“What does Intel Evo mean?” is a question that bewildered laptop shoppers often ask. To explain, let me give you an analogy: an Intel Evo sticker is for laptops, like an FDA approval badge for supermarket products.
When you see “FDA-approved” on a food package, you probably have peace of mind knowing that a regulatory body has reviewed the product, so you feel more confident buying it, right? The same can be said about Intel Evo laptop stickers. To ensure that a laptop is a Intel Evo laptop, it must meet strict, high standards regarding battery life, performance, weight and more.
In other words, Intel Evo is the chipmaker’s certification platform that puts laptops through rigorous testing to prove it’s worthy of the highly coveted “Evo” badge. So if you come across an Intel Evo sticker, rest assured that it has been vetted to meet strict standards before getting Intel approval. At least – that’s Intel’s goal. I’m not convinced that the chipmaker has accomplished this feat so far (you’ll see why in the following paragraphs).
What are the Intel Evo requirements?
Curious which features a laptop should have before it gets the green light from Intel? View the must-haves below:
- 12th generation Alder Lake processor
- Minimum 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage
- Battery life of at least 9 hours (on laptops with an FHD panel)
- Ultra-thin edges
- Lightweight (less than 3.3 pounds)
- Immediate awakening from sleep (less than 1 second)
- USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 support
- Wi-Fi 6E and optional LTE
- Biometric authentication (e.g. fingerprint reader or IR camera)
- Precision touchpad
- Fast Charging
- Backlit keyboard
- Decent speakers
- Intelligent collaboration (optimized for multitasking and works seamlessly with productivity/video conferencing apps such as Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Office)
Interestingly, that last requirement – intelligent collaboration – was introduced at the beginning of this year. In fact, this list has been updated three times since its launch in 2020. Before Intel Evo was, well, “Intel Evo,” it was called Project Athena, the codename for the program. You can view Project Athena’s original requirements here to see how requirements have evolved over the years. Technology is always advancing, even right now, so by the time CES 2023 rolls around, Intel will no doubt release a fourth iteration of the Intel Evo platform to ensure customers get the crème de la crème from laptops.
Can I rely solely on the Intel Evo badge to buy laptops?
I’ve tested numerous laptops on the Intel Evo platform; I’d say it’s not a surefire way to best laptops. For example the MSI Prestige 14 Evo is an Intel Evo certified laptop. While it wowed us with nearly 11 hours of battery life, 2.7 pounds of feather-light goodness and impressive performance, we were disappointed with the poor speakers and dim 245-nit screen.
Some may be able to live with mediocre speakers (just get one of the best wireless headphones), but the dim screen can be a deal breaker. I don’t know about you, but I actually like doing it to see my screen while working all day.
Do you want another example? The Lenovo Yoga Slim 9i is an Intel Evo-certified laptop, but when we tested it ourselves, it didn’t exceed the 9-hour requirement on our battery test. It barely took 8 hours! When we got the Intel Evo certified Dell XPS 13 Plus, it only lasted 7 hours and 34 minutes in our tests. Poor! However, keep in mind that this was the 4K model. The Intel Evo platform makes the Full HD models outperform the battery life, but not the 4K variants, so make sure you pick the right configuration.
This is why we reviewers should be a critical part of your shopping experience, giving you the fine details an Intel Evo badge won’t reveal. This certification may indicate that a laptop will last more than 9 hours (well, sometimes), but it won’t give you relevant information about touchpad responsiveness, keyboard tactile satisfaction, screen brightness, and more.
Intel-Evo-certified laptops marginalize big contenders
This is obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning: Intel Evo-certified laptops are kicking AMD laptops out of the lot. And many AMD packaged ultrabooks with similar specs, Intel-based laptops give a run for their money.
I remember that Acer released the Swift 3 (2020) with two different CPUs: one had an Intel CPU and the other had an AMD processor. The Intel-packed Swift 3″ stank to heaven with its tragically awful 7-hour runtime and crappy performance. The AMD-based Swift 3on the other hand, it crushed, with 11 hours of battery life and performance to rival the Dell XPS 13 (2020) – and it costs $1,000 more! Sure, that Intel-based Swift 3 didn’t have Evo certification, but the thing is, you might be cheating yourself out of a better laptop by overlooking AMD models.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the Intel Evo certification may not appeal to budget-conscious buyers; laptops with the badge often sell for over $1,000.
What are the best Intel Evo laptops of 2022?
No, the Lenovo Yoga Slim 9i, the aforementioned Intel Evo-certified laptop, didn’t make it as one of our best laptops of 2022but the Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 did. Thumbs up to Intel, this Samsung laptop wowed us with its beautiful portable design, impressive performance, included S Pen, 12 hours of battery life and a bright and vibrant display – screw-dim displays!
The Acer Swift 5″ (2022) is another Intel Evo certified laptop that has captured our hearts. It took the butts of its rivals in our performance benchmarks. It also has a fast SSD, ultra-fast video transcoding, fast file transfer speeds and long battery life. What’s not to love?
If Intel Evo is to be seen as a reliable, trustworthy platform, battery testing needs to be more rigorous to reflect real-world workflows. There are also demands on display brightness, because sub-400-nit laptops just can’t make it, especially since all Intel Evo laptops are marketed as compact, lightweight machines. Using a dark laptop while on the go is a nightmare (trust me, I tried).
Once Intel fixes these issues, you can shop carelessly and with ease and snag laptops with Evo badges with confidence knowing it will meet all your needs. Until then, you’re stuck with us reviewers giving you a more in-depth, well-rounded look at what you’re buying that a stupid Intel Evo sticker will never tell you.