What you need to know
- Following December's launch of the new Intel Core Ultra laptop CPUs, the company has unveiled the more mainstream Core U-series.
- Targeting lower-power, more affordable laptops, one of the big differences appears to be no NPU for localized handling of AI workflows.
- Core U-series will boast up to 10 cores with 12 threads, support for faster RAM and Wi-Fi 7.
Following December's big Meteor Lake reveal and the first Core Ultra powered laptops, Intel has pulled back the curtain on its Core Series 1 chips. The U-series won't be found in the flagship Ultrabooks and craziest of new laptops, instead targeting the more affordable, lower-powered market.
That's not to say there isn't reason to be interested in them, but it's clear that going forward Core will be for the mainstream, Core Ultra will be for the high-end. One of the biggest differences seems to be no NPU on Core Series 1, which in turn means no focus on localized AI workflows.
So, I guess not everything in 2024 is going to have an AI play.
Core Series 1 also doesn't suggest it benefits from the Arc integrated graphics that now come on Core Ultra.
More traditional laptop chips for everyday laptops
The Core Series 1 chips are still impressive, but not so much of a leap as the Core Ultra. The lack of fancy AI hardware doesn't mean they're not well-equipped for modern computing, though.
Intel's still packing them with support for Thunderbolt 4 (and up to four ports, no less), and Wi-Fi 7, neither of which may mean much to you right now, but could well do in the future. More affordable laptops shouldn't mean you have to give up on all of the latest and greatest, after all.
They're also built to support faster memory, Bluetooth 5.4, and with a base power of just 15W, should also be fairly frugal on draining your battery.
If you're an enthusiast or a power user, you likely won't be looking for a new laptop with one of these inside. But the mass market who just want a good laptop without blowing the budget will, so they're important, and we're very glad they're here. Let's see what kind of laptops we get with them in.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine
I think this is a poor choice by Intel.Reply
AI is being integrated more and more into Windows 11 and is surely going to be heavily baked into Windows 12.
Not including even a lower powered AI (NPU) processor is going to leave computers with these processors offering a far poorer user experience in a very short period of time.
I suspect AI in everyday computing use will rise in popularity staggeringly quickly, leaving these processors offering a massively sub-par performance.
And look at the competition. ARM processors (from the various manufacturers) are likely to all have NPU cores built in at every price point, just look at Apple's lead in this area already.