Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 benchmarked: Performance soars, but not much

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We learned quite a bit about Qualcomm’s next-generation Snapdragon 865 last week, except for one thing: how fast it is. Now we know—it’s potentially the fastest around. Well, around Android, anyway.

While our CPU and PC coverage leans heavily on benchmarking, we tend to focus more on the holistic experience of using phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10+, rather than just the performance. But benchmarks still matter, of course, so we jumped at the chance to test Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 865 last week, in a demonstration suite at the company’s Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui, Hawaii.

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Awesome tech gifts that cost $50 or less

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Please the gadget lover in your life
under 50 slide

Image by Rob Schultz/IDG

When it comes to finding gifts that are cool, useful, and affordable, technology can check all those boxes. And contrary to what you might think, the audience for cool tech gifts is quite broad, with options for virtually everyone on your holiday shopping list.

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AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT review: Bleeding-edge, underpowered, and overpriced

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When it comes to graphics cards, AMD’s owned the sub-$200 price point for years. Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 and 1660 series graphics cards couldn’t hold a candle to the value proposition of the Radeon RX 570 and 580, nor its predecessors, especially once AMD started bundling them with games galore. Those Polaris-powered GPUs are downright ancient, however, and suck down obscene amounts of power compared to modern graphics cards.

Enter the new $169 Radeon RX 5500 XT, launching today after being teased in October.

The Radeon RX 5500 XT brings AMD’s “Navi” GPU, built using the company’s next-gen RDNA graphics architecture, to the masses. Navi debuted in the Radeon RX 5700 and 5700 XT, which immediately became our go-to recommendations for 1440p gaming. Navi’s loaded with cutting-edge tech: The Radeon RX 5500 XT is one of the first consumer GPUs built using 7nm process technology, and to support the bleeding-edge PCIe 4.0 interface. It’s upgraded to ultra-fast GDDR6 memory. The card packs AMD’s latest and greatest media encoders, and fresh display technologies that enable 4K, 144Hz monitors without the need for messy chroma subsampling (though you won’t game at anywhere near those levels with this humble graphics card). It’s tremendously more power-efficient, too.

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Hands on with the Snapdragon 8c and 7c, Qualcomm’s value-PC play

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Let’s be honest: We’re a bit skeptical of the new Snapdragon 7c and 8c story, Qualcomm’s latest expansion of its Snapdragon Compute lineup into cheaper markets. But we had a chance to play around with them, and they’re…fine?

At the Qualcomm Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui, Hawaii, the company offered reporters a chance to try out a pair of 7c and 8c demo machines. Both of the units we saw were reference designs, with pre-production hardware.

Miguel Nunes, senior director of product management for compute products, supplied us with a few more details about each chip. The 7c includes a pair of ARM Cortex-A76 “performance” cores, with six Cortex-A55 cores serving as the low-power “efficiency” cores. There’s an X15 LTE modem, too.

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Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 7c and 8c aim for low-end and midrange PCs

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Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 7c and 8c at its Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui, Hawaii. The chips, two derivatives of the Snapdragon 8cx, will provide opportunities for cheaper PCs to take advantage of the Snapdragon 8cx’s advantages: fanless platforms, long battery life and constant connectivity.

It’s a gutsy move. Qualcomm’s premium Snapdragon 8cx PC processor has arguably struggled to compete with Intel’s Core and AMD’s Ryzen, at least from a performance standpoint.. Nevertheless, the company’s decided that cheaper, presumably less powerful Snapdragon chips for PCs are the way forward.

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Your Kid’s School Is Probably Collecting Tons of Data on Them

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We’re living in a time when cyber-bulling, self-harm, suicide and school shootings are all things that parents and educators need to worry about. And as technology became more prevalent in the classroom, an obvious solution was born—monitor what our kids are searching, reading, viewing and writing to look for red…

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Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 platform takes aim at true mixed reality

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Qualcomm will use its newly announced Snapdragon chips to take another swing at the mixed reality market, adding 5G to the mix with the Snapdragon XR2 platform.

Announced at the Qualcomm Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui, Hawaii, Qualcomm said it believes that the on-device horsepower of the recent Snapdragon chips, combined with the “edge cloud” capabilities of the 5G connection, should be enough for true mixed reality: augmented reality in one context, and virtual reality in another. 

Niantic, the developer behind the popular Pokemon Go game, even announced a multi-year partnership to develop AR glasses based on the platform.

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Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865: Four of its best new features

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Qualcomm described the Snapdragon 865 in detail on Wednesday, with a long list of new features that included 5G, PC-like gaming features, high-resolution camera imagery, and much more.

At the Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui, Hawaii, Qualcomm set up a demo room where we could go hands-on with some of the features. We took the opportunity to shoot some short videos to go with our descriptions, and you can see them all below.

Single-camera video bokeh

We’ve all probably used “portrait mode” on a smartphone camera—that’s the feature that blurs the background to create the “bokeh” effect of a traditional lensed camera. It’s a nifty way to make the eye zero in on the subject of the image. Smartphone cameras use AI to distinguish the subject from the background, which usually works pretty well.

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