Intel only releases five mobile processors in the initial batch of new 22nm Ivy Bridge processors. Conveniently enough, though, all of them are quad-core varieties that should drip feed into the latest gaming laptops real soon.
As usual with the launch of a new processor lineup from Intel or AMD, there’s a significant amount of hype involved. This may be partly justified in this case, but unfortunately the biggest improvement this time is in the integrated graphics card. Unfortunately why, you ask? Because each and every gaming laptop ship with a considerably more powerful dedicated graphics card from Nvidia or AMD that takes care of gaming, so this improvement in Ivy Bridge is fairly useless for gamers.
On the other hand, the increasingly tiny production process–now dropped from 32nm to 22nm–and an addition of Tri-Gate 3D transistor technology has made the latest batch of CPUs more power efficient. As far as the quad-core performance chips are concerned, this does not translate to a lower power consumption, because Intel has opted to use most of the power savings to increase the clock speeds. So it stays at 45W for all but the i7-3920XM (Extreme Edition), which will require 55W.
The most popular processor model in off-the-shelf gaming laptops will no doubt be the Core i7-3610QM. Since the pricing will stay roughly the same as the preceding Sandy Bridge lineup, you will get a processor with higher clocks for the same price, more or less. Performance per clock cycle (MHz) appears to have been slightly increased as well, judging from Intel’s slides. However, note that this is not an apples-to-apples comparison; Intel has sneakily chosen to compare a 2.5 GHz Core i7-2860QM with the 2.7 GHz Core i7-3820QM, so the improvement per MHz is not as big as it seems:
But an improvement it is–allegedly thanks to higher frequencies with Turbo Boost when several cores are active. Whether this will help in actual games remains to be seen, but the difference should be small considering that 3D games rely primarily on the GPU. There are already a small number of laptops with Ivy Bridge CPUs available, but most models including the Alienware lineup will have to wait a short while longer for a refresh.