Let’s get something straight: If someone had time traveled to 1995 and told me that AMD might be able to “save” the laptop market from Apple in 2023 with their chips, I’d immediately ask them It would have been how many drinks they consumed.

After all, the late 1990s were a different time and place for the PC industry. Intel was the undisputed king of the industry – especially in the desktop realm, as laptops were a relatively nascent market – and its company-owned foundry allowed it to release new processors at a cadence that not only impressed but rivaled competitors such as AMD. Also used to keep in the bay.

As someone who worked at Compaq which qualified and marketed AMD processors for its Presario consumer brand PCs as a hedge against Intel’s impenetrable pricing strategy, in my experience, AMD has a lot to work for. Easy had the reputation – but a Keystone Copes masterful for bad, sometimes abysmal, execution.

That’s how quickly things changed after CEO Lisa Siu came to AMD in 2012.

New AMD chips could challenge Apple silicon

Apple shook up the PC world when it started shipping its own chips, Apple Silicon, in late 2020. Intel.

Because Apple owns the entire hardware and software stack, which allows the company to optimize its macOS for enhanced performance, Mac desktops and laptops quickly became hot, in-demand items. While Windows PCs have a higher market share (about 58% versus 30% for macOS), Apple’s sales have steadily increased over the years.

However, the Windows laptop market may get a boost. Recently, AMD unveiled a new laptop CPU for thin and light devices that, according to the company, outperforms Apple’s M2 model from a year ago. Is this a true win for AMD, or is the company selectively focusing on specific performance metrics that distort the real story?

some important background

A few months ago, Intel released its Core i9 13980HX, a “notebook” CPU—a charitable description, at best—that it claimed outperformed Apple’s current fastest processor, the M2 Max. Although accurate claims of performance victories were technically valid in some areas, there were several limitations attached to such claims.

At first, the Intel processor was a highly unusable “notebook” chip because it lost all of its performance benefits the millisecond it ran on the battery and ate up watts like a man lost in the desert dying of thirst. Plus, whenever a notebook does something strenuous it generates a ton of heat to keep the fan running at full capacity. Finally, at almost seven pounds, it wasn’t exactly wide.

Still, it outperformed the M2 Max for some popular but specialized processor-intensive applications with a more powerful video card and frequent plugged-in use while wearing noise-canceling headphones. Although the concessions were a serious temptation for most Apple consumers, Intel struggled to put one of its CPUs on an even playing field.

This type of misstep has resulted in Intel inadvertently assuming that Apple’s M-series is the de facto industry leader, with continued advances in desktop and mobile computing, power and chip efficiency, and integrated graphics capability. Starting with the first M1 machines, Macs became much faster than any Windows PC in daily use, except in dedicated gaming rigs.

It’s AMD’s Time To Step Up To The Plate

The newest member of AMD’s Ryzen 7 family, the 7840U, is the chip the entire PC industry is talking about.

It’s immediately clear that this chip is a far more credible competitor than Intel’s 13980HX. Contrary to Intel’s insidious “notebook” characterization, the 7840U is actually a processor built specifically for thin-and-light laptops. As a result, it should generate less heat and work more effectively, and that’s just for openers.

Since AMD only introduced this new chip in late April, no production machines have used it in real-world testing yet, which is a moot point. Despite this, AMD recently posted a series of vague benchmarks that it says demonstrate greater performance over Apple’s native M2 processor, which is used by the Mac mini, MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro and two iPad Pros. done in versions.

AMD Ryzen 7840U vs Apple M2

Frankly, it’s still unknown whether the 7840U can maintain this apparently impressive performance on battery and how much battery it uses for comparable workloads as there’s no real system to test it on.

The overly general description of important areas of comparison, the narrow differences between the two chips in all but two categories, and the absence of details and sourcing for any conclusions raise concerns that must be validated in real-life testing.

AMD Ryzen 7040U Series Performance Chart

AMD Ryzen 7 7840U, part of the Ryzen 7040U series, benchmark performance vs Apple’s M2 (Chart credit: AMD)

Even if we accept AMD’s statements on their merits, a closer examination reveals that the company only offers distinct advantages in two of the six areas that its marketing team touts. Chosen as a “proof” of excellence. The other four results can be essentially bounded within the benchmark test margin of error.

Without question, real-world testing on real equipment can differ greatly from the marketing department’s benchmarks. Still, based on these and other early findings, there’s some evidence that AMD appears to have credibly — if only partially — challenged Apple’s M2 hegemony and significantly edged out Intel’s Core i9 13980HX. Which raises even more questions behind Intel.

With that in mind, the Ryzen 7 7840U is a fully integrated laptop chip that looks to compete with the base M2 processor and perhaps the M2 Pro in some areas. This is quite an achievement.

Even though the benchmarking suite scores are competitive, there are other things to consider, as games I tried to play on the Intel Core i9 13980HX laptop experienced a dramatic performance degradation when forced to operate on battery power.

closing thoughts

It’s too early to declare AMD’s 7784u as the new heavyweight champion, competing favorably with or even surpassing Apple’s M2.

From a reputational perspective, AMD recognizes the stakes here. We must assume that AMD measured the metrics for their comparison table under the laptop’s optimal conditions: when connected to AC power and without considering factors such as heat and battery consumption. From my point of view, this approach looks completely logical.

But let’s be clear. My conversations with AMD confirm that the company is working overtime to produce the best performing silicon possible. In my discussions with AMD executives, they are not dismissing Apple’s engineering capability (unlike Intel).

The post-pandemic PC market is currently in a growth funk, something that’s unlikely to change for several quarters. Companies like HP, Dell, and Lenovo have created some of the most beautiful laptop designs we’ve seen in years. However, without best-in-class chips, consumer and corporate customers may be inclined to consider non-Windows alternatives, despite the generally higher prices for Apple products.

If AMD’s 7840U turns out to be as advertised, it will give Windows laptops a much-needed jolt of adrenaline. No one likes any company, including Apple, to operate without competition, and AMD’s work here could be music to customers’ ears.