When Intel unveiled its Tiger Lake family of 11th Gen Core mobile processors back in September this year, the company also rolled out its new Evo branding, in partnership with various laptop OEMs. Described as “co-engineered and verified designs,” Intel claimed Evo branded laptops from the majors would deliver best-in-class performance and premium experiences. “11th Gen Intel Core processors with Intel Iris Xe graphics are a major leap forward in real- world processor performance and are the best laptop processors we have built,” claimed Gregory Bryant, Executive VP and GM for Intel’s Client Computing Group. And without question, Intel’s 11th Gen Core series processors, based on the company’s Tiger Lake CPU architecture platform, deliver a solid performance uplift on all key metrics, from productivity to content creation and even a healthy bump in gaming, thanks to Intel’s potent new Iris Xe integrated graphics core. However, what surprised me personally is that, in addition to this performance uplift, we’re also witnessing some really great price points for Intel Evo-branded machines from many of the major laptop OEMs.
In fact there are multiple examples of this currently, like Lenovo’s Yoga 7i. The Yoga 7i is a 14-inch hybrid 2-in-1 convertible laptop with the company’s signature 360-degree hinge design, its usual high quality keyboard and a decent sounding Dolby Atmos-enabled speaker system. However, under the hood, what you get for its modest $750 price tag is where it’s at. Specifically, the machine is powered by an Intel 11th Gen Core i5-1135G7 Tiger Lake quad-core CPU, 12GB of DDR4-3200 memory and a 512GB NVMe SSD that puts up over 2GB/s of read and over 1.3GB/s of write bandwidth. Again, for the money, this kind of configuration was previously almost unheard of. Not only do we have a powerful new Intel mobile platform on board, but this Evo-branded machine is nicely equipped elsewhere in all the right places as well, and also sports the latest in IO and networking connectivity, like Thunderbolt 4 and WiFi-6. It also put up almost 8 hours of continuous use, HD video playback in battery life testing for HotHardware’s deep-drive review. Again, with its flexible 2-in-1 design, quality touch display, excellent backlit keyboard, great performance and battery life, the new Lenovo Yoga 7i is pretty much a slam-dunk, if you’re looking to stay well under $1K for a new laptop.
Beyond Lenovo, you can also find multiple examples of similar Intel Evo-branded configurations and designs, like Dell’s excellent new Inspiron 7000 series, HP’s Pavilion X360, and the ASUS VivoBook S14, all of which also share the same Intel 11th Gen Core lineage, come with similarly beefy configs and weigh in at a svelte 3 pounds or less. It’s almost like Intel got together with these OEMs and said, “let’s hit a sub-$800, midrange price point and deliver high-end ultrabook specs and experiences.”
It’s not every year that we’re witness to undeniably better price/performance options like these in the market, thanks to new technology innovation. However, this year, 2020’s insatiable demand for new work-from-home (and play) tools has been answered by a few key players like Intel, that has stepped-up its mobile CPU offering competitively. I suspect AMD will have a Zen-3 based answer in the laptop market as well, in the not so distant future perhaps, as we roll into the now virtual CES 2021 show in the second week of January. Although, admittedly, I haven’t heard many rumblings on this front. Regardless, this new breed of Intel Evo laptops is here and now, and they represent a great opportunity if you’re in the market for a thin and light machine.