Intel puts 8 cores, 16 threads, and a 5GHz turbo option in a laptop processor

The first processors to include Intel’s ninth-generation Core branding came out last year with a limited line-up: just a handful of high-end desktop processors in the Coffee Lake family. Today, the company has unveiled a bumper crop of new ninth-gen chips.

There’s a set of H-series processors for laptops and a complete range of desktop processors across the Celeron, Pentium, and Core brands, from i3 all the way to i9.

The most exciting of these are the mobile H-series parts and in particular the top-of-the-line Core i9-9980HK. This is a 45W processor with eight cores, 16 threads, and 16MB of cache, with a base clock speed of 2.4GHz and a turbo speed of 5GHz. The “K” on the name also indicates that the chip is overclockable: for those truly monstrous gaming laptops with high-powered cooling systems, you’ll be able to go beyond the default speeds. This chip, along with its close partner, the i9-9880H (8C/16T, 2.3-4.8GHz), has a new feature called “Thermal Velocity Boost,” too. TVB allows the chip to run 100MHz quicker if it detects that the system still has thermal headroom to do so; as long as case temperatures are below 50°C, it’ll give you some extra speed. In fact, TVB is the only way to hit 5GHz; without it, the maximum turbo speed drops to 4.9GHz.

The chip will be good for powerhouse mobile workstations, too; it supports up to 128GB RAM when used with the latest 32GB DDR4 modules, and it can be paired with a discrete GPU using its 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes. Intel has dubbed these powerhouse laptops as “musclebooks;” they’ll be hefty desktop replacements and are likely to be outfitted with oversized cooling systems in order to more consistently reach the high clock speeds their processors are capable of. They won’t come cheap, though; the i9-9980HK has a recommended price of $583 for the processor.

The ninth-gen chips use intel’s 300-series chipsets. These include integrated USB 3.1 generation 2 (which is to say, 10Gb/s when used with suitable Type-C cables and devices), support for hybrid drives using Intel’s Optane memory, and partial Wi-Fi and gigabit Ethernet controllers. The Wi-Fi and Ethernet both need external chips to finish the job, and Intel is promoting the use of its AX200 chipset, as it offers support for Wi-Fi 6, aka 802.11ax. With 5GHz connections, this can offer speeds up to 2.4Gb/s, making it the fastest (and, for now, only) Wi-Fi 6 chipset for laptops.

Below this is the i9-9880H, which is 100 MHz slower than the i9-990HK and without the overclocking support. Otherwise, it’s identical. That’s then followed by two i7 chips, with six cores, 12 threads, and no TVB, with one semi-overclockable and the other not. Then you get two i5 chips with four cores and eight threads. Intel’s expectation is that these other chips will be shipped in thin-and-light systems.

Over on the desktop, the striking thing is the sheer number of chips that Intel is launching. The entire mainstream and budget range now has ninth-generation parts. These parts have a mix of suffixes: K for overclockable, F for no integrated GPU, and T for low power. At the top end is the i9-9900: eight cores, 16 threads, a base of 3.1GHz, and a peak of 5.0GHz. The big difference between this and the already-shipping 9900K and 9900KF is the power use: it’s a 65W chip, whereas the other two are 95W, and it’s not overclockable. It’ll be priced at $439.

There are no fewer than seven T-suffixed parts, and these cut the power further still to 35W. At the top is the i9-9900T: eight threads and 16 cores, with a base of 2.1GHz and a turbo of 4.4GHz. This, too, has a recommended price of $439.

At the bottom of the range is the Celeron G4930: two cores, two threads, running at 3.2GHz (no turbo), with a 2MB cache and a 54W power rating, priced at $42. There’s also a T variant that knocks 200MHz off the clock speed and cuts the power to 35W. The Celerons, Pentiums, and Core i3s also reduce the memory speed, only going up to DDR4-2400 as opposed to DDR4-2666 on the i5s and better.

With these releases, Intel is now offering ninth-gen parts almost across the board. The exceptions are the 15W U-series and 5-7W Y-series parts for Ultrabooks. These are currently branded eighth generation and use Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake cores (respectively) even though they were launched simultaneously with the first Coffee Lake chips.

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