Qualcomm says current thin and light laptops aren't good enough. They take too long to start up, their batteries run out too fast and they're not connected.
And, naturally, it has the answer: a Qualcomm chip instead of an Intel or AMD processor.
These have been available for a while, with the Snapdragon 835 then the 850. Not a whole lot of laptop makers decided to use the chips, with only Samsung and Lenovo opting for the 850. You can read our Samsung Galaxy Book 2 review to find out more about the 850.
Today, though, Qualcomm announced a brand new Snapdragon for laptops, the Snapdragon 8cx. This isn't just a smartphone chip that has been tweaked for use in laptops, it's designed specifically for the task.
The company says this is the best yet, and that the x stands for 'extreme'. To this end it offers better performance, better battery life and - importantly, built-in 2Gb/s LTE just like the Snapdragon 855.
And like the 855, the 8cx is a 7mn chip. This refers to the manufacturing process used, and the smaller number the better. Intel doesn't have a 7nm mobile chip yet, and that's one reason why Qualcomm is bullish about the potentical for the 8cx.
When is the Snapdragon 8cx release date?
Laptops with the 8cx will be available in 2019 - as of yet no exact date has been announced.
Is this the successor to the 850?
Yes, but it doesn't replace the 850. It will be a higher-performance alternative. But it will remain fanless, so your laptop won't become noisy and distracting when you push it hard.
How fast is the Snapdragon 8cx?
As ever, Qualcomm avoided any talk of synthetic benchmark results (and negative comparisons with the fastest Intel chips) instead focusing on user experience and the fact that this chip is design for an always-on, always-connected laptop. Just like your phone, and not at all like an Intel-based laptop, it would have you believe.
What about battery life?
The company was quick to assure us that the extra performance doesn't come at the expense of battery life, claiminig that the Adreno 680 is 60% more efficient than the GPU in the Snapdragon 850.
Snapdragon 8cx features and specs
The main component of the 8cx system-on-chip is the Kryo 495 CPU. This is an octo-core processor which Qualcomm likens to the performance of a 15W Intel Core i5 U-series. Execpt that it uses half the power.
And compared to Intel's equivalent 7W Y-series processors, the Snapdragon 8cx is said to be 50% faster. But as we said, no actual benchmark figures were given.
It supports all the hardware you'd expect such as NVMe SSDs and LPDDR4x 128-bit memory. That's important because it means you won't be limited to 4GB of RAM as you are in the Galaxy Book 2: the 8cx will support up to 16GB.
The Adreno 680 graphics chip supports DX12 and has VP9 ad H.265 decoders, so you can watch HDR video without draining the battery because no software is needed to play such video.
Unlike Intel chips, the Snapdragon 8cx has a built-in X24 LTE modem. That means any laptops which use the Snapdragon 8cx should have a SIM slot as standard and allow you to connect to the internet just about anywhere without needing any extra hardware, or using your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
If you're hoping for 5G support, we're told this will be available in 2019, but it's unlikely the first 8cx devices will include 5G.
Other features on offer include support for:
- USB 3
- Dual 4K HDR monitors (up from one with the Snapdragon 850)
- Quick Charge 4+
- aptX HD wireless audio
- Amazon Alexa and Microsoft Cortana
One of the biggest challenges is to get developers to optimise their apps for an ARM processor. Qualcomm says all the apps you need are available, including Office, Dropbox, Spotify, VLC, Netflix, Spotify, Pandora, Hulu, Vudu, Minecraft Asphalt 9 Legends and more.
It pointed out that Chrome and Firefox now supports ARM64 natively and that there's also support for Windows 10 Enterprise, which should make 8cx-based laptops appeal more to business buyers.