Intel chose not to update its laptop processor lineup throughout 2021, but the company is back with a bang in 2022. At CES in Las Vegas, the firm revealed its first 12th-gen Alder Lake mobile CPUs, designed to be integrated into the next generation of portable computers.

Despite continuing with a 10nm process, they’re arguably Intel’s most ambitious laptop chips in years. That’s because it shifts to the company’s hybrid big.LITTLE architecture, first seen on Alder Lake desktop CPUs in November. This is comprised of both fast performance cores and slower power-efficiency cores, with the ability to dynamically switch between them according to your workload. Rather than performance suffering as a result, it should improve speed and responsiveness in the long run.

Benchmarks from Alder Lake desktop CPUs make for encouraging reading, leading Intel to make some big claims about the mobile equivalent. The company describes its latest silicon as “the world’s best mobile gaming platform”, confirming that it's capable of 4K gaming (but only in terms of the CPU - you'd still need a suitable GPU to partner with it).

Alder Lake H series

Internal testing also suggests the top-spec Core i9-12900HK is the fastest mobile processor ever, surpassing both the Apple M1 Max and AMD’s Ryzen 9 5900HX. However, the new Ryzen 6000 Series is expected to close that gap.

Intel Alder Lake
Image: Intel

The Core i9-12900HK is one of eight chips in the enthusiast-level H-Series. They all have a base TDP of 45W and max clock speed of at least 4.4GHz, but the number of cores and L3 cache varies significantly. Here’s a full summary:

Processor Performance cores Efficiency cores Threads L3 cache Max clock speed Base power
i9-12900HK 6 8 20 24Mb 5.0GHz 45W
i9-12900H 6 8 20 24Mb 5.0GHz 45W
i7-12800H 6 8 20 24Mb 4.8GHz 45W
i7-12700H 6 8 20 24Mb 4.7GHz 45W
i7-12650H 6 4 16 24Mb 4.7GHz 45W
i5-12600H 4 8 16 18Mb 4.5GHz 45W
i5-12500H 4 8 16 18Mb 4.5GHz 45W
i5-12450H 4 4 12 12Mb 4.4GHz 45W

Other key features consistent across all H-Series chips include support for DDR5 RAM, Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6E.

The company has ambitious plans when it comes to getting these processors into laptops, describing it as “the fastest and most aggressive rollout of H-Series ever”. Acer, Dell, Gigabyte, HP, Lenovo, MSI, Razer and Asus (ROG) are all confirmed to be working on devices, with several announcing Alder Lake-powered hardware at CES.

Alder Lake P series

With a base power of 28W, the Alder Lake P-Series is a step down. Nonetheless, it should still be able to deliver great performance for thin-and-light laptops. The eight CPUs range from the Core i3-1220P to Core i7-1280P. For devices like these, battery life is just as important as pure performance.

Alder Lake U series

The final category of Alder Lake mobile CPUs is the U-Series, designed with less powerful hardware in mind. This is where you'll see Pentium and Celeron chips alongside the regular i3, i5 and i7 options, with cores ranging from 11 to 22.

Intel has indicated that more mobile processors are coming between now and the end of March.

New desktop processors

The introduction of mobile CPUs is the most significant announcement from Intel at CES, but there are even more new desktop processors to talk about. A total of 22 new chips have been added to the lineup, ranging from entry-level Celeron and Pentium Gold CPUs to the top-spec Core i9-12900T. However, it’s not clear when they’ll go on sale or how much they’ll cost.

Until then, here's where to buy the existing Alder Lake desktop CPUs.

Updates to Intel Evo Platform

Intel launched its Evo Platform back in 2019, aimed at providing an easy way for people to choose a high-quality Intel-powered laptop. This third iteration will now require a 12th-gen CPU, as well as great collaboration across video calls and other tools regularly used for remote working. The Evo Platform is also expanding to include a greater range of form factors (such as foldables) and larger displays (15- and 16in).