The MacBook Pro might finally have some competition as Microsoft's Qualcomm X Elite-powered Surface Laptop 6's benchmarks leak

A MacBook Pro 16-inch
(Image credit: iMore)

For some time now portable Macs, powered by Apple silicon, have ruled the roost. There are faster chips out there, even faster than the Ultra versions of the M-series chips, but Apple's have one key advantage — they can be extremely fast without destroying battery life or generating incredible levels of heat. But there could be new competition on the way.

Qualcomm is the company that Apple has been desperately trying to ditch for years. It's the company that builds the modems that go into iPhones and iPads and Apple is thought to be working on its own modem so it can have more control over its products. But while Qualcomm is readying itself to lose Apple's custom, it's getting ready to compete with it in new areas.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite is a new chip that will power laptops of all kinds and it has its sights set firmly on Apple and its own in-house chips. Now, one machine apparently running a Snapdragon X Elite has been through its paces and the benchmark scores suggest that Apple's place at the top of the pile might be in question. And an old Apple adversary is involved, too.

Competitive silicon

The benchmark figures were shared by Windows Latest and appear to be for what many believe is a rebadged Microsoft Surface Laptop 6. The benchmark results show an OEMBR OEMBR laptop, but it's thought that's simply Microsoft's way of hiding which machine is being tested.

All of that's interesting in itself, but the more notable point from this news comes in the form of the benchmark scores. Running Windows 11, the Surface Laptop 6 scores around 1,730 in single-core testing and around 13,900 in multi-core tests. Both scores are respectable, especially when compared to Apple's M3 Pro.

To put the figures into perspective, an M3 Pro 14-inch MacBook Pro scores 3,125 in single-core and 15,124 in multi-core tests while the larger 16-inch MacBook Pro manages scores that are almost identical, as you'd expect.

Other specifications of note for this new Surface Laptop 6 include 16GB of RAM and the fact that the Snapdragon X Elite it sports has a 12-core configuration.

While the Snapdragon X Lite doesn't seem to be able to best the M3 Pro here, it's definitely a better option than the Intel chips that were used previously. That mimics Apple's experience throughout the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lineups and should be a concern for Intel and its shareholders. The company does have a stranglehold on server-side silicon, but its place in laptops continues to come under fire — especially in machines where a trade-off between performance and battery life is important. For machines that will spend all of their time plugged in and can draw as much power as they want, the conversation might be slightly different.

Microsoft isn't expected to announce the Surface Laptop just yet, but we're told that an unveiling is likely to happen in September of October. It'll be very interesting to see how this laptop performs in the real world and we can expect plenty of comparisons between it and Apple's laptops, too.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.