Intel is set to officially launch its 8th-gen Core processor family on Monday, August 21st. But details about the new chips,
code-named Coffee Lake, have been leaking for months. While many of the details we’ve seen so far have been about the company’s new desktop-class processors, now we have some new details about some of the company’s first 15 watt laptop chips.
Update: Intel officially introduced these chips on August 21st, 2017. It turns out they’re code-named Kaby Lake Refresh, not Coffee Lake. Everything else is pretty much what we’ expected.
While the new chips are manufactured using the same 14nm process as Intel’s last three generations of Core processors, there’s at least one big change: the 8th-gen U-series chips are quad-core processors rather than dual core chips, but they don’t use any more power.
That could lead to much better performance-per-watt, at least when it comes to multithreaded tasks.
AnandTech notes that Intel provided some basic details about 4 new
Coffee Lake chips in the company’s latest pricing list. Meanwhile, the folks at LaptopMedia actually got their hands on a computer with one of those processors, and they’ve published some benchmark results. I guess someone forgot to ask the site to agree to an embargo. We’ll probably see far more real-world performance notes next week.
Here’s what we know so far about the new 15 watt, U-series chips. There’ll be at least four versions at launch:
- Intel Core i5-8250U – 1.6 GHz base clock / 3.4 GHz turbo, 6MP L3 cache
- Intel Core i5-8350U – 1.7 GHz base clock, 6MB L3 cache
- Intel Core i7-8550U – 1.8 GHz base clock / 4 GHz turbo, 8MB L3 cache
- Intel Core i7-8650U – 1.9 GHz base clock, 8MP L3 cache
All four chips are quad-core processors with support for multithreading, which means they support up to 8 threads. They’re also priced similarly to their Kaby Lake counterparts, so don’t expect laptops with
Coffee Lake chips to cost significantly more than their predecessors.
There’s no mention of any new Core i3 ULV (ultra low voltage) chips or any new M-series (4.5 watt) processors in the price sheet, but that doesn’t mean Intel won’t announce updates to those processor families next week.
While the new processors have double the cores and threads of their predecessors, as well as more L3 cache, they also have lower base clock speeds. The price list doesn’t say anything about boost speeds though.
Update: A manual for an unannounced HP Envy 13 laptop fills in some of the blanks: The Core i5-8250U has turbo boost speeds up to 3.4 GHz, while the Core i7-8550U goes up to 4 GHz.
So what do we know about real-world performance? Thanks to benchmarks run by LaptopMedia, it looks like the Core i7-8850U handily outperforms last year’s 15 watt Core i7-7500U dual-core processor… but it also comes out ahead of the 2015 Core i5-6300HQ processor in most tests, even though that chip is a 45 watt quad-core processor.
The newer 45W Core i7-7700HQ still manages to outperform the new
Coffee Lake-U chip, but it’s still rather impressive that a new 15 watt chip is comparable to a 2-year old processor that can use up to three times as much power.
Of course, performance will likely vary from task to task. LaptopMedia ran only a handful of benchmarks and tested a handful of games, which allegedly run reasonably well when using HD resolution and low graphics settings. The Core i7-8550U features Intel HD 620 graphics, but you’ll probably get better gaming performance if you buy a laptop that also has dedicated NVIDIA or AMD graphics.