Microsoft believes Snapdragon X Elite is about to beat MacBook Air M3

Microsoft Surface Pro 10
(Image credit: Microsoft)

So far, companies like Intel and AMD have fought for the AI PC throne, but have fallen just short of what Apple silicon is capable of — not just in terms of AI-driven tasks, but in terms of CPU and GPU performance.

Well, that could be all about to change, as internal documents leaked to The Verge show that Microsoft is very confident that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite chip can beat Apple’s M3 MacBook Air. Not only that, but at next month's Build event, the company looks set to drop the consumer version of the Surface Pro 10 that packs this ARM chipset.

Pre-planning the victory lap

Microsoft Surface Pro 10

(Image credit: Microsoft)

It’s been a long road to get here, with many attempts like the Microsoft SQ1 and SQ2 chips co-developed by Qualcomm failing to live up to the hype. But the two companies believe that all the ducks are perfectly in a row for this to be the moment Apple falls behind.

Specifically, these new X Elite laptops look set to conquer the M3 Air in both CPU performance, AI tasks and app emulation. That latter one has always been a thorn in the side of Windows on ARM — with x64 emulation always being a little slow and buggy. 

But according to the internal documents, these new Windows AI PCs look set to get “faster app emulation than Rosetta 2,” which is Apple’s own compatibility layer to get Intel apps running on its own silicon.

In fact, the confidence is so strong that Microsoft is lining up a number of face-off demos between its Snapdragon systems and the M3 Air to back up this lofty claim.

Going Apple picking

M3 MacBook Air

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Windows on ARM has been given the shot in the arm (pun very much intended) that it so desperately needs to match up to the magnificence that has been the performance and power efficiency of Apple’s M chips.

As many of you know, this hasn’t been the first time Microsoft has flirted with ARM, but this seems to be the moment that Qualcomm has finally cracked it, and you can expect to see the company go big at next month’s Build event — reportedly announcing the consumer version of Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 sporting Snapdragon X Elite chips (told you).

Based on what we’ve seen so far, color me excited because the silicon war is truly beginning to heat up, and that’s a good thing for us.

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Jason England
Managing Editor — Computing

Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a Managing Editor of Computing at Tom's Guide. He has previously written for Laptop Mag, Tom's Hardware, Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.

  • dstrauss
    I hope the tech press is on its toes and documents everything, because the May 4 event will NOT be live streamed - better to hide your hiccups that way...

    Of course, Apple is even better - they meticulously video and edit (no matter how may "takes" it takes) their presentations these days.