While the first Windows 10 PCs powered by Qualcomm processors have received lackluster reviews, Qualcomm says it’s in the PC business for the long haul.

With that in mind, the company is unveiling a new chip designed specifically for PCs. It’s called the Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 and the company says it should offer a 30 percent boost in CPU and graphics performance over the Snapdragon 835 chip that powers the Asus NovaGo, HP Envy x2 and Lenovo Miix 630. The company is also promising better battery life and improved 4G LTE speeds.

Computers with Snapdragon 850 processors should hit the streets in time for the 2018 holiday season, and we’ll likely see some models announced this week during the Computex computer show.

As expected, the Snapdragon 850 chip is basically a souped up version of the Snapdragon 845 processor found in many of this year’s flagship smartphones.

Like the Snapdragon 845, the new chip features Qualcomm Kryo 385 CPU cores, but instead of topping out at 2.8 GHz, they can run at up to 2.95 GHz. Qualcomm says that since this chip is designed for larger devices such as tablets and notebooks, the company was able to tweak the clock speed, thermal power management, and other features in order to offer better performance.

In addition to the performance boost, Qualcomm says the new chip offers support for HDR displays, 4K video encoding and decoding, Hi-Fi audio, and 4G LTE speeds up to 1.2 Gbps.

The argument for Snapdragon-powered PCs is that they should offer longer battery life, always-connected capabilities thanks to cellular data support, and thin, light, and fanless designs. But the three models released to date have a few things working against them: they’re kind of sluggish when running certain applications, some Windows software won’t run at all, and they’re kind of expensive, with prices starting at around $600.

The introduction of a new chip that brings a 30 percent performance boost could help tackle some of those issues. App compatibility will be up to Microsoft and software developers: Windows 10 on ARM still can’t support 64-bit x86 applications, but Microsoft did recently roll out an SDK that lets developers port those apps to ARM64 architecture. If enough developers do that (and at least some have already done so), you’ll find fewer and fewer apps that don’t run on Windows 10 devices with ARM processors.

As for price, Qualcomm wouldn’t get into specifics, but a representative told me we should see new devices with Snapdragon 850 processors in a “range of prices,” suggesting we could see a mix of premium devices and more affordable models.

One thing Qualcomm isn’t focused on for now? Chromebooks. The company says the Snapdragon 850 processor is currently aimed at Windows 10 devices exclusively.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 device reference design

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9 replies on “Qualcomm introduces Snapdragon 850 for Windows PCs”

  1. ARM laptops… Meh. But if they put this chip in a Windows 10 PHONE, i will be getting one. Supposedly the DEL SURFACE PHONE will have one.

    1. These chips actually would be perfect for that especially since gaming phones are starting to become a thing now much to my surprise.

  2. With qualcomm chips getting a lot more expensive and AMD’s APUs getting better each year, ARM laptops will become less and less attractive.

    1. Yeah especially because AMD will be transitioning to the 7 nm process soon which will give their Ryzen APU’s a huge advantage over the competition. Not to mention Intel will be shipping 10 nm Cannon Lake chips soon which are also superior to 10 nm equivalents from competitors since other manufacturers have looser definitions of 10 nm compared to Intel.

  3. So, let me get this straight. They take an existing chip, and clock it 6% higher. And with this, they promise 30% more performance while using up 20% less battery. I understand that the 835 is not the 845, but so much of this sounds like epic-level garbage it isn’t even funny.

    Windows on the 835 is poop, and it will be poop on the 850 as well. They might be headed towards a better direction in the future, but these devices right here will suck. Don’t let the marketing team convince you otherwise.

    1. Agreed, the numbers are mostly just marketing spins. And even if the 850 could manage to just barely run Windows 10 smoothly, it’s not going to last very long as future Windows 10 updates become more demanding as they have been since release.

      1. Win10 runs on the SD835 just fine (close to low end Core-M CPU’s), it’s the applications which do not as MS at the time made the wrong decision in relation to native Win32 Arm, something they have now rectified.

        Whats needed is as much desktop software as possible to be recompiled into Arm, that is what will secure the future of Arm Windows PC’s.

    2. I believe the battery saving argument is about energy, so if the task is shorter in duration but used more power, that could be less energy than a longer duration with lower power. The key is power well gating where the supply for the cores is completely removed once the task is complete. If the OS keeps the cores awake most of the time then there is no energy savings.
      I worry about Windows always doing tasks that are no needed when running on battery… my regular laptop seems to have much better battery life under Ubuntu.

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