If Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platforms have struggled in PCs, could they succeed within Chromebooks? That’s the question Acer’s new Chromebook Spin 5 asks, and the answer certainly feels like a “yes.”
To date, Qualcomm has emphasized the performance of its Snapdragon 8cx and the related Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G platform, both chips that have tried to take on Intel’s Core i5 in the Windows PC space. When Qualcomm debuted the even slower Snapdragon 8c and 7c last December on a Windows PC, it was a head-scratcher: If the 8cx couldn’t compete, what was the justification for a slower, cheaper chip?
Now we know: Chromebooks.
Acer’s Chromebook Spin 513 (CP513-1H / CP513-1HL) and the related Chromebook Enterprise Spin 513 are designed around the Snapdragon 7c. Snapdragon’s traditional strengths are at play here: The chip allows the Spin 513 to get up to 14 hours of battery life, depending on workloads and the backlighting level. Optional 4G LTE is enabled by the 7c platform, too. The Spin 513 also weighs about 2.64 pounds—light weight is typically another characteristic of the Snapdragon platform.
The Spin 513 includes a 13.3-inch IPS 1080p display, which as a 360-degree convertible can pivot backward into tablet mode. Because it’s a modern Chromebook, the Spin 513 runs Android apps. Inside is up to 8GB of LPDDR4X SDRAM, up to 128GB of storage, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0. Externally, there’s a pair of USB-C ports that support USB 3.2 Gen 2 as well as external displays, plus a USB 3.2 port (with external charging).
Qualcomm claimed previously that the Snapdragon 7c chip will offer up to 20 percent better performance over the Snapdragon 850, the chip which powered tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Book 2. Qualcomm paired the octa-core Kryo 468 with the Adreno 618 GPU and the Snapdragon X15 LTE modem.
Looking back at reviews like the Samsung Galaxy Book S, we can see that the Snapdragon’s generally slow performance, on top of its inability to run 64-bit Windows apps, hurt its ability to compete with a Core chip. With Chromebooks, these issues go away.
We can’t say for certain what the Snapdragon 7c’s performance will be, but we can say that the first Chromebook with the Snapdragon 7c inside will certainly perform as well as the legacy ARM chips that have populated Chromebooks in the past, including older Nvidia Tegra chips, older MediaTek components, and the like. With a lack of CPU-intensive apps to take advantage of the platform—save for a few Android games—light weight, long battery life and all-day connectivity in a Chromebook would seem to be equal to, or more desirable than, cramming in an older Intel Celeron.