Over the last few years, as Intel has launched one successive generation of Core after the other, the meaning of the word “generation” has begun to slip. With gains often being marginal from one generation to the next, the relative impact of each upgrade has been fairly small.
PCWorld has put some mobile systems through their paces and found that they generally conform to the expected pattern we’ve seen from their desktop counterparts. Putting additional CPU cores inside these systems has resulted in dramatic performance improvements, provided, of course, that your workloads can scale to meet them.
These results are in line with what we would’ve expected. If adding additional cores can improve the performance of quad-core chips in 15W envelopes compared to the higher-clocked dual-cores they replaced, we’d expect the same to be true higher in the TDP stack, where there’s more power to play with and the constraints of TDP are typically in the 35W-45W range as opposed to 15W.
The greatest gains are at the four-core mark. Here, the Core i7-7700HQ has already fallen to the 3.4GHz clock it’ll hold for the remainder of its test. The default base clock on the 7700HQ is 2.8GHz, which means the CPU is holding a frequency well above its minimum — but the Core i7-8750H is a full 1.15x higher. And this comparison is for the multi-threaded benchmark, not the single-threaded test. (PCWorld notes that they ran this test using a stopwatch and the Mark I eyeball, with the system’s clock speed measured about 20 seconds into the benchmark. In our experience, that’s good enough for a ballpark metric, as this is obviously intended to be).
At full load, the Core i7-8750H drops back to the same 3.4GHz, which means you’d “only” be getting the benefit of the 50 percent increase in core count. But the newer chip continues to hold a 1.06x advantage, even at 8T — which is to say, even at the point where the 7700HQ is running all-out. Turning up the clock by 6 percent while adding 1.5x more cores isn’t a bad improvement at all.
Intel, it should be noted, is not expected to pull the same genie out of its hat this year. In fact, we don’t know much about the company’s next 14nm hardware or what to expect from its future CPUs. That information will presumably drop later this year, probably at IDF. Also, note that these gains are specific to applications, and aren’t really gaming-centric. If you’re a gamer, adding more cores doesn’t offer any benefits over and above a full quad-core with HT.