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Firefox running on a Qualcomm 8cx-driven computer feels surprisingly decent

Qualcomm's new, custom-built Snapdragon 8cx is the company's chance to ultimately run a Windows laptop that is worth buying. Battery…

Qualcomm’s new, custom-built Snapdragon 8cx is the company’s chance to ultimately run a Windows laptop that is worth buying. Battery life and integrated mobile connection (read: your laptop always has an internet connection) has always been the company’s strengths, but its previous Snapdragon 850 has not always had enough powerful horsepower for muscles through a web browser full of web apps. [19659002] We will not know if it will really change until we have spent some quality time with real Snapdragon 8cx computers – none of which have been announced so far – but I got only my hands on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx reference design laptop, and my first performance impressions were promising.


Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

When I fired a beta of a new Firefox browser that has been translated to run on ARM-based computers, I could easily open a dozen browser tabs and browse them without any major problems. It’s while a PowerPoint presentation and a Windows Store instance turned in the background while reflecting on an external display. It was not a greasy smooth experience, but it was not a laggy and it felt like I had extra space.

And I’m not only talking about a dozen instances of Google. I’m talking about sites with a decent amount of page load and little ongoing demand for computer memory and processor, including The Verge CNET a couple of YouTube HD videos, a Google Sheets spreadsheet and a fully loaded instance of Tweetdeck with all my social media columns. It took a second for the spreadsheet to load properly, but it could have been connection – I’m browsing a rather limited 20 Mbps Verizon LTE connection at that time.

This is obviously not enough testing. I did not drive a single quantitative benchmark. The friendly Qualcomm representative on the site would not allow me to access Windows Work Manager to see how much my browser loaded the new chip.


Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

And there is not much to say about the reference design itself. It looks and feels like a rather generic, medium, thin but a little plastic Windows convertible, with a pretty dim screen and a camera bomb around back. None of these things will necessarily be true for final devices from real PC manufacturers.

We hope to be able to test more in mid 2019 when Qualcomm expects the first 8cx units to come on the market. Currently, the early Firefox performance is a good sign.


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