Intel U vs. P vs. H Laptop CPUs: What’s the difference?

On desktop computers, the choice of CPU is not so complicated. You don’t need to know much when it comes to suffixes. For example, if it is a K-type CPU, it has an unlocked multiplier and allows for overclocking, while if there is no suffix, it is locked.

In a laptop, the situation is more complicated. You may have seen that notebook chips have different suffixes, and you’re less clear about what those suffixes mean. Knowing the difference can make or break your next laptop purchase.

What exactly is the difference between Intel’s U, H, and P chips? Which one should you buy?

Why are laptop chips more confusing than desktop chips?


There are so many laptop chips compared to desktops, why shouldn’t you just check if it’s an i3 or an i5, and which generation it is, comes down to the fact that no two laptops are the same.

Of course, on desktop computers, the power consumption of some chips can and often varies greatly. But over the years, the design of the PC has remained largely the same — it’s a box with a motherboard inside. Depending on the situation, there is enough cooling space. So whenever an Intel desktop chip has a suffix on it, it usually means something else. First, F indicates that it does not have an integrated GPU, while K means it has an unlocked multiplier.

However, on a laptop, you don’t have the space for a desktop computer. Even the thickest laptops can’t do that. Therefore, in order to make it easy to carry, sacrifices need to be made. But why are there different CPU families?

That’s because even an extra few watts can have a big impact on the thermal energy of your laptop, and depending on how thin or light you want your laptop to be, and for what purpose, you’ll need to have a different lineup of chips so that you can successfully meet everyone’s needs. Currently, there are three CPU series – U series, P series, and H series.

What is Intel’s U-Chip?


Having said all that, if you want a thin and light laptop that’s mostly used for work and internet browsing, it might come with a U-chip.

U means “ultra-low power”, which is basically what it is – they are not necessarily the best chips in terms of CPU performance, but they are low-power designs that presuppose efficiency. They have lower clock speeds, fewer cores, and more importantly, very low TDP. The Intel Core i5-1265U is rated at 15W and can be turbocharged to 55W in a brief outburst. Some U chips are as low as 9W. These chips can be cooled relatively easily, and depending on the design of the PC, they can even be cooled passively.

They are relatively weak chips compared to Intel’s other products. To achieve ultra-low power consumption, these PCs will take steps to improve efficiency, such as removing the core or making it run slower. This ultimately means you’ll get reduced performance, but it’s good for an ultra-light laptop.

What is Intel’s P Chip?

Now that you know the U-chip, we can talk about the middle option, Intel’s P series. As with the U series, these are the parts on thin and light laptops. However, power consumption is increased a bit, and so is performance.

The power of the P series chips is a little more powerful, 28W to be precise. That’s almost twice (or even triple) what U-series chips require! )。 Therefore, the power and heat dissipation requirements of these chips are higher, and you will need stronger heat dissipation. But at this point, nothing would make a thin and light laptop thicker than it should be, and with the right cooling, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Typically you’ll see U-series chips on laptops for $300 to $600, while P chips appear on higher-end “Ultrabook” laptops, such as the Dell XPS 13, which cost more than $1,000. This is because the increased thermal space allows Intel to cram better performance into these chips.

What is Intel’s H-chip?


Finally, we moved on to the top floor. Intel’s H chip is largely considered the company’s lineup of enthusiasts for laptops, and that makes sense.

Unlike the P-Series and U-Series, the H-Series isn’t designed to accommodate thin and light laptops. While these chips have up to 28W of power, the HPUs of the H series can reach a staggering 45W. Sure, that’s not even close to the desktop CPU (the Core i9-12900K has 125W of power), but for laptops, that’s actually a big number — remember, they have enclosed, tight spaces and internal components don’t have a lot of room to breathe. That doesn’t mean they’re bad. In fact, they’re pretty much the best in laptops.

Another advantage of H-type chips is that they are also very close to their desktop counterparts. While the Intel Core i9-12900K plays a role in desktop PCs, the i9-12900H is only made for very good laptops.

Of course, when we say that H chips can’t be used for thin and light PCs, we’re serious. These parts are often housed inside gaming-oriented laptops that are physically larger and thicker than others because they require better cooling to compensate for the heat that will be emitted internally. If you try to put one in an ultra-light PC, it will have heat suffocation for most of its life.

Intel U vs. P vs. H: How should you choose?


It mainly depends on how much money you want to spend on your laptop and what you want to do with it.

As we mentioned, U-chips appear on thin laptops with list prices between $400 and $700. These computers are suitable for office, browsing the internet, installing basic programs, and other things that don’t involve gaming or heavier work. If you want to do heavier work on your computer, you might turn your attention to ultrabooks over $900, which are sure to come with P-chips.

Finally, if you buy a gaming notebook, if it is intel-driven, it may be equipped with an H chip.

Different chips for different users

Intel’s lineup of laptops has different chips because no two laptop users are the same. Some people may not care about performance and prefer a thin laptop for work/study purposes that works very well. Others may want something very powerful, even at the expense of portability.

Hopefully, you know the difference by now.