The first Windows 10 PCs powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon chips are coming soon.

Qualcomm says these new “Always Connected PCs” will be able to run the full Windows experience, but they’ll take advantage of smartphone-like features including lower power consumption which enables long battery life and slim designs as well as always-connected features so that you’re never really offline.

Microsoft and Qualcomm announced they were working together to bring Windows 10 to devices with Snapdragon chips earlier this year. We already knew that the companies were promising that you’d be able to run legacy Windows applications at “near native” speeds, but it wasn’t entirely clear what advantages Windows on ARM would have at a time when Intel offers low-power (and low-cost) Celeron and Pentium chips for portable computers.

Now Qualcomm is starting to make its case for Snapdragon-powered PCs. Some models are expected to offer up to 20 hours of battery life and even longer standby time. Like a smartphone, they’ll never really go completely into sleep mode. Press the power button and the screen will instantly turn on. And they’ll have Qualcomm’s integrated X16 LTE modem to keep you online whether you’re at home or on the go.

That last bit will probably require a data plan, which could drive up the cost of ownership. And it’s not like you can’t find Intel or AMD-powered laptops with LTE modems. But packaging the CPU, graphics, and modem into a single chip likely means better efficiency.

Like other Windows 10 PCs, Always Connected devices will support features including Windows Hello for secure logins and Windows Ink for pen input.

One thing to keep in mind: while Qualcomm’s chips are more energy efficient than most of Intel’s processors, they’re not necessarily cheaper. Qualcomm and Microsoft are marketing this new class of ARM-powered PCs as “Always Connected,” not “cheap.” The starting price for the upcoming Asus NovaGo convertible laptop with a Snapdragon 835 processor, for example, is expected to be $599.

That price might seem high at a time when you can find Intel-powered laptops that sell for less than $200. But it’s actually about what you’d pay for a decent smartphone… and we’re talking about a laptop with the same processor as a decent smartphone plus a much bigger display, a full-sized keyboard, and the ability to run a desktop operating system.

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8 replies on “Qualcomm introduces “Always Connected PC” platform with Windows 10 + Snapdragon”

  1. So it has the performance of a $300 x86 laptop… I could see myself buying these for that price, maybe I pay $100-$150 more for battery life/connected standby/LTE, but that’s it. I’m just not interested to buy these at $600+. For that I can get a decent i3/i5.
    On the other hand: put it into a phone form factor, slap in a dock and I’m on board for even $1000. In that case it could replace my phone and my laptop, so it starts to make sense economically.

  2. Correct me if I’m wrong but weren’t devices powered by Intel Atom SoC’s also totally capable of this always on/connected standby states?

  3. I think Intel could have (and should have) done something similar to ARM where you have a mix of cores ; some high power and some ultra low energy i.e.an i7 mashed with 2-4 cores of atom. The i7 part takes care of the heavy loads and kicks in whenever you need it while the atom part keeps the pc on when it is idle or on standby.

    1. While yes….. a laptop with say 4core Cherry Trail cores (Atom X7-8750) for regular mode, and 2core Skylake core (Core i7-6600U) for high-performance mode….

      ….that does sound interesting.
      However, I rather that Intel do NOT go that route and expend their time, money, and resources into hybrid builds. I rather they focus on their microarchitecture and perfect it further and further.

      So their solution of a Core M7-6Y75 makes more sense to me.

    2. Yeah, and there could be x86 LTE laptops. Oh, wait, there are – just noone bought them. Who wants to use his laptop on the go? Just take it out of your “pocket” to check a quick update? Really? You use a laptop 95% of the time at home/office/hotel, where there is wifi.

      1. The problem with Intel’s mobile efforts pretty much mirror the issues with Microsoft’s Windows Phone. For starters, they were a bit late to the game, but they also decided not to target the North American market first and they also didn’t produce any flagship devices powered by Intel. It always baffled me why neither Intel nor Microsoft went for the US market first which has one of the largest consumer markets. Instead of getting a 4G LTE modem built into Intel’s SoC’s, they instead took their sweet time with that and targeted developing countries with low-midrange devices. And yes, those devices were somewhat popular in the developing world, but they’d have limited appeal or are not available at all in the US. It’s a shame too, Intel and even Microsoft had really great products. The Atom x7 and even the Atom Z3735 were really great SoC’s that had good performance and good battery life even compared to comparable ARM devices. But there just weren’t enough flagship devices powered by these in the North American market. I’m not going to pretend I’m a businessman and know why these decisions were made, but I’m pretty sure to build a good brand with a strong following, it’s the flagship devices in a North American market that puts new tech in the spotlight. If Apple’s 1st iPhone was released with lower specs in a developing country instead of the US, most consumers would never even have heard of the iPhone and it most likely would never have taken off if Apple waited several years after the 1st release to finally try to enter the US market.

  4. Hopefully, this will cause Intel to reevaluate their celeron/pentium pricing. They have to lower it if they want to remain in the competition for the low cost mini PCs and tablets/laptops

    1. Not really. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chips are lower power, but the first machines with these ARM chips are likely to cost more than systems with Apollo Lake processors, not less. The selling point is always-connected functionality and long battery life.

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