Apple MacBook Pro 13 and Intel Core i5-1038NG7 shown to offer comparable performance with 15 W Ice Lake processors despite 28 W TDP; significant improvements expected for Tiger Lake-U too
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With Intel seemingly having canned the Core i7-1068G7, it seems that the new MacBook Pro 13 could well be the only laptop to feature 28 W Ice Lake processors. Unsurprisingly, the Ice Lake versions of the MacBook Pro 13 do not come cheap, with Apple charging a minimum of US$1,799 for a Core i5-1038NG7 model and US$1,999 if you want a Core i7-1068NG7 processor. However, these 28 W parts may not offer much of a performance advantage over the Core i7-1065G7 or even the Core i5-1035G7.
In fact, the Core i5-1038NG7 version of the MacBook Pro 13 has been shown to score just 9,050 points in 3DMark Fire Strike Physics, a score well short of the 11,261 points achieved by the Core i5-1035G7 in the Surface Laptop 3 13 that we reviewed earlier this year. The median of Core i7-1065G7-powered devices that we have tested outscore the Core i5-1038NG7 by about the same margin, too. The same does not apply to the latter's Iris Plus Graphics GPU, though. Presumably an Iris Plus Graphics G7 running at slightly lower boost clocks, the GPU matches other examples of the Iris Plus Graphics G7 in Fire Strike Graphics that we have tested. There is a similar tale of underwhelming CPU performance in Geekbench. The 28 W TDP of the Core i5-1038NG7 offers little to no advantage over the Core i5-1035G7. The same applies to the Core i7-1068NG7, which achieves comparable scores in Geekbench 5.1 Multi-Core.
Brought to our attention by @rogame, the well-known also highlights that the performance of the 28 W Core i5-1038NG7 may pale in comparison to that of upcoming Tiger Lake-U series processors. Referencing a "2.7 GHz TGL-U" part, @rogame asserts that top-tier Tiger Lake-U processors may offer up to a 40% CPU and GPU performance uplift over the Core i5-1038NG7.
Worse still, 3DMark demonstrates that the Core i5-1038NG7 cannot hit its advertised boost clock of 3.8 GHz. Instead, the CPU seems to top out at 3.6 GHz, which may explain why its 28 W TDP does not push it beyond the performance of its 15 W siblings. The cooling system of the MacBook Pro 13 may be the reason why the Core i5-1038NG7 cannot reach 3.8 GHz, but we will only know once we have put the device through its paces. Likewise, we would recommend reserving judgement of the Core i5-1038NG7 until we review it, these early benchmarks suggest that these 28 W Ice Lake processors may struggle to outperform Intel's 15 W chips.