Intel Core i7-1260P
The Intel Core i7-1260P is an upper mid-range 28 W Alder Lake CPU designed for use in ultra-light laptops. It was announced in early 2022 and it features 4 performance cores as opposed to the 6 cores of the top-of-the-line i7-1280P (P-cores, Golden Cove architecture) mated to 8 efficient cores (E-cores, Gracemont architecture). The P-cores are Hyper-Threading-enabled for a total of 16 threads when combined with the E-cores. The clock speeds range from 2.1 GHz to 4.7 GHz for the performance cluster and 1.5 GHz to 3.4 GHz for the efficient cluster. The i7's shortcomings as compared to Intel Core i7-1270P include the marginally lower clock speeds and limited vPro feature set ("Essentials" tier only, not allowing for remote device management).
The i7 is a continuation of Intel's efforts to use the ARM-developed big.LITTLE technology for its own benefit. A single "littile" Alder Lake core is supposed to be just as fast as a Skylake core (as found in the venerable Core i7-6700HQ among other options) which is six years old at this point. All of an Core i7-1260P's CPU cores enjoy access to 18 MB of L3 cache. The integrated memory controller supports various memory types up to LPDDR5-5200, DDR5-4800, LPDDR4x-4267 or DDR4-3200; Intel recommends using no more than 64 GB, for reference. Just like the other 12th Gen Intel Core processors, Intel Core i7-1260P comes with Thread Director which is a new functionality designed to help Windows 11 decide which cores to use for what workload for best performance and efficiency possible. Hardware acceleration of AI algorithms is supported via GNA 3.0 and DL Boost (via AVX2). PCI-Express 5.0 support has not found its way into Alder Lake P processors, so users will have to be content with PCI-Express 4.0 for the time being. Four PCI-Express 4 lanes allow for a read/write rate of up to 7.9 GB/s, provided a suitably fast NVMe SSD is used.
Please note this is not a user-replaceable CPU. It gets soldered permanently on to the motherboard (BGA1744 socket interface).
We first tested the CPU in May 2022. The 12 CPU cores were not just able to easily outperform any outgoing quad-core Intel Tiger Lake part (Core i7-1195G7 included). All of the U-class AMD Ryzen 5000 options got left behind, too. As anticipated, performance sustainability of this CPU depends heavily on how high the Power Limits and how good the thermals of a given system are.
With short-term Power Limit set to 64 W (which is the Intel-recommended upper limit) and a decently high long-term Power Limit (> 30 W), a 1260P-based laptop rivals Intel Core i7-12700H in single-thread benchmarks while going neck-to-neck with AMD Ryzen 7 5800U in multi-core loads. Performance-per-thread figures of Alder Lake P chips are indeed impressive but this comes at a cost. CPU package power can be disturbingly close to 30 watts when a single P-core is heavily loaded.
If our early Ryzen 7 6800U tests are any indication, the latest U-class Ryzen 6000 chips deliver a noticeable uplift in graphics department while the CPU performance pretty much stays where it was before. Which means Alder Lake P chips (the i7 and i5 ones, at least) have the upper hand.
The built-in graphics adapter in the form of the 96 EU Iris Xe running at up to 1.4 GHz has seemingly seen no change from what was built into certain Tiger Lake-UP3 processors, like a i7-1165G7. Which is hardly a downside as this iGPU is loaded with modern features such as AV1 video decoding capability and SUHD 4320p monitor support. Up to 4 monitors can be used simultaneously with this graphics adapter. Its gaming performance is bound to be tied to how high the Power Limits and how good the cooling solution of a laptop are; expect something close to NVIDIA's MX350 or in other words, acceptable framerates in most games when playing at 1080p / Medium settings. Fast RAM is a prerequisite for decent performance as the Iris Xe has to make do with no dedicated video memory. Last but not the least, we discovered that the GPU utilization when playing YouTube UHD 2160p60 videos is higher than it was with Tiger Lake chips.
AMD's 680M as found in certain Ryzen 6000 chips is slated to be noticeably faster than the 96 EU Iris Xe.
The i7's base power (also known as the default TDP value or PL1) is 28 W, with 64 W being its Intel-recommended Turbo power (also known as PL2). Core i7-1260P is manufactured on Intel's third-gen 10 nm process marketed as Intel 7 for an OK energy efficiency - on paper, that is. The tests we did proved that Intel's way to close the performance gap with AMD's Ryzen 5000 processors entails some seriously high power consumption figures where a single P-core can consume more than 20 W. AMD's Ryzen 5000 chips are not nearly as power-hungry, and Apple's M1-series processors can be several times more efficient while upholding a similarly high performance bar.
|Series||Intel Alder Lake-P|
|Series: Alder Lake-P Alder Lake-P|
|Clock Rate||1500 - 4700 MHz|
|Level 1 Cache||1.1 MB|
|Level 2 Cache||21 MB|
|Level 3 Cache||18 MB|
|Number of Cores / Threads||12 / 16|
|Power Consumption (TDP = Thermal Design Power)||28 Watt|
|Manufacturing Technology||10 nm|
|Max. Temperature||100 °C|
|GPU||Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7 96EUs ( - 1400 MHz)|
|64 Bit||64 Bit support|
|Product Link (external)||Intel Alder Lake-P i7-1260P|