[SOLVED] Can a top smartphone have more power than a middle price laptop?

Sep 20, 2021
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If you look at the top smartphone of today you can see they often have 8 (or even 16) cores, 12GB or more memory, and 256GB or more SSD (never did find out what type though, does anyone know?). A mid-tier Chromebook usually has dual core, 2-4GB memory, and 256GB SSD, usually SATA but sometimes nVME. On paper then it looks like the smartphone is winning. Do smartphones do a lot of thermal throttling? I have never actually seen my smartphone do that but then again, I really don't know what to look for. But Chromebooks do the same anyway. The reason I am not saying top end laptops is there are $8000 laptops out there so not much of a fair comparison.
 

Rogue Leader

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If you look at the top smartphone of today you can see they often have 8 (or even 16) cores, 12GB or more memory, and 256GB or more SSD (never did find out what type though, does anyone know?). A mid-tier Chromebook usually has dual core, 2-4GB memory, and 256GB SSD, usually SATA but sometimes nVME. On paper then it looks like the smartphone is winning. Do smartphones do a lot of thermal throttling? I have never actually seen my smartphone do that but then again, I really don't know what to look for. But Chromebooks do the same anyway. The reason I am not saying top end laptops is there are $8000 laptops out there so not much of a fair comparison.
An important thing thats missing here is smartphone cores are not PC or laptop cores. Smartphones have ARM cores, they are made to be low power energy efficient, and so on. Laptops have x86 cores, they are made for performance, because they have significantly more electricity available to them to perform their operations. The cores in both also operate significantly differently. ARM is a RISC processor, fore Reduced Instruction Set Computing, x86 processors are CISC, for Complex Instruction Set Computing. This goes back to my first point, a dual core laptop has cores that can DO a lot more than a core in a smartphone, and faster.

This is a good article that goes a bit more in depth.


Now you do mention Chromebooks, its wise to point out SOME Chromebooks have ARM processors in them. Also realize Chromebooks are usually low power devices as well, and they don't need a lot of power as Chrome OS was designed with low power long battery life devices in mind. I would never call a Chromebook a mid-tier laptop at any point, no matter the cost.
 
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kanewolf

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If you look at the top smartphone of today you can see they often have 8 (or even 16) cores, 12GB or more memory, and 256GB or more SSD (never did find out what type though, does anyone know?). A mid-tier Chromebook usually has dual core, 2-4GB memory, and 256GB SSD, usually SATA but sometimes nVME. On paper then it looks like the smartphone is winning. Do smartphones do a lot of thermal throttling? I have never actually seen my smartphone do that but then again, I really don't know what to look for. But Chromebooks do the same anyway. The reason I am not saying top end laptops is there are $8000 laptops out there so not much of a fair comparison.
A top end cell phone is a $1000 device. A laptop for that price is much better.
 
Sep 20, 2021
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A top end cell phone is a $1000 device. A laptop for that price is much better.
I know, that's why I didn't ask. :p
I am only curious if it can beat out a mid-tier laptop, I already know it loses to a $1000 one (which most laptop mfgs consider these days to be relatively high-spec, esp since gaming laptops start at around $650 these days). Once the laptop has a GPU there is just no reason to compare anymore.
 
Sep 20, 2021
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  1. Define "mid tier laptop".
  2. Screen size.
I had it in my original post then edited it and forgot to link, getting old.
Well perhaps this is a decent benchmark for mid-range laptop, this one uses Chrome OS:

Acer Chromebook Spin 514 - CP514-1H-R4HQ
Part Number
NX.A4AAA.001
Chrome OS
  • AMD Ryzen 3 Dual-core 2.60 GHz
  • AMD Radeon™ Graphics shared memory
  • 14" Full HD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 IPS Touchscreen
  • 4 GB, DDR4 SDRAM
  • 64 GB Flash Memory
Right after pasting, I realized this particular model is somewhat low in SSD space, just assume it has 128GB or 256GB since I think that's more typical.
 

Rogue Leader

It's a trap!
Moderator
If you look at the top smartphone of today you can see they often have 8 (or even 16) cores, 12GB or more memory, and 256GB or more SSD (never did find out what type though, does anyone know?). A mid-tier Chromebook usually has dual core, 2-4GB memory, and 256GB SSD, usually SATA but sometimes nVME. On paper then it looks like the smartphone is winning. Do smartphones do a lot of thermal throttling? I have never actually seen my smartphone do that but then again, I really don't know what to look for. But Chromebooks do the same anyway. The reason I am not saying top end laptops is there are $8000 laptops out there so not much of a fair comparison.
An important thing thats missing here is smartphone cores are not PC or laptop cores. Smartphones have ARM cores, they are made to be low power energy efficient, and so on. Laptops have x86 cores, they are made for performance, because they have significantly more electricity available to them to perform their operations. The cores in both also operate significantly differently. ARM is a RISC processor, fore Reduced Instruction Set Computing, x86 processors are CISC, for Complex Instruction Set Computing. This goes back to my first point, a dual core laptop has cores that can DO a lot more than a core in a smartphone, and faster.

This is a good article that goes a bit more in depth.


Now you do mention Chromebooks, its wise to point out SOME Chromebooks have ARM processors in them. Also realize Chromebooks are usually low power devices as well, and they don't need a lot of power as Chrome OS was designed with low power long battery life devices in mind. I would never call a Chromebook a mid-tier laptop at any point, no matter the cost.
 
Reactions: Minaz
Sep 20, 2021
61
1
35
0
An important thing thats missing here is smartphone cores are not PC or laptop cores. Smartphones have ARM cores, they are made to be low power energy efficient, and so on. Laptops have x86 cores, they are made for performance, because they have significantly more electricity available to them to perform their operations. The cores in both also operate significantly differently. ARM is a RISC processor, fore Reduced Instruction Set Computing, x86 processors are CISC, for Complex Instruction Set Computing. This goes back to my first point, a dual core laptop has cores that can DO a lot more than a core in a smartphone, and faster.

This is a good article that goes a bit more in depth.


Now you do mention Chromebooks, its wise to point out SOME Chromebooks have ARM processors in them. Also realize Chromebooks are usually low power devices as well, and they don't need a lot of power as Chrome OS was designed with low power long battery life devices in mind. I would never call a Chromebook a mid-tier laptop at any point, no matter the cost.
Thanks. As an aside, I would vote this as best answer, but I seem not to be able to. I clicked on the link in your signature and it clearly shows a trophy I should be able to click in the picture, but on all the posts in this thread, I do not see a trophy. I looked so maybe I am missing it or going blind...
 

BFG-9000

Distinguished
Since the dawn of the smartphone era, phones have actually been pretty comparable in computing power to top-end laptops from 10 years before. That's actually pretty impressive considering how power-constrained they are.

A few years after smartphone CPUs go obsolete and thus cheap, they are repurposed into more cost-sensitive and less power-constrained devices such as Chromebooks, NAS devices and routers. There they can run faster than they ever did in any smartphone because of the much larger battery and even wall power, plus the ability to use large heatsinks and fans. This leads to the odd situation where sometimes a cheap Chromebook can be as fast as a current top-end phone.

As mentioned, Chromebooks are not laptops and have way more in common with phones and tablets than actual laptops. They even use actual smartphone CPUs from a few years before, but overclocked to a larger power and thermal envelope.
 
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Sep 20, 2021
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Since the dawn of the smartphone era, phones have actually been pretty comparable in computing power to top-end laptops from 10 years before. That's actually pretty impressive considering how power-constrained they are.

A few years after smartphone CPUs go obsolete and thus cheap, they are repurposed into more cost-sensitive and less power-constrained devices such as Chromebooks, NAS devices and routers. There they can run faster than they ever did in any smartphone because of the much larger battery and even wall power, plus the ability to use large heatsinks and fans. This leads to the odd situation where sometimes a cheap Chromebook can be as fast as a current top-end phone.

As mentioned, Chromebooks are not laptops and have way more in common with phones and tablets than actual laptops. They even use actual smartphone CPUs from a few years before, but overclocked to a larger power and thermal envelope.
This actually blows my mind. So in a way, my Chromebook is actually a glorified tablet :p With better performance.
 

Rogue Leader

It's a trap!
Moderator
Thanks. As an aside, I would vote this as best answer, but I seem not to be able to. I clicked on the link in your signature and it clearly shows a trophy I should be able to click in the picture, but on all the posts in this thread, I do not see a trophy. I looked so maybe I am missing it or going blind...
Try it now

This actually blows my mind. So in a way, my Chromebook is actually a glorified tablet :p With better performance.
Eh I'd argue most tablets are more powerful. Tablets in some cases have a similar sized battery to a Chromebook and use current Smartphone CPUs. Hes not correct about Chromebook CPUs in that yes sometimes they are Smartphone ARM CPUs repurposed, but they are cheap low end ones, and in most cases they are x86 CPUs. A quick search of current model Chromebooks shows most powered by Intel Celeron dual core CPUs, and some powered by Coretex and MediaTek ARM CPUs. Those are low end ARM CPUs, not like the Qualcomm Snapdragon or Exynos you'd get in a mid to high tier phone. They definitely run faster than they ever did in the cheap phones they were in before, but they won't keep up even at that speed with their high end counterparts.
 
Sep 20, 2021
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Try it now



Eh I'd argue most tablets are more powerful. Tablets in some cases have a similar sized battery to a Chromebook and use current Smartphone CPUs. Hes not correct about Chromebook CPUs in that yes sometimes they are Smartphone ARM CPUs repurposed, but they are cheap low end ones, and in most cases they are x86 CPUs. A quick search of current model Chromebooks shows most powered by Intel Celeron dual core CPUs, and some powered by Coretex and MediaTek ARM CPUs. Those are low end ARM CPUs, not like the Qualcomm Snapdragon or Exynos you'd get in a mid to high tier phone. They definitely run faster than they ever did in the cheap phones they were in before, but they won't keep up even at that speed with their high end counterparts.
This thread definitely did not go the way I had predicted, which is a good thing since I learned something.

But to clarify though, so you are in fact saying that even with the x86 processors in some Chromebooks, that high-end tablets and smartphones can have superior performance?
 

Rogue Leader

It's a trap!
Moderator
This thread definitely did not go the way I had predicted, which is a good thing since I learned something.

But to clarify though, so you are in fact saying that even with the x86 processors in some Chromebooks, that high-end tablets and smartphones can have superior performance?
In most cases yes. Now theres a bit more to the story though. The software on high end smartphones and tablets is designed to run better on it, as I said the processors are different in how they perform. Chromebooks are great but its basically a glorified web browser based OS skinned over Linux with web based apps. Chromebooks are made to do basic computing tasks well. Smartphones and tablets are made to run their native apps well.

Now many Chromebooks have the ability to run Android apps. The x86 ones run them, but Games for example run pretty poorly. ARM based Chromebooks run the apps better, but then you run into the fact that they are running a low end ARM processor. Yeah it can be juiced up a bit and has more power available to it, but in the end its not as good as its fastest contemporaries in smartphones and tablets.

You're comparing apples and oranges really. Its very much dependent on the task you want to do as to which is a better choice, or performs better.
 

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