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When looking for a laptop, the most important internal component to consider will be the processor. Processors for laptops are designed to be more power efficient, thus running at lower clock speeds, so it’s critical that you consider what CPU your dream laptop has before purchasing it to gauge its performance for the tasks you’ll use it for.
Best Processors for Laptops Reviewed
You can’t buy a laptop processor from the market, but it doesn’t mean you can’t judge one’s performance from the look of its processor. Laptop processor names and specs are confusing and different from what you’ll get with desktop CPUs, so it’s essential to know what’s on offer and what kind of performance you’ll get.
When choosing the best processor for the laptop you’ll buy, it’s important to know beforehand what you’ll use the laptop for. A gaming laptop will require the most powerful laptop processor, while more portability will require a powerful yet efficient one. We’ve listed our favorite laptop processors here and reviewed them. Additionally, we’ve also recommended laptops that feature these processors.
Best for Content Creation and Gaming: Intel Core i7 8850H/8750H
- Cores: 6
- Threads: 12
- Base Clock: 6GHz (8850H) or 2.2GHz (8750H)
- Turbo: 3GHz (8850H) or 4.2GHz (8750H)
- Cache: 9MB
The Intel Core i7 8850H and 8750H are the two most powerful Core i7 processors for laptops. The reason we’ve paired these two processors together is because they’re both very similar. The 8850H runs at slightly higher clock speeds, but the number of cores, threads, and L3 cache is the same. Furthermore, the boost speeds only have a difference of 100MHz between the two.
The Core i7 8750H is more commonly used by laptop manufacturers in their best machines simply because it is slightly more power-efficient than its bigger, boosted brother. Regardless, both make an excellent choice because of their similarities and comparable performance.
You’ll find the Core i7 8850H and Core i7 8750H in the highest-end laptops, designed for gaming and/or content creation. Engineers, graphic designers, video editors, and content creators all will benefit with these processors’ 6 cores and 12 threads.
These processors cannot compete with the higher clock speeds of desktop processors like the Core i5 8400, but they are more than capable of providing ample power and performance in most modern videogames when paired with the right graphics card. Additionally, content creators can benefit from multithreading technology, which is especially useful in complex rendering and simulation tasks.
Out of the two, we recommend the Core i7 8750H. Despite running at lower base clock speeds (the boost clock speeds are almost the same), it is more ubiquitous than its bigger brother due to improved power consumption and better cost-effectiveness.
On paper, these two processors cannot beat the more powerful Core i9 8950HK. As suggested by the “K” at the end, the mobile version of the Core i9 is overclockable. However, the 8950HK is notorious for its inability to constantly maintain boosted clock speeds, often falling behind the Core i7 brethren. Additionally, the Core i9 is also a hexacore processor with 12 threads, so there’s no conceivable improved in multicore performance to consider either. As a result, the Core i9 8950HK is seen in very few laptop models, and it’s not a CPU we’ll recommend in laptops.
For this reason, the Core i7 8850H and 8750H earn our top pick for the best processors for laptops out there.
Runner Up: Core i9 8950HK
As mentioned above, the Core i9 8950HK looks impressive on paper. It’s fully unlocked, which means it can be overclocked. It also runs at higher base clock speeds. However, it’s unable to sustain boost clock speeds stably, and the core and thread count is the same as the Core i7 8750H and 8850H.
Best for Business Users and Professionals: Intel Core i7-10710U Processor
- Cores: 6
- Threads: 12
- Base Clock: 1.10GHz
- Turbo: 4.70GHz
- Cache: 12MB (Intel Smart Cache)
The U series of Intel CPUs is mostly used in Ultrabooks, for those of you who don’t know, Ultrabooks are work oriented notebooks which are light to carry, are power efficient and still pack a lot of power while keeping thermals on low. The 9th Generation CPUs did not see a power efficient U series processor, instead Intel went straight to the 10th Generation and introduced the most powerful U series CPU to date, the i7-10710U Processor.
We do not know why Intel skipped a whole generation when introducing power-efficient processors for Ultrabooks, but whatever the reason was, the i7-10710U is the biggest thing the laptop manufacturers have seen in quite a while. Intel was able to fit 6 cores, 12 threads in the 15W TDP consumption, which in itself is a huge thing.
The extra 2 cores automatically give it a greater performance boost. While it does not see any improved single-core performance, when working on all of its 6 cores, it has an advantage over the last generation U series processors which only had 4 cores to run on. It is still using the same integrated graphics, which is a bummer, but if you need better graphics you can find GTX1650 variants of most Ultrabooks.
The Core i7-10710U Comet Lake has been adopted by many manufacturers for newer models of their flagship Ultrabooks. While some of the manufacturers are broken between the new tug of war between the Intel and AMD CPU wars, Intel wins the war in the Ultrabook department.
Runner Up – Intel Core i7-10510U
The runner-up is the i7-10510U which is a great CPU, however, it loses in total core counts, as it is a 4 Core/8 Thread Processor. It has 8 MB Intel Smart Cache, and boosts up to 4.9 GHz, and it is also being used as a Ultrabook processor by many manufacturers to introduce lower price variants of their flagship models. You can compare it to the previous generation of U series CPUs as it has almost the same power and specs as them just with a few minor performance upgrades.
Best for Everyday Productivity and Students: Intel Core i7-1065G7 Processor
- Cores: 4
- Threads: 8
- Base Clock: 1.30GHz
- Turbo: 3.90GHz
- Cache: 8 MB Intel Smart Cache
So Intel introduced two 10th Generation Laptop CPUs both for Ultrabook power efficiency, however, both having advantages on different grounds. When it comes to creativity, the Core i7-1065G7 takes the crown due to its higher integrated graphics performance.
The 10nm architecture of the Intel Core i7-1065G7 does not give it an advantage over the 14nm+++ Comet Lake processors, as the i7-10710U was able to fit in 6 cores in the 15W TDP power output giving it a better CPU performance power.
But what makes the Core i7-1065G7 better is the Intel Iris Plus Graphics, these are a huge upgrade from the normal integrated UHD graphics that are in the previous generations of Ultrabooks. Even the Core i7-10710U has the same boring old UHD graphics like the other CPUs, that is why the Core i7-1065G7 wins the creativity race.
All of this just makes it harder to decide which CPU should one opt for, if someone has more needs of graphic power, the obvious choice will be the Core i7-1065G7 with the Intel Iris Plus GPU, but if someone wants more cores and CPU performance then they would definitely go for the i7-10710U processor.
Runner Up: Intel Core i7 7Y75
The Intel Core i7 7Y75 is a fanless processor for laptops designed for manufacturers who want to make the thinnest laptops in the world. Despite being branded a Core i7 though, this processor simply cannot compete with fanned processors in performance, including the Core i5 8250U and even the 8th Generation Core i3 models.
Furthermore, battery life isn’t even necessarily improved with the Y series of Intel processors, nor is the attempt to make very thin laptops. Many laptops that are super-thin have U series fanned processors as well. We recommend avoiding the Y series of laptops unless you’re only looking for a superlight laptop that is quiet for very basic tasks.