Shots fired: Intel says Ryzen 4000 performance stinks on battery

Intel claims it can prove Ryzen 4000 CPUs are much, much slower with common tasks on battery.

Credit: AMD

Intel called out its rival this morning, claiming that AMD’s Ryzen 4000 mobile CPUs suffer major performance penalties when running on battery.

The company said its testing found that multiple Ryzen laptops experienced as much as a 48 percent performance drop when running on battery as opposed to being plugged into the wall. Unsurprisingly, laptops using Intel’s own 11th-gen Tiger Lake showed far less of a hit, the company said.

The Big Mac is better than the Whopper, really

While you’re likely extremely skeptical of Intel’s claims—which are akin to McDonald’s dumping on Burger King or Ford dissing Chevrolet—Intel said it has homework to back up its assertions. PCWorld, in the meantime, is in the process of trying to replicate these results.

Furthermore, we were not able to reach AMD for a response before publishing, but we will update this story as soon as the company comments. We expect something along the lines of, “The competition is getting nervous and desperate.”

To back up its claims, Intel said it tested five different AMD laptops against five different Intel laptops, running common benchmarks and its own workloads using common applications such as Word, Excel, and Acrobat, and found the Ryzen-based laptops tended to throttle down on battery and stay throttled down to apparently save battery life.

global intel mobile performance discussion final page 08 Intel

Intel claims multiple Ryzen 4000-based laptops suffer significant performance drops on battery.

For example, Intel said, using UL’s PCMark 10 Applications test that measures the performance of a laptop doing standard Microsoft Office 365-based tasks, the five different Ryzen 4000 laptops from various vendors dropped by as much as 38 percent on battery versus plugged in.

The company claims to have found similar results in many other lightly threaded tasks and benchmarks, from SYSMark to WebXPRT to its own home-rolled tests that do such tasks as exporting PowerPoint presentations to PDF, or importing an Excel chart into Word.

global intel mobile performance discussion final page 16 Intel

Cinebench R20 behavior for the Ryzen 4000 laptops did not depress for AMD as much on battery.

Interestingly, Intel said, it found that one popular 3D-rendering benchmark, Maxon’s CineBench R20, did not suffer the same performance drop. Why? Intel said its testing found that all of the Ryzen-based laptops significantly delayed boosting clock speeds by several seconds. On most very bursty workloads that last just a few seconds, you would see a depression in performance, but in a test like Cinebench that takes several minutes to run, the Core-crushing power of Ryzen 4000 is able to shine.

global intel mobile performance discussion final page 18 Intel

Intel claims that part of the Ryzen 4000’s performance drops on shorter loads is because Ryzen appears to delay its boost by several seconds.

Who should you believe?

As we said, if Coca Cola told you Pepsi was vile swill, you’d probably just dismiss it as marketing misdirection. In this case though, Intel’s claims and data not only need to be proven, they also need to be disproven. If Intel is somehow shading results only to have it thrown back in its face, not much is gained. In fact, that would be far worse. So we do suspect there may be some smoke here.

The bigger question is, does it even really matter? Maybe, or maybe not.

First, every person’s requirements of a laptop is different. We already knew that for lighter work that depends on high clock speeds and burst, Intel’s 11th-gen was the preferred platform. We also knew AMD’s Ryzen 4000 was the preferred platform for those who need a ton of cores for editing video or 3D modelling.

Both of those modes are on AC. Where Intel’s claims may change the argument is if Ryzen 4000’s performance for mundane tasks isn’t just somewhat worse than 11th-gen Tiger Lake on AC, but actually far worse on DC. That’s something reviewers should strive to find out.

And even if that proves true, consumers should still weigh the pros and cons for their own needs. If you’re willing to take worse performance on battery for doing common Office chores on a Ryzen 4000 laptop to get stupidly fast multi-core performance on AC and DC, then that’s a reasoned compromise.

At the same time, if you’re willing to accept worse multi-core performance on AC or DC to get unequivocally snappy performance when running on battery, then maybe Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake is for you.

11th gen intel core processors with intel iris xe graphics Intel

Intel said its 11th-gen Tiger Lake CPUs provide a much more responsive experience on most common tasks when running on battery.

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Gordon Mah Ung

Gordon Mah Ung

PC World (US online)
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