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Today’s review is all about the Ryzen 7 4800U, AMD’s top-of-the-line APU for lightweight laptops, also known as ultrabooks. This is the best Renoir die AMD has to offer from an efficiency standpoint, aiming to bring the great performance to 15W and 25W power envelopes.

Since the launch of the Ryzen Mobile 4000 series, the original plan was test U-series parts shortly after that, but delays hit most product launches and only now PC makers are starting to ship Ryzen ultraportables in serious volume.

We already know how well Zen 2 scales up to higher TDPs in the H-series — parts such as the Ryzen 7 4800H — but how this applies to ultraportables has remained unclear.

First let’s quickly recap about specifications: the Ryzen 7 4800U uses a fully unlocked die, with 8 CPU cores active, and 16 threads. We’re getting 8MB of L3 cache and clock speeds up to 4.2 GHz in a low-thread boost state. The base clock of 1.8 GHz is lower than other parts, as AMD needs to fit 8 cores into a 15W TDP rating.

The GPU is fully unlocked as well, so we see 8 Vega compute units enabled with clock speeds up to 1750 MHz. 8 Vega CUs means 512 shaders, a reduction on last generation Ryzen parts, but compensated for with higher clocks. The entire chip is a monolithic die built on TSMC’s 7nm technology and the CPU cores are based on the Zen 2 architecture.

The only real difference between the 4800U and the Ryzen 7 4800H (for workstation and gaming laptops) is the power limit and clock speeds. The 4800H has a base clock of 2.9 GHz for example, and can sustain higher frequencies. But outside of that, the 4800U and 4800H are based on the same silicon.

The test system for today’s review is the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7, a premium 14-inch ultraportable that has a really nice metal chassis and overall build quality. Like most of our component reviews, this isn’t a review of the laptop itself, but in our short time with it we’ve been impressed. This is not the case of “OEM puts Ryzen in a mid-range system” situation, but we see the IdeaPad rivalling the best out there in its segment.

The 4800U is coupled with 16GB of LPDDR4X memory in a dual-channel configuration. Ryzen supports both DDR4-3200 and LPDDR4X-4266, our previous testing has been with DDR4 configurations, this laptop gets the full LPDDR4X treatment. There’s also a good quality 1080p display, 512GB of PCIe storage and a 60 Wh battery. Final pricing for this configuration is not yet available but we’d expect it to be around the $1000 mark.

Like all of our laptop testing, we are sticking to stock power configurations where possible, which allows for an apples-to-apples performance comparison where laptops’ cooling and power settings shouldn’t impact results as much. For today’s testing we’ll be looking at performance with long term power limits of 15W and 25W.

In reality, the IdeaPad Slim 7 can sustain above 25W for quite some time in its maximum power mode, which is an impressive feat for this sort of laptop. But again, to keep everything equal we’ll be looking at 15W and 25W performance.

That said, both modes we’re testing still have strong boost behavior, in keeping with how most Ryzen laptops that we’ve tested actually operate. This means a boost level up to 35W or so for around 5 minutes at 25W, and 2.5 minutes at 15W. This is a longer boost period than Intel’s U-series processors this generation. It is clear AMD intends to push boost for as long as is feasible to deliver maximum performance.

Benchmarks

Before we begin, and as you’re likely familiar with, all our benchmark charts average the results from laptops using in the same configuration, the full list of laptops we tested are here.

Let’s start with Cinebench R20. At 15W, the Ryzen 7 4800U is incredibly fast. We’re seeing performance that matches the Ryzen 5 4600H, a six-core 45W SKU, while outperforming Intel’s 45W parts such as the Core i7-10875H in the multi-thread test. This is absolutely insane levels of performance, allowing the 4800U to deliver workstation-like results at just 15W.

It also means the Ryzen 7 4800U demolishes every Intel U-series part in the charts.

The 4800U at 15W is over 150% faster than the Core i7-1065G7, Intel’s best Ice Lake processor. Granted, the 1065G7 has just four cores. AMD’s decision to enable eight-core designs in a laptop form factor has paid off here. We’re also seeing double the performance of the best Comet Lake CPU, the six-core Core i7-10710U.

The margins are a little narrower at 25W: the 4800U is still 130% faster than Ice Lake, and 70% faster than Comet Lake. These are margins that are practically unheard of in mobile computing and surely call for Tiger Lake to remedy this situation for Intel.

AMD is also able to universally hold the Cinebench R20 single-thread performance crown in the U-series market. Margins aren’t anywhere near what they are for multi-thread, but we’re seeing up to a 10% lead on the i7-1065G7 and 15% on the i7-10710U.

Performance is also remarkably impressive in some of our longer workloads, like Handbrake, which takes at least half an hour to encode our x265 sample video. The 15W 4800U is offering close to the performance of Intel’s Core i7-10875H, while at 25W, it beats the overall fastest CPU Intel has in their entire mobile line-up, the Core i9-10980HK.

The 4800U is an H-series sort of CPU in terms of performance, or at least completely redefining what we should expect out of the U-series.

The 4800U is over twice as fast as the Core i7-1065G7 at both 15W and 25W. Meanwhile, we’re seeing at least 70% better performance than the Core i7-10710U, with an 88% lead at 15W.

Similar story with Blender. Now Intel would tell you this isn’t a “real world” benchmark as you wouldn’t run Blender on an ultraportable laptop. But with the performance AMD is offering here, I think that needs to be reconsidered.

You definitely wouldn’t want to use Blender on a Core i7-1065G7 laptop, but the 4800U offers well over twice the performance.

GPU acceleration still makes H-series laptops attractive for workloads like this but as a highly portable workstation APU, the 4800U makes for a compelling option.

When compiling Chromium, the 4800U is about 70% faster than the Core i7-1065G7 whether you test in a 15W or 25W configuration. In fact, the 4800U is just as fast at 25W, as a Core i7-10875H at 45W. Similar margins for GCC compilation, Ryzen is simply much faster for coding.

Looking at some lighter productivity workloads now, which is perhaps more important for a thing and light system. In our Microsoft Excel number crunching benchmark, Ryzen still holds a huge performance lead on Intel’s Ice Lake processors.

We aren’t quite in H-series territory with the 4800U here, but we do get close and certainly this is the fastest 15W CPU on the market.

For PCMark 10’s productivity test, which is lightly-threaded, the results we saw in Cinebench R20 single-thread come to play. The 4800U is 12% faster in this benchmark than the Core i7-1065G7, which is really a best case scenario for Intel’s U-series. And these margins carry over into the Essentials test, which covers web browsing and app loading, basic tasks you’d run on a laptop. The 4800U is a double digit percentage faster, up to 15% when compared to something like the Core i7-10710U.

In MATLAB, there’s not much separating U-series processors, so whether you choose Intel or AMD, it doesn’t make much of a difference with the latest version. The performance you see here will heavily depend on what functions you’re running, single threaded or memory limited stuff is close between both platforms.

In 7-Zip, the 4800U gets close to AMD’s 45W APUs like the Ryzen 7 4800H. The 4800U is much faster for decompression than any other U-series part, including AMD’s lower core count processors like the Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U and especially the 4500U.

The margins compared to Intel are very high, over 2.5x the performance for decompression compared to the 1065G7, and over 60% faster for compression.

In Acrobat PDF exporting, which is entirely single-threaded, the difference between the 4800U and Intel’s U-series processors is within the margin of error. In this test which has historically been brutal on AMD APUs, there is no difference in performance.

The Adobe suite continues to be somewhat problematic for Ryzen Mobile, as seen in these Photoshop results. While the 4800U is competitive, especially at 15W, the Core i7-1065G7 is marginally faster when it’s allowed to push up to 25W.

The difference isn’t massive, the 4800U is ~4% behind, but you also have to factor in that apps like Premiere have better compatibility and feature support on Intel. There are still issues with color grading 4K videos in Premiere on the Ryzen 7 4800U, which need to be resolved before an APU-only AMD-powered laptop is suitable in that app.

Then for something like DaVinci Resolve, we are only including this due to popular demand.

While the 4800U is faster than a Core i7-1065G7 in this workload because the app uses the GPU heavily, you are far better off with a laptop that includes a more powerful discrete GPU. Even something like the 1650 Ti Max-Q is a lot faster.

Gaming Tests

That’s not to say the Ryzen 7 4800U has a useless integrated GPU. For light gaming, it’s more competent than you might expect. In GTA V for example, you can achieve a solid 60 FPS experience using the lowest settings at native 1080p, with just 15W of APU power. This is a big step up on the Core i7-1065G7 at the same power level.

The 4800U is perfectly suited for games like Civilization VI, with enough GPU horsepower to deliver well above 60 FPS using the lowest settings.

The CPU is also reasonably fast for things like turn times, and while it’s not going to be as nice of an experience as on a proper gaming system, strategy games are some of the best to run on Ryzen laptops.

CS: GO is also a good experience on the Ryzen 7 4800U. At native 1080p and using competitive settings, the 4800U delivers over 100 FPS average. At 25W, performance is similar to the 1065G7, but at 15W, it’s faster. You can also see here the 4800U beating the MX250 configuration easily.

One of the most interesting benchmarks is Gears 5, which is a look at a GPU demanding game running at medium settings. The Ryzen 7 4800U is the fastest iGPU in this benchmark delivering 24 FPS.

While that’s too slow for actual gaming using those settings, it does suggest the game is playable at lower settings or when using the dynamic resolution mode. In our experience you can get above 30 FPS with a few more things turned down, which is not as possible on other low-power processors.

The 4800U at 15W is also able to match the combination of a 15W i7-1065G7 with the 10W MX250. This suggests that overall, the 4800U’s 8 Vega CUs is a more efficient gaming platform than the combination of an Intel CPU with a discrete GPU. You’ll also see the performance difference between the 4800U and Ryzen APUs that have just six compute units at lower clocks: the 4800U is 25% faster at 15W.

And finally there are some interesting things to see between the various power configurations. Ryzen 5 APUs with that six-CU GPU don’t benefit much from the increased power limit, going from 15W to 25W. However the 4800U does, in this test we saw a modest 12% gain. Ice Lake gains the most, it saw up to a 35% increase with the extra power available to it.

Similar results can be seen in F1 2019 running at the ultra low preset. The 4800U delivers a playable experience in this title for an integrated GPU, with a 1% low above 30 FPS. Meanwhile, the MX250 is barely a 30 FPS sort of experience, while Ice Lake at 15W is not able to keep up. The 4800U is 56% faster than the 1065G7 in this game at 15W.

Performance Breakdown

When putting the Ryzen 7 4800U up against the Core i7-1065G7 at the same 15W power level, the Ryzen APU is almost always faster. In multi-thread workloads that margin is significant, it’s reasonable to expect more than double the performance. But even in most single-thread tests, the 4800U holds a narrow margin.

Being over 10% faster in PCMark’s Productivity and Essentials tests is a strong result given these are common U-series tasks.

At 25W, the margins do narrow between Renoir and Ice Lake, but not by enough to change much.

Ryzen is still more than twice as fast in some multi-thread workloads, and generally faster at single-thread, too. Combined with a faster integrated GPU, the 4800U is generally anywhere from a bit faster, to much faster for typical laptop tasks.

Intel also has Comet Lake U-series designs with up to six-cores, for heavier multi-thread productivity. But AMD is able to beat this part, too, with more than 80% better performance in longer term multi-thread workloads. The Ryzen 7 4800U also has a much faster integrated GPU, around 2.5x faster than Intel’s dated Skylake-era design, so the 4800U is a more complete performance package.

Compared to AMD’s own line-up, the Ryzen 7 4800U is notably faster than the Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U. The jump from 6 to 8 cores, even in the same power envelope, allows for 10 to 30 percent more performance in typical tasks. This is because adding more cores and running them at a lower frequency tends to be a more efficient design, especially at these core counts.

The small 200 MHz increase to boost clocks also delivers better single-thread performance, with the 4800U able to hit 4.2 GHz on a single core below 15W of power consumption. In fact, single-core power usage for the entire APU is more like 12W, very impressive stuff.

Depending on your use, there’s also reason to upgrade your laptop configuration from a Ryzen 5 4500U to a Ryzen 7 4800U during the purchase process. The 4800U is at least 10 percent faster for basic productivity, but up to 50% faster or more in multi-thread heavy workloads.

The combination of two extra cores and having SMT enabled is a significant improvement for Renoir.

There was once a time when, for example, there wasn’t much of an improvement between a Core i5 or Core i7 configuration. But here, AMD in their Ryzen 7 tier are producing a strong upgrade incentive.

We want to close with some H-series comparisons. At 25W, the Ryzen 7 4800U is generally faster than the Ryzen 5 4600H, which is impressive and goes to show how efficient this Zen 2 APU is at low power levels.

The 4800U is also able to trade blows with the Core i9-10980HK. It doesn’t always win, but margins are typically below 15% either way which is crazy considering the Core i9 part is the best in Intel’s entire mobile line-up, at least until Tiger Lake arrives.

What We Learned

The Ryzen 7 4800U is one of the most impressive products we’ve ever tested, both winning its market segment, and providing a huge gen-on-gen performance leap.

There are a number of angles as to why the 4800U is so remarkable. The big one is that it destroys Intel’s Ice Lake and Comet Lake processors. It’s not unusual to see double the multi-thread performance, or better, while also winning the single-thread battle. Throw in an integrated GPU that can be 50% faster, especially at 15W, and the Ryzen 7 4800U wins in all three major categories for an ultraportable CPU.

If this was a 100m sprint, you’d think the 4800U is cheating with performance enhancing drugs, that’s how much it beats its direct opponent by.

The types of margins we’re seeing here highlight the efficiency of AMD’s Zen 2 design and TSMC’s 7nm process node. On the desktop, Intel can still be competitive by increasing power consumption to match what AMD is doing with Zen 2. That’s just not feasible in power and cooling constrained laptop form factors.

We went back and looked at how many generations it took for Intel to double U-series performance. Based on Cinebench R15 multi-thread results, the Core i7-1065G7 is roughly twice as fast as the dual-core Core i7-5600U from the Broadwell generation. So it took Intel about four years to double the performance on offer. Achieving this on a single generation is unheard of in the CPU market, although to be fair AMD has been struggling long enough to penetrate the laptop market that it was about time they delivered since they’ve had really good CPUs for desktop systems for years now.

With all this extra performance, in practice the Ryzen 7 4800U redefines what an ultraportable laptop is capable of. Previously, you probably wouldn’t have wanted to do any significant data crunching or code compilation on an ultraportable, however moving forward this is the bar Intel (and notably ARM-based MacBooks) will have to overcome.

The 4800U competes with H-series laptops to an extent, often getting close or beating Intel’s current offerings like the Core i7-10750H. If you typically use your laptop for CPU heavy tasks, why bother with a 15-inch 5 pound system with limited battery life when a lightweight 13- or 14-inch system can offer the same level of performance?

Of course, the 4800U and other U-series processors can’t fully replace what H-series designs offer. Ryzen H-series parts are still faster and then there’s the whole discrete GPU situation. 13-inch designs aren’t getting 80W GPUs any time soon, and that’s where a larger laptop can pull ahead.

Intel Tiger Lake CPUs are set to arrive soon which will put the company back in contention, but with such dominant performance from AMD, Tiger Lake will likely be more about catching up to Ryzen on this generation. Meanwhile, AMD is already thinking about Zen 3, which isn’t too far away.

It’s an exciting time for laptop performance, we finally have serious competition and that’s going to accelerate this market like we haven’t seen in years. Tiger Lake laptops are just around the corner, more Ryzen 4000-based models including ultraportables, and let’s not forget that Apple is coming up with their own (potentially devastating) ARM-based SoC for MacBooks as well.

We’ll soon see how the market is shaping up for the holiday season. And of course, we’ll keep on benchmarking.

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