It would be a lie to say that laptops can be powerful as desktop PCs. The GPUs and CPUs fit into these devices simply don’t have enough power to be comparable. However, today’s mobile processors are much more powerful and power efficient than they used to be, so they are much closer to desktop processors than most people think.
With Intel and AMD frequently releasing newer and newer generations, keeping up with the processors can’t be easy.
That is why we are writing this article. We want to ensure that you and anyone else looking to buy a new laptop will make the right choice by picking the correct mobile processor.
The best way we can help is with a laptop CPU hierarchy list based on gaming/productivity performance and power efficiency.
Here’s the list!
The S-tier is where you will find the processors fit into the most expensive laptops. The processors in these laptops are usually matched with a powerful discrete GPU, so if you want the fastest gaming experience on a laptop, the S-tier is for you.
For those of you that do not care about gaming, S-tier processors can also be found in Ultrabooks. Thin, light, and incredibly fast laptops dedicated to day-to-day productivity work. Ultrabooks can handle anything from everyday browsing, Excel sheets, code compiling, and other similar tasks.
At the top of the chart, you can find CPUs like Intel’s i9-12900HK or AMD’s Ryzen 9 6900HS. These SKUs can be found in laptops that cost $1500 and upward.
Ryzen 6900HS CPU die.
While the i9 is currently the fastest laptop chip globally, the Ryzen comes in at a close second. However, it’s not just about having the best performance when it comes to laptops. As a customer, you should also be looking at power efficiency, which translates to better battery life.
Intel vs. AMD power scaling. (Source: Hardware Unboxed)
Another factor that needs to be considered is the integrated graphics card. AMD’s RDNA 2 iGPUs are considerably faster in this segment than Intel.
In that segment, AMD’s Ryzen 6000 processors stomp Intel’s counterparts. Supposedly, the Ryzen 9 6900HS doubles laptop battery life compared to its preceding generation.
Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max belong in this S-tier too since these are incredibly efficient while providing performance comparable to AMD’s and Intel’s fastest SKUs. That’s quite the feat.
The M1 Ultra would fit here perfectly, but unfortunately, it is unlikely that an Ultra will ever end up in a MacBook.
AMD’s Ryzen 9 6900HX takes the number one spot in this tier list simply because of its efficiency. It is slower than the i9-12900HK, but, we appreciate that extra bit of battery life you could get out of this powerful CPU.
Overall Performance – Gaming, Productivity, And Efficiency
ModelBase ClockBoost ClockCores/ThreadsTDP1.AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX3.3 GHz4.9 GHz8/1645W+2.AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS2.6 GHz4.9 GHz8/1635W+3.Intel i9-12900H2.5 GHz5.0 GHz14/2045W+4.Intel i9-12900HK2.5 GHz5.0 GHz14/2045W+5.Intel i7-12700H2.3 GHz4.7 GHz14/2045W+6.Apple M1 Pro 10-Core2.0 GHz3.2 GHz10/1060W7.Apple M1 Max 10-Core2.0 GHz3.2 GHz10/1090W
You can find processors with near S-tier performance in this A-tier segment while costing considerably less.
CPUs like the Ryzen 9 5900HS, 5900HX, and i9-11900H are paired with expensive laptops like ASUS’ Zephyrus lineup but can also be found in more affordable models.
Even though the 5980HX and 11980HK are last-generation processors, they are still high-end and end up only in the most expensive laptop models. Usually in ASUS’ ROG laptop models.
The i7-1270P has a lower TDP than the rest of the mobile processors, so naturally, you can find it in more budget-oriented laptops. Alternatively, check out HP EliteBook 840 G9, Lenovo ThinkBook13x Gen 2, and Gen 4+.
Here’s a 15-minute comparison between an M1 MacBook Pro vs. a 5900HX ASUS ROG Strix:
Note: All laptop CPU rankings (B-tier, C-tier, D-tier) below are based on the PassMark – CPU Mark – Laptop & Portable CPU performance chart.
ModelBase ClockBoost ClockCores/ThreadsTDP1.AMD Ryzen 9 5980HX3.3 GHz4.8 GHz8/1645W+2.Intel Core i9-11980HK2.6 GHz5.0 GHz8/1645W+3.AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX3.3 GHz4.6 GHz8/1645W+4.Intel Core i7-1270P2.2 GHz4.9 GHz12/1628W5.Intel Core i9-11950H2.6 GHz5.0 GHz8/1645W+6.AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS3.0 GHz4.6 GHz8/1635W7.Intel Core i9-11900H2.5 GHz4.9 GHz8/1645W8.AMD Ryzen 9 5980HS3.0 GHz4.8 GHz8/1635W9.Intel i7-11800H2.3 GHz4.6 GHz8/1645W10.Intel i7-11850H2.5 GHz4.8 GHz8/1645W11.AMD Ryzen 7 5800H3.2 GHz4.4 GHz8/1645W12.Intel i5-12450H1.5 GHz3.3 GHz8/1245W13.AMD Ryzen 9 5900H3.1 GHz4.6 GHz8/1645W14.AMD Ryzen 7 5800HS2.8 GHz4.4 GHz8/1635W
Processors running at a lower TDP like the Ryzen 7 5800U, PRO 5850U, or the 4800U end up in the B-tier list. Apple’s 8-core M1 Pro also fits this category primarily because it has only 8 cores and threads.
AMD’s 4th generation 8-core CPUs also fit into this tier. Keep in mind; all of these processors listed above are fast and can handle most tasks you throw at them, but they end up in this tier simply because they are now outdated.
Intel’s 10th generation i7s and i9s are also fast enough to fit into the B-tier.
Here are some laptop recommendations: Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, ASUS TUF Gaming A17, Lenovo Yoga Slim 7, HP ProBook 445 G8, Apple 2021 MacBook Pro, etc.
ModelBase ClockBoost ClockCores/ThreadsTDP1.AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS3.0 GHz4.3 GHz8/1635W2.AMD Ryzen 9 4900H3.3 GHz4.4 GHz8/1645W3.AMD Ryzen 7 4800H2.9 GHz4.2 GHz8/1645W4.AMD Ryzen 7 5800U1.9 GHz4.4 GHz8/1615W5.AMD Ryzen 7 4800HS2.9 GHz4.2 GHz8/1645W6.Apple M1 Pro 8-core2.0 GHz3.2 GHz8/830W7.AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 5850U1.9 GHz4.4 GHz8/1615W8.AMD Ryzen 5 5600H3.3 GHz4.2 GHz6/1245W9.AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4800U1.8 GHz4.2 GHz8/1615W10.Intel i9-10980HK2.4 GHz5.3 GHz8/1645W11.Intel i7-10700E2.9 GHz4.5 GHz8/1665W12.Intel i7-11600H2.4 GHz5.3 GHz8/1645W13.Intel i9-10885H2.9 GHz4.6 GHz6/1245W
With so many different laptop CPUs available, some are bound to end up in this C-tier category. However, that does not immediately translate to a bad processor. In fact, every single one of these CPUs listed above is powerful enough to handle gaming, productivity work, or daily browsing.
For example, Intel’s 11th Gen i5s are still 6-core, 12-thread processors with a TDP of 45W, so they definitely can output high FPS in gaming.
Our picks for this category are the Ryzen 7 5700U, i7-11700TE, Apple’s M1, Ryzen 4700U, and Intel’s i5-11400H. You can find these in Acer’s Nitro 5, MacBook Pro, Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 5, ASUS TUF Gaming, and others.
Here’s a benchmark video of the Ryzen 7 Pro 4750U processor without a discrete GPU:
ModelBase ClockBoost ClockCores/ThreadsTDP1.Intel i5-11500H2.9 GHz4.6 GHz6/1245W2.Intel i5-11400H2.7 GHz4.5 GHz6/1245W3.Intel i9-10980HK2.9 GHz4.6 GHz6/1245W5.AMD Ryzen 7 5700U1.8 GHz4.3 GHz8/1615W6.Intel i7-10700TE2.0 GHz4.4 GHz8/1635W7.AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U1.7 GHz4.1 GHz8/1615W8.Intel i9-10885H2.4 GHz5.3 GHz8/1645W9.AMD Ryzen 5 5600U2.3 GHz4.2 GHz6/1215W10.AMD Ryzen 5 5650U2.3 GHz4.2 GHz6/1215W11.Apple M1 8-Core2.0 GHz3.2 GHz8/815W12.Intel i7-10870H2.2 GHz5.0 GHz8/1645W13.Intel i5-11260H2.6 GHz4.4 GHz6/1245W14.AMD Ryzen 5 4600H3.0 GHz4.0 GHz6/1245W15.AMD Ryzen 7 4700U2.0 GHz4.1 GHz8/815W16.AMD Ryzen 5 5500U2.1 GHz4.0 GHz6/1215W17.AMD Ryzen 5 4600U2.1 GHz4.0 GHz6/1215W
The D-tier category lists the slowest laptop processors of Intel’s and AMD’s last three generations. However, even though we are in the lowest tier, some of these processors can be great as a daily driver.
The i7-1260P is a 12th-gen processor with 12 cores and 16 threads, which will perform pretty well. The i7-10750H, i5-10400H, and i7-10710U are also good choices with 6 cores and 12 threads.
The rest are 4-core, 8-thread CPUs, which might not be enough for 2022. Of course, it depends on what you plan on working on with your laptop. But, since these are lower TDP CPUs (just 15W or lower), those 4 cores won’t be too fast.
Fortunately, these D-tier processors have something going for them, and that’s their pricing. Additionally, these CPUs are fit into cheaper laptops.
Check out Dell’s Inspiron 13 5310, HP 14” i3-1125G4, ASUS X415, and others similarly priced laptops.
To understand how low-end CPUs perform, check out this video where the i3-10110U was tested in 20 different games.
ModelBase ClockBoost ClockCores/ThreadsTDP1.Intel i7-10750H2.6 GHz5.0 GHz6/1245W2.Intel i7-11370H3.3 GHz4.8 GHz4/835W3.AMD Ryzen 3 5325U2.7 GHz4.1 GHz4/815W4.Intel i7-1260P2.1 GHz4.7 GHz12/1628W5.AMD Ryzen 3 5400U2.6 GHz4.0 GHz4/815W6.Intel i7-1185G7E2.8 GHz4.4 GHz4/815W7.Intel i5-10500H2.5 GHz4.5 GHz6/1245W8.AMD Ryzen 5 4500U2.3 GHz4.0 GHz6/615W8.Intel i7-11300H3.1 GHz4.4 GHz4/835W9.Intel i7-1185G73.0 GHz4.8 GHz4/815W10.Intel i5-1145G72.6 GHz4.4 GHz4/828W11.AMD Ryzen 3 PRO 4200GE1.7 GHz3.5 GHz4/835W12.Intel i7-1068NG72.3 GHz4.1 GHz4/828W13.AMD Ryzen 3 5300U2.6 GHz3.8 GHz4/815W14.Intel i7-10710U1.1 GHz4.7 GHz6/1215W15.Intel i3-1125G42.0 GHz3.7 GHz4/828W16.Intel i5-10200H2.4 GHz4.1 GHz4/845W17.Intel i5-1035G71.2 GHz3.7 GHz4/815W18.Intel i5-1030NG71.1 GHz3.5 GHz4/810W19.Intel i3-1005G11.2 GHz3.4 GHz2/415W20.Intel i5-10210Y1.0 GHz4.0 GHz4/87W21.Intel i3-10110Y1.1 GHz4.0 GHz2/47W
Final Words On Laptop CPU Hierarchy
This laptop CPU hierarchy lists around 80 different mobile processors. Of course, we didn’t list all Intel or AMD laptop CPUs, but these are most of them. Or at least, the most popular picks. Also, keep in mind that we only added only the last three generations of Intel and AMD CPUs.
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