We have been inundated with ‘Atlas’ and Google hardware news this week, from the Nest Hub Max leak to this latest bit of news from Geekbench to the FCC filing a few days ago, there is more action in July surrounding Google-made devices than we’ve ever seen before. I still hold to my assumption that all of it means we’ll see a much earlier #madebyGoogle event this year, but we’ll leave that on the table for now and talk about the latest tidbit of news unearthed by 9to5 Google in the form of a few newer benchmark results.
For those unaware, Geekbench is a popular benchmarking app used primarily on Android devices to test all sorts of performance metrics. The thing about Geekbench is all the resulting tests get logged after a user initiates the bechmarking suite. Those results and their reported hardware can be taken as relatively factual since, without a bit of hackery, there isn’t a way to manually tell Geekbench what device you are on. Instead it is pulled directly from the firmware of your product and, because of this fact, results can show up from time to time that lend a bit of info to upcoming hardware.
For instance, this happened with the Pixel Slate, but only about a week before the launch event happened in NYC. I won’t go off on another rant just yet about all of this happening so much earlier than last year and how we keep seeing more evidence that Google’s even will be way earlier this time around. Instead, let’s focus on what we’re seeing in this set of Geekbench results that differ from the ones we saw in early May just this year.
In those first results for what we thought was the next Pixelbook possibility, we had a bit of a conundrum. First up, the device in those earlier results was labeled as ‘Google Pixelbook.’ The chipset inside that device was not the same 7th-gen Intel chip that is in the current Pixelbooks, but was instead tested with 8th-gen U-series (fanned) Intel silicon. We’re still not too sure what to make of that, but we’ve since seen Pixelbooks being tested with ARM chips as well, so all of that is likely due to some internal testing.
These new benchmarks that have surfaced are specifically ‘Google Atlas’ and are using the chips we’ve seen being deployed in ‘Atlas’ from the beginning when it was being developed right alongside the Pixel Slate. Specifically, the tests show devices with these two chips:
- Intel Core i5-8200Y 3900 MHz (2 cores)
- Intel Core i7-8500Y 4200 MHz (2 cores)
The results are all relatively recent, too, ranging from May 28th to July 8th of 2019. Interestingly, all configurations being tested are inclusive of 16GB of RAM. There are no benchmarks at this point with anything less, so that’s an interesting thing to note. Google (and all other manufacturers) have always shipped an 8GB variant when a 16GB is available. Perhaps to offset the older 8th-gen processor being used, Google is just making 16GB the baseline for ‘Atlas’ and won’t be shipping an 8GB version. It also could be the case that an 8GB version simply wasn’t tested.
The final point of interest here is ‘Atlas’ is looking like it will arrive on the scene with the exact same chipset as the Pixel Slate from last year. With Google basically skipping 9th-gen Intel chips and moving on to 10th-gen (we’ve accidentally labeled Cannon Lake chips as 9th-gen in a few articles, but it seems the are 10th-gen), it seems ‘Atlas’ was too far along to change baseboard and processor, so they are sticking with a tad older chip. While this could be cause for a bit of concern, there is a silver lining. For whatever reason, these same Core i5 chip in ‘Atlas’ is benchmarking quite a bit faster than the one in the Pixel Slate. The i7 scores match up pretty well, but the Core i5 scores for ‘Atlas’ are easily in the 7500 range for multi-core and the Pixel Slate’s i5 is consistently in the mid 5000’s.
Whatever the case, I’m hopeful that ‘Atlas’ will see at least a bit of a price break right out of the gate because of these older chips. Especially if the Core i5 variant can perform near the same speed as the current i7 Pixel Slate, I’d love to see this device debut for $600-$700 and bring the already-fantastic build quality of the Pixelbook and Pixel Slate to the masses at a much more tolerable price point. If they can manage to do that, if they could manage to give us the Pixelbook experience on a bit of a budget, I think we could finally see Google’s own Chromebooks finally take a larger bite out of the market. If they use much of what they got right in the Pixelbook and consider the savings on offer from using what is now a 2-year-old chip in ‘Atlas’, I think it could happen. Like I’ve said before, it’s the Pixel 3a effect in motion.