Intel piles on the benchmarks to show Tiger Lake is the fastest laptop CPU

Whenever Intel, AMD, or Qualcomm launch a chip, the first question anyone asks is, how fast is it? We won’t know how Intel’s Tiger Lake performs until we test it ourselves. But Intel certainly believes its 11th-gen Core chips are much faster than AMD’s mobile Ryzen 4000 parts—because it made claim after claim to that effect.

Intel talked aggressively about Tiger Lake’s performance early on, but the comparisons that accompanied the formal launch of the Tiger Lake family Wednesday were, well, sort of wishy-washy. It wasn’t until later in the day, during deeper-dive press briefings, that Intel began hammering home Tiger Lake’s performance compared to AMD’s mobile Ryzen.

Let’s be clear: These are Intel’s claims, using its own microprocessors, laptops, and benchmarks. Are they objective? No. We’ve already seen crazy-cheap notebooks like the mobile AMD Ryzen-powered HP Envy x360 13 perform exceptionally well for their price and weight. Intel has a big stake in reclaiming its dominance in notebook PCs—even though AMD’s mobile Ryzen 4000 is now about nine months old. 

We asked for AMD for comment on Intel’s claims, but we didn’t hear back by press time.

A baker’s dozen of Tiger Lake claims

Intel’s Tiger Lake testing showcases a lot of shiny new technology: the “Willow Cove” 10nm CPU architecture, the integrated “Xe” GPU, plus new features like the Gaussian Neural Accelerator 2.0, PCI Express Gen 4, and Thunderbolt 4, among others. All of these factors may help Intel in benchmarks. Most of these tests use the Intel chips’ Adaptix Dynamic Tuning to squeeze out maximum performance, for instance, while the comparative AMD mobile Ryzen chips are set to “Extreme Performance Mode.” 

Intel’s summary of its “real-world performance” results (below) cherry-picks tasks and compares them to the AMD Ryzen 4800U in laptops like the superb Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7. Do we need a better laptop to convert PDFs? Maybe not, though photo upscaling, gameplay, and file transfers are useful.

Intel Tiger Lake overall performance Intel

In the slide below, Intel compares Tiger Lake to 10th-gen Ice Lake chips as well as the mobile Ryzen 4000 competition. Is 40 percent faster performance in Office worth buying? Maybe not, but when you start to drill down, a 57-percent performance improvement in Excel may convert a Ryzen buyer–and the improvement over Ice Lake could inspire an upgrade as well. Sysmark benchmarks, however, are more suspect, given accusations of cheating in the past.

intel benchamrks productivity Intel

While a number of productivity tasks stress the CPU almost exclusively, content creation leans more heavily into GPU utilization. In the slide below, Intel is providing an overview of how it fares in the abstract Sysmark test (measuring productivity), but also real-world tasks like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. It’s possible that buyers won’t see that much value in how Lightroom smooths skin textures, but a 2X improvement over Ryzen in video export is pretty impressive, as long as there’s no hanky-panky going on behind the scenes to inflate the numbers.

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