M1 Mac mini runs Windows 10 far faster than Microsoft Surface Pro X

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M1 Mac mini running Windows 10
Even with a workaround, Macs with Apple Silicon have good performance running Windows 10 for Arm.
Photo: Cult of Mac

New tests show relatively speedy performance for a Mac mini with an ARM-based Apple M1 processor running the ARM version of Windows 10. Even though the OS is running as a virtual machine, benchmarks show the device can handle X86 applications far faster than the Microsoft Surface Pro X, which also uses an ARM chip.

Martin Nobel did the experiment. “With the use of QEMU and Apple’s native hypervisor (Virtualisation.framework), we now have the ARM version of Windows 10 running as a virtual machine on the M1 Mac mini,” he said in video demonstration on YouTube.

He benchmarked the setup with Geekbench 5, and got some not-disappointing results. Windows 10 on the Mac mini pulled in a 1515 single-core score and a 4998 multi-core score. Nobel points out that on those same tests, the Surface Pro X natively running Windows 10 for Arm scored 793 and 3113, respectively.

Nobel’s results are good news for those hoping to run Windows 10 on an M1 Mac. Even running the operating system as a virtual machine, it’s faster than Microsoft’s own 2-in-1 tablet/laptop.

It’s worth noting that running Win10 as a virtual machine has a big impact on the performance of the Mac mini. Running macOS, the desktop gets 1705 single-core and 7387 multi-core scores on Geekbench 5.

Watch Martin Nobel’s full video to see more about his experience virtualizing Windows 10 on an M1 Mac.

M1 Macs could get Windows 10 for ARM

Ever since Apple started using Intel processors, macOS users have had the option to use Boot Camp to run Windows because the operating system was created for Intel chips. But the switch to Apple Silicon brought Boot Camp to an end.

However, Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, says his company did nothing to make  it impossible for Macs with the new M1 processor to run the version of Windows that Microsoft created to run on similar chips.

But there’s a snag. Nobel’s experiment required an insider preview version of Win10 because Microsoft doesn’t license Windows on ARM to individuals. It’s only available to companies that make PCs. That would have to change for an M1 version of Boot Camp to be possible.