Qualcomm first showed off its 8cx processor at its Snapdragon Technology Summit in 2018, but here at Computex in Taipei, it’s showing how the chip holds its own. The company showed Tom’s Hardware some expected benchmark numbers using PCMark 10, and allowed us to run some of the same tests ourselves to verify them.
There is, of course, the rub: When I was allowed to verify the tests, they were in a room set up by Qualcomm, under their conditions. And notably, the competition's test machine wasn’t present for us to run tests on. The other note is that these machines had slightly different specs and were running different versions of Windows 10 (see below). Also, the Snapdragon laptop wasn’t running emulated benchmarks, so it’s not totally apples to apples.
The tests included UL’s new PCMark 10 application benchmark, running Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Word and Edge; as well as an ARM native version of 3DMark Night Raid.
I was provided with scores for a PCMark 10 battery test running the Office test, playing local video and sitting idle, but was not able to replicate this benchmark on my own.
Qualcomm 8cx Application Performance
For all of the tests, we used a reference Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx machine with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of NVMe storage and ran the Windows 10 May 2019 update (1903). The competitor machine (which looked like a Dell XPS 13 in some slides) had an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of NVMe storage and ran the Windows 10 October 2018 update (1809).
|Intel Laptop||Snapdragon 8cx Reference Laptop|
|CPU||Intel Core i5-8250U||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx|
|Storage||256GB NVMe||256GB NVMe|
|Battery||49 Whr||49 Whr|
|Windows 10 Version||Windows 10 October 2018 Update (1809)||Windows 10 May 2019 Update (1903)|
On the Office application benchmark, the Qualcomm 8cx came out slightly ahead of the 8th Gen Core i5 CPU overall, though it didn’t win in every single test. In fact, from an overall standpoint, Qualcomm was conservative. it earned scores higher than the projections for a total score, and I heard some representatives behind me considering updating their numbers.
|PCMark 10 Applications Benchmark||Intel laptop (Expected)||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx (Expected)||Snapdragon 8cx, Run 1||Snapdragon 8cx, Run 2|
Qualcomm 8cx Graphics Performance
The graphics test consisted of 3DMark Night Raid, which has a native ARM version. The same laptops were used. In these tests, Qualcomm and UL’s results showed that the Snapdragon 8cx’s Adreno 680 integrated graphics outshined those in the 8th Gen Intel Core i5:
|3DMark Night Raid||Intel laptop (Expected)||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx (Expected)||Snapdragon 8cx, Run 1|
|Graphics Test 1||21.45-21.49 fps||24.84-25.31 fps||25.22 fps|
|Graphics Test 2||29.43-29.47 fps||36.21-37.10fps||37.05 fps|
Qualcomm 8cx Battery Life
This is one area that I couldn’t see myself, but Qualcomm and UL provided expected scores for both the Intel laptop and Snapdragon reference unit. It’s certainly unsurprising to see that the Snapdragon outperformed on each of these tests - that has been a benefit of the ARM chips - but it should be noted that Qualcomm’s design has an FHD display, while the competitor had a 2K panel.
Based on those numbers, when idle, the Snapdragon PC came just a little over half an hour short of a full day, and ran many hours longer than the 8th Gen Intel Core i5.
|PCMark 10 Battery Life||Intel laptop (Expected)||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx (Expected)|
|Apps||8:27 - 10:21||16:11 - 17:01|
|Video||10:19 - 12:17||17:27 - 19:55|
|Idle||15:02 - 15:45||22:00 - 23:27|
From these numbers, it seems like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx will rival, if not be more powerful than the 8th Gen Core i5. Of course, these tests all took place under Qualcomm’s supervision and without the Intel laptop present.
Still, that’s a promising sign for upcoming Snapdragon-based laptops, one of which, Lenovo’s “Project Limitless,” also featuring a 5G modem, was announced at Qualcomm’s press conference here at Computex.
But Intel will continue to produce its own chips, and it’s entirely possible that, by time Snapdragon 8cx shows up in laptops, there will be stronger Core i5 chips.
When the first devices release, we’ll also want to run our own usual suite of benchmarks, as well as our proprietary battery test.
Other Snapdragon Improvements
Besides the chance to see some benchmarks, Qualcomm also had a few demos to show what the 8cx is capable of.
Perhaps most impressive, I saw what I’m told are ARM native versions of Chromium, Microsoft Edge (the upcoming version based on Chromium) and Firefox. A representative told me Firefox was using multithreading.
The company also had it set up powering three screens: two 4K monitors and the reference design’s built in FHD display, while running Photoshop, PowerPoint, Excel (with pivot tables), local videos, Edge and, in the background, Word.