Intel has long been considered top dog when it comes to laptop processors, but a new ad campaign shows the company is looking over its shoulder. Titled 'Justin Gets Real', a series of five short clips compares a selection of Intel-powered PCs with Apple's latest MacBook Pro and Air. While none of the ads explicitly say which is better, it's heavily implied that going with an Intel device is a no-brainer.
You might also recognise the actor playing Justin. Yes, it's the same 'I'm a Mac' guy from in Apple's own PC vs Mac adverts from the 2000s. Apple recently revived the 'I'm a PC' guy at the end of its Mac-themed November event, although it seems a lot has changed for his rival in the intervening decade.
Intel's clips aim to demonstrate five key areas where PCs powered by their silicon beat MacBooks all ends up. These are the number of different options, perceived superiority when it comes to gaming, touch input, the ability to connect to three monitors (the Mac only supports one natively) and 2-in-1 functionality. The most controversial moment arguably comes in the video for the latter, where Justin is handed everything you might need to match the experience with Apple products.
While Intel does make some good points in these ads, they're unlikely to change consumers' buying habits anytime soon. Most people buying a Mac aren't interested in gaming on it, while third-party accessories let you connect to multiple monitors at a time. The tablet experience using Windows 10 is still far from optimised, so a separate device with a different OS (like the iPad) may actually make more sense for a lot of people. The lack of touch input feels valid, although Apple's reported ditching of the Touch Bar on the upcoming MacBook Pro could be the first step towards touchscreen Macs.
It was perhaps telling that Intel didn't make any comments on performance. Apple's new M1 chip offers the kind of stellar performance and long-lasting battery life that could tempt people to move away from Intel, as was illustrated in our M1 MacBook Air review.
Despite this, Intel's market share remains extremely healthy. Data from Mercury Research suggests around 80.7% of all desktop PCs are powered by the company's CPUs. However, many of these are likely to be legacy devices, with both AMD's Ryzen 5000 Series and Apple M1 appearing to beat Intel from a performance standpoint. Benchmarks produced by the company suggest Tiger Lake is still competitive, but the very specific stats it's chosen don't tell the full story. You also have to factor in that there are still so many more Intel-powered devices available to buy (as Intel alluded to in one of its ads). If AMD chips made their way into a similar number of laptops, it might be a different story.
Nonetheless, it still feels like Intel wouldn't need to make these ads if it was confident in its position as market leader. It's far from a spent force, but it's clear the company needs to up its game to stay ahead of AMD, Apple and even Qualcomm. This is good news for consumers though, with competition invariably driving the quality of the product up and the price down.
Interested in picking up an Intel PC? There are many great choices in our best laptop chart, although AMD and Apple M1-powered devices also make an appearance.