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Laptops

Intel and AMD ally to shrink your next gaming laptop. A lot.

At CES 2018, Intel revealed the details about the two companies' Core-Radeon mashup, which seemingly crams more muscle into less space with lower power requirements.

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Intel's new mini gaming PC kit based on the eighth-gen Intel Core i7-with Radeon RX Vega M GH (NUC), formerly codenamed "Hades Canyon." It really needs to keep that name.

Intel

In fall 2017, chipmaking rivals Intel and AMD made a splash when they announced a low(er)-power processor combining Intel's eighth-generation series of Core i H-series CPUs with AMD Radeon RX Vega M discrete graphics. They didn't offer much in the way of details at the time, and at CES 2018 Intel followed up with specifics and more. The new "G" line targets the same gamers and content creators that systems based on Nvidia's Max-Q mobile GeForce GPUs do; people who need smaller, lighter laptops that punch way above their weight, such as supporting VR.

The Gs combine the Core i H-series CPUs with a custom version of the Radeon GPU in much the same way AMD's own Ryzen 2500U and 2700U do. Because Intel doesn't use AMD's Infinity Fabric technology, which allows AMD to mesh its modular die architectures together, Intel developed its own Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB) to connect the CPU with the high-bandwidth memory (HBM2) AMD uses with its GPUs. The packages are much smaller than previous offerings and use less power, enabling smaller devices that deliver the same performance as larger predecessors.

Intel initially plans two different tiers of processors, which will come in Core i5 and i7 versions, based on the target power requirements of the systems. The Core processor with RX Vega M GL ("graphics low") is designed for thin and light systems in which the total power draw of the package doesn't exceed 65 watts (we'll see models from Dell and HP at the show). These will be the Core i7-8706G, i7-8705G and i5-8305G and incorporate a 20 compute-unit version of the Vega. 

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Intel
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Intel

The other tier is designed for systems that can handle a power draw of 100 watts: compact desktops and all-in-ones, for example, or what Intel refers to as 1.2-liter systems (73 cubic inches). The HP Omen X Compact Desktop, the VR backpack, is about 234 cubic inches in comparison. 

They'll be Core i7 only, and use the Vega M GH ("high")  graphics which have 24 compute units. Those are the  i7-8809G and  i7-8709G, and the 8809G is fully unlocked so you can overclock the CPU, GPU and graphics memory. Those are incorporated into Intel's new NUCs, such as the scary compact gaming system above. (The locked version model is NUC8i7HVK and the unlocked model is: NUC8i7HNK.)

The GPUs bring with them all the capabilities of the line, including Freesync 2 support, Display Port 1.4 with HDR and HDMI 2.0b with HDR10 support.

I call out the compute-unit spec, which is sort of analogous to the number of cores a CPU has, because it provides an interesting comparison between the aforementioned AMD Ryzen mobile processors with the Vega GPUs -- those have only 10 CUs. But never fear: The G-series processors will continue to include Intel's HD 630 integrated graphics as well, in case you were worried about that. In total the two graphics engines can drive nine monitors (provided the relevant connectors are all available).

Intel plans for these chips to enable a forthcoming cloud-gaming platform with Gamestream and Artesyn as well, which would put Intel and AMD in competition with Nvidia's still-in-development GeForce Now.

PC preview: What to expect from laptops, desktops and tablets at CES this year.

CES 2018: CNET's complete coverage of tech's biggest show.