This Intel CPUs will feature in new Chromebooks
Hidden power: Broadwell will feature in new devices

Intel has used the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 to unveil the full low-down on its new fifth-generation Broadwell processors.

And, as many of you will have expected, the chip giant has confirmed that we will see a number of Broadwell Chromebooks (and other Chrome devices) launch throughout the year.

Devices powered by the new chips will include the 15.6-inch Acer Chromebook and reinforced Acer C740.

The first Broadwell Chromebooks are expected to go on sale in the US  this February, with international releases to follow shortly after.

What to Expect from Intel Broadwell Chromebooks

Minor Performance Improvements

‘Broadwell offers a modest set of improvements over Intel’s 4th Gen Haswell chips’

Broadwell offers a modest set of improvements over Intel’s 4th Gen Haswell chip line, with evolutionary rather than revolutionary changes on offer.

Pitting a Haswell Core i7 against a Broadwell Core i7, Intel tout an impressive 22% increase in graphics over Haswell — but only a 4% boost in “productivity performance” (i.e., when using office suites, web browser, etc.).

Chromebooks tend to be built around lower cost Celeron chips rather than high-end Core i7 ones which means the gains being hawked above may be less pronounced on Chrome devices.

Broadwell Equals Big Battery Improvements

One area where Broadwell improvements will be felt is in battery life. The power efficiency of the new chips will allow Chrome notebooks to offer even longer battery life than at present, where Intel devices top out at the 8 hour mark.

In tests with a Core i7 an extra hour and a half is gained over the previous generation. A 5th Gen Celeron could potentially yield greater gains as the power requirements are even lower.

Although that sounds small in the grand scheme it should help push Intel Chromebooks into ARM model territory. Tegra-based Chromebooks pack battery lives as long as 13 hours. With Broadwell Celeron processors, Intel may be able to get super close towards matching that.

Thinner Chromebook Designs

‘thinner, sleeker, fanless Chromebooks are a certainty [with Broadwell]’

Broadwell is able to squeeze more transistors into a smaller surface area (14nm), sip on less power and run less hot. Those features mean thinner, sleeker, fanless Chromebooks are a certainty. 

The thinest Chromebook is the Samsung Chromebook 2 at a mere 0.66-inch thick. With Broadwell tucked up inside, who knows how thin devices could get!

Broadwell Chromebases & Chromeboxes Coming Too

But perhaps the most tantalising part of Intel’s announcement wasn’t so much that its new processors are smaller, faster, better, etc. For me it was the mention that we’ll see new Chromebases in 2015.

Thus far LG has been the only OEM to launch one of these all-in-one Chrome OS PCs. Due to a slightly high RRP, sales haven’t been as large as those for Chromebooks and Chromeboxes, making Intel’s suggestion that more are on the way a reassuring gesture!

Takeaways:

  • Dual-core Intel Broadwell Celeron and Core i3 chips to feature in Chrome devices in 2015
  • 4% better performance than Haswell devices (based on Windows)
  • 22% better graphics and multimedia handling (based on Windows)
  • Better power efficiency and longer battery life

Buy Broadwell or Wait for Skylake?

For better battery life and better graphics performance a Broadwell Chromebook may be a good investment, especially over a Bay Trail device.  If you’re rocking a Haswell model in Celeron or Core i3 guise, and happy, there’s little need to rush into switching based on processor.

Display, form factor and design factors will likely play a more tempting role in the coming months.

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