Qualcomm has this week unveiled its blazing hot new Snapdragon X Elite chips, a platform featuring Qualcomm’s new Oryon CPU that the company says is “the most powerful computing processor it has ever created for the PC.” What’s more, Qualcomm says the chip outperforms Apple’s M2 chip by 50% in peak multi-thread performance, there’s just one problem with that claim. Actually, there are two, but first, what are those claims?
Qualcomm says the new Oryon CPU “delivers up to 2 times faster CPU performance versus the competition, matching competitor peak performance with one-third of the power.” It also says that it’s a chip built for AI and “capable of running generative AI models with over 13 billion parameters on-device” and offers “4.5 times faster AI processing power” compared to its competitors.
Qualcomm’s press release promises “best-in-class CPU performance, leading on-device AI inferencing, and one of the most efficient processors in a PC with up to multiple days of battery life.” Reading into the tech specs reveals the Snapdragon X Elite has 12 cores clocked up to 3.8GHz, with single and dual-core boost up to 4.3 GHz. The GPU on board is Qualcomm’s Adreno (which sounds like a sports hydration drink laced with adrenaline, but I digress) that supports DirectX 12 and delivers up to 4.6 TFLOPS of power. It also has LPDDR5x memory, bandwidth of 136 GB/s, and up to 64GB capacity. In short, these chips are very powerful and are specifically designed for Windows laptops. As our friends at PC Gamer note Qualcomm is trying to convert PC gamers from x86 to Arm. That’s bad news for Intel, but should Apple be worried too?
Best-in-class PR - iMore’s take
Qualcomm says that its Snapdragon X Elite will batter the Intel Core i7 range on Geekbench 6, delivering “2x faster CPU performance” and 68% less power draw. However, Qualcomm’s aforementioned claim that it delivers 50% more peak multi-thread performance than Apple’s M2 chip, conveniently ignores the fact that the M2 chip only has an 8-core CPU. Keen mathematicians will note that is 50% fewer cores than the Snapdragon, which happens to be 50% faster, more than a technicality.
The Snapdragon X Elite line is also built using the 4nm manufacturing process, which is more advanced than the older 5nm process used in M2, which came out over a year ago.
Qualcomm also claims that the CPU beats the M2 Max chip used in Apple’s best MacBooks and the Mac Studio, all while using 30% less power. This is a much fairer comparison of two chips that both actually have 12 cores, and will be a much more impressive point score over Apple should the claim hold up. However, this leads us to a more pressing issue.
Apple is hosting a Mac event in just a few days' time, and its October 30 “Scary Fast” offering is expected to debut all-new M3 chips, and possibly M3 Pro and Max variants, built on the even-newer and more powerful 3nm process. It’s the same process used in the iPhone 15 Pro’s A17 Pro chip, and if Apple is able to deliver the performance gains we’re hoping for, it’ll reset the clock on most of Qualcomm’s claims about its smart new chip. That’s not to say the Snapdragon X Elite isn’t good, far from it. Indeed, competition in this space is excellent and will push Apple to go even further in the future, but it might be worth reserving judgment until November. Furthermore, we’re expecting Apple’s new M3-powered Macs to debut very soon, perhaps just a week or two after the event. Qualcomm’s new offering won’t start showing up in Windows laptops until next year.
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9