AMD CES 2021: Ryzen 5000 CPUs could dominate powerful laptops this year

AMD Ryzen 5000 series chip
(Image credit: AMD)

Computing has long been a big part of CES, especially when it comes to laptops, which is why AMD took to the stage at a virtual CES 2021 and revealed what's next for its laptop processors and graphics. 

AMD’s CEO Dr Lisa Su took the covers off two Ryzen laptop processor lines, both of which will bring Team Red’s latest Zen 3 CPU architecture to both ultraportable and gaming laptops. Expect to see a suite of Asus, Acer, Lenovo, and other hardware makers come up with AMD-powered laptops this year. 

Dr Su also revealed that laptop versions of the Radeon RX 6000 series graphics cards are coming soon, though details on these were a little trim. Nevertheless, AMD had a lot to talk about at CES 2021; here’s what you need to know.  

AMD showcases Ryzen 5000U processors for thin and light laptops 

Acer Aspire 7 (A715 - 42G)

(Image credit: Acer)

It was only a matter of time before AMD took its critically-acclaimed Ryzen 5000 desktop chips, based on its 7-nanometer Zen 3 architecture, and reworked them into laptop CPUs to form the Ryzen 5000 U-Series. 

For thin and light laptops, the Ryzen 7 5800U offers an octa-core processor that can run up to a speedy 4.4GHz to deliver the “fastest x86 processor in the world for thin and light laptops,” according to Dr Su. 

When it comes to work like digital content creation, video encoding, and computer-aided design and visualization work, the Ryzen 7 5800U will deliver a boost in performance over Intel’s Core i7-1185G7 that ranges from 18% up to 39%. 

Yet, despite this extra power, the new Ryzen 7 laptop chip delivers a strong laptop battery life. AMD claimed it’ll offer up to 21 hours of video playback; we’d need to see that for ourselves. 

There's also the Ryzen 5 5600U,  a 6-core, 12-thread CPU that will clock up to 4.2GHz, yet sport a 15W thermal design power to ensure battery life is maximized. This is likely to be  CPU for ultraportables that tread the line between power and price. 

There is also a suite of Zen 2-based laptop CPUs in the new Ryzen 5000U family, but people seeking the best performance might want to look for the CPUs that have the latest architecture. 

We expect to see these Ryzen 5000U CPUs in a lot of new Windows 10 laptops from a range of computer makers this year. 

Gaming laptops will get powerful AMD Ryzen HX CPUs

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE

(Image credit: Asus)

Of course, AMD is big into providing processors for gaming. Currently, its Ryzen 5000 series CPUs offer some class-leading performance for gaming desktops, but laptop CPUs have been a little left out. 

But Dr. Su revealed the Ryzen 5000 H-Series lineup, consisting of a suite of Zen 3-based processors with up to 8 cores and 16 threads. The new family is lead by the Ryzen 9 5900HX and the Ryzen 9 5980HX. 

Both chips work within a 48W plus thermal design power, which should ensure neither utterly drain a gaming laptop’s battery in mere moments. Yet, despite this, the 5900HX can hit a boost clock of 4.6GHz and the 5950HX can hit a very rapid 4.8GHz. 

These processors can apparently help get demanding PC games like Horizon Zero Dawn, which came over from the PS4 to PC last year, to run in excess of 100 frames per second at 1080p resolution. According to AMD, the Ryzen 9 5900HX can outperform the powerful Intel Core i9-10980HK CPU by up to 35% in overall CPU performance. Dr Su also promised a smooth 4K experience on these chips as well.

The rest of the Ryzen H-Series is made up of processors that operate with a TDP from 35 watts 45 watts, and sport either six or eight cores, with top clock speed ranging from 4.2GH to 4.8GHz,  See the table below for the whole range. 

We can expect to see these new Ryzen H-Series processors in a whole suite of gaming laptops from Acer, Asus, Lenovo and more. And with the performance AMD is touting, Intel will need to bring its A-game to the gaming laptop CPU world. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CPUCores/ThreadsBoost clock speedCacheTDP
AMD Ryzen 9 5980HX8/164.8GHz2045W+
AMD Ryzen 9 5980HS8/164.8GHz2035W
AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX8/164.6GHz2045W+
AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS8/164.6GHz2035W
AMD Ryzen 7 5800H8/164.4GHz2045W
AMD Ryzen 7 5800HS8/164.4GHz2045W
AMD Ryzen 5 5600H6/124.2GHz1945W
AMD Ryzen 5 5600HS6/124.2GHz1935W

Radeon RX 6000 graphics coming to laptops soon

Dr Su also teased Radeon RDNA 2 graphics processors for laptop use. In the CES 2021 showcase, AMD presented Dirt 5, running at 60fps at 1440p on a gaming laptop. That's some solid performance, although AMD did not go into more detail in terms of settings.

However, Dr Su noted that laptop versions of the Radeon RX 6000 series are coming this year. And that's a good thing, as Nvidia has revealed its range of GeForce RTX 3000-series graphics cards for gaming laptops, and these are looking very impressive. So AMD will need a retort sooner than later. 

That being said, a lot of new gaming laptops revealed at CES 2021 will mix Ryxen 5000 H-Series processors with Nvidia's new mobile GPUs, such as the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE. So AMD and Nvidia are effectively playing nice despite being graphics rivals. 

All in all, AMD looks posed to have a very interesting year, especially now that its new Zen 3 Ryzen processors are being increasingly adopted by computer makers and its RDNA 2 graphics architecture is being put to use in the PS5 and Xbox Series X.  

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.