Lenovo Yoga C630 Review Check-In: Performance

The Snapdragon 850-based Lenovo Yoga C630 provides better performance than its Snapdragon 835-based predecessors. And this improvement can be seen anecdotally, by using the systems side-by-side, and in benchmarks.

That’s good news. But the bigger question, of course, is whether it’s enough of an improvement to make a Snapdragon 850-based PC like the C630 something I can recommend to readers. As you may recall, that was absolutely not the case with the HP Envy x2, whose Snapdragon 835-based innards delivered great battery life but unusably-bad performance.

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So let’s talk about my real-world experience so far.

As I assume you know, I use dozens of different PCs every year. So I feel like I have a good handle on how these devices work, and when something is off or different, it’s usually pretty obvious.

That was certainly the case with two of this year’s notable under-performers, the Snapdragon 835-based HP Envy x2 and the Intel Y-series-based HP Envy x2.

The Snapdragon 835-based HP Envy x2, as noted, could not be recommended because of its terrible performance and compatibility. “System performance ranges from acceptable to laughably bad, I noted in my review. “This is the first modern PC I’ve used that reminded me of a netbook in this regard. No, that is not a compliment.”

The Intel-based HP Envy x2 offers better compatibility, which makes sense. And the performance is better too, though that’s a low bar. “General system performance is notably better,” I wrote in my first impressions article. But after more testing, I concluded that this PC offered only “middling performance” that was so bad it prevented the system’s bundled HP digital pen from working properly.

The Yoga C630 provides a better experience than either of those PCs. General system performance—by which I mean using the system itself plus most Store and other bundled apps—is perfectly acceptable. I don’t ever notice that anything is off, in other words. Nothing ever takes long enough to happen where I start to mentally tally up the problems.

Even Microsoft Edge is snappy on this device. That’s not always been my experience on Windows 10 on ARM, and while I’m not sure if the performance there is related to the chipset or software improvements in Edge, it is quite noticeable. The app opens instantly and runs well as you use it.

So do the bundled Microsoft Office applications. Word is up and ready for typing within just two seconds, which is pretty impressive for an app of this lineage and size. OneNote, a more modern Windows 10 app, offers similar performance.

It is with desktop applications downloaded from the web—which are emulated in Windows 10 on ARM—where I started noticing issues. My text editor, MarkdownPad 2, takes barely a second to load on most PCs, but takes a long 7 seconds or more on the C630. Google Chrome, arguably the one desktop application that most users will want, is just as slow, at least on the first run. And subsequent actions, like opening new tabs or windows, happens leisurely.

To be clear, this isn’t a deal breaker. Anyone coming to this PC for its epic battery life and thin and light profile should evaluate a bit of slowness with some applications in the context of the overall experience. This kind of problem did make previous Snapdragon- and Intel Y-series/Pentium-based PCs non-starters. But it’s not as bad here.

Qualcomm, you may recall, claims that the Snapdragon 850 should provide a performance improvement of about 30 percent over the Snapdragon 835. It’s not clear to me if my usage verifies that number per se. But perhaps there is a benchmark-based way to do so.

As you may know, I’ve been using PCMark 10 recently because it offers a more nuanced and productivity app-focused view of system performance than other tests, which are all about pegging the CPU and seeing what it can do at peak performance. But PCMark 10 requires a 64-bit CPU to complete successfully, and one might argue that running such a benchmark under emulation is unfair.

Perhaps. But I tried anyway. And while the full test did ultimately stop with a “deshaking CPU failed” error, I was able to obtain a Productivity score of 1684. By comparison, the Snapdragon 835-based HP Envy x2 scored 1239. That’s a difference of about 26 percent.

That may be meaningless: The terrible Intel-based HP Envy x2 scored 4435 on the same test, and I find that the C630 performs far better than the Intel x2 in real-world usage. And by comparison, the Intel Y-series-based HP Spectre Folio achieved a score of 5769 on this same test; the original Surface Laptop hit 5174.

I also found out about a Microsoft Store-based benchmark called AppMark 2018 that works on both Intel- and ARM-based PCs. Running this benchmark, the Yoga C630 achieved a score of 1273, compared to 998 for the Snapdragon 835-based HP Envy x2. Do the math, and you’ll discover that that’s an improvement of about 22 percent.

Accurate or not, these scores are both pretty close to the 30 percent figure that Qualcomm cited. That may be meaningless, too. But there you go.

Regardless of benchmarks, I feel that the performance improvements are real and noticeable. And this improvement in the 850 suggests that Qualcomm’s next PC-centric processor, the Snapdragon 8cx, will offer even better performance. But in the less than good news department, neither of these chipsets solves the other major issue with Windows 10 on ARM, its incompatibility with 64-bit Win32 desktop applications (and Desktop Bridge apps) like Adobe Photoshop.

Notably, Qualcomm is working to get popular web browsers like Chromium (the basis for Chrome) and Firefox onto the platform. But getting past this major hurdle more broadly will require application makers to take the time and effort to port their wares to ARM64, assuming such a thing is even possible.

Success has a way of floating all boats. And if Qualcomm’s performance work pays off in the form of more users, anything is possible.

More soon.

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Conversation 23 comments

  • Pbike908

    07 December, 2018 - 4:42 pm

    <p>Nice review. I guess we'll have to wait for a year to find out the next chapter in this story — the 8cx chip. It doesn't look to me that Snapdragon 850 powered Windows machines are going to sell well.</p>

  • BigM72

    07 December, 2018 - 5:06 pm

    <p>Initially this is about Chromebook competitors – connected, long battery life, portable PCs that can do the basics fine. That's the mass market.</p><p>If it can do that, things like Photoshop are just a matter of time.</p>

    • Daishi

      Premium Member
      08 December, 2018 - 6:34 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#379643">In reply to BigM72:</a></em></blockquote><p>But that’s been the theory dating back to WP7 and a decade later it still hasn’t happened.</p><p><br></p><p>Microsoft has one card in the game worth playing and it has Win32 written on it. </p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      08 December, 2018 - 9:32 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#379643">In reply to BigM72:</a></em></blockquote><p>This platform may not have time. The issue is that this is "Windows," not "something that looks like Windows." And a Windows that doesn't run Windows applications is a support nightmare, and a real blocker for normal users.</p>

  • ecumenical

    07 December, 2018 - 5:32 pm

    <p>Re: benchmarks, it might be handy to run disk benchmarks as well (CrystalMark is in the MS Store) since a huge part of perceived "snappiness" comes from the disk speed, not the CPU.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      08 December, 2018 - 9:30 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#379646">In reply to ecumenical:</a></em></blockquote><p>I agree. I will do that and look into disk speed benchmarking more generally.</p>

  • dcdevito

    07 December, 2018 - 7:57 pm

    <p>Didn't qualcomm tease a 81xx series chip that was to succeed this one??</p>

    • Daishi

      Premium Member
      08 December, 2018 - 5:22 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#379681">In reply to dcdevito:</a></em></blockquote><p>That turned out just to be the preproduction code names for the new 855 phone chips.</p>

  • skane2600

    07 December, 2018 - 8:42 pm

    <p>IMO unless you are among the few that consider "epic battery life" your number one priority, this isn't a good choice. </p>

    • Greg Green

      08 December, 2018 - 9:35 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#379682">In reply to skane2600:</a></em></blockquote><p>An extra hour or two of battery life won’t seem like a bonus if you cumatively spend an extra hour or two waiting for apps to open.</p>

  • BBoileau

    Premium Member
    07 December, 2018 - 9:11 pm

    <p>I’m not sure why the manufacturers don’t just make one device that allows a choice of either Chrome or Microsoft and just let the end user choose. Isn’t it time our civilization move there. If the software companies colaborate and share as separate entities, with an effort to improve the user experience, everyone wins. </p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      08 December, 2018 - 9:30 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#379709">In reply to BBoileau:</a></em></blockquote><p>Microsoft doesn't allow that. But I agree that would makes sense for users.</p>

  • FalseAgent

    08 December, 2018 - 5:52 am

    <p>The fact that chromium alone is being made to run natively on ARM is a big deal. Lots of apps use electron – things like Discord, Spotify, Slack, WhatsApp desktop, it opens up the door to all of these running native on ARM, and it should be relatively trivial for devs to "port" their app.</p><p><br></p><p>And of course, the browser itself (chromium-based of Chrome itself) will allow for ARM devices to be far more viable than what was previously possible. It's not here yet but it sure feels like the progress being made is coming fast.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      08 December, 2018 - 9:33 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#379775">In reply to FalseAgent:</a></em></blockquote><p>I agree. Getting Chrome — or something that is basically Chrome in this case — is job one. It's the most popular Windows application by far. </p>

      • locust infested orchard inc

        08 December, 2018 - 2:54 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#379811">In reply to paul-thurrott:</a></em></blockquote><p>Chrime (pronounced: crime) is only popular by virtue of it being developed by the biggest search engine company in the World, which also has a mobile platform.</p><p><br></p><p>For the billions of users, Google is a saint; for those who know the inside story, have a more informed view of the reality.</p><p><br></p><p>With Microsoft ending developing its own HTML rendering engine in favour of Blink, and using Chromium as the basis of its next browser, I am hopeful Windows users will embrace Microsoft's efforts, thereby not bailing out Chrime on the desktop. This may lead to the eventual usage split of mobile browser and desktop browser.</p>

        • skane2600

          08 December, 2018 - 10:05 pm

          <blockquote><em><a href="#379898">In reply to locust infested orchard inc:</a></em></blockquote><p>Chrome was around for four years before Google had a mobile platform, so it's unlikely that its success was based on that. MS released IE 17 years before Chrome which seems to be a more relevant factor than Google's search dominance. It seems likely that Chrome succeeded simply because it was better. </p>

  • skborders

    08 December, 2018 - 10:00 am

    <p>I think the real problem here is the price of entry. You can buy a premium laptop with all day battery life for about the same money. 22hrs is nice but how often do you go without a place to plug in for more than a day.</p>

  • siv

    08 December, 2018 - 11:45 am

    <p>I am still trying to work out what the point of Windows on ARM is, is it to give all day battery life to Windows? If so then presumably this attains that. Or does it have to be all day battery life and great performance, or is it that, plus LTE connectivity? Given the price of this and as @skborders says in these comments is there really a need to have 24 hours away from a power socket? </p><p><br></p><p>I am beginning to wonder if ARM/Qualcomm are just coming up against the true physics of the matter, in that to get the performance you need there is just no way to get the battery life as the energy needed for that performance is too great to eek out 24 hours of battery life in a reasonably sized laptop?</p><p><br></p><p>Or is it that because the only way to run Win32 applications that are compiled for the x86 instruction set is to run through an emulator and that is where the horsepower is needed. Perhaps the answer is to come up with a way of converting the x86 Win32 applications to native ARM instructions in their binary form without the software houses needing to compile an ARM version?</p><p><br></p>

  • Tony Barrett

    08 December, 2018 - 1:51 pm

    <p>Still slow, expensive for what they are, hobbled by compatibility issues and generally pointless. I would expect most who bought a Windows on ARM device would be very disappointed with what they got, and 'stellar' battery life doesn't make any difference when you're ready to throw the thing out the window. The frustrations of owning one of these things would far outweigh any benefits at this time. </p>

  • robinsonmac

    08 December, 2018 - 2:22 pm

    <p>"But getting past this major hurdle more broadly will require application makers to take the time and effort to port their wares to ARM64, assuming such a thing is even possible" </p><p><br></p><p>MS just released Visual Studio 15.9 which will alow developers to recompile win32 or UWA apps to run natively on ARM architecture.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

    • skane2600

      08 December, 2018 - 9:52 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#379887">In reply to robinsonmac:</a></em></blockquote><p>I think we all know about the ARM compiler, but in general it's not going to be as simple as flipping a compiler switch and in some cases it will be impossible to do at all without a significant rewrite. Beyond the technical issues, what is supposed to motivate application makers to go the effort to port their programs? </p>

  • Stuart Thompson

    10 December, 2018 - 9:20 am

    <p>What is the reason that we won't have x64 application compatibility? In a previous article on here<img src=""> it stated that x64 will never happen but doesn't give a reason why?</p>

  • manbros

    03 May, 2019 - 8:06 am

    <p>I have used <a href="fairbizdeals.com" target="_blank">Lenovo</a> Yoga C630 personally and all things are tremendous. I got it using Lenovo Coupons from a website Fairbizdeals where I get 30% discount on it.</p>

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