Intel 13th-gen vs 14th-gen for gaming laptops: what you need to know

Intel has been at the forefront of delivering high-performance computing power when it comes to gaming laptops. It also continues to be the preferred choice despite AMD offering highly competitive and efficient options. With each new generation, team blue continues to push the boundaries of gaming and productivity, offering gamers and creators a compelling blend of power, efficiency, and cutting-edge technologies. 

If you are looking for a new gaming laptop in 2024, Intel’s 13th-gen mobile CPUs are still mighty powerful, offering a variety of options under the HX and H-series. For 2024, the company is offering the latest 14th-gen processors but only offers models under the HX-series, which is more or less a refresh of the 13th-gen series from last year. Additionally, Intel’s first generation of low-powered AI-equipped Core Ultra mobile processors meant for thin and light machines are also rolling out and making their way to a handful of new gaming laptops. 

To get a better idea of which is the right one for you, here’s a comparison between Intel 13th-gen and 14th-gen processors for gaming laptops.

Intel 13th-gen mobile processors

Last year’s 13th-gen mobile CPU range is led by the Core HX-series for top-of-the-line high-performance gaming notebooks. With the option of having up to 24 cores and turbo clock speeds of up to 5.6GHz, these are powerful chips designed to deliver desktop-level performance in a mobile package. Based on Intel’s Raptor Lake-S silicone, you can expect massive power draws with a turbo TDP of 157W, and a base TDP of 55W. There’s also support for DDR5-5600 and DDR4-3200 memory with up to 128GB across four memory slots, dynamic overclocking, and XMP 3.0 memory profiling.

Other features include support for PCIe 5.0 x16, which can be split into 2×8, integrated Thunderbolt 4 support, up to eight SATA ports, ten USB 3 ports, and up to fourteen USB 2 ports (final integration is up to the laptop OEM). For wireless connectivity, you get support for Intel Killer Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth with LE audio support.

Having a total of nine SKUs, these chips mark Intel’s commitment to providing high-performance options based on their desktop technology. Among these, we have the Core i9-13980HX, Core i9-13950HX, and Core i9-13900HX, featuring up to 24 cores. The Core i9-13980HX stands out as the fastest with a turbo clock speed of 5.6GHz, which is pretty impressive for a laptop-grade processor. The Core i9-13950HX follows closely, slightly lowering its max clock speed and offering vPro capabilities for enterprise users. The Core i9-13900HX comes next with a further drop in clock speeds.
Moving down the lineup, the Core i7 models offer different core configurations. The Core i7-13850HX leads with 20 cores, turboing up to 5.3GHz, followed by the Core i7-13700HX with 16 cores and the Core i7-13650HX with 14 cores.

Intel expanded its i5 SKUs in the HX lineup to three chips (compared to the 2 offered in the 12th gen HX), that include two 14-core SKUs, the i5-13600HX and i5-13500HX, both boasting similar clock speeds. Notably, the i5-13600HX stands out with Intel vPro support, making it suitable for enterprise notebooks. On the other hand, the i5-13450HX features 10 cores (6P+4E), a P-core turbo of 4.6GHz, and a base frequency of 2.4GHz.

Stacked below the HX is the more traditional H-series of processors that offer fewer cores and clock speeds. Don’t consider this to be any slower, as the range offers up to 14 cores, boost clock speeds of 5.4GHz and a power draw that can go up to 115W.  Some of the highlight features of the 13th-gen H-series include support for up to four Thunderbolt 4 ports, support for up to DDR5-5200/LPDDR5-6400, or DDR4-3200/LPDDR4-4267 memory. Additionally, there is support for four USB 3 and ten USB 2 ports, as well as two SATA ports, along with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth with LE audio support.

Under the H-series product stack, the highest-tier Core i9 models share identical core and thread counts (6P+8E/20), base and turbo clock speeds, and 24MB of L3 cache. The primary difference among these three is that the Core i9-13900HK boasts unlocked CPU multipliers for overclocking and includes Intel’s vPro Essentials. The Core i9-13900H is tailored for enterprise notebooks with comprehensive vPro technology support. Conversely, the Core i9-13950H lacks vPro support and targets consumer notebooks.

The Core i7 H-series lineup includes four models out of which three come with 14 cores, along with one 10-core model (Core i7-13620H) aimed at delivering mid-range performance at a lower overall cost. Among them, the Core i7-13800H targets the enterprise market with Intel vPro support and higher boost clock speeds of 5.2GHz, while the Core i7-13700H offers vPro Essentials. Catering to the consumer market, the Core i7-13750H boasts a P-core turbo of 5GHz and a base frequency of 2.4GHz, operating under a turbo TDP of 115W, ensuring sufficient power when needed.

Moving down the H-series hierarchy, the Core i5 series comprises four SKUs with turbo clock speeds ranging from 4.8 to 4.6GHz. The Core i5-13600H starts with a base frequency of 2.8GHz, while the Core i5-13505H and i5-13500H models start at 2.6GHz. On the lower end, the entry-level Core i5-13420H offers 8 cores and 12 threads (4P+4E), with 12MB of L3 cache compared to the other i5 models’ 18MB. All Core i5 models share a base TDP of 45W and a turbo TDP of 95W.

Intel 14th-gen mobile processors

This year we saw some changes in Intel’s mobile CPU offering. Just as the 13th-gen mobile processors that came with a subtle shift in architecture, the latest 14th-gen Core series, the upgrades are not as significant. While Intel has chosen to stick with the Raptor Lake architecture there are changes in voltage and frequency (V/F) curve allowing for higher clock speeds. 

The latest 14th-gen Core HX series brings support for Thunderbolt 5 and USB4v2. Notably, the platform doesn’t natively integrate Thunderbolt 5, and Intel is relying on Barlow Ridge Thunderbolt 5 controllers that use a PCIe 4.0 x4 link. The platform supports both DDR5-5600 and DDR4-3200 memory configurations with native support for Wi-Fi 6E. Additionally, there is support for up to fourteen USB 2 ports, ten USB 3 ports, and up to 8 SATA ports. 

Compared to the 13th-gen, the new HX-series comes with faster P-core turbo clock speeds of up to 5.8GHz, available on the top-of-the-line Core i9-14900HX. The CPU comes with the same P-core and E-core configuration as the Core i9-13900HX with the only significant change being a bump in the clock speeds.

As for the Core i7 models, there are only two options this time. The Core i7-14700HX is an update to the i7-13700HX and comes with four additional efficiency cores, so now you get 8 P-cores, 12 E-cores along with 28-threads. It also comes with a faster turbo-boost clock speed of 5.5GHz for the P-cores while there is also a bump of 200MHz on the E-core turbos allowing them to clock up to 3.9GHz.

The Core i7-14650HX also sees an upgrade with two additional performance cores compared to its predecessor, resulting in an 8P+8E/24T core setup. The chip comes with an increased P-core turbo speed of 5.2GHz (up from 4.9 GHz) and an E-core turbo speed of 3.7GHz (up from 3.6 GHz), coupled with the extra two P-cores.

Moving further down the lineup, we have two refreshed Core i5 models – Core i5-14500HX and Core i5-14450HX. Both the chips are similar in terms of core and thread configuration and only differ in terms of P-core and E-core clock speeds.

Intel Core Ultra

Apart from the HX series, Intel also introduced the first generation of its new Core Ultra series this year. Based on Intel’s new Meteor Lake architecture, these new chips are poised to offer high performance while consuming lower power thanks to the 7nm node. The Core Ultra H series is technically not a replacement for the traditional Core H-series, but it is making its way into new gaming laptops in 2024.

The new Meteor Lake platform is a significant jump in architecture transitioning from traditional monolithic designs to a chiplet-based approach. It utilises Intel’s Foveros 3D packaging technology, enabling 3D chip stacking to surpass the limitations of 2D chip layouts. It emphasises disaggregation, power efficiency, and adaptable silicon, providing Intel with new possibilities for constructing CPUs from individual blocks.

The architecture comprises four interconnected tiles: compute, graphics, SoC, and I/O. Each tile comes with its own set of advancements, including the Redwood Cove Performance cores and Crestmont Efficiency cores housed within the compute tile. There’s additionally a specialised variant of the E-core known as the Low Power Island or LP-E core, integrated into the SoC tile to handle low-intensity workloads. Due to the SoC tile’s continuous activity, the LP-E core offers cost-effective energy usage compared to activating the CPU tile.

According to Intel, the new architecture delivers improved instructions per cycle (IPC), boasting up to an 11 percent increase over the competition. The Core Ultra series also comes with a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) which is capable of handling longer-running AI workloads at low power and claims 2.5x better power efficiency than the previous generation.

Intel has announced a total of five SKUs under the Core Ultra 9, Core Ultra 7 and Core Ultra 5 subdivisions. The Core Ultra 9 185H sits at the top of the stack having six P-cores, eight E-cores two LP-cores and 22-threads. Boost clock speeds can go up to 5.1GHz on the P-cores and 3.8GHz on E-cores. In terms of power, the base TDP is rated at 45W while the chip is capable of pulling up to 115W.

The Core Ultra 7 series includes the 165H and 155H, both of which come with 16 cores and 22 threads. The configuration includes six performance cores, eight efficiency cores, and two LP-E cores on the SoC tile. The Core Ultra 7 165H offers a P-core turbo frequency of up to 5GHz and an E-core turbo frequency of up to 3.8GHz. It also features 8 Intel Arc Xe cores for integrated graphics, reaching speeds of up to 2.3GHz, along with 24MB of Intel Smart L3 cache.

In comparison, the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H offers slightly lower speeds than the 165H model, with a P-core turbo of 5GHz and an integrated graphics frequency of 2.25GHz. The E-cores on this model can achieve a maximum speed of 3.8GHz, and it also includes 24MB of L3 cache.

Finally, we have the Core Ultra 5 series SKUs that follow a similar setup as the Core Ultra 7 H-series. Both chips come with 14 cores and 18 threads with 4 P-cores, and 8 E-cores 2 LP-E cores. The Core Ultra 5 135H achieves a 4.6GHz P-Core turbo and a 3.6GHz E-core turbo, accompanied by a slightly lower-spec Intel Arc graphics tile housing 8 Xe graphics cores capable of reaching speeds of up to 2.2GHz. On the other hand, the Core Ultra 5 125H boasts a 4.5GHz P-Core turbo, the same 3.6GHz E-core turbo as the 5 135H, and shares the identical Arc integrated graphics clocked at 2.2GHz.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G16 2024 comes with Intel's new Core Ultra CPUs.

The base TDP for Ultra 7 and Ultra 5 H-series chips is set at 28W, while the entire lineup can turbo up to either 64W or 115W for the fastest devices. Notably, device vendors have the flexibility to adjust TDP limits further to align with the power and cooling capabilities of their devices, considering these are mobile parts.

It’s important to note that Intel has priomarily compared the Core Ultra H-series chips against the previous 13th-gen Raptor Lake-Based P-SKUs for performance comparisons, rather than the 13th-gen H-series parts (mentioned above).

Which one should you buy?

Despite having the same basic architecture, there are a few differences between Intel’s 13th-gen and 14th-gen mobile CPUs for gaming laptops. Upgrades like faster boost clock speeds, minor changes in core configurations, support for Thunderbolt 5, and faster DDR5 RAM support are all good, but overall performance gains may be too small.

Now in most cases, gaming performance depends on the GPU, and while the CPU does have an important role to play, you don’t always need the latest or top-of-the-line processor. Simply put, if you have the budget, you can go for the latest 14th-gen, but the performance of last year’s 13th-gen still holds viable and suitable for most users. Remember, you don’t always need a top-of-the-line Core i9 CPU for a good gaming experience.

As for the new Core Ultra series, you are going to find those on a few machines that target a blend of performance and portability. It brings in new low-power cores for improved battery life much like the older-generation Intel P and U series chips, and a dedicated NPU, which brings some AI magic to the mix. If you are a casual gamer or want something that is not very bulky, these new chips are actually worth exploring.