Intel Core i9-11980HK performance review: Slugging it out with Ryzen


Intel isn’t messing around with its new 10nm “Tiger Lake H” processors for gaming laptops and work notebooks. We’ve already seen how Intel’s 11th-gen Core i7-11800H offers impressive performance over its older 10th-gen sibling and trade blows with AMD’s massively improved Ryzen laptop chips—but how does the new top-end Core i9-11980HK perform?

Today, we’ll give you a taste of where Intel’s Core i9-11980HK lands, but we cannot do so without giving you the lecture. People tend to fixate on a CPU as a monolithic component but they’re not, especially in chips that are built for opportunistic boost clocks based on how much cooling and power they’re given. That’s virtually all of them these days.

Put an Intel or AMD CPU into a bigger laptop with more cooling and power and you tend to get better performance. Drop the exact same CPU into a tiny, thin notebook with less power and cooling and you tend to get lower performance. So always remember to factor in the laptop around your CPU of choice when making any evaluation.

How (and what) we tested

With that out of the way, our preview comes via an Intel-spec’d laptop featuring the top-end 8-core, 11th-gen Core i9-11980HK CPU. The laptop comes with a 16-inch, 2560×1600 resolution display with a 16:10 aspect ratio, powered by an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU with a TGP of 65 watts. It also features a pair of 512GB PCIe 4.0 SSDs and 32GB of DDR4/3200 RAM. Intel’s notebook weighs a relatively light at 4.6 pounds and is powered by a 180-watt power brick.

Although it carries an Intel logo on its aluminum lid and bezel, this system is clearly also manufactured by MSI, and likely based off of MSI’s new Creator 16 series.

Intel Tiger Lake H Laptop Gordon Mah Ung

Our Intel evaluation laptop features the company’s name in the lid.

Our pile of comparison notebooks comes from the same set of testing results seen in our our performance review of the 11th-gen Core i7 chip. All wield 8 cores—no 6-core or 4-core chips were allowed:

  • Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 with Ryzen 9 4800HS, GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q and 16GB of DDR4/3200. It has a 14-inch screen and weight of 3.6 pounds.
  • Asus ROG Flow X13 with Ryzen 9 5980HS, GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 32GB of LPDDR4X/4266. It has a 13-inch screen and weight of 3 pounds.
  • Asus Strix Scar G17 with Ryzen 9 5900X, GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU with a TGP of 130 watts and 32GB of DDR4/3200. It has a 17.3-inch screen and weight of 6 pounds.
  • Gigabyte Aorus 17G with Core i7-10870H, GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU with a TGP of 105 watts and 32GB of DDR4/2933. It has a 17.3-inch screen and weight of 6.1 pounds.
  • Dell XPS 17 9700 with Core i7-10875H, GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q and 32GB of DDR4/3200. It has a 17-inch screen and a weight of 4.6 pounds. 
  • Gigabyte Aorus 17G with Core i7-11800H, GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU with a TGP of 105 watts, and 32GB of DDR4/3200. It has a 17.3-inch screen and weight of 6.1 pounds.

All of the laptops are running Windows 10 2H02 19042.928, with one laptop on 19042.985. Every notebook was updated with the latest drivers and BIOSes available directly from the manufacturers before testing, and we benchmarked the systems with each laptop’s highest sane performance fan and performance setting selected. We opted not to run each laptop’s fans at 100 percent as we don’t believe many will do that unless they own stock in a hearing-aid company. (See our Core i7 benchmarks for deeper discussion of power and fan profiles.)

intel 11th gen core h consumer speeds and feeds Intel

The Core i9-11980HK is Intel’s top-end CPU for gaming and workhorse laptops now.

A technical note about boost speeds

Intel actually allows its 11th-generation Core laptop processors to run on anywhere from 35 watts to 65 watts depending on the CPU model, and how the actual laptop manufacturer configures its system.



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