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Microsoft’s Snapdragon X-Powered Surface Lineup Claims to Surpass Apple’s M3 MacBook Air

A New Era for ARM-Based Windows Laptops: Performance and Efficiency in the Spotlight

NEWS  Laptop  May 22, 2024  Reading time: 3 Minute(s)

mdo Max (RS editor)

In a bold move, Microsoft has announced that its Snapdragon X-powered Surface lineup outperforms Apple’s M3 MacBook Air by over 50% in sustained workloads. This assertion, made during a recent briefing attended by The Verge, is backed by battery efficiency tests that position the Surface devices as leaders in their class. Despite Apple's single-core performance advantage and a four-year head start in ARM-based laptops, the emerging rivalry is more complex than it seems.


Ever since Apple’s debut of the ARM-based M-series SoCs in 2020, which transformed the laptop market, PC enthusiasts have eagerly awaited a similar breakthrough for Windows laptops. With the launch of Snapdragon’s X Elite and X Plus-powered laptops, a significant shift in the Windows ecosystem appears imminent.

Performance Comparison: Multi-Core vs. Single-Core

Microsoft’s latest Surface devices claim to outperform the MacBook Air by over 50% in sustained workloads, aligning with benchmarks for the Snapdragon X Plus and Elite. The X Plus features six high-performance cores, while the X Elite boasts eight, compared to the M3's four. Even the M3 Pro, which competes closely with the X Elite, has only six high-performance cores.

However, Apple's M3 maintains a lead in single-core performance. This advantage is likely to widen with the anticipated release of M4-powered laptops later this year. Additionally, while the fanless MacBook Air relies on passive cooling, Surface products utilize active cooling, potentially enhancing sustained performance.

Compatibility Challenges and Solutions

A significant challenge for ARM-based Windows laptops is software compatibility. Apple's success with the x86 to ARM transition was facilitated by the efficient Rosetta 2 translation layer. Microsoft aims to replicate this success with its Prism emulator, which it claims matches Rosetta 2 in performance. If accurate, this would significantly ease the transition for users and developers, enhancing the appeal of ARM-based Windows PCs.


Battery Efficiency Tests: A New Benchmark

Battery life is another critical area where Microsoft’s Surface lineup excels. In web browsing and video playback tests, the ARM-based Surface outperformed both the Intel-based Surface Laptop 5 and the M3 MacBook Air. The results are impressive:

  • Intel-based Surface Laptop 5: Web Browsing - 8 Hours 38 Minutes, Video Playback - 12 Hours 30 Minutes
  • Surface CoPilot PC: Web Browsing - 16 Hours 56 Minutes, Video Playback - Over 20 Hours
  • MacBook Air M3: Web Browsing - 15 Hours 25 Minutes, Video Playback - 17 Hours 45 Minutes

These results, though conducted under controlled conditions, suggest significant improvements in battery efficiency for ARM-based Windows devices.

The Future of ARM-Based Windows Laptops

The promising advancements in Microsoft’s ARM-based Surface devices indicate a bright future for PC enthusiasts. These new offerings may finally provide the performance and efficiency benefits that MacBook users have enjoyed, potentially shifting the landscape of the laptop market.


As ARM-based Windows laptops continue to evolve, users can expect ongoing improvements in both performance and software compatibility. This development marks a pivotal moment in the tech industry, heralding a new era of innovation and competition between two tech giants.




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