Qualcomm unveils the Snapdragon 850: a mobile chip for Windows PCs

For months we’ve been saying that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 is the most powerful mobile processor you can get. Well numerically, it now has a bigger brother: the Snapdragon 850 – though this doesn’t make your OnePlus 6 instantly out of date. Unlike the 845, the 850 processor is aimed squarely at lightweight laptops and tablets running Windows.

The last Qualcomm-powered processor to appear in Windows devices was the Snapdragon 835, and even though those devices are still fresh in the memory, the 850-powered devices – the first of which will be a Samsung 2-in-1 PC – should offer a fair bit more grunt when they launch this holiday season. With a 2.96GHz clock speed, Qualcomm reckons this will offer a 30% performance increase over the 835.

What else? Well, it supports HDR and 4K video capture – more for video conferencing than GoPro-style action videos, you’d assume – and it comes with the X20 LTE modem with transfer speeds of up to 1.2Gbps. Qualcomm reckons that improvements to power management should allow the 850 to power devices for up to 25 hours (depending on battery and screen size) which sounds like a decent improvement on the 20 hours offered by current Snapdragon 835-based “Connected PCs”.

So no, this chip won’t be in your next phone. It’s designed purely for larger devices with better heat dissipation. But in truth you’re not missing a great deal: the advantages outlined in the previous paragraphs all apply to the Snapdragon 845 compared to the previous generation. Okay, you’re missing out on 160Mhz of processor power, but if you really want that negligible difference, you could always preorder the ROG Phone…

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