Intel Core 12th gen: 15W Core P and Core U CPUs debut for compact notebooks

Intel closes the circle on processors Core 12th gen “Alder Lake” and announces the latest solutions for the consumer market in the segment of compact and ultra-thin notebooks. Today’s launch follows desktop models – Alder Lake-S – this fall and the most recent event at CES 2022 with processors Core 12th gen H series, all taking more or less the same approach as regards the articulation of the various models in the range. The Santa Clara company definitively removes the veils from Core 12th gen P series and ai Core 12th gen U seriestwo platforms that differ substantially in the reference TDP: 28 watts vs 9-15 wattsfor Core P and Core U respectively.

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In our previous articles we have discussed several times about the Alder Lake architecture and the innovations introduced with it by Intel, not only in terms of performance but also for integrated technologies and support for the latest generation standards such as DDR5 and PCI-E 5.0. . In essence, the Core 12th gen P and U platforms offer the same characteristics, all however trying to face the challenge that requires a compact laptop that aims at performance. For the moment, the Alder Lake-S and Alder Lake-H proposals have convinced us (see the latest review of the Core i9-12900HK), in the coming weeks the field tests will also arrive for these new models, allowing us to draw our own conclusions of the case.


Trying to be less repetitive as possible, we reiterate that Alder Lake represents the first Intel attempt to bring a hybrid architecture to the desktop / notebook platform, a not easy goal that for the moment seems to agree with the US manufacturer. Core 12th gen processors – built with Intel 7 / 10nm Enhanced node – use a mix of high performance “Golden Cove” (or P-Core) cores and efficient “Gracemont” (or E-Core) cores, all managed in “dynamic” way fromIntel Thread Directorfully supported by Windows 11.

Along with a reworking of the cache, we then find the chip integrated graphic Intel Xe (up to 96EU), DDR5 / DDR4 support and a good expansion capacity ranging from Thunderbolt 4passing through USB 3.2 gen 2 And WiFi 6E.

Let’s start with the Core 12th gen P-series processors, to be clear, those solutions designed for all high-end compact notebooks that aim for performance combined with good autonomy. Although the reference TDP is almost half of the Core 12th gen H series (28 vs 45 watts), Intel manages to surprise by offering substantially the same core / thread configurations that we find on the more powerful Alder Lake-H models, see for example the ‘latest top of the range Core i9-12900HK.

In fact, the series leads the way Core i7-1280P – note the change in nomenclature – a really interesting processor on paper equipped with 6 high-performance cores and 8 efficient cores which, given in hand, guarantee a total of 14 cores and 20 threads thanks to Hyper-Threading technology.

As expected, the performance gap on the previous generation will be evident, not only compared to the Core 11th gen, but also if we look at the Ryzen 5000 Mobile. There is no doubt that these Core 12th gen Mobile will play with the brand new AMD Ryzen 6000 just announced, however, like the competitor, even Intel has not included in its slides references to the latest Zen 3+. Having made this clarification, we reiterate that the benchmark data pitted by the Santa Clara company will as usual be confirmed by independent tests, but the premises do not seem to be so different from what was seen with the Core 12th gen H.

With the Core 12th gen-U series let’s move on to another interesting segment, that of super-compact notebooks and, more generally, of “ultra-portable” devices that aim above all to offer high battery autonomy. As in the past, Intel offers two options, those with 15W TDP and those from 9W which, in essence, give up some CPU cores as well as some PCI-Express lines (in general the expandability is more limited).

In this case to lead the series we find the Core i7-1265U (15W) and its 9W twin Core i7-1260U, identical in the hardware configuration, except for the TDP and clock frequencies (we will see all the specifications later). These CPUs are configured with 10 cores / 12 threadswhere the P-Cores are only two and the E-Cores remain 8. The presence of two Golden Cove cores will certainly have an impact on the absolute performance, but it is evident that to fall within these TDP values, Intel could not do otherwise, trying anyway to balance multi-threading performance with 8 efficient cores.

The new Intel Core 12th gen are also the heart of the third generation EVO platforman ever-expanding ecosystem that promises interesting things for 2022, including the first EVO certified notebooks with newly developed form factor, foldable displays and 5G connectivity.


We now come to the data released by Intel regarding the performance of these Core 12th gen P / U. As for the desktop segment, the manufacturer relies heavily on the improvement achieved in multi-tasking / productivity, areas where we find quite good results compared to competitors (we remember the Ryzen 6000 U / H are missing); the flagship model Core i7-1280P always manages to be ahead of a Ryzen 7 5800U, paying duty – in some cases – only compared to the Core 11a gen H (decidedly less efficient) and the Apple M1 Pro.

The benchmarks are not many and, for example, data relating to gaming with a dedicated graphics card are missing; on the contrary, Intel provides the benchmarks of the integrated Iris Xe 96EU GPU, able to guarantee a satisfactory experience at 1080p in many titles with medium and high details. As with AMD’s Ryzen 6000, we expect to try the first notebooks with Intel Alder Lake-P / U to give a definitive judgment on the entire range.


Below you will find the complete range of Intel Core 12th gen P / U processors; it starts from the most powerful Core i7 up to the Core i3, Pentium and Celeron. The latter are decidedly more sensible and interesting than the desktop variants; looking at the specifications in fact, you will notice that the manufacturer has decided not to go below the threshold of 4 physical coresguaranteeing both on Pentium and Celeron a P-Core flanked by 4 E-Core, a choice in our opinion apt given the lack of performance that these chips presented precisely in the field of multi-tasking.

The first notebooks with Intel Core 12th gen P / U processors will be available in March with solutions from partners such as Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, LG, MSI, NEC and Samsung. We close with a note from Chris Walker, Intel’s corporate vice president and general manager Mobility Client Platforms, regarding the launch of the Alder Lake P / U platform:

Following the launch of the fastest gaming processor, we are now expanding the 12th Generation Intel Core processor family to deliver a big leap forward in performance in thin-and-light laptops. From thin, lightweight devices to products with elegant design and performance that will satisfy the enthusiast, we offer consumers and businesses leading performance and advanced technologies.