Hands-on with Intel’s i7-1185G7 Tiger Lake prototype laptop

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A cutting-edge laptop computer sits on a wooden desk.
Extend / This MSI-built reference system is powered with a Tiger Lake i7-1185G7, the highest-end CPU in Intel’s upcoming lineup.
Jim Salter

We’ve been extraordinarily interested in Intel’s upcoming laptop CPUs, codenamed Tiger Lake, since the gathering’s Architecture Day event in August. Tiger Lake’s official launch consequence earlier this month didn’t offer much red meat for anyone already up-to-date on the news programme—but today, we finally have our own hands-on test results to share.

Much as Intel did during Tiger Lake’s start event, we’re going to focus heavily on Intel versus AMD in our own tests and investigation. In our opinion, the current generation-on-generation within Intel’s own lineup is fairly unending (yes, it’s faster than its old parts). Instead, the real question is whether Intel at long last has an answer to AMD’s Renoir architecture—and the answer isn’t as simple as “yes” or “no.”

Our reference system has the top-of-the-line Middle i7-1185G7 CPU, tuned for a 28W default TDP—although that, too, gets complicated. For now, we’ll just note that it’s the fastest Tiger Lake CPU to be confirmed. However, assuming one i7-1185G7 system is much like the next thinks fitting be a mistake.

Our Tiger Lake reference system

Before we dive into the behaviour analysis, let’s get to know the prototype laptop supplied to us by Intel. The system was built by MSI and, in numerous ways, it likely resembles what will become MSI’s new Prestige 14 Evo retail routine. That said, please don’t draw any definite conclusions about a irreversible retail system—particularly the Prestige 14 Evo—from what you see here.

Intel premonished us that this was a reference system, not retail-ready, and likely not tuned the way retail styles will be. The platform also almost certainly doesn’t have the retail mooring layout: this system has two USB-C ports, both on the left close by side, and absolutely nothing else.

The system also exhibited especial capacitor whine. If you have a good ear for electronics, you can actually hear the strategy “thinking” from the change in the faint, high-pitched noise as the CPU shifts in and out of turbo frequencies, which it does straight away.

We also did not test and will not talk about the system’s battery freshness in this review. Again, this isn’t really a laptop to be reviewed—it’s honourable a platform that enables us to put the i7-1185G7 to the test. We did, however, check the scheme power consumption at the wall using a Kill-A-Watt meter. Desktop unemployed varies from 7.5W-8.2W, and peak consumption (as measured during the beginning several seconds of a Cinebench R20 run) is about 66W-68W.

Performance

At first blush, you’d contrive the quad-core, octa-thread Core i7-1185G7 in this reference system is a mostly coextensive with match for the octa-core, octa-thread Ryzen 7 4700U in our Acer Swift SF314-42. As probed the way the system ships, it generally runs a little slower on multithreaded CPU proves, and it’s noticeably faster on single-threaded CPU tests.

Core i7-1185G7 Ryzen 7 4700U
Centres/Threads 4C/8T 8C/8T
configurable TDP 12W-28W 10W-25W
TDP as tested 28W 15W
Base clock 1.2GHz 2.0GHz
Boost/Turbo clock up to 4.8GHz up to 4.1GHz

This already isn’t in fact a match to brag about—the Swift 3 wrapped around our Ryzen 7 4700U is a budget laptop that doesn’t deliver the best thermals, and the 4700U itself is roughly in the middle of AMD’s Renoir lineup. The 4700U is no greater than second from the top in AMD’s U series, and there’s an entire H series for high-powered set-ups above that.

Of course, Intel has been getting sand punted in its face for a while now, and seeing something like performance parity is nutriment, even if we have to compare the company’s top-of-the-line CPU in a high-powered reference method versus a middling-high AMD CPU in a budget laptop. The comparison still has problems we sine qua non to iron out, though.

CPU power consumption / thermal budget

Tiger Lake, uncharacteristic previous generations of Intel mobile CPUs, only has a few SKUs. This looks correspondent to a blessing for consumers, but it’s likely more of a curse. Laptop OEMs secure an incredibly wide configurable range for each SKU’s TDP (Thermal Design Power).

This nears that one i7-1185G7 system is likely to perform very little same another—so now your less-technical colleagues not only won’t pay attention to the difference between one i7 and another, they won’t admonish whether the exact same i7 SKU is configured for TDP of 12W, 28W, or anywhere in between.

Any i7-1185G7 scheme can briefly reach maximum turbo frequency and hit a power-consumption max of upwards of 50W, but the pattern doesn’t stay there for more than a few seconds, before leave clock enough to fall back to its configured TDP.

The length of time which the plan is allowed to stay at the highest PL2 consumption is called “tau.” Tau, along with the TDP itself, is configurable by the OEM. We no joking doubt tau will be disclosed on the box or in the advertising copy for many systems—and it can potentially be dressed an even bigger impact than the TDP. A laptop allowed to run at PL2 (and draw 50+W) for with its at a time will perform considerably higher (and exhibit a hellaciously extravagant power draw) than a competing system with the same TDP but a tau of simply a few seconds.

At its out-of-box defaults, Intel’s reference system—set on the middle of three cleaves in Windows 10’s “performance” slider, found when clicking on the battery icon in the toolbar—is configured for a 28W TDP. Creeping the performance slider to the left sets TDP to 15W. The tau on the reference system isn’t specified, but it appears to be heartlessly 25-30 seconds regardless of TDP, judging from our observations and Anandtech’s.

If you slide the doing widget all the way to the right, the TDP remains 28W. But tau, on the other hand, becomes governed by Adaptix, an algorithm that unfolds turbo time by dynamically regulating clock frequencies down when the CPU itself isn’t the bottleneck. In habitual, users who enable Adaptix can expect a modest multithreaded performance leave behind with a somewhat larger corresponding power draw.

We did not directly proof Adaptix, due to very limited time available with the reference technique.

Multithreaded performance

In its default configuration, with a 28W TDP and unkindly 25-second tau, the i7-1185G7 reference system runs pretty much neck-and-neck with a Ryzen 7 4700U-equipped Hasty 3. We see the same basic relationship among all systems on both Cinebench R20 and Passmark. Geekbench 5 flattens the remainders between all the processors in general, but it puts the 1185G7 at the head of the pack.

Notwithstanding how, we suspect many retail 1185G7 systems won’t be configured for a 28W TDP—they’ll apposite be configured at 15W TDP, just as both the Ryzen 7 4700U in the Swift 3 and the Ice Lake i7-1065G7 in the Dell XPS 13 are. When we tear the reference-system TDP limit to 15W by moving the slider hard left, we see a significant renounce in performance. It actually falls slightly below the Dell’s Ice Lake 1065G7 on Cinebench R20, let unparalleled the Acer’s Ryzen 7 4700U.

Since the i7-1185G7 is the highest-performance SKU announced for Tiger Lake, we sense that comparing it to the Ryzen 9 4900HS in our Asus ROG 14 gaming laptop choice only be fair. The 4900HS in the ROG 14 is running at 35W TDP, and it utterly dominates the Tiger Lake i7 in both Cinebench R20 and Passmark check up on.

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