Intel have announced the expansion of their 13th Generation Core CPU processor lineup - sometimes known as Raptor Lake - this week at CES 2023, choosing North Americaís largest consumer electronics expo as the most appropriate event for the reveal. The updated range now includes new SKUs for desktops and laptops, pushing Raptor Lake deeper into mainstream and enthusiast categories.
On launch late last year the 13th Gen. processors primarily catered to enthusiasts in the desktop space, debuting with a selection of unlocked 'K-series' SKUs running from $250 to well over $500. The balance of the range fills in the gaps for OEMs, system integrators and DIY system builders who would prefer to eschew overclocking support and the slightly more demanding cooling requirements of those premium chips.
Heading up the list of new processors for desktop is the Core i9-13900, a 65W model that apes many of the features of the i9-13900K with the obvious exception of overclocking support. It boasts the full 8 Performance Cores and 16 Efficiency Cores present in its more senior sibling, as well as 36MB L3 Cache, but has a slight downwards tweak in maximum P-core Turbo frequency from 5.8 to 5.6GHz and E-core Turbo Frequency from 4.3GHz to 4.2GHz. This tweak in specification allows it to sit within a Ďbase processor powerí of 65W, drawing up to 219W at the top end.
The upshot is a processor that, according to Intel, has double-digit performance improvements over the previous generationís equivalent (the Core i9-12900), with multi-threaded applications potentially benefiting by as much as 33%. Variants with lower base power configurations (Core i9-13900T) or without integrated graphics functionality (i9-13900F) are also launching alongside this model, which is pitched primarily at gamers and OEMs for whom overclocking isnít a priority.
Similar SKUs are added for the i7-13700 and i5-13600, while more mainstream segments are now served by models in the i5-13400 and i3-13100 range. The i5-13400 in particular is an interesting chip, offering 6 P-Cores and 4 E-Cores below a $225 MSRP, potentially making it one of the more attractive options for gaming alongside Intelís more value-oriented 600-series or 700-series motherboards. Like the 12th Gen before it, itís worth remembering that DDR4 memory is an option that will save a few dollars.
However, Intel have also slightly hidden the lead with their pricing. Each SKU is slightly more expensive than their 12th Gen equivalent's launch MSRP; not much, but just enough to be worthy of mention. It's disappointing that Intel took the somewhat cynical recent action of increasing the 12th Gen MSRP on the ark database.
While Intelís 13th Generation Core is now well established in the desktop space, it has until now not encroached into Mobile Laptop and Notebook designs. That changes this week with a new series of processors specifically for these diverse platforms, arriving in a range of performance categories and with industry-leading capabilities
Intelís flagship designs are the 13th Gen. Core HX series, equipped with up-to 8 P-Cores and 16 E-Cores within a 55W Base Processor Power envelope (with 151W Max Turbo Power). Theyíre headed by the Core i9-13980HX, a 24-core model with P-cores clocking up to 5.6 GHz, but even extend down into relatively modest Core i5 SKUs with as few as 10 discrete cores (6 P-cores, 4 E-cores).
Notebooks with 13th Gen Core HX series CPUs are envisioned as the platform of choice for gamers and content creators with a need for desktop-class performance in an integrated mobile package. Its innate multi-threaded, multi-tasking capabilities has plenty of potential for CAD/CAM, streaming (up to 8K) and workhorse rendering, while the sheer single-threaded performance of the Raptor Lake P-core allows it to chew through gaming content when matched with an appropriate dGPU. This sort of professional to enthusiast and prosumer performance band should give some indication of the expected price of laptops tooled out with the range will be.
Meanwhile, Intelís H, P and U series processors cater to the balance of laptop segments, from enthusiast performance through to low power performance and ultra low power. Each will be receiving a 13th Gen. Core release, albeit a large performance tier below HX-series equivalents due to a large drop in power envelope. While the HX-series tops out at 24-cores, the H-series are limited to 14 cores (6 P-core, 8 E-core) configurations that balance the requirements and cooling limitations of platforms utilising the processors.
The most restricted in this fashion is the 13th Gen U-series, which is limited to up-to 10-core models with a maximum of two P-cores. Intelís efforts in the segment have historically been excellent however, so reviewers will be itching to get their hands on the new range of ultra low power laptops equipped with these processors.
Compensating for the reduced number of CPU cores is support for the Intel Iris Xe graphics engine. With as many as 96 execution units clocking up-to 1.5GHz, the on-package graphics is far more performant than those of the HX-series. As a result, many will not be paired with a discrete GPU, instead leaning heavily on Intelís own solution for all necessary functionality.
A further footnote in the H-series is that it includes the unlocked Core i9-13900HK. Overclocking-capable laptop processor SKUs tend to crop up only once a (CPU) generation due the outsized power and cooling requirements such functionality demands, but this chip will no doubt find its way into notebooks by partners Intel trusts to treat it with a deserved level of engineering respect.
In addition to established features such as Wi-Fi 6E and Thunderbolt I/O, 13th Gen. Core notebooks will also offer new features for adopters to the platform. Intel Bluetooth LE Audio for instance implements synchronised multi-stream True Wireless (TWS) for Bluetooth, reducing power consumption of and improving the bitrate to the wireless audio device.
Designís by Intelís partners can choose to take advantage of their Evo design principles. An off-shoot of Project Athena - a usability-focussed series of design aspirations that highlight responsiveness and physical ease-of-use in the mobile space to create innovative notebook products - Intel Evo notebooks are co-engineered by Intel and their partners which today make up an ecosystem of over 100 designs.
Joining Evo notebooks in 2023 will be peripherals and wireless access points. Android and iOS phones also have their part to play, pairing with compatible Evo notebooks for features such as synchronised notifications and sharing.
All told, this weekís unveiling represents a comprehensive update to Intelís consumer product stack, as well as encroaching on prosumer and business markets through CPUs with Intel vPro security features as standard. Those who have already migrated to a 12th or 13th Gen. Core platform will largely be comfortable ignoring the announcements, but others still languishing on older systems of more than a few years old will see a lot to impress them.
One final aspect of Intelís presentation to mention was the next step in Intelís ongoing flirtation with client AI. The Intel Movidius VPU for Laptops is and AI Acceleration module for audio and video effects, a component thatís clearly still in the developmental stage but shipping as an optional addition for developers. Itís notable that, unlike NVIDIAís consumer AI solutions, the module isnít integrated into the GPU; nonetheless it does seem to be a feature that Intel would look to leverage long-term.