Microsoft testing shows Surface Laptop 7 besting the MacBook Air M3 - but what about M4?

A shot of the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 being used outside on a table
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In the run up to the June 18 debut of Microsoft's Surface Laptop 7 the company has spent a considerable amount of effort comparing its new Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite X-powered computers to the Apple MacBook Air M3

That includes pitting the pair against each other in a series of performance benchmarks at Microsoft HQ in Washington last month during Microsoft's Build 2024 developer conference. The Verge has compiled those results and shown that despite some skirting by Microsoft, the Surface Laptop 7 beats the Air M3 in Cinebench and Geekbench 6 multi-threaded CPU performance benchmarks. 

The Surface Laptop's Cinebench score came in at 980 compared to 650 for the Air, while the Geekbench score was 14,000 compared to 12,000 for the MacBook. Not bad, but not significantly better either. 

The more interesting results here are those from the HandBrake ToS test, which measures how long the computer takes to encode a 4K video. The Surface laptop bested the Air M3 by a minute and a half. 

On battery life, the web browsing tests Microsoft showed had the Surface Laptop lasting for 16 hours and 56 minutes, compared to 15 hours 25 minutes for the Air. Video playback lasted even longer, 20 hours for the Surface and 17 hours 45 minutes for the Air. 

For those who are interested in AI performance, Microsoft claims that the Snapdragon X Elite NPU is 2x faster than the AI acceleration tasks in M3. However, it should be noted that the M3 is being scrapped specifically so Apple can focus on AI with the M4 chip. 

Again, all of these are score claims made by Microsoft. 

Two things raise flags in Microsoft’s crusade against the Air M3. The Surface features fans which can help with performance, while the Air M3 does not. Also, Microsoft did not compare the Surface Laptop against the MacBook Pro M3, which does have fans.

Also, Apple just released the new M4 chip, which should be faster and more AI-capable. The chip debuted in the iPad Pro 2024 earlier this year, and will presumably power the next generation of MacBooks announced this fall or potentially at WWDC 2024, which starts June 10. The M4 chip has performed extremely well in Geekbench 6 tests, so we’ll have to see how Qualcomm’s chips measure up.

We’ll be getting the new Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 in for testing soon and will be sure to run our own battery of tests to see how the new Copilot+ PC laptops hang outside of a Microsoft environment. 

More from Tom's Guide

Scott Younker
West Coast Reporter

Scott Younker is the West Coast Reporter at Tom’s Guide. He covers all the lastest tech news. He’s been involved in tech since 2011 at various outlets and is on an ongoing hunt to build the easiest to use home media system. When not writing about the latest devices, you are more than welcome to discuss board games or disc golf with him.