After teasing them back in November, Intel has finally unveiled its new 8th-gen Core i5 and i7 processors which have built-in Radeon Vega GPUs.

These Kaby Lake-based chips are designed to go in thin-and-light laptops so owners can play games at high frame rates without having to lug around a big, heavy gaming laptop. Intel has promised that games will play at 1080p and 60fps on the top-end chips, although these are likely to be fitted to mini PCs such as Intel’s upcoming NUC rather than laptops.

Here’s everything you need to know about the new chips.

When is the Intel Core i5 and i7 with Vega M release date?

Laptops with the new processors will launch in Spring 2018, as will Intel’s own NUC (below). This is a tiny desktop PC with enough power to run VR games.

Since the chips won’t be sold on their own, prices will vary depending on the laptop or PC in which they’re used. Expect prices to start at around £1200.

What are the specs of the new processors?

This handy table gives you all the main details. Essentially there are two chips, one i7 and one i5, but with several variants of the i7. There are two versions of the Vega M chip – GL and GH – with the latter being the most powerful.

All CPUs are quad-core with Hyper-threading and all are unlocked for overclocking, except for the Core i5.

 

Core i7-8809G

Core i7-8709G

Core i7-8706G

Core i7-8705G

Core i5-8305G

Maximum Processor Frequency (GHz)

4.2

4.1

4.1

4.1

3.8

Base Clock Frequency (GHz)

3.1

3.1

3.1

3.1

2.8

Number of Processor Cores/Threads

4/8

4/8

4/8

4/8

4/8

Cache Size (MB)

8

8

8

8

6

Number of Memory Channels

2

2

2

2

2

Memory Type

DDR4-2400

DDR4-2400

DDR4-2400

DDR4-2400

DDR4-2400

Discrete Graphics

Radeon RX  Vega M GH

Radeon RX  Vega M GH

Radeon RX  Vega M GL

Radeon RX  Vega M GL

Radeon RX  Vega M GL

Intel HD Graphics

630

630

630

630

630

Intel Quick Sync Video

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Processor Core, Graphics & System Memory Overclocking

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Compute Units

24

24

20

20

20

Stream Processors

1536

1536

1280

1280

1280

Base GPU Clock

1063 MHz

1063 MHz

931 MHz

931 MHz

931 MHz

Boost GPU Clock

1190 MHz

1190 MHz

1011 MHz

1011 MHz

1011 MHz

Memory Bandwidth

204.8 GB/s

204.8 GB/s

179.2 GB/s

179.2 GB/s

179.2 GB/s

Texture Units

96

96

80

80

80

ROPs

64 pix/clk

64 pix/clk

32 pix/clk

32 pix/clk

32 pix/clk

High Bandwidth Cache

4GB HBM2

4GB HBM2

4GB HBM2

4GB HBM2

4GB HBM2

Memory Interface Width

1024 bit HBM2

1024 bit HBM2

1024 bit HBM2

1024 bit HBM2

1024 bit HBM2

Memory Interface  Data Rate

1.6 Gbps

1.6 Gbps

1.4 Gbps

1.4 Gbps

1.4 Gbps

Discrete GPU & HBM Overclocking

Yes

No

No

No

No

Why are these chips better than current gaming laptops?

There are quite a few reasons. First, they’re really thin – just 1.7mm – which means laptop makers can install them in much slimmer chassis than before.

Previously, most gaming laptops used Intel processors with a separate Nvidia or AMD graphics chip. This did the job, but those laptops tended to be considerably thicker and bulkier.

The new design puts both the Vega M and Intel’s own UHD Graphics on the chip with the Kaby Lake-based Core i7 or i5 processor. In turn, this also saves a lot of motherboard space – Intel says around 1900mm² (which is about three square inches).

The smaller design is largely thanks to Intel’s new EMIB, which is basically a high-speed connector between the Vega M GPU and its memory.

8th Gen Intel Core with Vega M release date specs

And rather than use power-hungry GDDR5 memory, Intel has gone with 4GB of HBM2 RAM. This is the same stuff AMD uses on its Vega graphics cards and it’s claimed to use up to 80 percent less power.

Power is also managed across the CPU and two GPUs by Intel’s new Dynamic Tuning which monitors the power usage of each component and optimises performance so you get better performance for the same power drain.

In plain English, it means you’ll get more frames per second in games at the same time as saving power.

Battery life is also improved over previous gaming laptops, so you should expect all-day use rather than half a day as with an older gaming laptop. Obviously that’s mixed use, not continuous gaming.

So, the bottom line is that you’ll be able to buy a competent gaming laptop that looks like last year’s ultraportable… and it should still have decent battery life.

Better still, the new GPUs can cope with encoding and decoding 4K video and they have enough power to run VR headsets, whether that’s an Oculus Rift or one of the newer Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

What’ the difference between the Vega M GL and GH?

Both are semi-custom-designed Radeon Vega GPUs, bought in by Intel from AMD. As such, drivers will be provided by Intel and not AMD.

Yet, Intel says you won’t have to wait any longer to get updated drivers compared to AMD’s releases and will offer “Day zero support” from gameplay.intel.com.

The designators ‘GL’ and ‘GH’ simply mean Graphics Low and Graphics High, with the latter offering better performance.

We’ll have to wait until we’ve run our benchmarks to see how they both perform compared to existing gaming laptops. Intel says the Vega M GL is up to 1.4x faster than a 4GB Nvidia GTX 1050, while the GH variant slightly quicker than a 6GB GTX 1060 Max-Q.

If you know your Vega specs, you’ll already know that Intel’s two mobile variants are heavily cut-down versions of the Vega 56 and 64 desktop cards. That’s inevitable in order to reduce power consumpution, but to put it in context, the GTX 1070-rivalling Vega 56 has 56 compute units and 3584 stream processors.

Even the Vega M GH has only 24 compute units and 1536 stream processors, with the lower-spec GL having 20 and 1280 respectively.

Base- and boost clock speeds are slower, and there’s around half the memory bandwidth to play with. So, expect to be playing games at 1080p and 60fps rather than 4K.

In terms of features, the Vega M GPU have pretty much the same set as the desktop GPUs. So you’ll get Radeon Chill, Radeon ReLive, WattMan and FreeSync (with FreeSync 2 support).

Essentially, the software will be an Intel-branded Radeon Adrenalin Edition, but it’s unclear whether you’ll be able to use the AMD Link app to monitor the GPUs from your phone or not. 



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