Intel Unveils New 10th Generation H-Series Processors, Could Come to MacBook Pro

Intel is calling these the “world’s fastest mobile processors” with turbo speeds that can reach up to 5.3 GHz, but with many caveats.


Today Intel unveiled its 10th generation mobile H-series processors designed for high-end gaming and professional laptops. Intel is calling these the “world’s fastest mobile processors” with turbo speeds that can reach up to 5.3 GHz, but with many caveats. Unlike the new MacBook Air’s 10th generation Ice Lake processors that use Intel’s latest 10nm process, these chips are based on Comet Lake and are still using Intel’s now comically outdated 14nm process.

The chips will replace the 9th generation H-series processors currently used in the 16-inch MacBook Pro, and we could see that device updated to use these new chips in the coming months. Intel’s press release for the chips highlights gains made in gaming performance and professional applications, claiming up to “54% more frames per second in gaming” and “two times faster 4K video rendering.” But you shouldn’t get too excited by these numbers, as Intel has hidden quite a lot of fine print in the release that will deflate most of your enthusiasm.

The first of this fine print is Intel’s Thermal Velocity Boost. According to Anand Tech, this technology needs to be enabled by the laptop manufacturer and there needs to be enough thermal overhead to allow the chip to temporarily boost to its highest frequencies. Although the 16-inch MacBook Pro does have better thermal performance than its predecessors, Apple isn’t know for putting thermal overhead into their designs. Apple usually designs right to the limits of the chip, not over them.

Next in the fine print is Intel’s testing methodology. Intel didn’t compare these new 10th generation chips to their 9th generation counterparts. Instead they compared them to their much older 7th generation equivalents. If you remember, the 7th generation was back when Intel’s highest-end consumer chips came with only four cores, making a comparison with these eight-core parts laughably unfair.

We’re going to have to wait until reviews for the new chips are out, but I think it’s safe to say that this is likely another Intel processor generation bolstered by higher power draw and thermal requirements. A boost to 2933MHz RAM and support for wi-fi 6 are nice additions, but overall don’t expect major improvements over 9th generation processors, at least not in Macs. Heavy gaming laptops with the thermal overhead for Thermal Velocity Boost may see some gains, but thin and light Macs might see none at all.

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