Just a few years ago, you could hardly find a laptop with an AMD chip. Then they popped up in some of the best notebooks money could buy. Now AMD says its chips will be in 200 different laptop models in 2022 – and with the just-unveiled “Mendocino” announced at Computex 2022, the company is trying to “redefine the everyday laptop.” as a budget machine with decent battery life.
We have no idea if it’ll live up to that expectation, but what it promises sounds like a good start: a new series of Ryzen laptop chips that will feature four last-gen Zen 2 CPU cores with the latest RDNA 2 Graphics on 6nm from TSMC combine process to deliver over 10 hours of battery life on one charge – all for a price between 399 and 699 US dollars. This includes both Windows computers and Chromebooks.
Now you’re probably wondering: What does 10 hours actually mean? It could mean anything; Manufacturers constantly give outrageous estimates of battery life. But at least we do have a frame of reference here: “Most people are used to four, five, six hours on a notebook in the $399 to $699 range,” says AMD Technical Marketing Director Robert Hallock. “We want to get at least 10 hours out of these notebooks.”
If I’m honest, the announcement gives me a bit of déjà vu – a decade ago, at the same Computex trade show, AMD was similarly trying to offer a quad-core chip with better battery life and graphics as the way to stop, to be seen as a cheap alternative to Intel.
But back then, laptop manufacturers didn’t take the company seriously. Now it’s clear the company is influential as these manufacturers introduce laptops after AMD-powered laptops. These include the longest battery life ever measured on a recent benchmark (the HP Elitebook 865 G9, a specific configuration of which managed 26.1 hours of battery life in MobileMark 2018), according to AMD, and a number of new gaming machines with both AMD CPUs and AMD -Graphics labeled as “AMD Advantage”.
One of them catches the eye: Corsair is pulling a Razer this year by launching its first-ever gaming laptop, the Corsair Voyager – an AMD exclusive.
It’s the “first laptop ever conceived as a truly mobile streaming solution,” says AMD gaming boss Frank Azor, thanks in part to a secondary touchscreen that works like an Elgato Stream Deck that you can easily take with you. (Corsair bought both the Elgato and Origin PC a few years ago.) The main display is a 16-inch 240Hz panel with FreeSync Premium.
There is also a new 16-inch Lenovo Legion Slim 7 with a 99.99 Wh battery at a thickness of 17mm, a non-slim version with force sensors integrated into the WASD keys and a new version of the HP Omen 16, which while mostly physically identical, is the first laptop to ship with a feature called AMD SmartShift Eco, which can automatically switch to integrated graphics to extend battery life in a game — 60 percent longer League of LegendsThey claim.
However, the fine print suggests that AMD cheated a bit there, turning the graphics down to medium and setting the laptop to “Best Battery” mode (vs. High Spec and “Best Performance”) to get that result to achieve.
Similarly, earlier in the presentation, AMD advertises that the 2.2-pound ultralight Asus ZenBook S13 can “play triple-A games at an average of 60 fps at 1080p.” godfall as an example, but the fine print shows AMD ran Godfall at low settings and with FidelityFX Super Resolution enabled – so it wasn’t really rendered at native 1080p. (FSR definitely has its uses, though.)
If an ultra-thin laptop like the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 Pro X can hit the numbers shown 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’s rivals will be bringing to their handheld gaming PCs later this year. Hopefully by then we can test some of these claims.