Samsung’s new $249 Chromebook features an 11.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display and Chrome OS operating system. That also describes the $449 Samsung Chromebook 550 that came out earlier this year.

What makes the new model different is that it’s thinner, lighter, gets slightly longer battery life, costs less, and oh yeah… it has an ARM-based processor instead of an Intel Celeron x86 chip.

I’ve been using the new Chromebook for the past few days. I’ll have a full review next week, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the performance and I wanted to share a few details.

Since Chrome OS relies on web apps rather than native apps, I ran a few web-based  benchmarks. FutureMark’s Peacekeeper looks at HTML5 performance while SunSpider examines JavaScript performance.

As you might expect, the Intel-powered Chromebook 550 came out ahead in both tests. But the differences weren’t as great as I would have expected.

Samsung Chromebook Peacekeeper benchmark

At least part of that is probably because Chrome OS has been updated since I tested the version with an Intel Celeron chip this summer. GigaOm’s Kevin Tofel has both models on-hand, running the latest software, and he’s found a slightly larger performance gap when running tests on two models running the latest versions of Chrome OS.

But for an ARM-based device that costs just over half as much as the Chromebook 550, the new Chromebook fares pretty well in these tests. The scores are much better than I typically see for mobile devices with ARM-based chips running Android, for instance.

Samsung Chromebook SunSpider benchmark

I ran the same tests on an Acer Aspire V5 laptop with an Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge CPU, Windows 7 software, and the Chrome web browser. It scored higher than either Chromebook, but that laptop also can’t boot in 10 seconds and costs more than $500.

Here’s what the benchmarks alone won’t tell you. I’ve used the new Samsung Chromebook to write blog posts, conduct research with more than a dozen browser tabs open, and stream video. And so far it’s never felt slower than a typical laptop.

As a Chrome OS device, the Samsung Chromebook is only really a replacement for a full-fledged laptop if you can rely on a web browser as your only real app. But if you can live with that, the new model with a Samsung Exynos 5 ARM Cortex-A15 processor and $249 price tag offers a user experience that’s surprisingly close to what you’d get from the $449 Intel-powered model.

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13 replies on “Benchmarking the $249 Samsung Chromebook”

  1. Looks like the first real smartbook is here. Well, better late than never.

    I hope they start selling the new Chromebook worldwide because even the old models are not very much available here in the eastern parts of the EU.

  2. Interesting, I just compared my thinkpad T60 with a T2500 CPU (C2D 2GHz), 3GB of RAM and a HDD to this, sunspider came out about 400 and peacekeeper was just a tiny bit better than the celeron chromebook. The thing is I suspect in normal usage the SSD will make up for a lot of the missing raw grunt. Just for a guide in other tests this CPU comes out at a little over double the power of an Atom N570.

    Bottom line is this system should in benchmarks beat an Atom netbook, and roughly equal an AMD E-350 netbook. (All guestimates, using figures from notebookcheck to base my claims)

    1. I’ve just run Peacekeeper and Sunspider on my Atom N570 powered Acer AC700 Chromebook.

      Peacekeeper – 520
      Sunspider – 1027

      So the new Chromebook is about twice as fast, as you would expect.

      1. The AMD E-350 gets…

        Peacekeeper (Chrome 18) – 1088
        Sunspider 0.9.1 (Chrome 18) – 785.4

        So it is pretty equivalent…

        Mind though that the disparity isn’t quite that large with the last generation netbooks used the 32nm Cedar Trail…

        Since you were comparing with the N570, which is a older Pine Trail 1.66GHz dual core ATOM, support up to 2GB of RAM, with GMA 3150 at 200MHz.

        While the newer N2800 is 1.86GHz dual core, supports up to 4GB of RAM, with GMA 3650 at 640MHz… Graphically nearly 3x better than the GMA 3150 and added support for HDMI, eDP, Display Port, and hardware acceleration for even play back of Blu Rays at over 20Mb bit rate.

        So the N2800 gets a closer score of…

        Peacekeeper (Chrome 18) – 728
        Sunspider 0.9.1 (Chrome 18) – 944

        This should hold pretty close for the latest Clover Trail, since it’s pretty close to the N2800 but a little under with 1.8GHz dual core and basically the same GMA at 533MHz.

        Clover Trail though has a max TDP of just 1.7W and so can provide similar run time as ARM. While the Cedar Trail N2800 is 6.5W for the chipset and a additional 1.5W for the NM10, meaning a total of 8W for noticeably shorter run time.

        The E-350 is even worse at 18W rating… So adding run time to the picture further shows how good the Exynos 5 is in comparison.

        A Core i-Series can still provide over 10x the performance though and the E-350 is still considered Netbook range for performance.

        Most linux distros should run fine though, unless you want to game or run some of the few high end programs that need more than netbook range performance.

  3. Whether the $249 Chromebook works for you, depends on you want to do with it. For me (as an academic writer), the problem is losing Microsoft Word. There is a work-around, but do I want the bother?

    1. Well, this is simple. If you don’t want the bother, simply buy a machine for two times as much and use Word on Windows. (by the way, if you add Office to the price, you may get to three times as much).

      However, if LibreOffice is acceptable for you, this machine is capable of running Ubuntu as well. Soon, it will be fairly easy to install it on the new Chroebook.

      1. ” this machine is capable of running Ubuntu as well. Soon, it will be fairly easy to install it on the new Chroebook.”

        I hope so. But, we don’t know that for sure yet.

      2. The question is not whether LibreOffice is acceptable to me (it is), but whether it is acceptable to publishers (at least one publisher answers “no”). By the way, anything is better than my first wordprocessor, Perfect Writer, on a Kaypro 2.

        1. Make that latex, it’s spelled differently to how it’s pronounced and I’m still new to it (CS student)

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