Snapdragon X Elite is here to take on Intel and Apple’s processors. Announced during Snapdragon Summit 2023, the new mobile platform features the custom-integrated Qualcomm Oryon CPU — which promises to deliver up to 2 times faster CPU performance than the competition at one-third the power.
Utilizing the Qualcomm AI Engine, Snapdragon X Elite can run generative AI models with over 13 billion parameters on-device. The company claims the mobile platform has 4.5 times faster AI processing than its competitors. In addition to facilitating one’s productivity and creativity, the platform also promises to deliver “multiple days of battery life,” according to Qualcomm.
We won’t see what Snapdragon X Elite can do for the best laptops until mid-2024, but if the new Qualcomm chips live up to the company’s lofty promises, we could see a true rival to Apple’s M-series processors. If that happens, the best Windows laptops of the future could match the best MacBooks.
Here’s everything you need to know about Snapdragon X Elite.
Snapdragon X Elite: Availability
The first devices featuring Snapdragon X Elite chips won’t arrive until the middle of 2024 at the earliest, according to Qualcomm. We’ve yet to hear which manufacturers will produce devices featuring the new CPU, but I suspect partners such as Lenovo (which released the Snapdragon-driven Lenovo ThinkPad X13s) will be onboard.
You can't purchase it separately since Snapdragon X Elite is a mobile CPU. Prices for laptops with the X Elite processor will vary depending on the manufacturer and devices’ specs.
Snapdragon X Elite: Specs and performance
According to Qualcomm, Snapdragon X Elite is the “most powerful, intelligent, and efficient processor in its class for Windows.”
The chip is built on the same 4nm process as the announced Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. Snapdragon X Elite features 12 high-performance cores capable of hitting 3.8GHz — with dual-core boost up to 4.3GHz. Its CPU memory architecture has up to 136GB/s of bandwidth and 42MB total cache.
According to Qualcomm, the X Elite chip has up to two times faster CPU performance than competitors at the same power. As you can see in the graph above, said competitors are the 13th Gen Intel Core i7-1355U (10 cores) and i7-1360P (12 cores). The graph also claims that Qualcomm’s processor matches competitor peak PC performance at 68% less power than the aforementioned Intel CPUs. We see similar results when Qualcomm compares its upcoming chip against the Core i7-13800H (14 cores).
I’m sure you’re wondering how the Snapdragon X Elite might compare against Apple silicon. Qualcomm claims that the X Elite has 50% faster peak multi-threaded performance than M2. Apple’s M2 chips are some of the fastest processors out there, so it’ll be interesting to see what third-party testing reveals.
The integrated Adreno GPU supposedly “delivers stunning graphics for immersive entertainment.” It offers support for 4K displays at 120Hz and HDR10. It also has triple UHD (4K) and dual-5K external display support. This should be good news for those with multi-monitor setups.
According to the graph above, the Adreno GPU has up to 2 times faster integrated GPU performance than the Core i7-13800H CPU with its Intel Xe Graphics. The graph also claims Qualcomm’s processor matches its competitor’s peak PC performance at 74% less power. In comparison to the AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS, the graph shows up to 80% faster CPU performance and 80% less power consumption.
Qualcomm’s claims are impressive. However, we’ll need to get a laptop running on a Snapdragon X Elite chip into our testing lab to see how the best PC games run on those devices.
Snapdragon X Elite: Qualcomm AI engine
Given the recent interest in AI, it’s not surprising that Qualcomm is emphasizing the AI and machine learning features of the Snapdragon X Elite. We heard similar discussions when the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip was announced, but the company seems to be pushing AI even more this time around — which is par for the course these days in the tech industry.
Getting down to specifics, the Qualcomm AI Engine is powered by an upgraded Hexagon NPU capable of 75 TOPS (trillion operations per second). It’s capable of running generative AI LLM (large language models) over 13B parameters on-device at 4.5 times faster speeds than the competition, according to Qualcomm.
The updated Micro NPU inside the Qualcomm Sensing Hub features enhanced security, privacy, and the ability to wake the device when in sleep mode. The Qualcomm AI Engine also supports Windows Studio Effects and other AI-accelerated applications. Support for INT4 precision should also bolster performance-per-watt by 68%.
In simple terms, this should provide faster text responses and image generation when you're using AI. Qualcomm says its updated AI engine is faster than the competition, but we'll need to put that claim to the test ourselves.
Snapdragon X Elite: Outlook
The Snapdragon X Elite platform seems like a promising alternative to Intel and Apple’s processors, at least based on what Qualcomm provided. Raw computational power is great, but I personally want to see how devices packing an X Elite chip enhance the overall experience. Specifically, I’m interested in seeing how the updated Qualcomm AI Engine compares to ChatGPT and similar tools.
We need to wait until the middle of next year to see what this new mobile CPU can really do. Stay tuned for further updates as we hear them.