Microsoft's Surface ARM laptop performance catches up to MacBook Air, but 2022's MacBook Pro is still king

Surface Pro 11
(Image credit: Microsoft)

The transition to Apple Silicon has been transformative for the Mac lineup, so it's no wonder Microsoft has attempted to catch up for the last few years.

It's not all been plain-sailing for the tech giant, however, but when revealing its new Surface devices earlier this year it promised to outperform the MacBook Air.

New benchmarks from The Verge confirm that Microsoft has hit that target, noting "This is the fiercest Microsoft has been able to compete with MacBooks in price, performance, and battery life, and while Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips don’t outright beat Apple’s M3 chip (with an eight-core CPU and 10-core GPU) in every single one of our benchmarks, they could make Intel and AMD scramble to catch up to another competitor — this time, on their home turf."

I'd encourage you to read the full benchmarks, but the long and short of it is that the new Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite X1E-80-100 chip (doesn't quite roll off the tongue like M3, does it?) is impressive in multiple machines it's been tested in.

MacBook Pro still dominant

Naturally, the MacBook Air is only one side of Apple's laptop lineup, and the MacBook Pro, with the M2 Max (from 2022) or last year's M3 Max chips, will still dominate their X Elite counterparts for Cinebench multicore performance, and even in terms of GPU performance.

The Verge says "Integrated GPUs aren’t great for gaming, 3D rendering, or any other heavy graphical workloads, and that includes all of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X chips. (Apple’s integrated GPUs are an exception, especially as they scale up; the massive 40-core GPU on the MacBook Pro M3 Max blows past AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm.)"

Elsewhere, Microsoft's Prism emulator for running apps on its ARM hardware isn't quite up to the levels of Rosetta 2 according to The Verge, while battery life is a much closer fought contest - but the M3 Air still comes out on top.

MacBook Air M3 | $1099 at Apple

MacBook Air M3 | $1099 at Apple

The current king of MacBook Airs, this laptop is a portable powerhouse for everyday tasks.

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Lloyd Coombes

Lloyd Coombes is a freelance writer with a specialism in Apple tech. From his first, hand-me-down iMac, he’s been working with Apple products for over a decade, and while he loves his iPhone and Mac, the iPad will always have his heart for reasons he still can’t quite fathom. Since moving from blogging to writing professionally, Lloyd’s work can be found at TechRadar, Macworld, TechAdvisor and plenty more. He’s also the Editor in Chief at, and on the rare occasion he’s not writing you’ll find him spending time with his son, or working hard at the gym (while wearing an Apple Watch, naturally). You can find him on Twitter @lloydcoombes.