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The Best Laptop Processors (2023)

Find out which Intel and AMD CPUs are best for your high-performance computing needs.

The Best Laptop Processors Dell / Unsplash

Last Updated: January 5, 2023

Written by Kevin Jones

As your demand for high-performance computing on the go grows, finding the best CPU for your laptop needs becomes essential.

When selecting a laptop CPU, the most important performance characteristics are the clock speed (or frequency), number of cores and threads, and type of memory it supports.

This article will discuss these key CPU characteristics and, based on them, provide an overview of The Best Laptop Processors for gaming and general usage.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a CPU

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Core Count

Increased core counts can improve the performance of games and professional tools that use them. Most modern games don't benefit from having more than 6–8 cores. Even general apps can benefit from many cores when numerous applications are open simultaneously. Web browsers don't significantly take advantage of multiple cores when loading a single page. However, more CPU cores can improve performance when running demanding web apps in multiple windows.

Intel's 12th generation and newer CPUs have performance (P) cores and efficiency (E) cores. The P cores are comparable to previous generation cores. E cores are focused on adding additional threads in an energy-efficient manner. They take up much less room on the CPU and generate less heat. However, their smaller cache and minimal interconnect capabilities make them more appropriate for offloading background tasks.

CPU Clock Speeds

Single-core performance is essential for some games, as many don't take full advantage of multiple cores. Professional tools depend on high single and multi-core boost frequencies to maximize their processing speed.

Boost frequencies are only achieved under ideal circumstances. The safest strategy for consistent gaming performance with a basic cooler is to get a processor with a higher base clock speed. However, with adequate cooling, you may be able to maintain speeds near the max boost frequency.

DDR Support

You can exceed these stock speeds officially supported by CPUs when overclocking memory, such as with an XMP profile. Motherboard specifications will indicate their supported overclocked-memory speeds. To be able to overclock DDR memory, your motherboard chipset needs to support memory overclocking.

Faster PC memory can improve game and professional tool performance by reducing the time it takes to perform calculations and data operations.

Using the quickest RAM may not have as much of an impact as upgrading your CPU and graphics card or adding more RAM.

Learn more about DDR in DDR4 vs. DDR5? Which You Should Buy.

Cache Size

A CPU's cache is a small amount of memory, close to the CPU cores, containing recently used data. An L3 cache capacity of at least 20 MB is ideal for games and professional tool performance.

Games and professional tool performance can improve as cache size increases, as it can reduce delays when retrieving commonly used assets from memory. While nearly any task will use a CPU's cache, a large cache becomes less impactful for general PC usage, such as browsing webpages.

Remember that cache sizes often increase with core counts, so if you want to increase your L3 cache, you may need to get a CPU with more cores.

Overclocking

While CPU overclocking is primarily relevant to desktop CPUs, some newer mobile CPUs also claim overclocking support. Overclocking a laptop CPU will be pretty limited, as it is often difficult to improve cooling aside from using a cooling pad.

Overclocking is mainly relevant for PC gamers who want to maximize their game framerates. CPU overclocking increases frequencies past their default limits. Excellent heat dissipation via fans or another solution is required to maintain system stability while overclocking.

Professional tools can benefit from overclocked frequencies. However, overclocking may introduce some possibility of system instability, which may be less acceptable in business scenarios.

The Best Laptop Processors

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Intel Core i9-12950HX:

Intel Core i9-12900HX:

Intel Core i7-12850HX:

Intel Core i7-12800HX:

Intel Core i9-12900HK:

Intel Core i7-12650HX:

  • When using Intel's Core i7-12650HX CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance.

  • When using Intel's Core i7-12650HX CPU for gaming, you can expect good game performance.

  • 24 MB of L3 cache is excellent for performance

  • 6 Performance cores allow for excellent performance

  • 2.00 GHz base frequency

  • 4.70 GHz single-core max turbo boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires good heat dissipation)

  • 4.70 GHz max turbo boost frequency of the Performance cores are excellent for performance (requires good heat dissipation)

  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 4800 MHz can be excellent for performance

  • Overclocking support can be excellent for performance (requires good heat dissipation)

  • PCIe 5.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)

  • The 12650HX has integrated graphics support, with the CPU and GPU on a single chip die, known as an APU. However, this performance assessment assumes you will use an internal or external graphics card. Integrated graphics support is mediocre or worse with the latest graphics-intense games.

  • You can learn more about the 12650HX in our article, Is the Core i7-12650HX CPU Good for Gaming?

AMD Ryzen 9 6980HX:

  • When using AMD's Ryzen 9 6980HX CPU for general apps, you can expect excellent app performance.

  • When using AMD's Ryzen 9 6980HX CPU for gaming, you can expect good game performance.

  • 16 MB of L3 cache is good for performance

  • 8 cores allow for excellent performance

  • 3.3 GHz base frequency

  • 5.0 GHz single-core max boost frequency is excellent for performance (requires good heat dissipation)

  • DDR5 support with a max stock speed of 4800 MHz can be excellent for performance

  • Overclocking support can be excellent for performance (requires good heat dissipation)

  • PCIe 4.0 support can be excellent for performance (with the fastest SSDs and GPUs)

  • The 6980HX has integrated graphics support, with the CPU and GPU on a single chip die, known as an APU. However, this performance assessment assumes you will use an internal or external graphics card. Integrated graphics support is mediocre or worse with the latest graphics-intense games.

  • You can learn more about the 6980HX in our article, Is the Ryzen 9 6980HX CPU Good for Gaming?

AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX:

Intel Core i9-12900H:

Intel Core i7-12800H:

Intel Core i7-12700H:

Intel Core i7-12650H:

Intel Core i7-1280P:

Intel Core i9-11980HK:

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