Windows 10 on ARM laptops haven’t made a lot of an effect so far, but they may soon become a lot more popular. That’s partly due to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx chip (as utilized in the world’s first 5G laptop, that was unveiled at Computex 2019) and partly thanks to a lot more affordable ‘always connected’ notebooks.
The cheapest Snapdragon-powered laptops you can purchase today – like the Asus NovaGo – ran to $599 (around AU$860) at launch. In practice, shiny things cost even more; at the time, the only real model available we could review cost $699, and more like £699 in the UK,. You will find therefore no real wallet-friendly options as a result when compared with traditional notebooks.
However, as WinFuture spotted, within an interview with Mobile Tech podcasts, VP of global product marketing for Qualcomm Don McGuire asserted there will soon be cheaper Snapdragon hybrids and notebooks, with prices potentially dropping as little as $300 (around £240, AU$430). Apparently this will happen pretty soon, and that we might hear something about these more affordable products within the next few months.
Qualcomm’s roadmap envisages a variety of devices pitched between $300 (around £240, AU$430) and $800 (around £630, AU$1,150), with the higher-end models using the aforementioned Snapdragon 8cx platform, and the more budget-targeted notebooks utilizing a lesser chip, which could be known as the Snapdragon 7cx or similar.
This could represent one step down in power, with corners obviously needing to be slashed to save cash around the chip. Still, anticipation would be that this 7cx variant (or whatever it ends up being called) would remain powerful enough to run apps and also the OS smoothly.
Speaking of the operating-system, further savings are possible if device manufacturers opt for Chrome OS instead of license Windows. Google’s desktop operating-system is much less resource intensive than Microsoft’s, that might also be a weighty consideration at the lower-end.
McGuire established that PC makers may likely use hardware designs that may be designed with both operating systems, commenting: “There will soon be cheaper Snapdragon laptops available on both Windows and Chrome OS.”
McGuire also said we ought to soon expect many more native ARM versions of popular apps (meaning they won’t need to be emulated, and therefore suffer performance overheads), because the procedure for porting these over and compiling for ARM is becoming easier. As an example, he cited the fact that Microsoft is spending so much time on doing exactly this with its Office suite.
Naturally, Qualcomm will want to paint a rosy picture of future Windows 10 on ARM devices, but things do seem to be obtaining pace quite nicely.
With increased powerful machines that use the Snapdragon 8cx backed by budget offerings having a lesser chip, and more native versions of popular apps hopefully in the pipeline, the always-connected PC’s overall ecosystem has certainly began to look more promising.