If there’s one thing we’ve all realised greatly, over the past year spent working from home, is the value of a fast, uncompromising laptop — not just to get work done quicker but also do so much more with it than we ever imagined. Like gaming, for instance — whenever time allows, of course.
The good folk at Intel were thinking much the same, as they finally unveiled their 11th-generation Core H-series processors — specifically for gaming laptops of all sizes and shape. And the diversity of gamers is quite something, as Intel’s Joakim Algstam explained.
“This is a very broad community of consumers, as there are approximately 1.4 billion gamers in the world, of which 300 million are enthusiast gamers who play the best games on uncompromising gaming PCs and laptops,” according to Joakim Algstam, Director Enthusiast Laptop & Innovation Team – Intel.
New gaming processors for new laptops
The 11th Gen Intel Core H-series processors are based on 10-nanometer SuperFin process technology, feature up to 8 cores and 16 threads, with single and dual-core turbo performance up to 5-GHz. Additionally, the central processing unit (CPU) can directly access high-speed GDDR6 memory attached to the graphics card, enabling gamers to experience higher frame rates with lower latency, and load large textures faster.
Beyond just gaming, the 11th Gen Intel Core H-series laptop chips allow creators and business professionals to execute tasks faster — which is an important thing to remember. The laptops based on the 11th Gen Intel Core H-series chips will not only be great for gaming, but for any other performance-intensive workload for non-gamers as well.
The flagship processor of this H-series chips is the Intel Core i9-11980HK — which Intel is calling the “World’s Best Gaming Laptop Processor” — which comes with all sorts of bells and whistles like overclocking to help enthusiast gamers play the latest and greatest games without any compromises.
Having spent 22 years at Intel, Joakim Algstam knows not every gamer will be able to afford the Intel Core i9-11980HK-based gaming laptop, but the demands for better performing laptops are growing across all segments, he claimed. “Before the Covid-19 pandemic, when I could travel, I would meet with gamers from around the world and I had the opportunity to live in China for six years and what I realized was that everyone from college students all the way up to people that are professionals and working in white collar jobs are into PC gaming.” People that are working in situations that you wouldn’t imagine them being able to play games are actually playing PC games, he emphasized.
On laptop refresh cycles
This has led to shrinking laptop refresh cycles among gaming-related consumer demands, Joakim highlighted. “We have in the past seen people purchasing new laptops every five years — in terms of the average Windows laptop — and consumers replacing old laptops with newer ones every two to three years in the enthusiast gaming segment,” he said. But 2020 has changed some of that conventional wisdom.
“A lot of people last year found themselves sitting with laptops that couldn’t play the PC games that they were interested in playing. The pandemic forced people to stay indoors, gave people more time and to spend at home, and that has placed higher entertainment demands on laptops launching in 2021. Because people don’t just want to be entertained, they want to have the ability to do work. They want to have their personal finances and their personal communications all in the same machine,” Joakim observed.
“That’s why along with our OEM partners (laptop manufacturers), we built a broad set of machines with different configurations and price points. An essential segment stretches from $1000 all the way down to the thin enthusiast segment and the halo enthusiasts starts from $1000 up. We build a very wide variety of enthusiast and gaming PCs that fit a wide variety of people’s budgets and needs,” underscored Joakim.
Why thin and light is in
Joakim Algstam went on a trip down memory lane to explain the kind of product innovation that has enabled gaming to flourish over the past decade. Making thin and light laptops more powerful has played a huge role in that journey.
“When I started at Intel, I bought five Alienware laptops and they were significantly thicker than what we have today. I wish I had kept one of them at least so I could’ve compared to what Alienware is producing now,” laughed Joakim.
Today’s laptops are packing in several times more performance in them than before and still continue to be no thicker than 20 millimetres, and that’s not something that happens overnight, according to Joakim. “It requires an evolution of thermal compounds, thermal investments, fans, cooling solutions, and more cutting edge engineering. It’s thermal dynamics, right? When you’re pushing all that heat out of a system, you have to take all of those things into consideration, and that we have been able to do it and that we continue to do it an and that the laptop OEMs have, you know, continued pushing us to help them do it. That has been really exciting,” he said.
The gamer wins at the end of the day, Joakim continued. “With enhanced portability, you can play games anywhere. Today I’ve seen people sit at airports playing games. I’ve seen people sit at bus stations and play games on their laptops, and that didn’t used to be the norm, right? We have enabled people to play games anywhere they want at a performance level that is just incredible.”
Intel also launched new Intel vPro H-series processors — led by the eight-core and 16-thread Intel Core i9-11950H — and Intel Xeon W-11000 series mobile processors, which are more geared towards business users or workstation-class laptop performance that offers more security features over the average consumer laptop. With demands for more people working from home increasing all over the world, surely it must mean greater demands on safety and security for users — gamers or otherwise? Joakim Algstam had an interesting reply.
“Intel provides CPUs across the board — we have a consumer line up and we have the vPro lineup. OEMs have in the past utilised the vPro lineup in enthusiast laptops, where there might be an opportunity for some limited overclocking in certain SKUs that are not available in the consumer build SKUs outright, but I haven’t seen an OEM take that route yet,” mentioned Joakim, on the topic of absolute top-of-the-line business security features married in a pure performance tuned laptop, “but it’s definitely an interesting thought, considering how things are getting more and more interesting online and people want to protect themselves and their businesses. It’s definitely something that we would look to evaluate with our OEMs for sure.”
When the whole world has changed in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, it’s destined to have an impact on laptop buying behaviours, as Intel’s Joakim Algstam pointed out.
“People know what they want to do, and they are much, much more resourceful today researching and understanding the purchase process. While they’re very keen on getting the best value, they’re also concerned about getting the best performance out of their laptop — something that I have been striving for my entire career at Intel. Because laptops can’t be upgraded the way PCs can be most of the times, people are willing to spend the money to get that better performing laptop, and that’s what’s really interesting,” according to Joakim.
“We are not seeing great growth in the entry gaming segment today, but we are seeing much, much more growth at the $1200 to $1800 segment, for example, and in 2020 that was a very strong correlation with Covid-19, of course, but this year we’re seeing similar trends where people are buying up in our OEM line-ups, which is very interesting to see,” he said.
Gaming in India
Of course, physical gaming events took a backseat in light of Covid-19 in India, but that didn’t stop Indian gamers from spending more time gaming from home — I know I definitely did back in the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“While watching gaming grow in India, over the past couple of years, the discussions that are coming up and and the generational understanding that needs to exist for people to have aspirations to become an elite PC gamer is something that’s been quite interesting to observe from the side lines,” Joakim said, as that’s not a norm everywhere in the world today, according to him.
“Playing PC games is something that takes a lot of dedication to get good at playing PC games and so you have to have the time and understanding of your family and your friends and the support, right? And that’s building in India, and it’s moving very fast, which is quite unique,” he emphasized.