A funny thing happened in 2020: AMD won the gaming laptop for the first time ever. Until the Asus Zephyrus G14, we’d never seen a laptop with an AMD CPU and AMD GPU run circles around the competition. Since then, we’ve repeatedly seen that “AMD laptop” no longer means cheap. But now, AMD is setting its sights higher than mid-range gaming machines — it just revealed it’s building a new CPU aimed at the “pinnacle of gaming performance” with the “highest core, thread and cache ever”.
The new CPU line is codenamed “Dragon Range,” and they’ll live exclusively at 55W TDP and up — enough power that they’ll “largely exist in the space where gaming laptops are plugged in the majority of the time,” says AMD director of technical marketing Robert Hallock.
The slide above shows they’re aimed at laptops that are at least 20mm (0.78-inches) thick, while the 35-45W “Phoenix” line are aimed at machines thinner than that same mark. Both are part of the same AMD Ryzen 7000 series, based on the same Zen 4 architecture, and unfortunately, it appears both won’t arrive until 2023 — Zen 4 will begin its life as the desktop exclusive “Raphael” later this year, according to the chart.
AMD says that Dragon Range will take up the “HS” suffix for CPUs — the same as the Ryzen 9 4900HS that impressed us at 35W in that 2020 Asus Zephyrus — but hinted that we shouldn’t take the higher TDP as a sign that they’ll totally be ditching power efficiency for performance. They’re estimated to be “notably more power efficient than other laptops in that competing timeframe,” says Hallock.
AMD wouldn’t provide more details today, and it’s not clear what the new CPUs might bring to the table that gaming laptops necessarily need, given that graphics chips not CPUs, are generally where most of the gaming oomph comes from these days, particularly at 4K or even 1440p. Still, CPU speed does matter, particularly when you’re trying to feed a high refresh rate monitor (which may soon go up to 500Hz) with lower resolution frames.
Hallock says the new chips are an opportunity the company thought it could pursue alongside thin-and-light gaming. “The performance per watt story you’ve been hearing from us will continue into the future as well,” he says.
AMD also told journalists today that, starting next quarter, it will break out gaming into its own financial segment, with revenue from semi-custom parts like PlayStation, Xbox, and Steam Deck chips joining desktop and laptop Radeon graphics — all part of a single gaming business. It sounds like Ryzen may not be part of that segment though, but rather a “Client” one: the company will explain more at an analyst day in June.