How 5G Will Unleash Connected Modern PC Experiences

By Eric McLaughlin, Vice President, Client Computing Group; General Manager, Wireless Solutions Group.

Why the Laptop Is Central to the Growth of 5G:

  • Intel is driving 5G-connected laptops, partnerships and innovations to achieve our vision for Connected Modern PC platforms that deliver real-world usages.

  • As 5G continues to scale, it will play a growing role as both a solution to long-standing connectivity challenges and a driver for new experiences.

  • Together with Wi-Fi 6/6E, 5G will open a new chapter of unparalleled connectivity for people and families, workers and businesses, and societies and economies.



We’ve all seen the impressive headlines and ubiquitous ads for 5G: from new phones to self-driving cars to even more futuristic applications, like AR, VR, everywhere and collaborative robots. But what if much of this attention actually overlooks the device where you’ll see some of the most immediate, direct, and meaningful impacts of 5G? That device: your laptop.

As I discussed in my last piece, people are increasingly turning to their laptops for experiences that demand better connectivity, ever-growing data needs, and faster speeds, such as online learning, videos, virtual collaboration, gaming, entertainment, and more. We have all experienced this as we are working, learning, gaming and connecting from home…. ALL on our laptops!

“5G is instrumental to Intel’s vision for the future of the PC platform. To realize the promise of 5G and its potential for real-world impact, we are driving innovation and building partnerships across the ecosystem.”

- Eric McLaughlin, Vice President, Client Computing Group; General Manager, Wireless Solutions Group

5G is now poised to meet these needs in more places than ever, for better, more seamless connectivity, without compromise. 5G includes significant changes to the core network, adds new frequencies to the spectrum being used—for ultra-reliable, low-latency, high-speed connections for all sorts of devices, cities, buildings, and more—and changes where data resides on the network, whether it’s in the cloud, at the edge, on premises, or on the device.

Intel believes this will continue to accelerate the number of PC platforms enabled with cellular connectivity—what we call “Connected Modern PCs.” This makes 5G a vital piece of Intel’s vision for the future of the PC platform. To realize that vision, we are driving innovation and building partnerships to ensure that 5G realizes its potential for real-world impact.

5G on Laptops: Three Essential Solutions

To understand the future of 5G and laptops, we need to understand that it will actually be one of several key technologies, alongside Wi-Fi 6/6E, as well as Bluetooth, LTE, and others. This platform approach can best match the right technology to a person’s needs at a given moment. Within this broader context, 5G is poised to solve several key challenges.

First, 5G provides people with greater mobility and freedom. While Wi-Fi 6 will likely be the preferred connection at home or the office, 5G will expand easy, seamless connectivity to reach everywhere else. Education is a great example. 5G can enable remote learning in areas where broadband services are unavailable or unaffordable; for example, students can use cellular-enabled Chromebooks. 5G could also eliminate daily hassles like searching for Wi-Fi, as well as ultimately freeing people to live and work from anywhere.

5G will power performance to improve experiences that require tons of data and capacity, low latency, and fast speeds. High-end cloud gaming and immersive ultra-HD entertainment will become more accessible. Cloud-based apps will become smooth and frictionless. And the explosion of high-resolution video will accelerate, for both work collaboration and social media sharing.

Finally, 5G will enable even greater security via “5G Network Slicing.” This is the ability for the carrier to create a “slice” of the network for a specific usage or application; for example, HD VR/AR for surgery. This “slice” would have a committed service level giving dedicated and specific access to specific network services required for that usage—making it highly secure. As you would expect, slices are expected to be utilized first in industrial, machine-to-machine, automotive, medical, and other mission-critical usages.

Of course, the 5G transformation won’t happen right away. It will take several years to complete the buildup of infrastructure and investment, with progress varying between countries and even between carriers. However, as it scales, 5G will come to play a growing role as both a solution to long-standing connectivity challenges and a driver for new experiences.

Intel’s Vision: 5G Innovations for Real-World Needs

5G is critical to Intel’s larger vision for complete, Connected Modern PC platforms. Therefore, we are actively driving 5G innovations and ecosystem partnerships:

  • Partnering with 5G experts. Meaningful 5G innovation requires a clear understanding of how people use their laptops in the real world. We are leading the ecosystem in this direction, including through partnerships with 5G modem companies like MediaTek to develop, certify, and support 5G modem solutions expressly designed for laptop experiences.
  • Co-engineering advanced laptops. Intel is working and co-engineering with leading OEMs to solve the technical challenges of 5G. This includes the complexities of adding 5G antennas to laptops, so that that 5G, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth signals work together easily. We are also working to integrate, optimize, and validate 5G-related hardware and software at the platform level, such as premium laptops on the Intel® Evo™ platform or laptops built for business with the Intel® Evo™ vPro® platform.
  • Advancing 5G laptop innovations. Intel is deepening our expertise with a broad portfolio of 5G network solutions, a fast path to deployment, and platform optimizations across the CPU and modem. We are enabling best-in-class Wi-Fi 6/6E (Gig+)1 products so the two technologies can switch seamlessly. And we’re finding solutions to maximize local performance for the best experiences on cloud-based apps.

Our Commitment to Connectivity’s Next Chapter

Like other game-changing technologies, it’s hard to predict exactly how 5G will shape our lives. Intel is actively working to ensure we have the right products, roadmap, partnerships, and innovations to be leaders as we go through this inflection point.

Will 5G create an entirely new entertainment ecosystem, much like broadband and the rise of streaming? Will people work remotely not just from a home office, but from multiple different locations throughout the day? And what innovations will come from app developers, enterprise leaders, and other people who are newly empowered by 5G?

Whatever the answer, Intel is already leading with Connected Modern PCs. We have more Intel modems (>60% MSS vs. other LTE modems), more Connected Modern PC designs on IA, and more total always-connected PC platforms in the Windows and Chrome ecosystems. We are executing well on our 5G solution in partnership with MediaTek, and we expect to continue to lead in all of these areas as we move into a 5G world.

For 5G and Wi-Fi 6/6E, Intel is bringing our platform vision for laptops, our ecosystem leadership, and our deep engineering expertise to transform laptops and power advanced connectivity experiences. For more details about how Intel is partnering across the industry to deliver real-world experiences to our customers, visit here.

Product and Performance Information


Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi 6E are based on IEEE 802.11ax and Wi-Fi 5 is based on the IEEE 802.11ac. Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 5 utilize legacy 5 GHz vs. only Wi-Fi 6E can utilize the new, larger 6GHz Wi-Fi spectrum. Wi-Fi 6E products operate in Wi-Fi 6 mode when used in legacy 5 GHz spectrum.
Intel® Wi-Fi 6/6E (Gig+) products support optional 160 MHz channels which enable the fastest possible maximum speed for typical 2-stream laptop Wi-Fi products.
Based on the IEEE 802.11ax specification. Intel® Wi-Fi 6/6E (Gig+) products support optional 160 MHz channels, enabling the fastest possible theoretical maximum speeds (2402 Mbps) for 2x2 Wi-Fi 6/6E (802.11ax) PC Wi-Fi products. Premium Intel® Wi-Fi 6/6E (Gig+) products enable 2-4X faster maximum theoretical speeds compared standard 2x2 (1201 Mbps) or 1x1 (600 Mbps) Wi-Fi 6/6E (802.11ax) PC Wi-Fi products, which only support the mandatory requirement of 80 MHz channels.