Microsoft confident Snapdragon X Elite will defeat M3 MacBook Air laptops — prepares demos to showcase this and will put the chip into Surface laptops

Microsoft designing new Arm chip
(Image credit: Qualcomm / Microsoft)

Microsoft is putting all of its weight behind Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon X Elite, and expects it to outperform Apple's competing M3 silicon — at least in certain workloads. The Verge reports that the trillion-dollar software and hardware behemoth is extremely confident in Qualcomm's new CPU and is planning several demos for its upcoming AI PC event in Seattle that will show the Snapdragon chip outperforming Apple's M3-equipped MacBook Air laptops.

These demos Microsoft is putting together supposedly won't just show the Snapdragon Elite X beating the Apple M3 in a single metric, but will show superiority across several workloads — including AI acceleration and app emulation. In fact, Microsoft claims that Windows devices sporting the X Elite chip will have faster app emulation than Rosetta 2, the compatibility layer Apple uses on its ARM-based CPUs to run x64 apps that don't have an ARM flavor.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft is also reportedly planning to use the Snapdragon X Elite in its upcoming Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 rather than Intel's competing Core Ultra Meteor Lake processors. However, these chips will be for consumer versions of the Surface devices. We already know that Microsoft's business counterparts will be sticking with Intel Core Ultra CPUs.

There's plenty of evidence to back up Microsoft's confidence. The Snapdragon X Elite is proving to be one of the most capable ARM-based consumer CPUs we've ever seen outside of Apple silicon. Several leaked Geekbench results already indicate the Snapdragon X Elite is on par with and even outperforming Intel's previous generation Core i7 and Core i9 Raptor Lake mobile CPUs, as well as AMD's latest Ryzen 9 8945HS flagship.

Qualcomm has also unveiled impressive performance figures for its new ARM CPU, even going so far as to show it outperforming the Apple M3 by a noticeable margin in Geekbench. Qualcomm senior VP and GM of compute and gaming at Qualcomm Kedar Kondap told us that the company believes its work on the X Elite is a pivotal moment, going on to say that the performance of the Snapdragon X Elite is something we haven't seen before in terms of leadership, technology, and power efficiency.

The Snapdragon X Elite is built using TSMC's 4nm process and is equipped with 12 Oryon performance cores that turbo up to 4.3GHz. There are no efficiency cores in the chip, and it's rated at up to 4.6TFLOPs of GPU performance and 45 TOPS of AI performance from its neural processing unit (NPU). Qualcomm claims the chip has 2X faster multi-threaded performance than Intel's i7-1360P and Apple M2, while consuming just one-third the power.

We'll have to wait and see if Microsoft's demos truly deliver what the company wants to accomplish. It's a safe bet Microsoft's will be able to show superior performance to the M3, but the question will be whether the demonstrated performance will extend beyond the specific use cases and apply to standard workloads. Microsoft's AI PC event reportedly starts next month in Seattle.

Aaron Klotz
Freelance News Writer

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • Giroro
    Windows on ARM. All the look/feel/customizability/tracking of Windows 11 (which people love) - without any of that pesky software support to hold it back,

    I'm sure it will be tremendously popular.
    Giroro said:
    Windows on ARM. All the look/feel/customizability/tracking of Windows 11 (which people love) - without any of that pesky software support to hold it back,

    I'm sure it will be tremendously popular.
    The software issue seems to be much improved from what I can see running it in VM WARE Fusion on my M3 macbook air. Everything I've tried has worked. Even games. They might have finally found a goood way to translate/emulate X86 code.
  • bit_user
    Heh, imagine building a "hackintosh" out of one of these Snapdragon PCs...