Intel recently officially launched the 10th generation Core Comet Lake H-series CPUs for high-performance laptops. Only this week can we talk about the performance. Aimed at high-end productivity and gaming laptops, this test will fully analyze the Core i7-10875H, the most interesting chip in the new series.
We'll compare it to previous products like the Core i9-9880H, the Core i7-9750H and the new Ryzen 9 4900HS from AMD to see how it works for high-performance mobile productivity. Hopefully in the next few weeks and months we will try a number of other 10th generation CPUs and make all sorts of comparisons, including deeper insights into the new six-core part and how these chips do for games.
This was an interesting generation for Intel. The first 10th generation laptop parts were launched many months ago in August 2019. We saw a breakdown into the confusing Comet Lake and Ice Lake U series, one at 14nm and one at 10nm. There is no such breakdown for these more powerful 45W H series chips: Intel only offers Comet Lake , the 14 nm Skylake derivative. In fact, five years after the first launch of Skylake, Intel is still releasing "new" CPUs with the same basic architecture.
Parts of the H-series with 8 cores are not new, but in the 9th generation they were limited to the Core i9 series, which was only seen in very expensive notebooks. By adding a new 8-core SKU to the Core i7 series, the Core i7-10875H is bringing an 8-core processor with 16 threads to a somewhat more established market. The rest of the Core i7 series, like the previous generation, has six cores and twelve threads. Intel has also reduced the range of the Core i9 to just an 8-core chip with higher clocks than the i7 CPU. Finally, the Core i5 series remains as quad cores.
The specifications for the Core i7-10875H are very similar to the Core i9-9880H of the last generation: We have a base clock of 2.3 GHz, 16 MB L3 cache and a 45 W TDP. The only changes occurred in the Boost specifications. Intel is now promoting the chip's ability to push up to 5.1 GHz (from 4.8 GHz) on a single core. However, this is only possible with what Intel calls "Thermal Velocity Boost". This essentially gives the processor an additional frequency of 200 MHz if it runs below 65 ° C and 100 MHz if it runs below 85 ° C. If the CPU does not run well and cool, the actual maximum turbo frequency is 4.9 GHz.
Thermal Velocity Boost was first introduced in 9th generation Core i9 processors, including the 9880H. However, Intel has adjusted the temperature thresholds and expanded the Core i7 series of this generation.
For all-core turbo frequencies, Intel calls this 4.3 GHz for the 10875H, compared to 4.1 GHz for the 9880H. In short, we achieve a clock rate increase of 200 to 300 MHz with the 10875H compared to 9880H in turbo conditions. With the same basic clock speeds and performance limits, however, we expect the long-term clock speeds between the processors to be similar, which we will examine a little later.
Before we get to the benchmarks, let's talk about the test conditions …
The Gigabyte Aorus 15G XB is available for checking, which packs the Core i7-10875H together with the new RTX 2070 Super Max-Q from Nvidia in several performance configurations. We'll cover the GPU in a separate test. So be sure to check this. The Aorus was equipped with a 1080p 240Hz display and 16 GB DDR4-2933, the new maximum RAM speed supported by parts of the 10th generation.
This isn't a laptop test, but we have to mention the new Omron mechanical key switches on this laptop, they're really good. When making thin and light gaming laptops, the keyboard is one of the areas that tend to suffer. Many of them are really rubbish, but this is a click, surprisingly satisfactory switch for such an understated design. The typing experience is better than expected, so high praise to Gigabyte for the selection.
Testing the laptop hardware in an apple-to-apple configuration is challenging because each system is slightly different. With all of the results you'll see today, we tried to remove as many variables as possible. This means that all systems have dual-channel memory and are all configured to use Intel's standard processor configuration and settings, unless otherwise noted. We then average the results from equivalent laptop configurations (not just one model) to get a general overview of the performance of a particular CPU.
Laptops are often a bit overclocked and have utilities that let you change various performance goals and PL1 or PL2 limits. For testing, we set each laptop to the standard limit of 45 W PL1 from Intel. For example, the Aorus 15G uses a 52 W limit as standard and allows you to choose between five different limits from 38 W to 62 W. We also tested the 62W configuration today. The short burst power limit PL2 is 80 W for all settings.
The reason why we do this is that we can compare processor performance at a particular performance level. In contrast to desktops, the power consumption of laptops is of crucial importance: more power-hungry parts require larger coolers and therefore larger laptops. By comparing chips with an equivalent performance level, we can see how they would behave in an equivalent design (see the full list of laptops tested for this test). After all, it wouldn't make sense to only compare an 80W CPU with a 35W CPU in laptops, because you simply couldn't build the 80W chip into a design with only 35W cooling power.
Another thing that people could ask us to do is underperformance as it is very popular among enthusiastic laptop buyers. Unfortunately, the undervoltage is deactivated on the 10875H of the Aorus 15G and possibly also on other models. We suspect this is due to Plundervolt's vulnerability with Intel CPUs, although we haven't received an official statement on the subject.
Let's start the benchmark run with the most popular Cinebench R20 of all. This rendering workload takes advantage of the additional two cores added to the mix: the 8-core 10875H is 12 percent faster than the last-generation Core i7-9750H with six cores in the multithread test. Perhaps a little surprising is that the performance doesn't match the i9-9880H: this new 8-core part is 6 percent slower than the previous Core i9 processor from Intel with the same number of cores. This suggests that the 10875H is not quite as tall as the 9880H.
The 10875H is also dominated by AMD's Ryzen 9 4900HS, although it consumes more power and remains 30% behind the new Zen 2 competitor in this workload. Even if we increase the power limit with the Aorus 15G to 62 gigabytes, it is still 18 percent behind the impressive multi-core power that AMD offers here at 62 W.
However, the story is different with the single thread workload. Thanks to higher clock rates, the 10875H is 8 percent faster than the 9880H and 1% before the 4900HS in this relatively long single-thread test. Previously, the 9880H operated a single core with long-term performance of ~ 4.6 GHz within the 45 W power limit quite comfortably. So if you raise the frequency cap to 4.9 GHz, which is usually the case with single-thread workload, you can get faster performance than previous-generation CPUs here.
We see a very similar performance in Cinebench R15, although the 10875H in the multithread test is slightly slower compared to other CPUs compared to the R20 workload. To compensate for this, the 10875H is up to 10% faster than the 4900HS.
Handbrake is another long-term multithreaded workload, and we're seeing a moderate increase in performance for this Core i7 CPU compared to the i7-9750H, which is 11 percent ahead. As with Cinebench, however, the 10875H cannot keep up with the 9880H and falls behind the Ryzen 9 4900HS even with a power consumption of up to 62 W. If you want to use your laptop for x265 video encoding, an 8-core Ryzen APU is a better choice due to its strong performance advantage.
Blender follows the trend we saw in the last benchmarks: the 10875H is significantly faster than the 9750H, in this case 19% faster, but cannot keep up with the 9880H and is 3% behind. The 10875H is also much slower than the Ryzen 9 4900HS. As with the previous two examples, Intel does not have the performance AMD offers for long-term multithreaded tasks and is not close to efficiency.
7-Zip compression is an excellent example of a short-term multithreaded workload that runs entirely in the boost state of the CPU. Thanks to a generous 80 W PL2 power limitation, the 10875H has enough power to supply all 8 cores and significantly advance the 9750H. Decompression is 26% faster and compression is 34% faster. It also manages to achieve the 9880H's performance.
Comparing Intel and AMD in this test shows that AMD is well ahead in decompression, which is likely to be the most used workload of the two. However, Intel is 10% faster for compression. We suspect that the larger 16 MB cache has made a significant contribution compared to just 8 MB on the AMD side.
Excel with extensive calculations is another benchmark that is cheap for the new Core i7-10875H. It's still a bit slower than the i9-9880H, but 18% faster than the 9750H and 9% faster than the Ryzen 9 4900HS. This is a short multithreaded test in which Intel does well in its boost state and takes the win.
The Intel Core i7-10875H is well suited for lower productivity and general app usage, but not the runaway winner. In PCMark productivity utilization, the 10875H is about 6% slower than the 4900HS while beating the 9750H while in the Essentials test, which includes app loading and easy browsing, the 4900HS and 10875H offer equivalent performance . Both 8 core offerings are a step above previous H-series CPUs, so you can expect an improvement of around 10 percent.
A particularly interesting case for the 10875H is MATLAB R2020a with the built-in benchmark. Previously, we found that the Core i9-9880H could take the crown over the Ryzen 9 4900HS in this engineering tool. However, the 10875H cannot keep up when the 9880H falls 8 percent.
Acrobat PDF export is a simple win for the Core i7-10875H, which thanks to a combination of large cache size and high frequencies, runs this single-core test in record time. This is one of the worst results for Ryzen. It just can't keep up with the burst speed that Intel offers for this export-to-image workload.
However, this tilts for AES-256 cryptography. SiSoft Sandra shows the 10875H slot between 9880H and 9750H for the cryptographic bandwidth, but far behind the Ryzen 9 4900HS. This means that Ryzen CPUs should be in the lead for encryption or decryption tasks.
Now we come to some more computing-intensive workloads, so there is a lot going on here that needs to be discussed. We'll start here with Adobe Photoshop's Iris Blur test, which is mainly limited to the CPU if you have a reasonably decent discrete GPU, as is the case with most H-series laptops. It's a close battle at the top between the 8 core options. The 10875H is 5% behind the 9880H but 6% ahead of the Ryzen 9 4900HS.
And we see similar borders in Puget's Photoshop workload. The 10875H is not the absolute fastest CPU for Photoshop, but it is a very powerful chip in this app and especially before the Ryzen 9 4900HS. It's also a decent 16% faster than the 9750H, Photoshop likes the frequency, but it also likes cores, depending on the job you're doing, and the 10875H is faster on both counts.
Time for some Adobe Premiere results. In this application, Intel benefits from hardware-accelerated coding via QuickSync. Any configuration that does not support this and includes all AMD processors and our test laptop i9-9880H falls slightly behind in this test.
For example, in the Puget export test, the Ryzen 9 4900HS corresponds to a QuickSync-enabled i7-9750H, while the 10875H is 11% faster, albeit with a faster GPU. In this particular workload, however, we're not often limited to the GPU. Intel sees better performance here thanks to the support of QuickSync. In many cases, this is a better choice for those who want to export videos to Premiere.
While Intel configurations can be up to 25% faster in certain QuickSync accelerated tests, Ryzen is faster for software coding, e.g. For example, when performing two-pass H.264 encoding with the settings we use to render YouTube videos.
Intel also falls behind in Puget's live playback test: while the 10875H is 2% faster than the 9880H, it is 9% behind the Ryzen 9 4900HS when it comes to viewing footage in the timeline. It's also significantly slower for light thread effects like the Warp Stabilizer: The 10875H is 3% faster than a 9750H for film stabilization, but 15% slower than AMD's Zen 2 CPU. This is not a complete single-threaded test, it uses 1-2 cores with a single instance, and it seems that Intel only makes profits here if it is 100% single-threaded.
Here you can see how the Core i7-10875H beat the Core i9-9880H in the first ten minutes of our Handbrake x265 test. Both CPUs mostly fluctuate between 2.7 GHz and 2.8 GHz all-core, which of course is significantly below the nominal value of 4.3 GHz all-core turbo for this processor. However, mobile processors generally don't come close to these all-core numbers in the long run due to their performance limits.
Given the closely spaced clock speeds between these two processors, this indicates that Intel has not improved the 14 nm efficiency between the 9th and 10th generations. In this test, the 9880H is faster, about 1.5% faster, and that seems to be due to the 9880H's average clock speeds. In the first 10 minutes the 9880H was clocked 1% higher on average.
Before we finish this, let's take a look at some performance comparisons. We start here with the i7-10875H versus the i9-9880H, a battle of two very similar CPUs. The 10875H has a clear advantage on single-thread workloads, but outside of that, the 9880H is faster.
Core i7-10875H vs. Core i9-9880H
Slightly faster for long-term multithreaded tasks and moderately faster for short-term tasks where the higher PL2 limit leads to an advantage for our 9880H system. In terms of efficiency, both CPUs seem to be identical, and that's basically because they are.
Core i7-10875H vs. Core i7-9750H
The Core i7-10875H brings a performance gain to the table in this comparison. For single-thread workloads, this can mean an increase of 15 to 20 percent, while for multithreaded workloads, depending on the test, 10 to 20 percent is expected. The 10875H is universally faster because it has both more cores and higher single-core turbo frequencies within the same performance limit. Since more cores can be operated with a relatively low frequency decrease, it is located at a more efficient point on the voltage-frequency curve, which is why we see a higher power despite the same power limit of 45 W.
If you increase the TDP of this processor from the standard 45 W to a maximum of 62 W, which is supported by our Gigabyte Aorus 15 (outside the use of XTU), you can expect a performance improvement of up to 18 percent with long-term multithreaded workloads. However, profits for most other workloads are limited because they are either single-core workloads or just use the boost period, which remains unchanged.
Core i7-10875H vs. Ryzen 9 4900HS
The Core i7-10875H is generally slower than the Ryzen 9 4900HS and uses more power. This is especially true for long-term multi-thread workloads where the 10875H is 25 to 30 percent slower. In light thread tests, the 10875H typically matches AMD's efficient Zen 2 design, or is slightly slower. However, the 10875H takes the lead in pure single-thread tests as well as with all cache restrictions such as Excel or Photoshop. Workloads that use QuickSync like Adobe Premiere exports are also faster on the Intel CPU.
While it's possible to slightly increase the 10875H's power limit, which our Ryzen 9 4900HS test system in the Asus Zephyrus G14 didn't do, the 10875H is still generally slower on most 62W workloads, especially long-term or multi-threaded Workloads. Unless you find a 10875H system that really increases this power budget to over 90W, we expect most 10875H configurations to stand behind a similar Ryzen system in such tests.
What we have learned
This is the first 10th generation Comet Lake H processor we've tested and arguably the most interesting of the series. Some may be skeptical of the Core i7-10875H, with Intel keeping the 14nm process and Skylake architecture. This is a valid outlook, but we believe there are some positive aspects, so we'll talk about it first.
The largest is Intel, which brings 8 cores into the Core i7 area for the first time. It wasn't worth spending a lot of money on a Core i9 system most of the time if you wanted an 8-core processor. However, thanks to the competition, Intel's hand was forced to offer earlier Core i9 performance at a lower price. In practice, we achieve 10 to 20 percent more performance than a 9750H CPU.
Intel also holds the single-thread performance crown. This is not because they reach 5 GHz – because this is not the case in most cases – but because they achieve the best single-thread performance even at reasonably high 4.8 GHz. Combined with a larger cache and some niche benefits like QuickSync support in applications, there are some workloads where Intel's 8-core CPU is the fastest.
Now consider that the 8-core 10875H is not a replacement for the Core i7-9750H, which has been used in a variety of systems. At least in the short term, expect these cheaper 9750H laptops to upgrade to the 10750H with six cores, not the 10875H.
We've been able to gather some pricing information from manufacturers like MSI and Gigabyte, and the Core i7-10875H will continue to be a class above the 10750H. Not at the top with old Core i9s, but still quite expensive. For example, MSI's cheapest 10875H laptop costs $ 1,800 with an RTX 2060 GPU, while the 10750H is available in $ 1,200 systems. A direct comparison of the Creator 17 systems shows that the 10875H laptop is an add-in option for $ 300. In addition, most laptops using the 10875H are your premium RTX 2070 class devices.
What has changed from previous years is that AMD joins the party and does so with a more aggressive pricing system. At the moment, you can buy an Asus TUF Gaming A15 with the Ryzen 7 4800H and RTX 2060 for just $ 1,200. Intel laptops that are also equipped with the RTX 2060 and compete on price use a six-core CPU, not this new 8-core.
It is possible that the Core i7-10875H sees direct competition from the Ryzen 9 4900HS, which is significantly faster in the long run and with multiple threads. They are comparable in terms of lower productivity and burst applications, while Intel takes the lead in pure single-thread workloads. In this context, it remains to be seen how well AMD is suitable for laptop manufacturers, after all it is a newcomer in this segment in which Intel has long ruled alone. A majority of OEMs have opted for the introduction of high-end H-series laptops with 10th generation Intel parts, and only a few offer the option to switch to Ryzen.
The next step is to test which CPU is faster for discrete high-end GPU games. We need to investigate that if we have the right laptops on hand. We expect this to be a close fight, but we won't call it that way until we hit the benchmarks. Pay attention to this in the coming weeks.