In an announcement yesterday, Qualcomm virtually rolled out a mid-cycle update to the Snapdragon 7c and it is called the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2. Seriously, that’s the name. And as uninspired as that name is, it 100% fits the bill in this case as this “updated” chipset feels almost pointless from a sheer spec standpoint. I’m all for being hopeful that hardware delivers more than the spec sheet implies, but this isn’t one of those scenarios. Instead, we’re getting a refreshed SoC from Qualcomm that is so similar to the original that I honestly question why they bothered.
Let’s look at the specs
Literally the only thing different in this chip from the original Snapdragon 7c is a slight increase in CPU clock speed. Up to 2.55 GHz from 2.4GHz, we’re not talking about a massive performance boost, here. In fact, I’d recon you won’t be able to tell much difference at all if I put two devices on your desk and let you try both for a little while. 0.15Ghz just isn’t enough to make much of a performance difference.
Apart from this, the Snapdragon 7c is not just similar: it is exactly the same. With the same Kryo 468 CPU cores (8 of them), 8nm process, same Adreno GPU, Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0, we really are looking at the same exact thing this time around. If you want to look at both product briefs, you can view the Snapdragon 7c here and the Gen 2 here. Trust me when I tell you they are staggeringly identical.
More of the same
If you can’t tell, I’m really disappointed by this chip and this announcement. In our first look at the Snapdragon 7c in a Chromebook, I was pretty let down by the overall performance. It’s adequate and can do minimal tasks, but I have a feeling that the upcoming wave of Jasper Lake Chromebooks will all fare much better from a performance and speed point of view. Yes, Qualcomm is really pushing all day battery and extended connectivity via LTE, but at the end of the day, the Chromebook still needs to perform. So far, the 7c is not great in this category.
While I wasn’t expecting a massive bump, I was hoping for at least some more capable cores in the SoC this time around. Maybe a GPU upgrade? Better external monitor support? Anything would have been nice, honestly, and it feels like Qualcomm just put this processor out there to say they refreshed the original 7c and nothing more. At this point, it feels like they could have just held off until the next major refresh of this compute chip was ready for public consumption. After all, we don’t have that many Chromebooks available with the 7c on board, so it didn’t feel long in the tooth at all. With no real performance benefits, I’m not sure why this move was even necessary.
One thing we did learn is the identity of the slightly-mysterious SC7280 we’ve seen lurking in the repositories. Though we don’t have many devices tied to it just yet, there are two we’ve been tracking in ‘Herobrine’ and ‘Senor’. I was excited to see what next-gen Snapdragon processing would bring to Chromebooks, but now I’m sure that it will be the exact same thing we have currently. Our assumptions about this chip were off-base, unfortunately, and we’ll have to see what a proper 7c refresh brings down the road. Don’t get me wrong, for battery life and connection, Snapdragon 7c is great. For general Chromebook performance, not so much. In all reality, the Snapdragon 7c (and likely the 7c Gen 2) should be considered only by users who plan on using lots of Android apps, plan on keeping things on the device’s built-in display only, and who prize battery life and connectivity above performance. For those users, I think the Snapdragon 7x and the 7c Gen 2 will be solid performers.
It looks like we’re left waiting to see what MediaTek delivers later in the year with the MT8192 and MT8195 and I’m still hoping we’ll see devices that have the same all-day battery, connectivity options and much better overall performance than what we get with the Snapdragon 7c. For now we wait and enjoy the coming Jasper Lake and Tiger Lake Chromebook onslaught that is coming. There are very excellent devices launching in the near future, so be sure to get subscribed below so you don’t miss a thing.