First Ryzen laptop chips: AMD promises big gains in performance and efficiency

The mobile version of AMD's more competitive Zen architecture not only reaches a broader slice of the PC market, but is also the first Ryzen processor with on-die graphics. AMD is promising big gains in performance and efficiency.

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The chipmaker has released its first laptop chips based on the Zen microarchitecture. While AMD has been shipping Ryzen desktop CPUs for some time, these Ryzen mobile processors are important because they will make AMD more competitive in the notebook market, which now accounts for around 60 percent of all PC shipments. But they are also notable because they are the first Ryzen APUs, or Accelerated Processing Units, with on-die Radeon graphics.

The announcement was not a surprise since AMD had promised mobile parts by the end of the year, and on the quarterly earnings call earlier this week, CEO Lisa Su said that the company had already started shipping some Ryzen mobile processors. She added that Acer, HP and Lenovo would launch Ryzen ultrathin laptops and two-in-ones "in the coming weeks."

Today's launch includes two processors, the Ryzen 5 2500U and Ryzen 7 2700U, each with four CPU cores and eight threads. The Ryzen 7 2700U operates at a higher frequency and has more Radeon Vega GPU units--also with a little more headroom in terms of speed. Both have a configurable power rating of 15 watts and are targeted at ultrathins, convertibles and hybrids.

AMD is billing the Ryzen 7 2700U as the "fastest processor for ultrathin notebooks" based on its own testing with benchmarks such as CINEBENCH. While it will certainly be a significant step up from the aging Carrizo and Bristol Ridge mobile APUs, we'll need to do some independent testing to see how it really stacks up to Intel's mobile parts.

On its own tests, AMD is pitting the 2700U against the Core i7-7500U (Kaby Lake), a dual-core processor that lists for $393, as well as the newer Core i7-8550U (Kaby Lake R) quad-core chip, that lists for $409. Overall AMD says these Ryzen mobile processors put it ahead of its long-term goal of a 25X improvement in performance per watt by 2020.

The first Ryzen laptops will include the Acer Swift 3 14-inch laptop, Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC 17-inch gaming laptop, HP ENVY x360 convertible, and Lenovo IdeaPad 720S, as well as some Dell Inspiron models. AMD is promising a much larger selection of laptops and two-in-ones in early 2018.

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