Overview and CPU Performance

How do Intel’s new low power quad-core CPUs stack up?

When Intel announced their quad-core mobile 8th Generation Core processors in August, I was immediately interested. As a user who gravitates towards "Ultrabook" form-factor notebooks, it seemed like a no-brainer—gaining two additional CPU cores with no power draw increase.

However, the hardware reviewer in me was skeptical. Could this "Kaby Lake Refresh" CPU provide the headroom to fit two more physical cores on a die while maintaining the same 15W TDP? Would this mean that the processor fans would have to run out of control? What about battery life?

Now that we have our hands on our first two notebooks with the i7-8550U in, it's time to take a more in-depth look at Intel's first mobile offerings of the 8th Generation Core family.

Today we are taking a look at two very different notebooks. On the left, we have the HP Spectre x360 which is a 15" 2-in-1 device with a 360-degree hinge and on the right, we have the ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe. Interestingly enough, both of these machines have changed very little from their 7th generation, dual-core counterparts.

Since the 8th generation parts have come at a "mid-cycle" refresh, it makes sense that OEMs would recycle the previous work they put into this year's flagship ultrabooks, at least from an external design perspective.

  ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe UX490A HP Spectre x360 
Processor Intel Core i7-8550U (Kaby Lake Refresh) Intel Core i7-8550U (Kaby Lake Refresh)
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620 Intel UHD Graphics 620 + NVIDIA MX150
Memory 16GB 16GB
Screen 14-in 1920×1080  15.6-in 3840×2160

512 GB Samsung PM961 NVMe

512 GB Samsung PM961 NVMe
Connections 2 x Thunderbolt 3
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
1 x Thunderbolt 3
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
1 x USB 3.0 Type-A
SD Card Reader
Battery 46 Wh 77 Wh

12.95 x 8.27 x 0.51 inches

14 x 9.88 x 0.7 inches
Price $1699 – Amazon $1649 – Amazon

Despite the differences in form-factors, our two Kaby Lake Refresh notebooks are similarly equipped with the exception of discrete NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics found in the HP Spectre. Even the price tags are similar, making this a compelling pair of notebooks to compare head-to-head.

CPU Performance

First, we'll take a look at the normal suite of benchmarks that we use for our notebook reviews:

In Cinebench R15, we see the smaller Zenbook 3 Deluxe with a large performance advantage in the multi-core test, but a slight disadvantage in the single-core test. Both notebooks handily outperform our reference point for dual-core 7th generation processors, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

Encoding video in Handbrake shows a different performance breakdown between these three notebooks. The Zenbook 3 Deluxe is only slightly faster than the dual-core CPU X1 Carbon, with the HP Spectre x360 finishing significantly faster than both.

PCMark 8 is a more holistic system benchmark and generally, shows different results than the previous CPU-bound benchmarks. While the HP Spectre x360 comes ahead in the Creative benchmark, which incorporates more demanding tasks like batch photo and video editing, the ZenBook 3 Deluxe scores higher in the rest of the tests.

It's clear that there are some inconsistencies with the results from our traditional notebook performance testing. Let's dig in deeper with a closer look a topic that is very important for notebooks – thermal design.

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