ARM-powered Chromebooks have come into their own here in 2022 with the arrival of fantastic devices like the new Acer Chromebook Spin 513 (review coming soon), the Lenovo Duet 5 and Duet 3, and the Acer Chromebook 514. These Chromebooks leverage silicon from both Qualcomm and MediaTek and the benefits of ARM are on display in all of them. With long battery life, solid performance, thin chassis and fanless designs, ARM-powered Chromebooks offer a whole lot to like at attractive price points.
While the Acer Chromebook Spin 513 finally delivers a flagship-level performance from an ARM-based Chromebook with its MediaTek Kompanio 1380, we know Qualcomm has more to offer as well. So far, we’ve only seen Snapdragon 7c Gen 1 and Gen 2 Chromebooks, but we know there is a Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 on the way and the much more powerful Snapdragon 8cx in the early stages of development for Chromebooks, too.
Personally, I don’t think we’ve truly seen the power of the Snapdragon 8cx on full display in a laptop. Sure, there are Windows laptops running this silicon, but I stand firm in the assertion that ChromeOS is far better suited for the power, battery life and always-connected nature of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Compute platforms. The Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 has been a solid performer and I’m sure the 7c+ Gen 3 will be great, too: but I’m ready to see the full force of Snapdragon 8cx in a Chromebook.
New features on the way
While we know the Snapdragon 8cx platform is in the early stages, it is encouraging to see movement on that front. It may be 2023 before we actually see a Chromebook with the flagship Snapdragon Compute chipset inside, but there’s no reason not to keep track of the development as we go.
It’s been a bit quiet on this front for the past few months, but just this week we found some fresh, new commits bringing a few key features to the latest ARM platform for ChromeOS. First up, we have the addition of NVMe, a key upgrade for ARM Chromebooks. Even devices like the impressive Acer Chromebook Spin 513 and its powerful Kompanio 1380 SoC don’t yet employ the faster NVMe storage like we see in Intel-based devices. It looks like Snapdragon 8cx Chromebooks will.
Secondly, this latest change looks to be opening the door for 5G modems, too. This means connected Chromebooks with the Snapdragon 8cx inside could benefit from both faster storage read/write speeds and far faster mobile network speeds, too. With Qualcomm placing so much emphasis on the always-connected laptop, this only makes sense.
Imagine for just a moment a slim, light, lightning-fast Chromebook that is always connected and has easy all-day battery life and you can quickly see why we’re excited for the arrival of Qualcomm’s best laptop processors for ChromeOS. Again, I’ve loved quite a few ARM-powered Chromebooks this year and the Snapdragon 8cx looming over the horizon takes nothing away from those. But at this point, there’s really no reason for Qualcomm to sit back and watch MediaTek make all the first moves in the higher-end ARM Chromebook space. The Snapdragon 8cx will be a great fit for Chromebooks, and we eagerly await more news as it arrives.