Intel released its 12th Gen processors earlier this year in three flavors: H-series for high-performance laptops, P-series for premium ultra-slim devices, and U-series for the most portable laptops and tablets. Those chips accounted for the majority of mainstream products entering the market, but there is one more niche segment that hasn’t been addressed: powerful mobile workstations. You know: the thick, chunky beasts you can barely carry around that come with power bricks as large as that netbook you used to own in 2008.
Plugging this hole, Intel revealed today at its Intel Vision event new 12th Gen Alder Lake-HX CPUs, desktop-caliber chips for enthusiast gaming laptops and workstations. Consisting of seven chips split into Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9, these processors come in a BGA package that’s the same size as Intel’s LGA desktop one (45 x 37.5) besides the height (2 vs 4.4mm). These chips differentiate themselves from the H-series processors with the ability to be unlocked, along with more cores, higher power levels, and upgraded PCIe lanes.
The below table shows the full Alder Lake-HX stack for gaming and workstation laptops:
As you can see, the Core i9-12950HX is the queen of this hive, and the first mobile chip with 16 cores, split between eight performance and eight efficiency core. It has 24 threads and reaches a 5.0 GHz max turbo boost, with a 1.7 GHz base frequency on the efficiency cores. Going down a rung is the Core i9-12900HX, which has similar specs but doesn’t support vPro for remote management (a feature used in commercial settings).
As for PCIe Express, Alder Lake-HX is the first laptop platform to support PCIe Gen 5, with a total of 48 PCIe lanes (Gen 5 x 16, Gen 4 x 20, Gen 3 x 12), up from 28 lanes of PCIe Gen 4. Storage goes up to a whopping 16TB via four 4TB SSDs.
These “enthusiast” chips support up to 128GB of LPDDR5 memory (up to 4800MHz/5200MHz), with XMP 3.0 and error-correcting code, two discrete Thunderbolt 4 controllers, and a new feature called Dynamic Memory Boost for memory overclocking.
Intel promises significant performance gains out of these chips. On a 3D rendering benchmark using Blender—the same program we use in our reviews—the Core i9-12900HX crushed its H-series counterpart by 81%, and it led by 33% in the CrossMark benchmark for creative apps.
These chips are meant for professional-grade tasks, like AutoCAD, where the Core i9-12900HX topped the Core i9-12900HK by 12%. It held an even larger lead in the Autodesk Revit (28) and Autodesk Inventor (21%) benchmarks. These performance numbers come straight from Intel, so take them with a grain of salt until we can run our own tests.
Regardless, that performance doesn’t come cheap. Each of these chips starts at a base power of 55W and boosts to a turbo power of 157W. If Intel’s U-series chips are EVs and its P-series are hybrids, these HX processors are gas-guzzling V8 muscle cars. For comparison, Intel’s H-series chips start at 45W and turbo to 115W, which is a 42-watt increase in these beefier processors.
Given these power requirements, the laptops running HX processors will need some serious thermals, likely resulting in a thicker chassis. Then there is the question of battery life, though these systems aren’t exactly meant to be the most travel-friendly.
Rolling down the factory line are 10 laptops set to use these new HX processors, consisting of a mix of business notebooks and gaming rigs. Asus is set to refresh the ROG Strix Scar 17 SE, a powerful gaming laptop, and the ExpertBook B6, a surprisingly portable system, with these processors. Lenovo is bringing HX to its Legion 7i, while Dell has two Precision models (7670/7770) in the queue.
Also ready to harness the additional power are two MSI gaming laptops, the GT77 Titan and GE77/67 Raider, along with the Gigabyte Aorus 17X/15X, and HP Omen 17. These laptops should be arriving soon for those who need a portable (ish) solution to replace their desktop.