Intel made a splash with the announcement of its new 11th Gen Core mobile processors, code named Tiger Lake, earlier this month. The company trumpeted hundreds of OEM laptop designs that are inbound for the Q4 holiday shopping season, offering breakout performance over its previous gen Ice Lake 10th Gen Core series platform, in addition to besting competitive AMD Ryzen 4000-powered laptops in mainstream app performance. Soon following that announcement, Intel also sent out pre-production reference systems to press and analysts like myself, as validation vehicles for its performance claims. The prototype laptop Intel sent me definitely made good on the company’s claims but it wasn’t something you could actually buy. The proof in the pudding, so to speak, would have to come from full release retail laptops in the days ahead, from Intel OEM partners like ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo.
Fortunately, the day has come that the first retail-ready Intel Tiger Lake-powered laptop are making their way out into the wild, and ASUS was first out of the gate with a finished product, ripe and ready for the benchmark and experiential testing review gauntlet. My friend Ben Funk over at HotHardware took the ASUS ZenBook Flip S UX371 for a spin and the product is an excellent example of what prospective laptop consumers can expect from this new class of Intel 11th Gen ultralight machines. The ZenBook Flip S is a svelte 2.65 pound laptop that manages to squeeze in a gorgeous 13.3 4K OLED display and a capacious 67 Watt hour battery to back up its Intel Tiger Lake Core i7-1165G7 quad-core processor and 16GB of LPDDR4X 4266MHz memory. Also on board is a beefy but speedy 1TB NVMe PCIe 3 SSD that hits about 3GB/sec for reads and writes, as well as dual Thunderbolt 4 ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, an HDMI port, and 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 connectivity. You also get a backlit, edge-to-edge keyboard with an innovative trackpad that has integrated buttons for things like calculator functionality, all for $1499. When you consider its 4K OLED panel and 1TB SSD alone usually vault similar systems to price points closer to $2K, it really is a solid value overall, but performance is where this machine really shines.
The ZenBook Flip S (UX371) has two fan profile modes, Standard and Performance, the latter of which allows the system to TDP-up from 15 Watts to Intel’s 28 Watt power envelope, when plugged into its power adapter. Incidentally, neither setting spools up acoustic output of the machine past 50db or so, so it’s relatively well-behaved. At its default, Standard setting the machine’s Core i7-1165G7 processor put up CPU benchmark scores that were anywhere from ~ 7% faster for heavily-threaded workloads, to upwards of 30% faster in single or lightly-threaded workloads, versus Intel’s previous gen Core i7-1065G7 quad-core CPU. Further, the new quad-core Intel 11th Gen chip was able to pace closer to AMD’s six-core Ryzen 4000 series processor and even surpass it at its Performance mode setting in some tests. Compared to AMD’s Ryzen 4800U 8-core chip, in heavily threaded workloads, the quad-core Tiger Lake CPU is no match, but again delivers better single and lightly-threaded performance that’s roughly 15 – 25% faster than AMD’s fastest notebook chip currently. In short, on the CPU throughput side of the equation, in heavier content creation work on a thin and light laptop platform like this, AMD’s Ryzen 4000 series with its core count advantage in some cases may be a better way to go. However, for mainstream users on three pound class machines like this, Intel Tiger Lake will offer better system responsiveness over all in more traditional bursty workloads, as well as gaming.
Which brings us to Tiger Lake’s biggest bite perhaps, which would be its graphics and gaming prowess. The ZenBook Flip S put up some of the best gaming scores I’ve seen, certainly from any well-under 3 pound machine on integrated graphics, handily besting even AMD’s Ryzen 9 4900HS 8-core CPU with integrated Radeon graphics in mainstream game titles. Chalk this up with excellent battery life when not gaming, where the ZenBook Flip S delivered about 7.5 hours of untethered video playback on its 4K OLED display, and you have the makings of killer new breed of ultrabook, or what Intel now calls an EVO-class machine.
Suffice it to say my buddy Ben and I walked away impressed with what both ASUS and Intel have delivered in the new ZenBook Flip S UX371. Word is 8-core Tiger Lake is on the horizon as well, which should prove exciting. The tech sector is heating up big time as we roll into the Q4 holiday season and Intel seems to have retrenched its beachhead in laptop performance with Tiger Lake, underpinned by its refined SuperFin 10nm process. Hopefully it can level-up versus AMD in the not so distant future on the desktop as well, for renewed competition that will ultimately benefit both mainstream consumers and power users.