Today we report on a highly anticipated laptop product: Ryzen Mobile. We managed to get our hands on one of the few Ryzen mobile laptops in the wild – the HP Envy x360 – to see how AMD's latest mobile silicon works.
Of course, this isn't the first time we've seen AMD APUs in laptops. Today you can still buy a low-end notebook with a Stoney Ridge APU that offers all the wonders of an excavator-based CPU. It is at the top end that AMD has been absent for generations, mostly because of its slow and inefficient CPU architecture, which has allowed Intel to command the mobile throne for years.
With Ryzen and the Zen architecture, everything has changed for AMD. Their desktop parts are very competitive with the latest from Intel and allow AMD to re-enter the mobile space with a range of APUs that are actually ready for a fight.
Thanks to these products, codenamed Raven Ridge, we could actually see some competition in the ultra-thin laptop market. The two APUs in the Ryzen range are currently the Ryzen 5 2500U and the Ryzen 7 2700U.
Both contain four core CPUs with eight threads – just like the latest 8th generation laptop CPUs from Intel – as well as DDR4-2400 memory controllers. As you can see in the table, the clock speeds range from 2.0 or 2.2 GHz to 3.6 or 3.8 GHz directly in the Kaby Lake Refresh stadium.
The most important thing, however, is not the CPU, which is much faster than anything that AMD has been producing in the mobile field for years. But it is the GPU where AMD has a great competitive advantage: The Ryzen 5 2500U has a Vega 8 GPU with 8 computing cores and a total of 512 shaders, which are clocked at 1100 MHz.
From a purely computing perspective, this GPU is slightly twice as fast as the UHD Graphics 620 from Intel used in current parts. It also looks faster on paper than Iris Plus graphics, although Intel hasn't even started introducing these GPUs into ultra-portable quad-core SKUs.
The Ryzen 7 2700U is even faster, with more cores at a higher clock, but I have to look for a product with Ryzen 7 inside to get a better idea of how it works. We're going to focus on the Ryzen 5 2500U today.
The impressive aspect of the new Ryzen Mobile parts is that they pack both a quad-core Ryzen CPU and a high-performance Vega GPU in a 15 W TDP. This corresponds to the TDP of 8th generation Intel CPUs, but offers the potential for more performance. Sounds like a winner, doesn't it?
Before I look at some important benchmark data, I wanted to talk about the test procedure because testing with a laptop CPU or APU is different and more difficult than testing a desktop component. This is because laptops are delivered as whole systems. It is therefore difficult to lock variables and compare apples directly to apples.
Aspects such as the cooling solution (which affects throttling), memory, memory, software clock speed optimizations, and battery life vary by device. With very few Ryzen laptops on the market at the moment, we may be relying on data from just one laptop for a while.
However, the good news is that the HP Envy x360 offers a good test platform with comparable hardware to many common ultraportables. My test device has 16 GB DDR4-2400 in a two-channel configuration and a fast PCIe SSD with 256 GB, which is ideal for reducing bottlenecks in these areas. Power consumption and battery life are more difficult to test and comment on, but we'll come back to that later.