Intel Meteor Lake turns heads with clock speed leak as hype builds around next-gen CPUs

CPU concept art of a chip with blue electricity coursing through it
(Image credit: 3dartists / Shutterstock)

Intel’s Meteor Lake processors have been the subject of a new leak which shows they could reach impressive boost speeds.

As ever with leaks, we must bear in mind that this info comes with heavy baggage. We can’t be sure it’s authentic, and the source – Bilibili in China – is not always the most reliable.

That said, the leaker, ‘Golden Pig Upgrade’ is a regular on the scene and has been right about things in the past.

The rumor was spotted by HXL and shared on Twitter (via Tom’s Hardware), and it contends that the Meteor Lake Core Ultra 7 (not Core i7 – Intel is supposedly changing the naming scheme, as you may recall) with boost to 5GHz (on one core).

The Core Ultra 9 will exceed 5GHz, we’re told. Wait a minute, you may be thinking – doesn’t that sound a bit tame compared to the boost speeds we already see with Intel’s current processors for laptops? (Remember, Meteor Lake is mobile CPUs, and Intel is addressing the desktop market and aiming to make a mark on our best processors roundup with Raptor Lake Refresh).

Well, you’re right – indeed, we’ve seen speeds of 5.4GHz with Raptor Lake mobile. So, let’s dig into why this is impressive, and why the apparent feat draws Golden Pig Upgrade to say their faith has returned in Meteor Lake.

Analysis: An engineering feat by all accounts

The thing about Raptor Lake reaching 5.4GHz is that it’s a very different kettle of silicon to Meteor Lake, so to speak.

Meteor Lake laptop chips are produced with a very different design, using the Intel 4 process and a 3D-stacked compute tile. All that sounds like gobbledegook, yes, but the long and short of it is that it’s more difficult to crank up the clock speeds with this design without encountering thermal issues and overheating, so boost levels need to be tempered with that in mind.

These leaked speeds are a big thing because the rumor mill was expecting sub-5GHz speeds – maybe even considerably under that – and now we’re told that the Core i7 and i9 equivalents will be over 5GHz. Perhaps the top chip will even reach 5.2GHz or so, and that’s not far off what we have with Raptor Lake – and given those mentioned design constraints, well, that’s why it’s impressive. If this leak pans out, of course, these could be excellent CPUs to go in the best gaming laptops.

Bear in mind that clock speeds aren’t everything, either, and we have architectural advances that mean Meteor Lake processors will be faster than Raptor Lake by their very nature.

The hype is building nicely around Meteor Lake, then, and Intel is helping it along with recent comments from its CEO. Pat Gelsinger reminded us that the 14th-gen CPUs will have AI acceleration, and that: “We see this AI PC as ushering in a new class of applications, major application upgrades, and ISV excitements.” This will be, we’re told, “like [Intel’s] Centrino moment for bringing Wi-Fi into the PC two decades ago,” Gelsinger promised.

Meteor Lake chips are set to arrive later this year, with the grapevine insisting that the most likely release date is October or November. (Raptor Lake Refresh desktop CPUs should arrive in October).

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).