Intel 12th gen laptop buyer’s guide


The MacBook replacement pick

A superbly minimalist & slimline notebook with surprisingly powerful 12th gen P-series CPU

Dell XPS Plus 13

Dell XPS Plus 13

Things to consider before buying an Intel 12th gen laptop

Intel 12th gen P cores & E cores

Alder Lake CPUs have what’s known as a Big and Little architecture, meaning there are two separate core types within an Intel 12th gen CPU: P-cores or performance cores (the big), and E-cores or efficiency cores (the little). P-cores tend to come with two threads per core, whereas E-cores usually just have a single thread each.

The P-cores are more powerful, and better able to deal with the heavy lifting of processing tasks (gaming for example) whereas the E-cores deal with smaller, easier and quicker processes, freeing up the P-cores to deal with what they’re good at. E-cores are more energy-efficient and take up less space on the silicon, which is what makes this structure advantageous, and the architecture around the cores is designed to most efficiently designate tasks to the cores best suited to deal with them.

Intel Core i5 / Core i7 / Core i9 laptops 

As with previous generations of Intel processors, the 12th gen Intel laptop series is divided into different SKUs / power rankings, which increase in the number of cores and therefore processing power, but also price and electrical power consumption. Intel Core i3 laptop CPUs are typically found in notebook devices and other general use machines (for word processing, watching multimedia, and web browsing etc.), often more slimline devices. Intel Core i5 laptop CPUs are generally middle-power models – for gaming and workstation purposes they represent budget, entry-level models, though if you want good performance in the latest games you really need to consider Intel Core i7 laptop CPUs. The most powerful Intel Core i9 laptop CPUs are only for those who really need the most high-powered machine possible, be it for workstation applications, editing and graphic design software, or for gaming, and don’t mind spending top-dollar to get it.

Alder Lake battery performance

The drawback of all the performance that Alder Lake processors bring is the power drain on your system, which is particularly felt in laptops. The strides that AMD have made in efficiency, particularly with the Ryzen 6000 series, mean that their laptops will last for several hours longer in some cases than their Intel counterparts, and also that they perform better in games using only battery power. As discussed though, most Intel 12th gen laptops will perform better in-game when plugged into the socket.

Intel HX series laptop CPUs

The Intel HX series CPUs, first announced in May 2022, look to be the fastest Intel laptop processors which will be released this year. Intel 12th gen laptop CPUs previously maxed out at 6 performance cores and 8 efficiency cores (20 threads in total), such as in the previously top-of-the-line i9-12900K. These souped-up Intel 12th gen HX CPUs however, come with a total of 16 cores (8 p cores and 8 e cores) meaning a total maximum 24 threads. Gaming and workstation laptops with HX series processors will be released throughout H2 2022, and we’ll be adding them to this list as they become available.

The best Intel 12th gen laptops: in-depth review

MSI Vector GP66

MSI Vector GP66

Intel Core i7-12700H / i9-12900H

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti (150W) / RTX 3080 (150W)

16GB / 32GB / 64GB DDR4 (3200/4800MHz)

1TB NVME M.2 SSD (2x slots available)