When Intel launched its new 8th generation quad-core processors in August, it wasn’t clear what kind of an upgrade we were actually getting. While putting a quad-core CPU in a modern laptop at 15W was a major achievement, there was always a question of how fast it would run or what kind of performance improvement users could expect.
The answer, according to Tech Report? Lots. Lots and lots. In fact, the Core i5-8250 delivers an average performance uplift in CPU tasks of 59 percent. That’s an enormous improvement in the 15W form factor, and Intel has pulled it off with apparently little impact on battery life.
Tech Report put a Core i5-8250U laptop up against the older dual-core Core i5-7200U and a 35W i7-7700HQ. While the 45W quad-core CPU is obviously going to be faster in most respects, the Core i5-8250 is far and away the better CPU over the Core i5-7200U.
Obviously benchmark results are going to vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Intel now gives OEMs more freedom than it used to when it comes to picking the skin temperatures or other features that they want to target, which means performance can vary from laptop to laptop. But the overall gains here are surprisingly good — honestly better than I would’ve expected.
Of course, this is a move from Intel to preempt Raven Ridge and Ryzen from blowing holes in their mobile product lines the way Ryzen and Threadripper punched through Kaby Lake and the X-Series family earlier this year. Still, consumers who pick up 8th generation quad-core mobile chips can look forward to a vastly better experience than seventh generation CPUs offered, without a huge leap in price.
If you’re a gamer you’ll want to check the game benchmarks as well. The long and short of it is that the 8th generation UHD 620 graphics are moderately faster than the old HD 620, but not overwhelmingly so. Gamers will still want to find a dedicated GPU alternative.
Hopefully the advent of quad-core laptops, even in the 15W space, will speed the adoption of multi-core CPUs and encourage game developers to spend more time optimizing APIs like DirectX 12. The desktop/laptop split is something like 30/70 these days, meaning dual-core configurations have to factor into developer targets. With more CPU cores to play with, it makes more sense to optimize for those scenarios, and we might finally start to see some gains from DX12 as a result.