When AMD Ryzen 4000 for mobile was announced way back at CES 2020, AMD made some lofty promises about its performance, even stating that it is faster than Intel's 9th-generation desktop chips. And, well, now we know it actually is.
After completing our review for the Asus Zephyrus G14, we were curious just how well the AMD Ryzen 4000 chip in that laptop would hold up against the Intel Core i7-9700K, a desktop processor with a 95W TDP, and the results were very surprising.
This is the system we used to test Intel Core i7-9700K performance:
CPU: Intel Core i9-9700K (8-core, up to 4.9GHz)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Masterliquid 360P Silver Edition
Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super
RAM: 32GB HyperX Predator RGB @ 3,000MHz
Motherboard: MSI MEG Z390 ACE
SSD: ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro @ 1TB
Power Supply: Phanteks RevoltX 1200
Case: Praxis Wetbench
In Cinebench R20, the AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS in the Zephyrus G14 scores 4,194 points, compared to the 3,726 points scored by the 9700K. Now, sure, it's easy to see a large part of the reason why this happened – the 4900HS is a hyperthreaded part, and the 9700K has just 8 single-threaded cores. However, Intel's chip takes up nearly three times the power – the 4900HS has just a 35W TDP.
What about single-core, though? Well, it's not super pretty for Intel here, either. Intel's desktop chip did get a stronger single-core score, getting 497 points to AMD's 481. Again, this is Intel's desktop chip against AMD's laptop chip which has a 60W lower TDP – and it's only about 3% faster. This is totally within the margin of error at this point, and you'd be excused for saying that AMD has essentially matched Intel's single-core performance. Now, just imagine what AMD Ryzen 4000 desktop will look like when it comes out later this year.
We admit that we are looking at the Intel Core i7 against a Ryzen 9 processor, but with how much extra power desktop chips have at their disposal, even this shouldn't be an even match-up. And, don't worry, we intend to more fully explore the differences between the Ryzen 9 4900HS and both the 9700K and the more powerful Core i9-9900K.
Intel needs to come out swinging
AMD Ryzen 4000 processors are offering truly desktop-class performance in a mobile form factor while also providing better battery life than we've ever seen in a gaming laptop – the Asus Zephyrus G14 lasted a mind-blowing 8 hours and 10 minutes in our battery test.
Laptops with Intel's 10th-generation Comet Lake-H processors should be hitting store shelves any day now, and they have a massive uphill battle if they're going to retain relevance. Intel's processors are in all the flagship gaming laptops right now – from the Razer Blade 15 to the Alienware m15 – and if AMD can continue to deliver performance and battery life that's in another class altogether, we could start to see that shift.
That's not even to mention Intel's desktop lineup. Intel's 9th-generation Coffee Lake Refresh-S processors came out way back in October 2018, so we're nearing two years without new silicon for desktop users.
There are rumors of Intel 10th-generation Comet Lake-S processors hitting the streets in May, but with AMD's own next-generation Ryzen 4000 desktop processors also coming out this year, the bump up to a rumored Core i9 processor with 10 cores and 20 threads might not be enough to combat AMD's rumored 15% IPC improvement, according to this AdoredTV leak.
With AMD Ryzen 4000 mobile, Intel has officially become the underdog here. Team Red is beating Intel on every front at this point, Intel can barely even claim dominance in single-threaded workloads anymore. Intel needs its own Ryzen, and until that happens, we might be waiting quite a while before Intel can come out on top again.
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Bill Thomas (Twitter) is TechRadar's computing editor. They are fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but they just happen to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop them a line on Twitter or through email.