Intel's next laptop chips are finally ready to take on the MacBook Pro

These 12th-generation ultra-portable processors promise to be screamingly fast while being less power-hungry

Intel 11th gen H-series processor
(Image credit: Intel)

The 11th-generation Intel processors inside many of the best laptops are impressively powerful, but for many observers they weren't quite powerful enough: the new generation felt like an incremental improvement rather than anything revolutionary. Meanwhile Apple was going full steam ahead with its own M-series silicon, which really was revolutionary: it turned the ultraportable MacBook Air (M1, 2020) into a ridiculously fast mobile monster without sacrificing all-day battery life.

And then the MacBook Pro 14-inch & 16-inch (2021) came along with even more power, but still running near-silently with with gigantic battery life. These machines really raised questions over the competitiveness of PC laptops…

So it's good to see that the 12th-gen Intel processors we'll see in laptops this year are a huge upgrade. In a word: wheeeeeeeeeee!

A blast from the fast

We've already seen Intel's high-powered H-series processors at CES, and now it's talking about the U and P series CPUs for lightweight laptops and ultrabooks. Like AMD's latest chip, they're designed to use less power than last year's processors while also delivering a massive speed boost.

How does 70% faster multithreaded performance sound? That's what Intel says the Core i7-1280P will deliver – and it'll do it with roughly half the power drain of 2021's mega-processor, the Core i9-11980HK. That's going to be a huge leap forward for pro laptops.

Both the U and the P series come in a new design comprising both performance and energy efficient cores on a single die. The accompanying Intel Xe graphics don't appear to have changed much this year, with the same specification of up to 96 Execution Units. As Engadget reports, last year's Xe in the Core i7 was capable of up to 82fps in GTA V, so the 2022 processors should deliver impressive gaming performance as well as handling the everyday work stuff.

The first systems featuring the new chips should appear this spring and we can't wait to put them through their paces. If these promised figures hold up in the real world, this generation is exactly what we've been hoping Intel would be able to produce… but we really couldn't be sure that it would. We'll be happy to be corrected.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (