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
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  • Spoelie - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    The exact same argument, without a word changed, can be made about Apple's approach to the market. Reply
  • BadCommand - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Maybe I missed it, but there is also the 100 gigs of google drive offered for 2 years for free w/purchase. If you use drive, that storage would be about $5/mo thereby making this device cost basically $80. Not bad. Reply
  • mike55 - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Coincidentally, I took a picture of the Chrome logo on a 13 inch 1280x800 LCD. It was on a much more expensive laptop, though. Here it is for comparison: http://i.imgur.com/qey7gUM.jpg Reply
  • evilspoons - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    You have a typo on your Display page - resolution reads 1136x768 when it should be 1366x768.

    Otherwise - thanks for the review. I'm not sure if I'd want one of these, since my Nexus 7 does most of what you'd do with this device just fine, but I am going to keep these in mind for people who just want a web browser / "typewriter" out of a computer.
    Reply
  • JasonInofuentes - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Fixed. Thanks. Reply
  • whyso - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Would be nice to have at least something other than browser tests. Reply
  • mayankleoboy1 - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Eh ? But thats all what this Chromebook an do. Strictly browser stuff only. Reply
  • JasonInofuentes - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    We want to explore the relationship between the two Chromebooks further, but until then we can only do what will fit in a browser, since that's all we've got. Reply
  • lmcd - Saturday, January 26, 2013 - link

    Are there any FOSS benchmarks you could recompile for NaCl? Reply
  • Exophase - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Where/how was the 800MHz clock measured? Acer says that the model clocks at the full 1.1GHz:

    http://us.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/model-datashee...
    Reply

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