Believe it or not, there was no such thing as an AMD Chromebook until 2019. Also, the first ones were sluggish, and while AMD’s second stab at Chromebooks was quite a bit better, they still contained rebranded CPUs whose Zen cores were years out of date. Today, AMD is putting a better foot forward — with the new Ryzen 5000 C-Series chips, including the “first 8-core high-performance x86 processor for Chromebooks.”
I mean, AMD’s still not putting its best foot forward, because these APUs will still sport last-gen AMD Vega graphics rather than the newest RDNA 2 stuff you’ll find in the company’s Ryzen 6000 chips (not to mention the PS5, Xbox Series X, and Steam Deck). And the new Ryzen 7 5825C, Ryzen 5 5625C, and Ryzen 3 5425C aren’t exactly trying to hide that they’re largely rebrands of the company’s U-series chips, either. (Compare the 15W CPUs you’ll find here to the chart below.)
But the highlight here is that AMD’s Chromebook chips are no longer stuck on the old Zen architecture — they’ve skipped all the way up to Zen 3, and AMD says that means up to double the performance of its 3000-series chips in synthetic benchmarks, depending on the workload. Mind you, the Ryzen 6000 chips have “Zen 3+” cores, but they’re not quite as big a jump.
The company’s also trying to claim they’re ahead of Intel processors in both performance and battery life, but its comparisons there are... a little fuzzy, to say the least. It’s impressive to hear that AMD’s Ryzen 7 5825C, with a 15W TDP, is even 7 percent faster than Intel’s 28W i7-1185G7 in web browsing when you consider how much additional headroom the Intel chip can use.
But still, that’s comparing against an 11th Gen Intel chip, not Intel’s latest 12th Gen processors — which should already be making their way into Chromebooks as well.
And when AMD points out that its 15W Ryzen 5 5625C has nearly double the battery life of Intel’s 28W i5-1135G7, it’s hard to be surprised because the Intel chip has nearly double the TDP, too. There’s a reason why a list of Chromebooks with the longest battery life features 15W Intel processors, not 28W ones. What would an apples-to-apples comparison be like? We don’t know.
Still, there’s no question this is big for AMD, which struggled for years to make laptops chips worth buying and only recently started succeeding. So far, it’s got two wins for these new Chromebook chips: the 14-inch HP Elite C645 G2 Chromebook, aimed at enterprise with things like SmartCard and fingerprint sensors, and the 14-inch Acer Chromebook Spin 514, which you can read more about right here.
Those two laptops will arrive in Q2 and Q3 of this year, respectively. Chromebook demand has tapered off from its pandemic high, but there’s always room for a particularly good and inexpensive PC. We’ll let you know if these ones qualify.
Correction, 11:15 AM ET: In the headline I originally suggested that the Zen 3 were AMD’s best CPU cores, but it actually has slightly faster Zen 3+ ones in its separate Ryzen 6000 chips.