Not to be outdone by AMD’s Ryzen 3000 announcement, Intel have revealed that their very first 10th Gen Core CPUs have finally begun landing in the hands of laptop makers around the world for an intended launch later this year. Code-named Ice Lake, these 10th Gen CPUs will eventually replace Intel’s current slate of 9th Gen Coffee Lake mobile processors, which just started appearing in laptops about a month ago, offering up to twice the integrated graphics performance thanks to their new Gen11 graphics engine and new and improved ‘Sunny Cove’ core architecture.
I should stress that these 10th Gen Ice Lake CPUs are only headed for laptops at the moment, and there’s currently no word on when Ice Lake will eventually make an appearance over the desktop side of things. At a guess, I’d say it will probably be at least another year or so before we see 10th Gen Ice Lake desktop CPUs, as it was only last month that Intel announced the rest of their 9th Gen Coffee Lake line-up.
Still, there’s plenty to get excited about over in laptop land, as these new Ice Lake CPUs represent the first big generational leap in, well, ages. Whereas Coffee Lake (and several generations of ‘lake’ before it) have all been built around Intel’s 14nm (nanometer) process and their Skylake micro architecture, Ice Lake moves things up to 10nm and introduces a brand-new core architecture known as ‘Sunny Cove’.
Designed for thinner and lighter laptops than ever before, these 10th Gen Ice Lake CPUs should bring a significant performance boost compared to Intel’s previous generation of mobile processors, plus big improvements in the old battery life department, with Intel claiming they’ve been optimised for “marathon work and play sessions”. There aren’t any exact specs details floating around just yet, but Intel did say that there will be 10th Gen Ice Lake processors ranging from Core i3 models up to Core i7, with the top-end chips possessing up to four cores and eight threads, and a max turbo frequency of 4.4GHz.
Starting with performance improvements, the Ice Lake CPUs’ new Intel Iris Plus graphics chip is set to deliver up to twice the integrated graphics performance compared to the previous generation, with Intel saying it will even be able to run heavy-duty games such as Total War: Three Kingdoms at steady frame rates at 1080p. Admittedly, Intel didn’t actually provide any frame rate figures in their press bumpf – only that it was running on Low quality at 1080p – but that’s still reasonably impressive for an integrated graphics chip.
The new Ice Lake chips have also been designed for lots of high-level AI gubbins for various media-y, creative-type applications, but the other headline features include integrated Thunderbolt 3 support and built-in Wi-Fi 6 (or Gig+) support, which will allow for wireless speeds over 1 Gbps when it’s connected to a compatible router. The latter will be particularly enticing for anyone looking to download games in double quick time, but it could also be equally important for streaming games to your laptop if you ever want to try out things like Google Stadia or Nvidia’s GeForce Now service.
As mentioned above, though, we’ve still got a pretty long wait before these laptops will be available to buy, as Intel are currently saying they expect them to arrive by Holiday 2019 – or Christmas, to you and me. That window may well slip into early next year if there end up being any production problems, for example, but needless to say, if you’ve been thinking about upgrading your laptop and it’s not on the verge of falling apart, it would probably be wise to wait and get one of these instead of plumping for a 9th Gen Coffee Lake laptop right now.