It’s no secret that one of the best Chromebooks you can buy right now is the somewhat-expensive HP Chromebook c1030. Launched first as an enterprise-focused device and followed up as the consumer-facing Chromebook x360 13c, this device is one of the best-built Chromebooks we’ve ever laid hands on. From the all-aluminum frame to the 3:2 display to the thin design, this is one of the few Chromebooks that reaches for that vaunted Google-made level of craftsmanship. It’s even been on sale on a regular basis and is a few hundred dollars off right now over at Best Buy if you are interested.
However smitten I am by the c1030/x360 13c, the one thing that would give me pause at recommending it at this stage in the Chromebook story is the processor inside. Don’t get me wrong: the Core i5/i7 Intel Comet Lake processors this device ships with are more than capable for just about anything you ever want to do on a Chromebook and there’s no general performance concerns whatsoever. Well, that is unless you are looking to casually game on your Chromebook when Steam games come to Chrome OS via Borealis.
More power under the hood is on the way
With the latest Tiger Lake 11th-gen Intel processors, big performance gains were had over the last-gen Comet Lake chips. Just as importantly, however, the built-in GPU for the i5 and i7 received a massive upgrade with Intel’s Xe graphics. While day-to-day tasks won’t see massive benefits from this, games and other graphic-intense activities surely will down the road. At the MSRP of $949, even though the current HP x360 13c is beautiful and well-made, the lack of a decent GPU might give some users pause as they are making a purchasing decision.
What I’ve uncovered in the Chromium Repositories, however, might be just what some of you are waiting for from HP as it would seem that an iterative update to this already-stellar Chromebook is in the works with ‘Redrix.’ According to a recent code change for the LEDs on ‘Redrix’, the commit message spells out what device this development board will likely become. Check it out.
Right there in the center, there’s a pretty dead giveaway as the message tells us that ‘Redrix’ has the same design as ‘Jinlon’. You can probably guess this already, but ‘Jinlon’ is the internal code name for the HP Chromebook x360 13c and the c1030. In this code change, right up top the writing on the wall is clear that they will “simply copy from…” an earler board linked in the commit. That link – unsurprisingly – takes you to the LED behaviors of ‘Jinlon’.
But that isn’t all we found. Curiously, ‘Jinlon’ utilizes a unique 2-fan setup that we’d never seen before. While we thought it might have been for a dedicated GPU or something similar, it turns out HP just wanted to have dual fan control for the c1030. Again, ‘Redrix’ copies this exact same behavior and thus is likely a very similar build to the existing HP c1030. For reference, I also dropped the initial EC commit changes below to solidify that this new ‘Redrix’ board is in fact based on ‘Brya’: the main reference board for 12th-gen Intel Alder Lake Chromebooks.
Sounds great. When can we expect it?
It seems pretty clear that HP is looking to do what it did with the Chromebook x360 14c and simply upgrade the internals of an already-great recipe and get this device out the door. Especially in the case of the fantastic c1030/x360 13c, I think this is a great idea. There’s little needed to keep this Chromebook in the conversations for the best high-end Chromebooks you can buy, so an upgrade to the internals and the addition of a nice GPU would really seal the deal on making the new version an absolute knock-out.
That being said, we don’t expect Alder Lake Chromebooks until the early parts of 2022. Just as we saw Tiger Lake devices get announced at CES 2021, we’d expect similar timelines this year as well. It feels like it took a tad bit longer than normal for the 11th-gen Intel Chromebooks to actually begin arriving and we suspect that was COVID-19 related. While things are still not back to normal, 2021 leveled out a bit from the production side of the equation, so my guess is we could see this updated ‘Redrix’ device in early 2022. After all, the original c1030 was quite delayed and only hit shelves in December of 2020. The Best Buy version didn’t arrive until May of this year, so rushing out an 11th-gen Tiger Lake version likely didn’t make much sense. A 12th-gen version early next year? Yes please.