Just a few years ago, there was hardly a laptop with an AMD chip to be found. Then they started sprouting in some of the best notebooks money could buy. Now AMD says its chips will appear in 200 different laptop models by 2022 — and with the just-unveiled “Mendocino,” announced at Computex 2022, it’s trying to “redefine the everyday laptop” as a budget machine with decent battery life.
We have no idea if it will deliver on that idea, but what it promises sounds like a good start: a new line of Ryzen laptop chips that combine four last-generation Zen 2 CPU cores with the latest RDNA 2 graphics on TSMC’s 6nm process to delivering more than 10 hours of battery life on a single charge — all for a price between $399 and $699. That includes both Windows machines and Chromebooks.
Now you’re probably wondering: what does 10 hours actually mean? It can mean anything; manufacturers quote outrageous estimates of battery life all the time. But at least we have a frame of reference here: “Most people are used to four, five, six hours on a notebook in the $399 to $699 space,” said AMD technical marketing director Robert Hallock. “We want to get at least 10 hours out of these notebooks.”
If I’m being honest, the announcement gives me a bit of a déjà vu – ten years ago, at the same Computex trade show, AMD similarly tried to launch a quad-core chip with better battery life and better graphics as the way to not longer seen as the cheap alternative to Intel.
But then laptop manufacturers didn’t take the company seriously. Now it is clear that the company has influence as those manufacturers introduce laptop after AMD powered laptop. That includes one that AMD claims has the longest battery life ever measured in a recent benchmark (the HP Elitebook 865 G9, which has a certain configuration managed 26.1 hours of battery life on MobileMark 2018), and a range of new gaming machines with both AMD CPUs and AMD graphics, which carries the ‘AMD Advantage’.
One catches the eye: Corsair is pulling a Razer this year by launching its first-ever gaming laptop, the Corsair Voyager — exclusive to AMD.
It’s the “first laptop ever designed as a truly mobile streaming solution,” says AMD gaming boss Frank Azor, thanks in part to a secondary touchscreen that doubles as an Elgato Stream Deck that you can easily take with you on the go. (Corsair bought both Elgato and Origin PC a few years ago.) The main display is a 16-inch, 240 Hz panel with FreeSync Premium.
There is also a new 16-inch Lenovo Legion Slim 7 with a 99.99 Wh battery of 17 mm thick, a non-slim version with built-in force sensors in the WASD keys, and a new version of the HP Omen 16 which, while physically largely identical, is the first laptop to ship with a feature called AMD SmartShift Eco that can automatically switch to integrated graphics for longer battery life in a game — 60 percent longer in League of Legendsthey claim.
The fine print suggests AMD cheated a bit there, lowering the graphics to medium and putting the laptop in “Best Battery” mode (compared to high specs and “Best Performance”) to get that result.
Similarly, AMD earlier in the presentation touted that the 2.2-pound ultra-light Asus ZenBook S13 can “play triple-A games at an average of 60 fps at 1080p” with god drop as an example, but the fine print shows that AMD ran Godfall at low settings and with FidelityFX Super Resolution enabled – so it didn’t quite render native 1080p. (FSR certainly has its uses, though.)
But if an ultra-thin laptop like the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 Pro X can get the numbers you see below, even at low specs, that seems like a pretty decent result.
This one has an AMD Ryzen 6800HS and Radeon 680M graphics inside, similar to the chip that Steam Deck rivals will be bringing to their portable gaming PCs later this year. Hopefully we can test some of these claims before then.