The results are in: First Snapdragon X Elite benchmark tests reveal how it compares to Intel and Apple

qualcomm snapdragon x elite on laptop
(Image credit: Qualcomm)

On Monday, Microsoft unveiled the Surface Pro 11 and Surface Laptop 7 — the first devices featuring the highly-anticipated Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite processor.

While performance specs for this powerful new AI CPU have been rumored for months, nothing was confirmed until this week. We finally have the first benchmarks for the Snapdragon X Elite, including comparisons to Apple's MacBook Air M3. 

The Surface Pro 11 and Surface Laptop 7 are the first in a new wave of Copilot+ PCs from Microsoft and partners like Dell, Lenovo, and ASUS. The Neural Processing Unit (NPU) in the Snapdragon X Elite, which helps to power these new laptops, allows Copilot+ PCs to deliver longer battery life and smoother performance, along with a suite of AI tools and features. 

How does the Snapdragon X Elite stack up in benchmark testing, though? Is it as good in practice as it sounds on paper? Here's a look at the numbers, from battery life to gaming.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 6 with Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite facing towards camera with display on

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The results are in: First Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite benchmarks

The first hands-on benchmark testing for the Snapdragon X Elite was released this week after Microsoft announced its new Surface devices ahead of Microsoft Build. While Microsoft commissioned the testing, it was performed by a third-party lab, Signal65

They tested the Snapdragon X Elite configuration of the new Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, which is priced at $1699. Signal65 performed the same tests on the 15-inch MacBook Air M3, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 with an Intel 12th Gen Core i7, and the MSI Prestige 16 EVO AI with an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H. 

There were a couple of categories where the Surface Laptop 7 came out on top, but the competition with the MacBook Air M3 was closer than expected. The Surface Laptop 7 excelled on battery life, lasting 58% longer than the Surface Laptop 5 and 16% longer than the MacBook Air M3, which came in second place.

(Image credit: Signal65 Labs)

The Surface Laptop 7 also outperformed the competition on the multi-thread Geekbench 6.3 test, scoring 12% higher than the MSI Prestige 16 AI EVO and 15% higher than the MacBook Air M3. However, the MacBook was the champ in the single-thread Geekbench 6.3 test, scoring 15% higher than the Surface Laptop 7. 

The Surface Laptop 7 lagged in almost every other test, as well. The MSI Prestige 16 EVO AI scored 40% higher on the Handbrake 1.7.3 media transcoding test. The MacBook Air M3 outpaced the Surface Laptop 7 by 40% on the Speedometer v3.0 web browsing test. The MSI Prestige 16 EVO AI and the MacBook Air M3 both outperformed the Surface Laptop 7 in graphics tests, as well. 

AI is the one area where the Surface Laptop 7 had a significant edge. The Surface Laptop 7 showed 48% more NPU performance than the MacBook Air M3 in the Procyon AI Computer Vision test. This category is important to note since AI is a major focus of Microsoft's new Copilot+ PCs, including the Surface Laptop 7. 

Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite sticker on a Microsoft Surface Laptop deck with Copilot key.

(Image credit: Rael Hornby / Laptop Mag)

Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite in practice

The first round of test results for the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite paint a curious picture: excellent AI performance mixed with middling results in almost everything else.

While we won't get a detailed idea of how the Snapdragon X Elite performs until we review one of the new Copilot+ PCs, there have been some demos this week during Microsoft Build that hint at what it's everyday performance could be like. 

For instance, Microsoft showed gaming demos of Baldur's Gate 3 and Borderlands 3 running on the Qualcomm Snapdragon Developer's Kit. Both games were able to run at 30 FPS.

That's low by gaming laptop standards, but still completely playable. The demo also included support for auto Super Resolution, which uses AI to deliver up to 60% faster FPS. 

Signal65's testing also included gaming. They were able to run Cyberpunk 2077, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Borderlands 3 at 1080p on the Surface Laptop 7, which is fairly good.

However, they reported keeping the graphics quality on "low" and noted that the Surface Laptop 7 couldn't run games that require kernel-level anti-cheat software, such as Fortnite.

Outlook

Judging by these early demos and test results, it looks like the Snapdragon X Elite may be great for AI and productivity tasks, but struggle with gaming and graphics-heavy tasks. Microsoft may be planning ahead to address that issue, though.

Popular GPU manufacturer NVIDIA announced on Tuesday that it will be making RTX GPUs for Copilot+ PCs in the coming months. This could be the perfect complement to the Snapdragon X Elite, offering a boost in graphics performance that would be helpful for many AI tasks as well as gaming. 

It will be interesting to see how the addition of NVIDIA GPUs impacts performance and battery life on future Snapdragon X Elite devices. Even in areas where the MacBook Air M3 outperformed the Surface Laptop 7, the results were often close. The addition of a dedicated GPU could give the Snapdragon X Elite an edge. 

However, it's worth noting that these initial benchmarks and demos don't include comparisons to Apple's latest processor, the M4 chip, which is currently only available in the iPad Pro. Will it dethrone the Snapdragon X Elite when it comes to the MacBook? We'll have to wait and see. 

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Stevie Bonifield
Freelance Writer

Stevie Bonifield is a freelance tech journalist specializing in keyboards, peripherals, gaming gear, and mobile tech. Outside of writing, Stevie loves indie games, photography, and building way too many custom keyboards