Intel calls its 5.3GHz ‘Comet Lake-H’ chip for gaming laptops the ‘fastest mobile processor’

Intel’s 10th-gen “Comet Lake-H” mobile processors for gaming laptops aspire to something that, so far, AMD’s Ryzen hasn’t: pure clock speed. Announced Thursday, Intel’s 10th-gen H-series chips go above 5GHz, the first time a mobile PC processor has reached those heights.

In fact, most of Intel’s six new Comet Lake H-series chips top 5GHz, including a “step up” Core i7 chip, the Core i7-10875H (2.3GHz base, 5.1GHz turbo). Intel’s designed it as a slightly cheaper alternative to the new uber-premium Core i9-10980HK, though both chips include 8 cores and 16 threads. It’s this new Core i9 that sets a high-water mark for clock speed, cresting at a whopping 5.3GHz.

All this potentially sets up a hot debate among mobile gamers: buy in to Intel’s claims that most games still are largely dependent on single threads, where clock speed rules the roost? Or follow AMD, which has made its strongest case in decades that its Ryzen 9 4900HS is simply the highest-performing mobile PC processor on the market?

It sounds like we’ll have a number of points of comparison, as Intel’s promising more than 100 different systems, largely aimed at gamers and content creators, will include the new H-series chips. Pre-orders for those PCs will begin April 2, with systems starting to ship on April 15.

Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 IDG/Gordon Mah Ung

Expect that Intel’s new Comet Lake-H chips will go into notebooks like (but not necessarily including) this Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501.

Intel’s Comet Lake-H pushes well above 5GHz

Comet Lake-H isn’t Intel’s first mobile gaming chip, but it’s the first to appear in such a wide swath of laptops, including thin-and-lights. Intel didn’t even make a 9th-gen Core chip for thin-and-light PCs, so the prior Intel Core i9-9980HK and its cousins ended up being stuffed into 4-pound notebooks like the Asus ZenBook Pro, Dell Precision 15, or the Apple MacBook Pro 15.

In contrast, Intel expects more than 30 systems using Comet Lake-H will be thin-and-light designs slimmer than 20mm. Intel executives said that Comet Lake-H will be featured in designs across the consumer, commercial, and workstation markets, which innovations including 300Hz displays and HDR1000 panels. 

intel comet lake-h skus Intel

Intel’s new Comet Lake-H lineup.

Every chip in Intel’s new Comet Lake-H lineup consumes 45W, which makes them far more powerful and power-hungry than Intel’s well-received 28W ”Ice Lake” chips introduced last year. (AMD’s Ryzen 4000 series are 35W chips.)

One question is why Intel built a “Comet Lake-H” chip, rather than design a more powerful version of the well-rounded Ice Lake chip. The idea, according to Frederik Hamberger, Intel’s general manager of premium and gaming laptops, was to design Comet Lake-H specifically for gamers and content creators, each of which typically prefer a discrete GPU. As such, the Comet Lake-H chips do not include integrated graphics. “We think about catering to the end user with a Comet Lake-H focus on frequency and best performance…with a big pipeline to the discrete graphics,” Hamberger said.

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