Tested: HP Elite Folio and Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 Arm chip


HP’s Elite Folio is the first laptop we’ve seen powered by Qualcomm’s latest Arm chip, the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2. Yes, the Gen 2 – supposedly a faster, more powerful upgrade from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx. Really? We tested the HP Elite Folio and the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 chip to find out how fast it is.

It is not a formal examination. What we did was take HP’s sleek vegan leather-wrapped tablet and run some initial tests on it, to make immediate comparisons to previous reviews. While we typically run performance tests multiple times to determine average performance, in this case we only ran our benchmark suite twice, enough to ensure our results were accurate.

Our results include a few caveats. Keep in mind that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips are based on the Arm architecture, a competitor to the X86 chips made by both AMD and Intel. Apple put Arm in the spotlight with its M1 processor, an Arm chip that is now found in Apple MacBooks and compares favorably to Windows PCs. Qualcomm’s latest chip (officially called Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G) runs at 3.15 GHz, compared to the 2.84 GHz of the older Snapdragon 8cx.

Unfortunately, we are not yet comparing the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 to the Apple M1. Since Apple’s Mac OS and Windows were designed (or redesigned) to run on top of X86 architectures, code originally written for X86 chips must be translated into Arm instructions via emulation. Apple’s Rosetta technology makes this easier, and Windows translates 32-bit X86 instructions. However, most applications run in 64-bit mode, which means Snapdragon chips cannot natively handle 64-bit X86 applications. That changed in December, when Microsoft introduced a 64-bit X86 emulator on Windows on Arm, as part of its Windows Insider program.

Pay close attention to how it compares to the 2020 Samsung Galaxy Book S and its first-gen Snapdragon 8cx chip, as well as the Microsoft Surface Pro X, which used an upgraded version of the Snapdragon 8cx to create the Microsoft SQ1 processor. . (Microsoft subsequently updated the Surface Pro X with an upgraded version of this chip, known as SQ2, which we haven’t tested.) We’ve also included the Microsoft Surface Go and Surface Go 2, two tablets that use Intel’s “Y” series processors for tablets. At the top of those benchmarks are more traditional laptops, most notably the 2019 Surface Laptop 3 (Ice Lake) and the 2020 Acer Swift 3.

Oh, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 tablet mentioned here is from 2016. We have its updated cousin, the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable, in-house for testing, and we’ll include those numbers in the Elite Folio review.

new hp elite folio 2 workspace HP

HP Elite Folio is a convertible that folds into tablet mode.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G, compared

UL’s PCMark 8 is not officially supported as a modern benchmark, although it does offer a good benchmark against older devices where it was still in service. Like its more modern cousin, PCMark 10, the PCMark 8 Creative test includes tests for word processing and spreadsheets, but also web browsing, light gaming, and photo and video editing. Unfortunately, this first test sets the stage: the Elite Folio and its Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 processor represent a definitive upgrade, but not enough to deliver performance that rivals competing laptops.

HP Elite Folio pcmark 8 Creative Mark Hachman / IDG

HP Elite Folio and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G processor inside (red bar) are moderately more powerful than its predecessor in the Samsung Galaxy Book S (orange bar).

As a 64-bit application, PCMark 10 will not yet work on the Elite Folio. Don’t worry: a subset of the benchmark, PCMark 10 apps, measures how well the notebook handles real-world Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the Edge browser. PCMark 10 measures how quickly applications open, as well as performance benchmarks such as processing spreadsheets. Again, the HP Elite Folio and its Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 processor are competent, but not competitive.

HP Elite Folio pcmark 10 applications Mark Hachman / IDG

This is an encouraging figure if you are considering purchasing an HP Elite Folio. For day-to-day work in Office, the Folio works fine. But Microsoft’s low-end Surface Go 2 tablet still outperforms it.

We have traditionally included some web apps in the mix, as these are naturally cross-platform tasks indicative of how work is done today. The WebXPRT benchmark is not used much compared to dedicated applications, although we have enough benchmarks for a good comparison.

HP Elite Folio webxprt 3 Mark Hachman / IDG

WebXPRT 3 measures the performance of the processor performing web tasks. Many laptops perform in a comparable fashion.

Finally, we generally take a look at the built-in graphics capabilities of the laptops we test. Intel’s Core (and its integrated Xe GPU) and Radeon cores found in the latest Ryzen mobile chips don’t need to appear here – this comparison to older laptops still shows the Snapdragon is well behind the times. in 2021. Testing UL’s 3DMark “Night Raid” was specifically designed for cross-platform comparisons because it works on both Arm and X86 chips.

HP Elite Folio 3dmark Night Raid Mark Hachman / IDG

Qualcomm’s Adreno GPUs have always performed quite well in our graphics tests.

Why buy the HP Elite Folio? Aesthetics and battery

HP tells us that the Elite Folio should include the necessary graphics drivers to allow it to run 64-bit X86 applications. In the interests of fairness, however, we’re sticking to the stable 32-bit Windows on Arm version that came with the Elite Folio. This partly helps ensure that the issues we find are not due to a beta version of Microsoft’s operating system.

Fortunately, the apps that we can run on the HP Elite Folio and its Snapdragon 8cx Gen processor in its current state already paint a pretty clear picture of its performance, both in terms of traditional content creation and office applications, as well. that graphics capabilities. and even work on the web. We’ll upgrade the tablet to the Windows Insider version of Windows 10 later, so we can run our more traditional benchmarks and more fully evaluate Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G and Elite Folio.

Battery life, however, can be the real selling point. HP estimates the Elite Folio will last around 20 hours, still the best selling point for Snapdragon PCs. We’ll test this and report back as part of our full review, which will also look at the aesthetic appeal of the Elite Folio, the cousin of the genuine leather-wrapped Specter Folio.

HP positions the Elite Folio as an Office and e-mail type machine. It just seems fair. We’ll have to see how the Elite Folio and its Qualcomm Snapdragon processor stand up to daily testing and whether the battery life claims hold true. If performance is your priority, however, this probably isn’t the laptop for you.

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About Margie Peters

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