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Snapdragon X Elite CPU has been put through its paces early – and appears to be every bit as strong as Qualcomm claims

The Snapdragon X Elite CPU delivers just as Qualcomm promised, at least according to an early review of the new Surface Laptop which has the chip as its engine.

Tom’s Hardware noticed the review of Microsoft’s new notebook in which Ryan Shrout (an ex-Intel exec on the graphics side) put the new Snapdragon X Elite through its paces and came away suitably impressed.

On X (formerly Twitter), Shrout observed that the Snapdragon X Elite is the “first ARM-based architecture SoC for Windows that doesn’t sacrifice fundamentals” and also that the “Snapdragon momentum *feels real* this time,” with both laptop makers and Microsoft being very vocal about their wins here.

Shrout compared the Surface Laptop with the Snapdragon X Elite to four other laptops, including past Surface models, an Intel (Meteor Lake) notebook and Apple’s MacBook Air 15-inch with M3.

The performance levels of the Snapdragon X Elite were pretty eye-opening, with for example the Qualcomm CPU beating Apple’s M3 and Intel’s Core Ultra 7 155H in Geekbench 6 – and by a decent distance too (those rivals managed 85% and 88% of the speed of the Snapdragon respectively).

Shrout also observed impressive thermals, with the Snapdragon X Elite managing its heat well, albeit not as ably as Apple’s M3. And of course Shrout witnessed excellent AI acceleration – though we fully expected that, as well as seriously good battery life, which was demonstrated as well.

Indeed, the Snapdragon X Elite won two battery longevity contests, beating all-comers for local video playback – the MacBook Air with M3 came closest to the Surface Laptop here, but was still found to have 16% less battery life.

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In the other tests, the Snapdragon X Elite proved solid with graphics, and did well with emulation, using Microsoft’s new Prism translation layer – the equivalent to Apple’s Rosetta.

Indeed, in testing with PugetBench Lightroom Classic, the Snapdragon equalled Intel’s Core Ultra 7, which is seriously impressive – though it was behind the Intel chip (and Apple M3) in Blender somewhat.

Analysis: A time for cautious optimism

Microsoft presenting Surface Laptop and Surface Pro devices.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Overall, this represents a compelling write-up for the strengths of the Snapdragon X Elite, underlining that Qualcomm wasn’t exaggerating with its earlier claims in pre-release press material. Mind you, the Snapdragon doesn’t win every battle by any means, and Intel’s Meteor Lake CPU and the Apple M3 more than hold their own in some tests against the ARM-based SoC.

Clearly, we must bear in mind that this is an early review published with Microsoft’s blessing, and we need to see further and deeper evaluations of the Surface Laptop, and Snapdragon X Elite, before we go leaping to conclusions. 

We’ll have our own thoughts ready for you in terms of reviews soon enough, but Shrout seems convinced (seasoning sprinkled around, as mentioned) that this might be Windows on ARM’s big moment, finally.

All that said, we also shouldn’t forget there are other big-hitting mobile CPUs incoming later this year, like Intel’s Lunar Lake, or AMD’s Strix Point (or indeed Apple’s M4). In short, it won’t be too long before the Snapdragon X Elite has some considerably more potent competition.

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