ARM vs x86, who is better and which is more profitable? Cheap laptops are mostly equipped with Intel Celeron, Pentium, Atom or AMD E1 processors. With 2 to 4 cores, they are based on the x86 architecture. Now we have to rethink the configuration and prepare for the expansion of SoC (ARM) from the world of mobile phones. The offer is unique, but not perfect. More than once they tried to equip laptops with too slow processors, deprive them of functionality, cutting back on the capabilities of the operating system, but all attempts were in vain. Buyers simply ignored this class of devices, preferring, if not new, but still full-fledged laptops with the ability to upgrade (at least memory and drives).
This time, Qualcomm, together with its partners Microsoft, Asus and HP, introduced the first laptops and transformers that run on the Snapdragon platform. As a result, they should offer fast LTE connectivity and significantly longer battery life compared to Intel-based PCs. The term “Always Connected PC” (ACPC) should become a common designation for this type of device.
In addition, it was announced that Qualcomm’s latest and highest performing processor will be called the Snapdragon 845.
Asus Nova Go: Gigabit LTE and over 20 hours of battery life
The first Snapdragon-powered Windows 10S laptop will be manufactured by Asus. Nova Go in Russia should appear on sale presumably after the New Year. Computing work in the new laptop will be taken over by Qualcomm’s top-end SoC at the moment, which is called Snapdragon 835 and has eight cores (4 powerful and 4 efficient), an integrated graphics subsystem, a processor specializing in image processing and an LTE modem that allows you to achieve the highest information download speed – 1 Gbps.
No specific performance numbers have yet been released, but Asus, Qualcomm and Microsoft have promised users that there should be more than enough power for all relevant applications – of course, this does not apply to games.
Snapdragon processors are actually installed in smartphones
Since Snapdragon processors have been optimized for use in smartphones, compared to CPUs from the PC world, they are extremely energy efficient. Asus CEO Jerry Shen argues that the claimed 22-hour battery life is not a marketing exaggeration. According to Shen, those same 22 hours are achieved by looping video in Full-HD resolution. The brightness of the display must be set to 100 cd/m2. Measurements at 150 cd/m2 would result in 20 hours of battery life.
However, a brightness of 100 cd/m2, although it will usually be sufficient for indoor work, in real life, the illumination of the workplace is usually 180-200 cd/m2. Therefore, the laptop will have to show information on the display at least with a brightness of at least 200 cd / m2. During our laptop test runs, we measure battery life standardized at brightness levels above 200 cd/m2.
In an exclusive question from the Chip editors, Jerry Shen replied that Asus will launch a successor to the Nova Go with the current Snapdragon 845 processor, presumably in the second half of 2018.
Windows on Snapdragon
The Nova Go will have three configurations that differ in RAM and storage sizes: the entry-level model with 4GB RAM and 64GB Flash will sell for $599 (excluding tax) in the US. In addition, at least another version with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB Flash drive should see the light of day.
All devices will have to come with Windows 10 S adapted for the Snapdragon platform. Although it is a full version of Windows, it allows users to install applications only from the Microsoft Store. The advantage of this approach, according to Microsoft, should be that then all installed applications will be automatically adapted for use on the ARM platform.
Those who do not want to put up with restrictions of this kind can replace Win 10S with the Windows 10 Pro operating system at no cost, after which they will be able to additionally install all popular 32-bit Windows applications on their laptop. However, since the compatibility of software under Windows with the hardware platform will be taken care of by emulation tools, it is quite possible to expect a small, and in the case of software that is demanding on system resources, a more noticeable loss in performance.
Upon enquiry, we learned from Asus that Nova Go ships with Windows 10S initially as per Microsoft’s wishes. The manufacturer itself is of the opinion that Windows 10 Home is a more suitable operating system for laptops of this type.
Since Office can be called one of the most important applications for Windows users, Microsoft has also optimized it for use on the Snapdragon platform. During a brief hands-on test at the Nova Go presentation, we didn’t experience any performance drops when scrolling through websites, watching Netflix videos, or using office applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
HP: Envy x2 Coming Spring
In addition to Asus, HP plans to launch its ACPC, albeit in the form of a Surface-like 2-in-1 device called the Envy x2. HP still keeps the x2 equipment a secret, but reports that thanks to a 48 Wh battery in video playback mode, the device will have to last at least 20 hours. Initially, Envy x2 will be released (presumably in the spring of 2018) in four countries – the US, UK, France and Australia, and then become available for purchase in other countries pretty quickly. Regarding prices, HP has not yet revealed anything.