Covid-19 has sent a lot of people, both adults and kids, home, and those older than 60, in particular, are being asked to stay away from other people. This recommendation severely limits everyone’s entertainment options. You are pretty much limited to watching videos, computer gaming, and any indoor or garage projects. Concerning gaming, the issue has always been you have an ugly choice, a desktop machine that doesn’t move, or a laptop that is too heavy and has poor battery life.
Well, AMD just moved to change that with their Ryzen 9 4000 H-Series Mobile Processor with matched ZEN graphics for gaming notebooks. I saw some of these at CES and was impressed. With this week’s launch, my lust for a couple of them has gone off the chart. There was one laptop with a display on the lid that I’m particularly looking forward to pounding on. And I’m stuck at home like most of you, and while I have a desktop gaming rig. I also need to boost my natural Vitamin-D, which means I want to work and play on my balcony but, given the weather and weight, I’m not moving my desktop machine outdoors. So, this new gaming platform from AMD is just what the doctor ordered (or would have ordered if my doctor was cool).
Let’s talk about laptop gaming lust this week.
The Ideal Gaming Notebook
I’ve had a few gaming notebooks in, and they are impressive. The wight range has been between 5 lbs. for a light one and 13 pounds for what felt like a desktop computer pretending to be portable. I recall one of these being so heavy it caused the zipper on my backpack to fail catastrophically, dropping the laptop onto a parking lot, which didn’t do the case much good at all. (It did keep working, but it looked like it had been in an unfortunate accident).
They also tend to pull a lot of power, which can be problematic if you try to use them on a plane. The last gaming notebook I attempted to use this way blew out the plug on the flight and got me some rather nasty looks from the crew. So much for getting any work done, but at least my tablet was working so I could watch movies and read.
The result was, as much as I enjoyed killing time playing games, I’d leave these gaming notebooks at home because they were simply too heavy and too power-hungry to take on the road. I’m not the only one that needed the power of a robust graphics system but in a form factor that was light enough to be carried and power-efficient enough to both have decent battery life and get power on-board a plane.
Now the only way to make this happen is with a tuned product that blended discrete graphics and a strong CPU. And the only company that currently sells both is AMD.
AMD Ryzen 9 4000 H-Series Mobile Solution
First off, this is a gaming solution that works inside a 45W power envelope. AMD reports performance that exceeds 95W solutions from competitors, which allows the product to go into in sub-5 LB laptops with decent battery life. This processor is an eight-core 16 thread solution that enables it to compete with some of the most potent desktop CPUs in terms of multi-threading. This processor is a Zen 2 design as well, which provided a 2x improvement in performance for the same energy use according to AMD.
On top of this, they have the latest Vega graphics engine with a 25% boost in the graphics clock and a 77% boost in peak memory bandwidth. Even with these boosts, the graphics subsystem still falls within the same 15W power envelope of the prior generation Vega mobile solution. This new solution is one of the first 7nm parts, and showcasing this new process technology is the 59% graphics performance boost this new part gets when benchmarked.
The completed system has more low powered states, improved entry/exit latency as it switches between power states and an overall reduction of about 20% with SOC (System On Chip) power.
For those of us that just want to watch videos or listen to audio on our laptop, we’ll see a considerable boost in battery life. This improvement is because the system, as created, works with digital assistants like Google’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana while in ultra-low power mode, and it will idle the CPU while playing videos or music files.
One other enhancement is a significant boost in system security, anticipating the increased efforts to breach employee and student laptops that are now no longer protected by an enterprise-class firewall and are far more vulnerable in homes.
There is an old saying in the industry that states, “faster, better, cheaper pick any two.” With this announcement, AMD may have just broken the model because their solution is faster, better, and less expensive than much of what proceeded it. The AMD Ryzen 9 4000 H-Series processor with the Vega graphics engine couldn’t come at a better time because a ton of us are at home and need to find ways to entertain ourselves that don’t include getting close to other people.
Now the laptops should be done out very shortly using this technology, but with the Covid-19 problem getting things shipped out of China while getting better, it is still iffy. But, when they show up, they should be one of the best solutions for those of us that have to shelter at home but don’t want to stay locked up inside or may simply want to go someplace warmer while we sit out the virus.
Stay safe out there!