell’s Ice Lake 1065G7 on Cinebench R20, not to mention the Acer’s Ryzen 7 4700U.

Because the i7-1185G7 is the highest-performance SKU introduced for Tiger Lake, we felt that evaluating it to the Ryzen 9 4900HS in our Asus ROG 14 gaming laptop computer would solely be honest. The 4900HS within the ROG 14 is working at 35W TDP, and it totally dominates the Tiger Lake i7 in each Cinebench R20 and Passmark testing.

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