HP is bringing some new competition into the Chromebook world with the introduction of AMD processors. The company’s newly announced Chromebook 14 is the first Chromebook ever to use AMD processors — existing Chromebooks are largely dominated by Intel, and even mobile-friendly ARM-based processors made their debut before AMD.
The Chromebook 14 will go on sale later this month for $269 with AMD’s dual-core A4 processor inside (an A6 processor option will also be available in some markets). AMD’s A line is roughly equivalent to Intel’s Celeron line, which means these are lower-end processors designed for simple, power-efficient machines. HP estimates nine hours of battery life. The laptop has a 14-inch screen with a resolution just above 720p, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage.
I asked HP why the company wanted to put AMD processors in a Chromebook, and the only answer I got was that it was “past time.” But that doesn’t really answer the question: it’s not clear whether switching to AMD allows for cheaper Chromebooks, improved performance, or just creates more options. It’s not clear that this is better in any way — just different.
More competition for Intel is a good thing and likely will lead to cheaper choices (AMD has already been positioning its chips as the better value), but it’s not entirely clear what the motivation is to make the change now. A report from Chrome Unboxed indicated that HP might not be alone here — the site spotted references to up to three in-development Chromebooks with AMD processors back in August. So it might not be long until HP has company.