The Snapdragon Developer Kit is a small, inexpensive desktop computer designed to let Windows software developers test their apps on hardware powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors.

First announced in May, the Snapdragon Developer Kit was designed by Qualcomm and Microsoft and manufactured by ECS, and it’s now available for purchase for $219.

The kit, also known as the ECS Liva Mini Box QC710, is a 4.7″ x 4.6″ x 1.4″ computer that weighs about half a pound and which features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. It ships with Windows 10 Home 64-bit software.

Basically it has the guts of an inexpensive Windows on ARM laptop laptop or tablet, but without the display, keyboard, battery, or optional 4G LTE support.

There’s WiFi 5 and Bluetooth support, and ports including:

  • 1 x USB 2.0 Type-C (PD-Charging)
  • 1 x USB 2.0 Type-A
  • 1 x MicroSD
  • 1 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x LAN(10/100)

The ECS website for the QC710 also lists a micro SIM card slot, eSIM support, and optional WiFi 6, but there’s no mention of those features on the purchase page at the Microsoft Store.

Note that Microsoft also notes that this computer is “meant for developers, not consumers” and that “there are no refunds available on this product,” so while it’s interesting to see an affordable mini PC with a low-power Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c processor and Windows 10 software, this probably isn’t your best option if you’re looking for a home computer or DIY media center PC.

Windows laptops and tablets with ARM processors have been around for a few years at this point, but they’re still the exception rather than the rule.

One problem is that the price tags have been relatively high for machines that have typically offered performance that’s on par with entry-level Intel Atom/Celeron/Pentium Silver chips. Another is that many Windows apps aren’t designed to run natively on ARM architecture — which leads to even slower performance, since Windows has to rely on emulation to run those programs.

Low-cost, low-power chips like the Snapdragon 7c are designed to tackle that first issue, by helping bring down the cost of Windows on ARM computers. And hardware like the Snapdragon Developer Kit for Windows could help tackle the second by providing an inexpensive tool developers can use to optimize their software to run on those computers.

But there’s still a bit of a chicken and egg issue here. If there aren’t many Windows on ARM PCs in the wild, then there’s not a lot of incentive for developers to create native ARM versions of their applications. And if there aren’t a lot of native ARM applications, then Windows on ARM computers may suffer from subpar performance, which could keep customers from buying them.

It’s unclear if or when that situation will change. But with Apple showing that computers with ARM-based chips can not only outperform Intel and AMD in performance-per-watt, but in overall performance in at least some situations, it seems likely that demand for PCs with ARM chips could eventually rise.

via xda-developers

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7 replies on “Snapdragon Dev Kit for Windows developers now available for $219 (mini PC with Snapdragon 7c)”

  1. I’m kind of tempted to get this but it’s still kinda pricey for what you get. I don’t understand why Windows ARM devices are so expensive compared to similar Intel counterparts. You can get an Intel-based mini PC with similar specs and performance for half the price. And I know this is just a dev kit but it also happens to be the cheapest official Windows ARM device out there right now. We used to have cheap $99 or lower Intel Atom-based Windows tablets, why haven’t we had those yet for Windows ARM?

  2. So what are the options for a cheap Windows on ARM machine that’s as capable as possible? This, the raspberry pi 4 with 8GB of RAM and maybe a used WoA laptop?

    I’d like to try WoA but am unwilling to buy a surface pro X for the sake of curiosity.

    1. From XDA
      “since it lacks the 64-bit emulation that you’ll get if you upgrade it to Windows 11.”

      Oh. Well that’s a deal breaker for a low power desktop machine.

    2. Unfortunately there aren’t many cheap Windows ARM devices at the moment. The RPi 4 is unofficial and to my knowledge doesn’t support graphics acceleration on Windows ARM eliminating a lot of potential applications that need that. If you can find a used Windows ARM laptop that’s cheaper than this dev kit then that’ll be your best bet. Otherwise, I think this dev kit is probably the cheapest official Windows ARM device out there right now.

      1. The toaster marketed as RPI 4 is a joke. Go look for people actually doing daily useful Windows stuff on one. Look past the fan boi bragging rights. No companies are throwing out their Windows PC to use Windows toasters marketed as RPI 4 instead.

    3. I guess it depends on what counts as cheap to you, besides the options that you’ve mentioned recently Walmart was selling this laptop on offer ($279, now it’s $355, the offer was linked here on liliputing):
      Another option is the HP 14, which is one of the first ARM laptops with Windows 11 already installed, available for $355 on Wallmart right now
      It uses the same 7c Gen 2 of this development kit (the Gateway laptop comes with an 850 instead, which should have an especially faster GPU).

      Here in Italy I’ve seen on Mediaworld a laptop called Thomson Neo Z 3, which comes with the same 850 of the Gateway laptop, 64GB eMMC and 4GB RAM for 222€. But I’ve no idea about its worlwide availability.

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