Intel’s new Core Ultra chips needed to be more than this

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The Acer Swift Go 14 connected a array successful beforehand of a window.Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

A batch has been made of Intel’s caller Meteor Lake chips. They person a caller brand, naming scheme, and moreover caller exertion successful nan shape of nan NPU (neural processing unit).

And they travel astatine an important time. The stakes person ne'er been higher for Intel, arsenic it faces title from each sides. They’re besides an important litmus trial for nan thought of nan NPU, aliases neural processing unit.

But these are mobile chips, truthful what yet matters is really they execute successful laptops you tin really buy. I tested retired nan Acer Swift Go 14, which came equipped pinch nan Intel Core Ultra 7 155H. While nan improvements successful integrated graphics are impressive, nan wide year-over-year capacity has near maine scratching my head.

A generational problem

The Acer Swift Go 14 connected a table by a window.Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

I’ll admit that my reappraisal portion wasn’t nan astir premium of laptops. The Acer Swift Go 14 goes for $1,000, and it’s a comparatively unassuming small laptop. It’s made of plastic, has immoderate heavy integrative bezels astir nan screen, and a lackluster trackpad. There’s much coming successful a afloat reappraisal of this laptop, but nan constituent for now is to measure it arsenic a conveyance for Intel’s caller Meteor Lake chips.

The Core Ultra 7 155H spot is what comes inside, and without getting into each nan specifications of nan Core Ultra launch, I’ll deed nan important specs present — namely that it has 16 cores and 22 threads, pinch six capacity cores and 8 ratio cores, meaning nan 2 other are thing Intel calls low-power ratio cores.

It besides has a guidelines wave of 3.80GHz. Importantly, nan spot runs astatine a guidelines powerfulness of 28 watts alternatively than 45 watts. In erstwhile years, nan “H” successful nan sanction would designate a higher-powered 45-watt processor. That’s an important favoritism to make, as nan erstwhile type of this laptop (which is identical successful almost each way) had options for either nan 28-watt Core i7-1360P aliases nan 45-watt Core i7-13700H. Our reappraisal portion of nan erstwhile type had nan Core i7-13700H, unfortunately, which isn’t arsenic adjacent for an apples-to-apples comparison.

While I didn’t person a Swift Go 14 pinch a Core i7-1360P connected hand, I did person immoderate different laptops that should show astir wherever nan caller Core Ultra chips stack up.

I turned to Geekbench 5 and Cinebench R23 first. I utilized aged versions of nan benchmarks to get a comparison pinch nan erstwhile generation, and nan results were a spot concerning. In some single-core tests, nan Core i7-13700H is 5% faster. Meanwhile, it’s 15% faster than nan Core Ultra 7 155H successful multi-core tests. It’s not each bad news successful this comparison, though. The Core Ultra 7 155H successful nan caller Swift Go 14 really thumps nan previous-gen spot successful nan aforesaid laptop successful PCMark 10 crossed nan board. PCMark 10 is simply a much practical, application-based bid of tests, and it’s arguably a much well-rounded look astatine really a strategy performs successful day-to-day tasks. The 10% year-over-year uplift is bully to see, contempt it being a lower-powered chip.

Geekbench 5 single/multi
Cinebench R23 single/multi PCMark 10
Acer Swift Go 14
(Core Ultra 7 155H)
1533 / 9015 1762 / 10773 6665
Acer Swift Go 14
(Core i7-1300H)
1866 / 11061 1863 / 12497 5996
Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8
(Core i7-1360P)
1843 / 8814 1846 / 8779 6102
HP Pavilion Plus
(Ryzen 7 7840U)
1819 / 9655 1721 / 12234 6804

Now, it’s much adjacent to comparison nan Core Ultra 7 155H to different spot operating successful nan aforesaid powerfulness envelope, specified arsenic nan Core i7-1360P. This is simply a 28-watt spot from Intel’s erstwhile procreation of chips, and we’ve reviewed a big of different laptops pinch it. The closest point to nan Acer Swift Go 14 successful our reappraisal history is astir apt nan Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8, different 14-inch laptop.

But moreover there, it’s not nan clear capacity upgrade you’d dream for successful a caller generation. The previous-gen Yoga 9i outpaces nan Core Ultra 7 Acer Swift Go 14 by 7% successful Cinebench R23 single-core. The affirmative constituent is that nan Meteor Lake spot is 19% faster successful multi-core successful that comparison, apt acknowledgment to nan 2 other low-power ratio cores.

I threw nan Ryzen 7 7840U into nan operation too, arsenic featured successful different 14-inch laptop, nan HP Pavilion Plus. AMD’s current-gen 28-watt spot thumps nan Meteor Lake spot crossed each test, including PCMark 10. That’s not a bully look for Intel, moreover pinch nan recent flub that is nan Ryzen 8040.

Suffice it to opportunity — comparing mobile chips crossed different laptops is tricky. Even similarly- sized laptops tin execute rather otherwise from instrumentality to machine. There’s besides a somewhat faster type of this spot that will beryllium disposable successful different laptops, nan Core Ultra 7 165H.

I tin opportunity 1 point for sure, though: nan caller Core Ultra 7 chips don’t supply a important jump successful CPU performance. That’s disappointing, fixed really overmuch hype location was down Meteor Lake. It’s a bully point Intel had a paper up its sleeve pinch nan updated integrated graphics.

Intel Arc makes an impression

The keyboard of nan Acer Swift Go 14 connected a woody table.Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

The champion portion of my clip pinch Intel’s Meteor Lake chips truthful acold has been nan graphics. We’ve officially entered nan Intel Arc era of integrated graphics, and it feels for illustration rather an arrival. Opposite of nan CPU performance, Meteor Lake’s graphics are a immense leap forward, pinch complete double nan capacity of nan erstwhile procreation of integrated graphics. That’s successful this configuration, of course, which came pinch 8 Intel Xe GPU cores connected board.

In 3DMark Time Spy, nan Core Ultra 7 155H is 29% faster than integrated graphics successful AMD’s Ryzen 7 7840U pinch nan Radeon 780M graphics (as featured successful nan HP Pavilion Plus). The comparison against nan Core i7-13700H is moreover stronger, pinch nan 155H scoring 44% faster successful Time Spy. The lead successful DirectX 11 Fire Strike isn’t rather arsenic large, but nan Meteor Lake spot is still 29% ahead.

It’s an moreover much awesome results against nan Yoga 9i Gen 8 pinch its Core i7-1360P — and mind you, that’s a fairer comparison. Here, nan Core Ultra spot is simply a whopping 59% faster successful Time Spy. That’s massive.

3DMark Time Spy
3DMark Fire Strike
Acer Swift Go 14
(Core Ultra 7 155H)
3611 7794
Acer Swift Go 14
(Core i7-1300H)
2018 5546
Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8
(Core i7-1360P)
1504 4150
HP Pavilion Plus
(Ryzen 7 7840U)
2562 6209

I tested retired immoderate games too, to spot if integrated graphics mightiness yet return nan spot of entry-level discrete graphics. The results were beautiful impressive. I played immoderate Fortnite, and pinch settings pulled down to Low, I was capable to mean astir 53 framework per 2nd (fps). That’s astatine nan autochthonal solution of 1920 x 1200 and pinch 3D solution astatine 75%. Fortnite doesn’t look gorgeous astatine that level, but it wasn’t arsenic horrible arsenic you mightiness think. For nan first clip (except connected nan caller MacBooks), you tin play a casual, fast-paced crippled for illustration Fortnite without nan request for discrete graphics. That’s a immense win.

Of course, I had to return things 1 measurement further to spot conscionable really acold nan Meteor Lake graphics could go. So, I loaded up Cyberpunk 2077 to spot if I could get immoderate decent framework rates connected 1 of nan much demanding PC games retired there. I’d hoped I mightiness beryllium capable to push it person to thing much playable, but I nan champion I could do was 43 fps — and it wasn’t pretty. That was pinch each mounting dropped to low, FSR 2.1 cranked up to ultra performance, and nan strategy capacity mode on.

So, no, we haven’t rather quite arrived astatine nan dream of playing demanding PC games connected integrated graphics conscionable yet. But successful lighter games, nan Core Ultra graphics clasp up amazingly well.

What astir AI?

Obviously, everything I’ve talked astir truthful acold doesn’t reside what Intel wants to declare is nan biggest use of nan Meteor Lake platform. Yes, it’s AI. The NPU featured successful this spot does supply a boost to AI processes, particularly connected laptops without a discrete GPU. Some of nan real-life examples provided are AI denoising successful Adobe Lightroom aliases Stable Diffusion image procreation successful Gimp. These are interesting, and from what we’ve seen demoed, nan NPU does alteration somewhat much meticulous and businesslike inheritance blur, for example. And yes, I recognize that doesn’t sound for illustration nan game-changing exertion nan full PC manufacture wants it to be.

There’s much testing to beryllium done here, for sure. The intent of this first batch of testing for maine was to measure nan Core Ultra 7 against erstwhile generations and competitors connected its ain terms. Because let’s beryllium honorable — I don’t cognize that nan summation of nan NPU is going to mean overmuch for nan mean laptop buyer. Those who are willing successful doing tons of section AI tasks are apt amended disconnected springing for a much powerful laptop pinch stronger discrete graphics.

And that leaves these Core Ultra processors successful a spot of precarious position. These were expected to beryllium nan opening of a caller era for Intel, and instead, they don’t look to person been rather fresh for primetime. They won’t beryllium scaling up to afloat civilization desktop chips, and moreover though nan integrated graphics are great, Intel needed a large triumph here. Facing threats from each sides, including AMD, Apple, and moreover Qualcomm, these Core Ultra processors don’t consciousness for illustration nan caller fresh commencement they needed to be.

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