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HomeTechnology & GadgetsCore i9-11980HK – The Top-End Tiger Lake-H Processor

Core i9-11980HK – The Top-End Tiger Lake-H Processor

When talking about CPUs, the first name that comes to mind is Intel. Although it no longer holds supremacy and has a couple of rivals, it is the most trusted name and is in a way still leading the tech industry with its revolutionary innovations. Four major processors lineups that Intel has rolled out are Pentium, Celeron, Xeon, and Core. Among them, Core i processors have been the most successful, especially the 11th Generation ones. They offer a speed of 3.70 GHz up to 5.30 GHz and from 2 to 8 cores. With modern core and graphics designs, AI, and wireless as well as wired connectivity, they outperform everything in its class, delivering exceptional results. Not only that, they feature a unique combination of innovative SuperFin transistors, integrated Wi-Fi 6, Thunderbolt 4, AV1 media decoding, and PCIe Gen 4 interface, which enables virtualization.

U- and H-Series

The 25-watt U-series laptop CPUs with Intel® Iris® Xe Graphics deliver discrete-level integrated graphics and Wi-Fi 6 for performance in thin and light notebooks designed for daily use. Higher-powered 35-watt H-Series laptop CPUs deliver ultraportable performance for gaming and creativity. The firm has unveiled its first and finest 8-core, 10nm Tiger Lake H-series processors, which are suited for gaming rigs and top-notch business laptops after early difficulties with its 10nm chips.

The 10nm Process

Intel has used a 10nm technology for ultrabooks, dubbed Ice Lake, and a 14nm process for enthusiast PCs, dubbed Comet Lake. We now have the opportunity to observe what 10nm SuperFin chips can achieve at the high end. These, similar to the U-series Tiger Lake processors, feature the Willow Cove core microarchitecture and UHD Graphics 750. It was released at a time when the Ryzen 5000 series from AMD (codenamed "Cezanne" and based on 7nm technology) had proven to be strong and popular with gamers.

The Tiger Lake H-series has a lot going for it that makes it a huge hit. Intel has gone so far as to call its 11th gen CPUs the ‘world's best gaming laptop processors’. Here are some of the major specs of the 

Tiger Lake-H i9 sample design:LmnmpMBM07YBok2PPgQhTJl4B7ooElowCiETqI ejMyJTQesNKSLjtl3QvTH8c4N3cHNVsSkXSouZpBW2sI2z B8Lc9f I 4YFug 6XnG6qMy1gj25h0jtZ016fVroIJ8yI5WnI=s0-BMH

The sample system's top-of-the-line GPU was coupled with a mid-range Nvidia GPU. On paper, it's a strange match, yet it is suitable for compact systems. This, according to Intel, will enable ‘thin enthusiast’ laptops that lie between ultraportable notebooks with H35 CPUs and large, thick computers with the most powerful graphics cards.

i9-11980HK Vs i7-11800H

In most productivity tasks, Intel’s i7-11800H couldn't surpass AMD's Ryzen 5000 components, and the Intel platform's overall higher cost reduced its edge in gaming, which is Intel’s forte. 

The i9-11980HK processor is Intel's best mobile processor, but how does it stack up against AMD’s Ryzen 9 mobile processor or Intel's Core i7-11800H, which is a more common CPU. What features has Intel inherited from their Tiger Lake eight-core processor?

In terms of design and features, the i9-11980HK and i7-11800H are quite similar. Both processors sport eight cores, 16 threads, and 24 MB L3 Cache, and both use Intel Xe graphics. The clock speeds vary: the i7-11800H has a base frequency of 2.3 GHz and a maximum turbo clock speed of 4.6 GHz, while the 11980HK has a base frequency of 2.6 GHz and a maximum turbo clock speed of 5.0 GHz. This results in a 10% clock speed advantage for the Core i9 model.

The 11980HK is the latest processor in mobile platforms. Although the majority of the specifications are the same throughout Tiger Lake H-series processors — Thunderbolt 4 compatibility, 20 lanes of PCIe 4.0 connected to the CPU, DDR4-3200 memory, and the 10nm SuperFin process node — the 11980HK enables overclocking because it is an HK variant.

While all Intel H-series CPUs enable you to set any power limit (even more than the normal 45W even on locked components), only the 11980HK allows you to change the clock multiplier table and a few other variables using Intel XTU or other programs. However, this is usually only important for the most powerful laptops, as most designs have substantial power and thermal limitations.

The differences between the i9-11980HK and i7-11800H aren't much significant; only the clock speed varies. However, the i9-11980HK seldom operates at full 5.0 GHz clock speed; it may do so in brief bursts, but continuous operation at that speed is uncommon. The i7-11800H has a slower clock speed.

While the 11980HK is 10% quicker than the 11800H, it isn't very much faster than the 10980HK due to the difference in clock speeds. I believe a large part of this is due to the workload favoring frequency, where the 10th-gen Core i9 component actually has a slight edge over the 11th-gen in light-threaded programs like this.

It's always a challenge to evaluate different laptops because the GPU plays such a big role. However, with the same RTX 3080 Laptop GPU, the new 11980HK model outperforms the 10980HK by 13%. While the GPU differs, Intel and AMD appear to be fairly comparable in workloads.

Bottom Line

In terms of Intel's Tiger Lake H45 CPUs, the Core i9-11980HK doesn't alter much. The 11980HK is only marginally quicker than the Core i7-11800H in most productivity applications, thanks to small clock speed improvements over the Core i7 variant — generally around 5 to 10%.

This means that 11980HK CPUs are more efficiently binned and efficient than lower-tier 8-core CPUs, which is ideal for people looking for the fastest Tiger Lake chip available. However, the difference isn't substantial enough to alter Intel's competitiveness in high-performance office or gaming laptops.

Something that should owners of 10th-generation laptops (or older) is that Intel is providing a significant increase in productivity tasks. In virtually every task, the 11980HK is at least 10% quicker than the 10980HK, with the heaviest single-threaded workloads showing 30% improvements.

We're no longer in the age of incremental Skylake modifications year after year; instead, this is a complete architectural redesign based on a new 10nm SuperFin manufacturing node with several improvements across the board.

Other than that, it's difficult to get enthusiastic about the 11980HK. It competes with the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX to some extent, but it falls short in multi-threaded tasks, where Zen 3 is clearly superior. When comparing Core i9 to Ryzen 9, Intel looks to be the most competitive in gaming, but even then, we haven't seen any significant differences where the GPU plays a significantly larger role.

Market cannibalization is also an issue with the i9-11980HK. I just don't understand why anyone would want to buy a 11980HK machine when the i7-11800H is available and provides 95% of the efficiency. 

Finally, with this laptop generation, we advise that you concentrate on Core i7 or Ryzen 7 options, which give the best performance and value for most consumers.

Check out the best IT and computer components on Hard Disk Direct.

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