Review Index:

A Look at Intel 8th Generation Mobile Quad-Core Performance

Manufacturer: Intel

Overview and CPU Performance

When Intel announced their quad-core mobile 8th Generation Core processors in August, I was immediately interested. As a user who gravitates towards "Ultrabook" form-factor notebooks, it seemed like a no-brainer—gaining two additional CPU cores with no power draw increase.

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However, the hardware reviewer in me was skeptical. Could this "Kaby Lake Refresh" CPU provide the headroom to fit two more physical cores on a die while maintaining the same 15W TDP? Would this mean that the processor fans would have to run out of control? What about battery life?

Now that we have our hands on our first two notebooks with the i7-8550U in, it's time to take a more in-depth look at Intel's first mobile offerings of the 8th Generation Core family.

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Click here to continue reading our look at performance with Intel 8th Generation mobile processors!

Today we are taking a look at two very different notebooks. On the left, we have the HP Spectre x360 which is a 15" 2-in-1 device with a 360-degree hinge and on the right, we have the ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe. Interestingly enough, both of these machines have changed very little from their 7th generation, dual-core counterparts.

Since the 8th generation parts have come at a "mid-cycle" refresh, it makes sense that OEMs would recycle the previous work they put into this year's flagship ultrabooks, at least from an external design perspective.

  ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe UX490A HP Spectre x360 
Processor Intel Core i7-8550U (Kaby Lake Refresh) Intel Core i7-8550U (Kaby Lake Refresh)
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620 Intel UHD Graphics 620 + NVIDIA MX150
Memory 16GB 16GB
Screen 14-in 1920x1080  15.6-in 3840x2160

512 GB Samsung PM961 NVMe

512 GB Samsung PM961 NVMe
Connections 2 x Thunderbolt 3
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
1 x Thunderbolt 3
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
1 x USB 3.0 Type-A
SD Card Reader
Battery 46 Wh 77 Wh

12.95 x 8.27 x 0.51 inches

14 x 9.88 x 0.7 inches
Price $1699 - Amazon $1649 - Amazon

Despite the differences in form-factors, our two Kaby Lake Refresh notebooks are similarly equipped with the exception of discrete NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics found in the HP Spectre. Even the price tags are similar, making this a compelling pair of notebooks to compare head-to-head.

CPU Performance

First, we'll take a look at the normal suite of benchmarks that we use for our notebook reviews:

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In Cinebench R15, we see the smaller Zenbook 3 Deluxe with a large performance advantage in the multi-core test, but a slight disadvantage in the single-core test. Both notebooks handily outperform our reference point for dual-core 7th generation processors, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

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Encoding video in Handbrake shows a different performance breakdown between these three notebooks. The Zenbook 3 Deluxe is only slightly faster than the dual-core CPU X1 Carbon, with the HP Spectre x360 finishing significantly faster than both.

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PCMark 8 is a more holistic system benchmark and generally, shows different results than the previous CPU-bound benchmarks. While the HP Spectre x360 comes ahead in the Creative benchmark, which incorporates more demanding tasks like batch photo and video editing, the ZenBook 3 Deluxe scores higher in the rest of the tests.

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It's clear that there are some inconsistencies with the results from our traditional notebook performance testing. Let's dig in deeper with a closer look a topic that is very important for notebooks - thermal design.

Video News

October 31, 2017 | 12:42 PM - Posted by ThatSomeFarceThoseThinAndLights (not verified)

At $1649 and $1699 these two SKUs are way overpriced even with 4 cores and 8 threads on the CPU, and I'll say the same if any of AMD's Reven Ridge SKUs are utilized in any Thin and Light form factor laptop that's restricted to only 15 Watts at most for thermal headroom if they come in at above even $800.

My Ivy Bridge quad core i7 HP probbok with discrete Radeon mobile 7650M(Terascale Rebrand) only cost around $760 new and on sale as a last years model at microcenter at the time of purchase. And the only reason that I have not purchased a new laptop in 4+ years is that microcenter is only selling the HP probooks with the dual core i5s ad i7s that are restricted to 15 Watts max. I'll not pay more for less computing power and my Ivy Bridge based HP probook is light enough that it can be easily held in one hand.

Really if you want thin and light for that much money get and Apple macbook because that's in the range of what these SKUs are costing. And I'd rather have an AMD APU laptop option with a "Desktop" Reven Ridge 35+ watt APU SKU inside and 35 watts used to be considered a Laptop grade wattage before Intel came up with that Ultrabook branding nonsense in an effort to foist that Apple style overpricing business model onto the larger PC market.

And Intel was relatively sucessiful even though that Ultrbook(TM) branding is no longer pushed, and the entire laptop market has had its price/performance bar artifically minipulated with consumers paying more for underpowered laptop SKUs at 15 Watts than they have been paying for better performing laptops at 35 Watts. Intel sure was able to get quite a few more dual core i7 U series dies on a wafer and charge more for those U series i7 variants than Intel charged for a quad core Ivy Bridge i7 when that was new to the market. The Laptop performance bar has been so artifically lowered with that thin and light market scheme that current laptop performance will still not catch up with previous generation's laptop price/performance metrics even with the quad core U series Intel variants.

I'm waiting for the desktop Raven Ridge APU variants in 2018 and any laptop OEM that may consider using a 35+ watt desktop Raven Ridge part because there is a gaming laptop shipping with an 8 core Ryzen 7 1700 SKU and Laptops can easily handle 35 Watts if the laptop uses a form factor similar to my Ivy Bridge HP probook. I'll even hope that maybe there can be a gaming laptop that will make use of a Raven Ridge 35 watt part and a discrete Mobile GPU.

Really, close to 2 grand for such little processing power in that thin and light market and those laptops are more of a fashon statment than anything else. Save your Money and get a Rolex instead it will hold its value better than any thin and light.

October 31, 2017 | 06:16 PM - Posted by Rexyl (not verified)

Agreed. I also have a 5 year old laptop and think that current offering are pathetic. $750 5 years ago got me an i5 model with a budget discrete GPU (think of a GTX 1050 class GPU) and 8GB of memory. Even spending twice as much as my current machine doesn't get me that today. And how is 8GB of memory on a laptop standard for the year 2017?

October 31, 2017 | 08:18 PM - Posted by willmore

I guess I do belong in this thread. Turns out my refurbished laptop is a 5 year old model. I paid $195 for it over a year ago and just bought a spare for $125. If this one fails, I'll move over the bits that survived to the other one and carry on.

Seriously don't want to go laptop shopping with the stuff they make these days. It's either super expensive thin-and-light junk, zomg-gamerz, or "Wow, they really is cheap."

There's some middle ground, manufacturers!

November 1, 2017 | 12:32 PM - Posted by Ken Addison

Those sorts of products definitely do still exist and are probably what most people should buy who are looking at bang-for-the-buck. 

October 31, 2017 | 04:06 PM - Posted by willmore

I think I'm going to stick to buying refurbished business laptops that are bulkier and have better thermal performance.

And, what's up with that temp on the Zenbook? Are they on/off cycling the fan instead of trying to find one speed that keeps it at the temp they want? Sheesh, PID loops aren't rocket science kids. Hire an engineer or two, will you? Oh, while you're at it, get one that understands cooling better than your current one.

November 3, 2017 | 03:31 PM - Posted by Blowmegently (not verified)

Very poor review. What cpu speed is the 7300u at? Why are those thermals not compared? What’s the ram speed? Weak. There’s a reason I haven’t visited this site since m five years. Lol

November 5, 2017 | 07:11 PM - Posted by Max Settings (not verified)

R7 2700U, 16GB dual DDR4-2400, 13.3" 1080p IPS Touch, 256GB SSD, 60Wh, <1.5KG, <$1200. *That's* an Ultrabook. No idea what these things are supposed to be.

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