Today we're taking a first look at the Intel Tiger Lake H45 laptop processors and their performance with a comprehensive benchmark analysis of the Core i7-11800H. Intel only announced this CPU a few weeks ago and now we have enough time to prepare our usual in-depth test. Here we are today with all the details.
Tiger Lake H45 brings 8 Willow Cove CPU cores to the table, a major overhaul of the earlier Skylake derivatives that Intel has used in laptops for years. While Willow Cove and Tiger Lake have been around in ultra-portable systems for a while, these 8-core designs are new and specifically designed for more powerful systems, bringing Intel's 10nm SuperFin technology to a higher performance class.
In addition to new CPU cores and twice the number of cores available in ultraportables, the 11th generation H-series CPUs also offer new built-in Xe graphics, 20 lanes of PCIe 4.0 connectivity, built-in Thunderbolt 4, and a whole host of others Things.
The Core i7-11800H we are reviewing today is Intel's primary mainstream offering and is used in most mid-to-upper-range laptops. This is the only Core i7 model in the series, flanked by the six Core i5 models below and the higher-clocked Core i9 chips above. The 11800H offers 8 cores and 16 threads with 24 MB L3 cache, a 2.3 GHz base clock at 45 W and turbo frequencies of 4.6 GHz on up to 2 cores up to 4.2 GHz all-core. Then we get an Xe integrated GPU design with 32 execution units and clock rates up to 1450 MHz.
Compared to the previous generation Core i7 models, this is not just a major update in terms of architecture. Intel has added an eight-core processor to the range, while both six and eight-core models previously fell under this brand. So this is a big update for a chip like the Core i7-10750H as it includes two additional cores. However, the maximum clock rates have dropped from 5.1 GHz on the Core i7-10875H to just 4.6 GHz. A deficit that Intel would like to compensate with a higher IPC.
The test system for today's test is not an Intel reference platform, but a production laptop from Gigabyte, the new Aero 15 OLED. This is more of a developer and productivity focus system than Gigabyte's Aorus range. Hence, the Aero has a gorgeous 15.6-inch 4K OLED panel that is great for content creation and viewing. A similar design that Gigabyte has been using for several generations, with slim bezels, a full-size RGB backlit keyboard, and a wide variety of ports. Did I also mention the OLED display?
But more importantly, it is powerful from within. Together with the Core i7-11800H we have a GeForce RTX 3070 GPU with 90-105 W using the studio drivers from Nvidia. It comes with 32GB of dual-channel DDR4-3200, although we used 16GB for our tests, which is standardized across all test laptops. 1 TB of storage space also inside.
We're running the Core i7-11800H in its 45W standard configuration, which can be accessed via the gaming mode in the Gigabyte Control Center software. This includes a PL2 state of 109 W for boost applications, which is much higher than the ~ 65 W value we typically see on equivalent AMD machines. However, this has always been the case with Intel. In contrast, AMD is increasing much longer than Intel. The boost time of this 11800H device is quite short.
We know that many laptops can run H-series processors above 45W. While the majority of our testing is done at 45W for all laptops, we'll also include some power scaling numbers so we can see how the 11800H compares to other processors in the higher power ranges. However, 45W is the standard setting and also what the CPU mostly uses under heavy GPU load, which is why we use it.
Today's benchmarks mainly focus on productivity tests. Towards the end there will be a small section on games. However, because this laptop uses a GPU configuration that we haven't tested before, we can't run as many apple-to-apple tests. Hopefully in the coming weeks we can do a big benchmark comparison with Intel and AMD while playing with the same GPU.
As usual, we will start the benchmarking with a look at Cinebench R20 Multithreading. The Core i7-11800H is significantly faster than any previous mobile Intel CPU. It's 35% faster than the Core i7-10870H it replaces and almost 60% faster than the i7-10750H.
In this way, Intel's Tiger Lake CPU can bridge the significant gap between Ryzen and the 10th generation made with Ryzen 4000 early last year. Despite enormous increases compared to the previous generation, the performance that Intel was able to achieve is only enough to match the Ryzen 7 4800H. The 11800H is still 9% slower than the 5800H. That's competitive, but the margin isn't enough to say it's the same as the 11800H is between the 5800H and the 5600H.
While Intel can't keep up with AMD when it comes to multithreading, as we've seen earlier, single-thread performance is strong with Tiger Lake designs. Even at just 4.6 GHz instead of the 5.0 GHz that Willow Cove can do, the 11800H outperforms the 5800H by 4%, giving it around the mark of AMD's higher-tier Ryzen 9 5900HX. The 5900HX also clocks up to 4.6 GHz, which indicates that the Willow Cove and Zen 3 have a similar IPC in this workload.
You'll see similar margins in Cinebench R23, although that doesn't change much from our Cinebench R20 conclusion.
The handbrake is less favorable for Intel compared to Cinebench. In our benchmark run, the 11800H was 14% slower than the Ryzen 7 5800H, more around the mark of the 35W Ryzen 7 5800HS, suggesting that Tiger Lake is less efficient than the Ryzen 5000 in this performance class. Intel has however, Core i7 parts exceeded its previous values by at least 20 percent core-for-core. This new design also outperforms the Core i9-10980HK.
When it comes to CPU-based rendering with Blender, the 11800H is slightly slower than Ryzen, 15% slower in this particular workload compared to the Core i7 with Ryzen 7. We see a 19% performance improvement over the previous generation of H-series processors, however this is not enough to close the gap to the Ryzen 7 4800H at 45W.
One of the biggest outliers in our test suite was code compilation in Cygwin, where gene-to-gene performance only improved 9% when comparing the 11800H to the 10870H, resulting in a significant performance deficit compared to Ryzen.
That doesn't tell the full story of code compilation though, as the 11800H is much more competitive in our Chromium compilation benchmark and is only 3% behind the 5800H, effectively getting the same performance. That translates to a 21% increase in performance over the 10870H and 41% over the 10750H, which is what you want to see in an architectural overhaul.
At this point in the review, we would normally be talking about Office performance as measured in PCMark 10. However, we had some issues running this application on the test system, which resulted in lower results than we had already seen from 4-core Tiger Lake systems. We're assuming this is some kind of mistake so we'll move on for now.
Our custom Microsoft Excel test went just fine, so we could take a close look at the number crunching. In this test, the 11800H is only marginally faster than previous generation chips such as the 10870H and fulfills the performance of the 10980HK, possibly due to clock speed deficits. But that's still enough to outperform the Ryzen 7 5800H by a slim 3 percent.
At 7-Zip compression, this is another strong performance from the Core i7-11800H, on par with the Ryzen 7 5800H and Core i9-10980HK, outperforming the Core i7-10870H by 13 percent. These kind of benchmarks are always complicated by boost periods, all-core turbo, and things like that where the 10980HK is a bit of a beast, but this is still a solid result.
When it comes to decompression, Intel is beaten, as Ryzen 5000 processors are particularly strong in this workload. The 11800H is 15% slower than the 5800H here, despite a 20% performance improvement over the 10870H, which shows how big the delta was in previous generations.
On the other hand, the Core i7-11800H is the clear choice in MATLAB. It offers 15% more performance than the Ryzen 7 5800H, the largest margin in favor of Intel we've seen so far. The margins compared to other Intel processors are similar to previous benchmarks, 27% faster than the Core i7-10870H, but with the larger L3 cache from Intel and the higher limits for the boost performance, the winning combination results in this test.
For the AES-256 cryptography performance measured by SiSoftware Sandra, Intel benefits enormously from its new architecture, as the performance is more than twice as high thanks to the improved AES acceleration. Intel also lands faster than AMD, about 13% ahead, which is a strong performance.
Acrobat PDF export performance is similar to the single-threaded workloads we looked at. The performance is 9% higher than the Core i7-10870H, which puts the 11800H over the Ryzen 7 5800H and is 5% ahead. It's actually slower than the 11370H as the 11370H has the edge at 4.8 GHz rather than 4.6 GHz, but still a good result for Intel.
Next we have Adobe Photoshop, which uses the Puget Systems benchmark. Another modest increase in performance in this slightly threaded application where the 11800H is 11% faster than the 10870H. This puts the 11800H a bit behind the Ryzen 7 5800H, but ultimately both processors will deliver a very similar experience.
For the sake of interest, I'm including DaVinci Resolve Studio results, although this application is mostly tied to the GPU when rendering, just to see how the 11800H can stack up in a reasonable laptop configuration … and work as expected. We're seeing more performance than a 10870H laptop with a slower GPU as the new Tiger Lake design is much faster when the benchmark hits the CPU.
When comparing Intel and AMD, our 11800H system contains an RTX 3070 with 90 W compared to our 5800H system with an RTX 3060 with 115 W. Based on other tests, the 3070 is about 6% faster at 90 W and in this benchmark the Intel system is about 3% faster. We'll learn more about equivalent GPU configurations in future reviews. The most important aspect here, however, is that both CPU options are suitable for DaVinci.
In the Puget Systems export test for Premiere, the 11800H is slightly slower than the 5800H configuration despite having a slightly faster GPU, but other than that, there doesn't seem to be any significant differences in this workload. However, the 11800H offers a performance gain over the 10870H, which lagged behind Ryzen, despite having decent GPUs in some of the configurations we tested. The Puget benchmark also reported higher live playback performance and similar effect performance when compared to Ryzen.
When comparing the 11800H with the 10870H, we also notice a performance improvement of 10% in Adobe After Effects, which, like many other CPU + GPU workloads, puts us in the ballpark of the new AMD processors. Many of these applications are heavily reliant on GPU acceleration. It doesn't matter whether you're using this generation for Ryzen or Intel, when you're tied to a GPU.
Now for some head-to-head comparisons. The Core i7-11800H is a much faster processor than the Core i7-10750H thanks to these two additional cores, the higher IPC and better efficiency.
The improvements in single-thread performance are between 15-30%, while the multi-thread gains are up to 50% for some workloads. Anyone who has used an earlier 6-core laptop including CPUs with the Core i7-8750H should consider upgrading to a more modern 8-core model.
Core for core, the Core i7-11800H is also faster than previous 10th generation designs. Single-threaded gains are big, but outside of that, you can expect a 20 to 30 percent performance improvement over the Core i7-10870H for the same performance.
Compared to the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H, the battle is much closer. The 11800H is a bit faster for light-threaded workloads, but the performance difference is in the low single digits. Meanwhile, multithreaded performance ranges from roughly steady to up to 15 percent slower in the worst case.
Next we have a power scaling, with a look at how a selection of Intel and AMD parts will behave when they go beyond their stock 45W power limits. We used Cinebench R23 multithreading with Boost deactivated for the benchmarking, so that we are only working on the long-term performance limits as shown.
With Ryzen 5000 and Intel's 10th generation, the power scaling behavior was similar and decreased after about 60 W, but continued to increase with a similar gap between CPUs. While we couldn't run our AMD systems above 75W with the entry-level laptop we used for testing, a Ryzen 5000 laptop generally has a similar performance gap on a 10th generation laptop at a given power level.
However, this is not the case with the 11th generation Tiger Lake. The Core i7-11800H exhibits significantly different performance scaling behavior, with a much more linear increase with increasing performance. Intel's new Tiger Lake design, based on 10nm SuperFin, is much more efficient in using high power compared to the 10th generation and doesn't fade until we get into the 90W range. While their Comet Lake design tended to take a lot of power to increase the all-core frequency by a small amount, Tiger Lake has far better scaling thanks to a better frequency-to-power ratio (thanks to an overall higher IPC).
Where is the 11800H compared to the 5800H from AMD?
In the lower power range of around 35 to 60 W, the AMD design is more efficient and maintains a similar distance to Intel. In this area, Intel typically needs about 20 W more power to achieve the performance that AMD offers in this benchmark. In the higher performance range, however, the performance gap is reduced as the 11800H is more efficient in this class. Up to 80W the 11800H only takes 10W more power to be in line with AMD, and I suspect the two pieces would work equally well at around 90 to 95W.
For laptop buyers, this means that in slimmer, lighter systems with less cooling, a Ryzen 7 5800H will perform better at lower power levels that the design is capable of. With larger, more powerful high-end computers that can withstand more than 80 W on the CPU, the performance gap between Intel and AMD would be significantly closed. In general, these systems are 17-inch RTX 3080 machines.
Preliminary gaming benchmarks
The last set of tests we have is a quick look at gaming. As I said earlier, we need a GPU in an Intel laptop that matches the Ryzen systems we have already tested so that we can properly measure gaming performance. However, the results that we already achieve with a small selection of titles with limited CPU are still valuable to consider as a performance preview.
Resident Evil 2 is pretty CPU limited when playing at 1080p. In this title, the Core i7-11800H and Ryzen 7 5800H offer roughly the same performance, which is an improvement over 10th generation laptops.
Hitman 3's Dartmoor benchmark is another CPU intensive game and a better result for the 11800H. The performance is the same as the Ryzen 9 5900HX in this game and slightly outperforms the Core i9-10980HK. However, be aware of the differences in the GPU.
Death Stranding is another title in which the Core i7-11800H delivers roughly the same performance as the Ryzen 9 5900HX in a benchmark run that is largely CPU-limited to 1080p with the Very High preset
CS GO was the cheapest result I've measured for Intel to date, outperforming the Ryzen 9 5900HX by a slight 15% at the average frame rate, which is the high end of productivity results we've seen.
In Grand Theft Auto V, the 11800H matches the performance of the Ryzen 9 5900HX at average frame rates, but lags slightly behind at 1% lows at 1080p lows that are completely CPU-limited.
In Civilization VI, again performance is very similar between the Ryzen 9 5900HX and the Core i7-11800H when tested at 1080p at low settings, giving us a CPU-limited experience to compare. Both configurations are faster than a last-gen Core i7-10870H laptop in this game.
What we learned
Overall, the Core i7-11800H is a significant update for Intel in the segment of performance laptops in which the H series is used. Intel had lagged behind AMD since the Ryzen 4000 debut and then 5000 last year, but since Intel was finally able to move from 14nm to a new process and architecture, they've managed to bridge the performance gap and to be far more competitive as a result.
The Core i7-11800H offers 30 percent more power than an equivalent part of the 10th generation with 8 cores and around 50 percent more power than the Core i7-10750H with six cores, which represents a massive leap in productivity.
While Intel is delivering some of the biggest gen-on-gen wins it has made in recent times, the battle between the Core i7-11800H and a competing AMD piece like the Ryzen 7 5800H is a little more complicated.
That said, it's not a slam dunk for either side, and in fact, with the 5800H, AMD offers a small performance advantage in terms of productivity performance. This isn't the case with every application, and there are times when the 11800H is either slightly ahead, slightly behind, or the same – plus a few outliers, of course – but when you combine those cases with slower, heavy-duty multithreading, it is a total the case the balance for productivity rests with AMD.
For Intel to be able to achieve AMD in its core-heavy productivity, it must either use 20W more power or compete in a much higher performance class where Intel can leverage its superior performance scaling.
On the flip side, the Core i7-11800H seems great for gaming and puts AMD's performance one step higher than the Ryzen 9 5900HX, at least what we were able to test in some limited CPU titles. This will require further investigation with appropriately equivalent GPUs, but there is evidence that Intel will be extremely competitive for gaming.
Intel's advantage of having a superior platform for laptops also remains. AMD is having supply issues, so it will likely be a lot easier to buy an 11th generation laptop than a Ryzen 5000 laptop in the next few months. In addition, there are more Intel laptop designs to choose from, increasing your chances of finding a suitable laptop with an Intel Core CPU. A final technical advantage is the support for PCIe 4.0 and Thunderbolt 4, which is not available on AMD's Ryzen platform.
The last important piece of the puzzle that we haven't talked about yet is pricing. Although this will vary by manufacturer and will change over time based on market observations and lessons learned from discussions with OEMs, the Intel platform is more expensive to implement. We can already see in the entry into the mid-range market that a Ryzen 7 5800H system with the same specs as an Intel Core i7-11800H system can be purchased for several hundred dollars less at retail outlets, and sometimes even Ryzen 9 5900HX builds are cheaper . So this is what to keep in mind when purchasing the perfect laptop for your needs.
And that's the story of today's report: Intel is now much more competitive with the Core i7-11800H and other Tiger Lake H45 processors, and that's just a good thing for the overall market and your prospects for a new laptop in the coming weeks, too buy months.
- Intel Core i7-11800H laptops on Amazon
- Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED 11th generation at Amazon
- Ryzen 7 5800H Laptops on Amazon
- Ryzen 9 5900HX Laptops on Amazon
- GeForce RTX 3080 laptops on Amazon
- GeForce RTX 3060 Laptops on Amazon