Chromebooks are about to get a huge power boost thanks to AMD Ryzen

Google Pixelbook Go
(Image credit: Future)

Power users may not scoff at Chromebooks for much longer. We've just learned that the Chrome OS-based laptops are getting another weapon to stay competitive with Windows PCs: brand new AMD processors.

Our sister site Anandtech reports today that AMD just rolled out five new APU (accelerated processing unit) chips made specifically for Chromebooks. These processors will feature newly optimized Ryzen hardware and Vega graphics, made specifically for Chromebooks, and will be found in HP, Lenovo and Asus laptops coming later this year, according to AMD.

The set is comprised of three Ryzen chips: the Ryzen 3 3250C, Ryzen 5 3500C and Ryzen 7 3700C. The Ryzen 3 is based on the dual-core 14 nanometer Dali processor, with two Zen cores and three Vega compute units. The higher-end Ryzen 5 and 7 chips are based on the 12nm Picasso processors, and pack four Zen+ cores and as many as 11 Vega compute units. 

There's also an Athlon Gold 3150C and Athlon Silver 3050C, both based on Dali processors like the Ryzen 3.

This range is meant to support the mid-to-high level of Chromebooks, as AMD already has A-series chipsets for the existing entry-level machines.

What does that actually mean for you?

If you don't speak in chipsets and cores, you might be a little baffled by the above. AMD simplified this by claiming Ryzen-class APUs will provide at least twice as fast performance on web tasks (vs the A-series). 

Also, productivity and graphics tasks — for when you're going outside of Chrome and running applications in Linux and Android — will get an uptick of 66% to 150% performance according to AMD.

Laptops featuring AMD's new Chromebook APUs

HP has two versions of the same new Chromebook, the HP Pro c645, which will feature both the Athlon and Ryzen processors (your choice). It's coming out in December, and pricing is not available yet.

This laptop has a lot of the standard specs you'd expect, with the HP Privacy Camera shutter (and an optional fingerprint sensor). Its display is available in either 1080p Full HD or 768p HD. 

It can be customized with up to 128GB of NVMe  storage and 12GB of RAM, with the lowest-end specs being 4GB of memory and a 32GB eMMC hard drive. HP quotes it as offering up to 10.5 hours of battery life, and there's optional fast charging. 

For ports, you get dual USB Type-C and Type-A outputs, a microSD slot and HDMI.

As noted above, this is just the beginning of these new AMD Ryzen Chromebooks, as other OEMs participating include Lenovo and Asus, who will also have laptops scheduled to arrive later this year.

How will these laptops compare in speed to the upcoming Intel 11th Gen Tiger Lake chips? We can't wait to find out.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.