Intel’s first 8th-gen Core processors are set to hit the streets in September, and for this launch, Intel is taking aim at notebooks.

The new Intel Core i5-8250U, Core i5-8350U, Core i7-8550U and Core i7-8650U chips are 15 watt, quad-core processors with support for hyperthreading. So while they’re manufactured using the same 14nm+ process as 7th-gen “Kaby Lake” chips, Intel says the new chips can offer up to 40 percent better performance in some situations without consuming more power.

While many folks had initially thought these 8th-gen Core chips would be part of the new generation of processors code-named “Coffee Lake,” it turns out Intel is calling these chips “Kaby Lake Refresh” or “Kaby Lake R.” We’ll have to wait a little longer for Coffee Lake… which will also be part of the 8th-gen Core processor lineup.

For the most part, the new chips are pretty much what I had expected, based on previous leaks. But now that they’re official, we have a few additional details.

For instance, we know that the processors all have a 15 watt TDP, but they can also be configured to use up to 25 watts or as little as 10 watts, and their CPU speeds can also be configured up or down. graphics details are also now available.

Each features Intel UHD graphics 620 with support for up to three displays and resolutions up to 4096 x 2304 at 60 Hz (using DisplayPort technology… the HDMI 1.4 max screen refresh rate at that resolution is 24 Hz).

Here’s an overview of how the new chips differ from one another:

 NameFreqTurboTDP-upTDP-downL3 cacheGPU clockGPU max
 Core i5-8250U 1.6 GHz 3.4 GHz 1.8 GHz 800 MHz 6 MB 300 MHz 1.1 GHz
 Core i5-8350U 1.7 GHz 3.6 GHz 1.9 GHz 800 MHz 6 MB 300 MHz1.1 GHz
 Core i7-8550U 1.8 GHz 4 GHz 2 GHz 800 MHz 8 MB 300 MHz1.15 GHz
 Core i7-8650U 1.9 GHz 4.2 GHz2.1 GHz 800 MHz 8 MB 300 MHz1.15 GHz

Intel says these new laptop-class chips are up to 40 percent faster in some circumstances to their predecessors. But you’ll see the most gains when running multi-threaded tasks, since these are the 15 watt 4-core/8-thread chips from Intel. Previous chips in this category were 2-core/4-thread.

Intel has reduced the base clock speed of these new chips, but the Turbo Boost top speeds are higher… although they’re highest for single-threaded tasks. You have to knock a few MHz off the top speeds of some chips when using all four cores at once (for instance, the Core i7-7550U has a top Turbo Boost speed of 4 GHz when using a single-core or 2 CPU cores. But that figure tops out at 3.7 GHz for quad-core tasks).

The increased core count and Turbo speeds should make up for the lower base speeds so that general performance is at least as fast with Kaby Lake-R chips as it was with Kaby Lake chips in most circumstances. When the extra CPU and/or Turbo speeds kick in, you should be able to get a pretty significant boost.

We’ll find out pretty soon how that works in real-world situations. But pre-release benchmarks look pretty good, with Intel’s 15 watt chips looking competitive with older 45 watt chips in some benchmarks.

While Intel is rebranding its integrated graphics from Intel HD 620 to Intel UHD 620, the main difference is the name. The change is meant to indicate native support for 4K, although there’s also now native support for HDMI 2.0.

These are just the first 8th-gen Core chips from Intel. The company will outline more details about its 4.5 watt Y-series chips this fall, along with 45 watt H-series laptop chips.

We’ll also see the first W and S-series desktop chips this fall… although while they’ll all be branded as 8th-gen Intel Core processors, some of the chips coming later this year will be based on the company’s Coffee Lake design rather than Kaby Lake-R. Oh, and 10nm Cannon Lake chips will also be part of the 8th-gen family. Go figure.

Intel isn’t expected to start using “9th-gen Core” in its chip names until the next-next-gen Ice Lake chips are ready to go in another year or so.

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3 replies on “Intel’s 8th-gen Core chips for laptops have twice as many cores, up to 40 percent better performance”

  1. I wonder if AMDs new chips caused Intel to release their new offerings any earlier than originally planned. I am sure they were already in the pipeline but the release date may have been moved up. Just wondering.

    1. These were meant to be announced in March 2018.
      You bet Ryzen has forced this.

      Based on what we know, Intel should still be better than AMD on Tablets, Ultrabooks, and Gaming Laptops…. However we shouldn’t write off AMD so fast, and instead wait for proper reviews from both new chipsets.

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