Microsoft’s new Arm laptops might surpass M3 MacBook Air performance


Apple's M3 chip
Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon X Elite CPU might be faster than Apple's M3 chip.
Photo: Apple

Microsoft’s upcoming “AI PCs” might finally rival the performance of Apple’s latest MacBook Air. The new Arm-based Windows laptops, due for unveiling at a special event on May 20, will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite processors.

Reportedly, the new Qualcomm CPU is faster than the M3 MacBook Air in CPU tasks, AI acceleration and app emulation.

New Arm-based Windows AI PCs could finally beat MacBook Air

After switching to Apple silicon in late 2020, MacBooks have delivered significantly better performance and efficiency than Windows laptops. The gap has only grown since then.

In contrast, Microsoft has been claiming for years that its Arm-based Windows laptops will rival the performance of the latest MacBook Air — but had little to show for it. This was primarily due to the Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU not delivering the expected performance.

Microsoft’s upcoming Snapdragon X Elite-powered “AI PCs,” scheduled for a May 20 launch, might change this. The Verge says Microsoft is upbeat about the new CPU’s performance. The company will deliver several demos showing its newest laptops outperforming the M3 MacBook Air.

Apparently, the new PCs will provide faster app emulation than Rosetta 2, Apple’s compatibility layer for running Intel apps on modern Macs. This should enable Windows apps designed for 64-bit Intel x86 CPUs to offer the same level of performance when running on Arm-based Windows laptops.

Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 might also use Snapdragon X Elite CPU

Microsoft reportedly will switch to the Snapdragon X Elite CPU in its upcoming Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 as well. The company already unveiled the business variant of the two devices, which feature Intel Core Ultra processors. However, the consumer models will use a Qualcomm CPU.

Performance is just one of the many aspects of a laptop. The upcoming Snapdragon X Elite-powered Windows PCs might beat the M3 MacBook Air in some tasks. But it remains to be seen whether these devices will have a sleek design and long battery life like Apple’s offering.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.