With the huge selection of Chromebooks currently available and the wide array of processors to choose from, you’d be forgiven for forgetting about AMD’s more-recent processors. But we haven’t. As a matter of fact, I check the Chromium Repositories pretty often to see if the handful of Chromebooks we’ve been tracking for months with the new AMD Ryzen 5000 series are getting any closer to release at this point. While I’ve not found concrete evidence of a release date, the amount of development that has continued to happen with this chip in the Chromium Repositories has always made me hopeful we’ll see Chromebooks with these chips inside at some point. Turns out, I was right, and one has actually landed in our office from an anonymous source: and we’ve taken it for a quick spin.
Let’s do a quick review
So, a little background is in order, here. AMD processors have been in Chromebooks for a few years at this point. We originally got a handful of A4 and A6-powered Chromebooks back in early 2019, but they were less than impressive. These devices were affordable, pretty slow, and compared with Intel’s offerings in the same timeframe, they just didn’t stack up.
In early 2021, we began seeing the next wave of AMD processors – the Ryzen 3000 series – show up in Chromebooks like the Lenovo Thinkpad C13. This set of processors was far faster than the AMD chips we had prior and, when plugged in, they pushed into Intel performance territory.
But, note the fact that I said when plugged in. The problem for all the last-gen AMD Chromebooks came down to an issue inherent to the processors themselves: throttling. When not on the charger, the Ryzen chips we had in the last iteration of AMD Chromebooks would drop performance by nearly 40%, and there was no fixing it. We checked a couple weeks ago to see if this had been mitigated in any way, and it simply hasn’t. When not plugged in, current Chromebooks with AMD processors inside struggled to perform.
In November of 2020, however, a glimmer of hope for AMD-powered Chromebooks showed up in the form of the just-announced Ryzen 5000U series. Not only was this new chipset announced in general, we began seeing it show up in the Chromium Repositories in a few different Chromebook baseboards, too. Based on the initial announcement of these new chips, hopes ran high that we might finally get flagship-level performance out of AMD devices, and the built in GPUs that come along with them were exciting too.
And then we waited. And waited. And here in April of 2022 we had zero concrete evidence that any Chromebooks bearing these newer AMD chips would ever surface. Well, that was until this one showed up at the office.
Hands-on with a new Ryzen 5000 series Chromebook
We can’t say where it came from or even what brand it is. And we’re not really going to show you the device that much in the video, either, since it is super pre-production. What we can share, however, are some specs, some benchmarks, and the fact that we have a working device in our hands with an AMD Ryzen 5000U processor inside! Regardless of the qualities of this particular device, the fact that we have a development unit out in the wild means that the Ryzen 5000U Chromebooks aren’t dead! They are alive and well, and they’re fast!
Looking at a couple benchmarks, you can see pretty quickly that these new AMD processors are legit. With Octane scores near 70,000, Speedometer scores just over 200, and MotionMark scores around 980, there’s no doubt this set of processors will perform when they show up in the market. To be fair, the one we have here is the top-end Ryzen 5 5800U with 16GB of RAM and a half TB SSD, so this is the best of the best when it comes to AMD’s latest. The best part is the fact that throttling looks to be a thing of the past: at least so far. I tested this chip both on a charge and off of it and there was barely a drop off in performance.
With stuff like Parallels, Linux apps, and Steam gaming all here or on the way, devices like these will be great for heavy processing tasks like gaming or video editing in the future. More importantly, it gives us another true contender in the Chromebook space from a processor standpoint. With flagship processors from Qualcomm, MediaTek and of course Intel coming in the next few months, AMD needed to show up and show out to win some of the Chrome OS market. With these latest processors performing this well, I think they are on the right path.