This week, Qualcomm is launching its second-generation Snapdragon 7c hardware platform to power affordable laptops on Windows and Chrome OS, and by “affordable,” we mean sub-$400 computers.
This new product is not vastly different from the first generation, and there are no substantial architectural changes. Instead, it is an optimization and offers slightly higher clock speeds to augment performance, going from 2.4GHz to 2.55 GHz on the two high-performance A76 CPU cores (there are six additional smaller CPU cores).
Computing power aside, connectivity is the most exciting aspect of Qualcomm’s offering. The affordable laptop segment is typically served with no mobile broadband and inferior WIFI (and Bluetooth) connectivity, but Qualcomm’s value proposition is quite the opposite with an integrated ~750Mbps LTE, Wi-Fi 5, and Bluetooth 5.0.
If you take into account the intrinsic low-power nature of these chips, it makes the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen2 an extremely potent platform for long-battery, ultra-connected, and ultra-light entry-level laptops.
Additionally, Qualcomm has integrated excellent support for image and audio processing in their silicon, so there’s great potential for video calls and multimedia capabilities, but that will ultimately depend on the quality of the camera and speakers, which is under OEM control.
Both Windows (for ARM) and Chrome OS are supported. Our experience with the 2020 Snapdragon laptops showed the continuous improvements of the Windows experience, but there are still caveats that people need to know about for specific applications. Going forward, Windows for ARM seems unstoppable.
That’s why Qualcomm has announced The Snapdragon Developer Kit (official page), a small PC powered by Snapdragon 7c, to help developers ramp up their production and testing on Windows for ARM.
Snapdragon-powered Chromebooks are more straightforward and function exactly as expected, so Qualcomm competes aggressively against Intel out of the gate. Modern browsers have mostly been ported to ARM, and the experience should be quasi-identical (if not better) to a classic PC of the same class.
New ACER Chromebooks were mentioned during the virtual launch event: the Chromebook 511, Chromebook Spin 513 and Aspire 1. Lenovo, Samsung, ASUS, and HP were also named as Mobil;e Compute Ecosystem partners, but no specific devices from them were announced. For the complete Snapdragon 7c specs, check the official PDF file.