Qualcomm has announced a new SoC for Chromebooks that promises to add some much-needed muscle to the Google notebooks. One thing's for certain: The best Chromebook devices are a varied bunch. Next to some of the best laptop computers they arguably lack the power that makes them truly versatile – though Chrome OS is fast and reliable, with the machines themselves typically light and easy to lug around.
Last week, Qualcomm overhauled its naming convention for premium Snapdragon chips, kicking off with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, plus a new gaming-focused SoC called the Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 – a chip that will arrive in an Android gaming handheld made by Razer. But the most eye-catching Qualcomm announcement was perhaps the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3, which is purpose-built for “entry-tier” Chromebooks and promises to level-up devices on the more budget end of things.
The Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 chip is the sequel to the 7 chip that featured in devices like the Acer Chromebook Spin 513. Compared to the older chip, the 7c+ Gen 3 chip offers 60% more CPU performance and adds a 70% bump in the graphics domain. Qualcomm notes that this chip was “purpose-built for users across our PC and Chromebook ecosystem” and the initial round of devices with the chip could be available as soon as the first half of 2022.
The Gen 3 version certainly looks like the real deal, with the performance increase claims far eclipsing those that Qualcomm made with the Gen 2 processor. Performance increases over multi-core CPU tasks and single-core mean that mid-range Chromebooks should see a boost in their overall performance.
With this Gen 3 version, we’re looking at far bigger performance boost claims than what Qualcomm announced with the Gen 2 processor. With the 60% performance gains in multi-core CPU tasks and 30% increases on a single-core basis, I’d expect those numbers and the 70% GPU bump to really make this a solid performer for mid-range Chromebooks.
More powerful Windows PCs
Unlike the 7c+ Gen 3, which is built on a 6nm process, the 5nm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 is the new flagship PC chip and is exclusively for Windows. Qualcomm says that the 8cx Gen chip delivers 85% “faster CPU performance,” as well as a 60% GPU performance increase. This can be used in concert with any of Qualcomm’s recent modems for 5G connectivity up to a 10 Gbps max speed, in theory. It can also support Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1.
So, it's good news for laptops running Chrome OS and any Windows devices that will run Qualcomm's new flagship 8cx chip. Existing Chromebooks are always on the receiving end of cool new upgrades, but if you're in the market for a new one it's probably worth holding on for the arrival of the new 7c+ Gen 3 chip, especially if you're looking for a new entry-tier Chromebook with extra muscle.