Performance

For most of its brief life, Atom was the only core that beat at the heart of Chrome devices. Samsung actually brought us the first Core-based CPU with the Celeron 867 powered Series 5 550, and also the first ARM-based Chromebook with their very own Exynos 5 Dual. We didn’t have a chance to compare the results of the slightly faster clocked Samsung 550, but we do have data for the Atom-based Chromebook. What we expect from this processor is nothing less than IPC dominance. The Intel Celeron 847’s Sandy Bridge cores in the Acer C7 Chromebook are clocked at just 800 MHz, well below the 1.1 GHz possible. The low clock speed helps with battery life, of course, but still places the C7 in a position of dominance over the latest Samsung Chromebook. On the GPU front this is also the most power Chrome OS has seen, with the HD2000 being not our favorite but certainly not our least favorite integrated graphics.

How you harness all that processing and graphics power is . . . a bit limited. You won’t be launching Steam for a pick-up match in TF2 (about all I’d consider playing with the power on hand), instead everything you do will be in the browser. With technologies like WebGL and HTML5 becoming more capable of leveraging local hardware resources we are much closer to experiencing desktop-like web applications. To that end, we have a fair number of tests that show off how well Chrome OS can handle those technologies and the JavaScript tests we’re used to from our mobile tests.

Chromebook Performance Comparison
SunSpider 0.9.1 BrowserMark RIABench Focus Tests Kraken
Atom N570 1.66GHz 1034.3 ms n/a 1968 ms 14229.5 ms
Exynos 5 Dual 1.7GHz 690.5 ms 3056.0 1192 ms

9733.2 ms

Celeron 847 (SNBx2) 800MHz 527.1 ms 3403.7 1194 ms 6817.2 ms

In Sunspider we see a distinct advantage for the Acer, which is no big surprise. The Exynos 5 certainly shows off an admirable advantage over the Atom-based Chromebook, but the C7 trumps that advantage soundly. The Browsermark benchmark has seen its first full update, and as always, that means we’re left with the task of reevaluating all our old hardware with the new suite. In this case we only have a few samples to compare to, so no big burden. The advantage of the C7 is smaller compared to the Sunspider score, but still quite clear. RIABench stands out as the one equalizer between the C7 and the Samsung, indicating that the bottleneck may be within Chrome’s code itself. In Kraken we see another decisive performance win for the Acer.

Chromebook Performance Comparison
IE10 Bubbles Test IE10 Fishbowl IE10 Maze Solver
Atom N570 1.66GHz 11 fps 5 fps 45 seconds
Exynos 5 Dual 1.7GHz 17 fps 8 fps 17 seconds
Celeron 847 (SNB) 800MHz 19 fps 17 fps 17 seconds

The Bubbles and Maze Solver tests do not involve the GPU in any considerable way, making them mostly tests of JavaScript rendering. The Fishbowl test uses HTML5 functions which can be GPU accelerated, resulting in a large performance advantage for the C7. It’s hard to say whether there is any GPU acceleration happening in the Samsung, but if so then the GPU advantage for the Acer is enormous.

Chromebook GPU Performance Comparison
WebGL Solar System WebGL Cubes (500) WebGL Aquarium (50)
Atom N570 1.66GHz 2 fps 10 fps 2 fps
Exynos 5 Dual 1.7GHz 22 fps 28 fps 38 fps
Celeron 847 (SNB) 800MHz 31.7 fps 30 fps 43.3 fps

The WebGL tests hint at that GPU advantage, but not so clearly as we’d like. In the Samsung Chromebook review, Anand discussed how desperately Atom’s GMA-3150 GPU needs to see a huge update to be competitive. Samsung’s use of the Mali-604T in their Chromebook gives it a huge advantage over Atom. The HD2000-based graphics in the Acer C7 show how far mobile SoC GPUs still have to go to compete with PC derived GPUs. We’re limited by an inability to disable Vsync, but if we could I think we would see a much larger advantage than what we see now. We want to explore these differences further soon, but for now all you need to know is that anything that can be processed by the GPU will do much better on the C7 than the Samsung.

Display and User Experience Performance Upgraded
POST A COMMENT

63 Comments

View All Comments

  • Andrew911tt - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    The people who read this site would never buy this as a replacement for their main device so there is no need to look at how your daily work flow would not work on this device and make it go cry in the corner.

    People are looking at this as a second device. I have a great desktop with two monitors and all the bells and whistles if I need to get work done. My second device is a old dell laptop that use in front of the couch or in bed that is the device that this was meant to be/replace.
    Reply
  • StormyParis - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    The people who read this site act as advisers for many people who might want/need such a machine as a primary PC. Reply
  • Andrew911tt - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    And any person who would consider this as a primary machine don't have that type of work flow Reply
  • phillyry - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    I'd have to agree with StormyParis.

    I've actually been considering getting one of these things for my dad as a primary PC simply because he could still check his mail and do his banking while, at the same time, it would be difficult for him to mess it up.

    So, let's not make too many assumptions about the readers. We don't all fit your personal usage style or preconceptions.
    Reply
  • Andrew911tt - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    You are making my point the person who ends up with it is going to be using it very sparingly. Your dad is not going to have the work flow that is described in the article, if would be much more facebook and email. Reply
  • JasonInofuentes - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    So, I think you'd be surprised how many writers see the appeal of the Chromebook. Writing is often a matter of focus. Eliminate distractions and pull together only the resources you need to get the job done. Browser-based publishing tools are polished enough that several of us are actually using them exclusively, including some that even do image manipulations entirely in the browser.

    So, the Chromebook as a primary device has a lot of appeal.
    What I was trying to make clear is how it falters despite having plenty of potential. I have no doubt that as the performance of Chromebooks improves, and as browser-based publishing and media tools become more capable, that I could move to a Chromebook as a primary writing device. I'd still need a better equipped device for a lot of the benchmarking we do, but it'd very much end up being the second device.
    Reply
  • jabber - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    I have the Samsung on order to test out and have just bought a Business Google Apps account.

    I have been talking to a lot of the folks in my small business networking circle and they are really interested in it.

    All they need is basic word processing and spreadsheet capability. A group calendar and scheduling. All the documents backed up and centrally stored. Pretty perfect for a lot of small businesses.

    That and the cost per user is £2.75 a month! If you have a lot of temp staff passing through you just give them a standard App account and then reset the password when they leave.

    That and the lack of virus, not having to buy Office and the low cost of the locked down kit. Support costs are lower.

    For a lot of businesses its a no-brainer.
    Reply
  • Alexvrb - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Correction: Any person who would consider this as a primary machine doesn't have ANY work flow. Flow sure, but work not so much.

    You said it yourself, people are looking at this as a second device to complement a real computer. But at that point, I think most people would be happier with a tablet as a second device.
    Reply
  • silverblue - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    What if you were a author and wanted something cheap and not too small? Reply
  • silverblue - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    'an', rather... I did put writer before, hence the 'a'. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now