Benchmarks show Apple M1 runs Windows 10 faster than Surface Pro X

Apple Silicon
Apple Silicon (Image credit: Apple)

Apple Silicon

Source: Apple (Image credit: Source: Apple)

What you need to know

  • An AWS engineer has run Windows 10 on Apple's M1 chip using virtualization software.
  • Benchmarks reveal that Apple's M1 chip blows the Surface Pro X out of the water when it comes to performance.

An AWS Engineer has run Windows 10 on Apple's M1 Chip using virtualization software, absolutely destroying the Surface Pro X's benchmarks in the process.

As we reported last week:

While it is currently not officially supported by Microsoft, a developer has successfully virtualized the ARM version of Windows on an Apple silicon-based Mac. As reported by The 8-Bit, Alexandar Graf posted on Twitter that he was able to accomplish the feat using the QEMU virtualizer.

Now, benchmarks posted on Thanksgiving weekend show that the benchmarks of the Apple M1 whilst running Windows, and the results are insane.

As reported by ZDNet:

A developer using the handle @imbushuo on Twitter has posted Geekbench versions 4 and 5 scores that compare Windows 10 on Arm on an M1 computer with the Microsoft-made Surface Pro X.Windows on an M1 got a single-core score of 1,288 and multi-core score of 5,685 whereas the Surface Pro X's scores were roughly 800 and 3,000 in those respective benchmarks. Per MSpoweruser, the Surface Pro X benchmark was made using the SQ2 Arm-based chip that was co-developed by Qualcomm and Microsoft for Microsoft's latest Surface Pro X computers.

As the report notes, whilst these results are probably not conclusive, early indications are that Apple's new M1 chips can run Windows on ARM better than Microsoft can, which would be quite something. The full results are included in @imbusho's tweet below:

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45 Comments
  • Well, if it can run circles around nearly any other x86 chip in other tasks, it's not surprising that it can run Windows 10 better, too. A new Apple Macbook with a virtualized Windows 10 environment emulating x86 (and x64) apps with excellent performance is a pretty awesome incentive for me to try out a Mac for the first time ever. Speaking of which, I also read that Apple manages to emulate x86 better not just because of better emulation software but also because they designed their M1 chip to lend itself better to emulating x86 instructions, which is something that Qualcomm and Microsoft would be behooved to implement as well to make Windows 10 on ARM emulate x86/x64 better. Source: https://twitter.com/marcan42/status/1328940799082569729?s=20
  • While this is definitely compelling positive news for the M1, it looks like the emulation was of the ARM version of Windows. So this is really saying that the Apple silicon runs Windows on ARM better than Qualcomm silicon. That's not really comparing to the x86/x64 versions of Windows yet, which are still much better optimized for most tasks people do in Windows. Also, the Pro X is intentionally focused on portability and battery life, not performance. Does it say which of the Apple systems running the M1 was used for the test? Is this the well-cooled version or the lower-powered more portable version?
  • It doesn't compare the x86/x64 version of Windows, but remember than Windows on ARM can currently emulate x86 apps and will be able to emulate x64 apps in the future, soon. The point I was making in my original post is that Qualcomm could take a page out of Apple's book and work with Microsoft to make a special Snapdragon chip for the Surface Pro X that, from a hardware standpoint, can boost x86 emulation performance in the same way Apple has done. That will make the Surface Pro X perform better and still retain its portability and battery life, the dream. It's all speculation, though, and it remains to be seen how they will respond.
  • No they couldn't. Qualcomm would have to license Apple's ARM designs.
  • It is not simply the chip. Apple has an optimized design for RAM and I/O. It is not very adaptable and is not PC like. I do not see how Microsoft can copy Apple without angering PC vendors but they may have to. It will be interesting to see what Qualcomm, Intel, and AMD come up with. Microsoft has no reason to care either way. All they want to do is sell Software. What is runs on does not really matter.
  • Yeah exactly. People are conflating different products with different goals. "Also, the Pro X is intentionally focused on portability and battery life, not performance." Exactly! "So this is really saying that the Apple silicon runs Windows on ARM better than Qualcomm silicon." This is exactly all it's saying but Faster, not Better.
  • Agree, and it is more about Apple chip design vs Qualcomm, than an Apple vs MS
  • The M1 provides terrific battery life too as shown by the new Macbooks. Apple simply has one of the best SoC designs around.
  • "Well, if it can run circles around nearly any other x86 chip in other tasks, it's not surprising that it can run Windows 10 better, too." Wrong. Windows 10 clocks faster on a synthetic benchmark better than on Surface Pro X. No suggestion it makes Windows 10 run any better. Which I doubt very much. "A new Apple Macbook with a virtualized Windows 10 environment emulating x86 (and x64) apps with excellent performance is a pretty awesome incentive for me to try out a Mac for the first time ever." That isn't what this is saying at all. And how would it manage this when Windows doesn't support emulating x64 apps exactly?
  • "Well, if it can run circles around nearly any other x86 chip in other tasks, it's not surprising that it can run Windows 10 better, too. ", that is a bit to short-sighted I think. I would formulate it as x86 Intel u chips and in synthetic benchmarks / VM. While M1 is still slightly more energy efficient, eg AMD Ryzen cpu's provide very competitive performance.
  • I know Microsoft doesn't want to design an ARM chip themselves, but Qualcomm, Intel, and AMD have not been able to catch up to Apple chip in the last 5 years at least. And if the market is shifting to ARM chips they are going to have to step in and do something.
  • And they don't need to. Samsung is still the biggest phone manufacturer despite using Qualcomm processors. Windows will remain the dominant desktop operating system despite sticking with Intel. It just tells us M1 is powerful. Which we already knew.
  • You're joking about AMD, right? See this 8-month old Ryzen laptop beat the new M1 https://youtu.be/y_jw38QD5qY Btw, I own an M1 Mac but I acknowledge it isn't the answer to everything.
  • I'm not an engineer so I don't want to outright dismiss his claims. However, I'm always a bit suspicious when I hear virtualized benchmarks. Knowing it's running virtualized makes me wonder if the score would be different if the drivers/software were being run straight off the actual hardware. That said... no one should be surprised by this. We already knew that SQ1 couldn't hold a candle to the M1. The M1 being able to run "x" software better than an inferior processor is the least surprising thing in the world.
  • "Knowing it's running virtualized makes me wonder if the score would be different if the drivers/software were being run straight off the actual hardware." It would generally be better without the virtualization layer. AFAIK there is NO case where virtualization outperforms any current hardware.
  • Well put HeyCori. Exactly man.
  • A high-end Apple M1 chip is compared with mid-level Intel & Qualcomm chip. What do you expect? [Qualcomm doesn't have any high end chips like Apple M1 vs A bionics]
  • well that's embarrassing, humiliating and frustrating , how can a chip designed for another operating system runs windows 10 ARM better than a purpose build device like surface pro X ,which was supposed to show the best of windows 10 ARM?
    it seems that QUALCOMM can not make a cpu good enough for desktop use for the moment.
  • Because Microsoft sq2 is just an overclocked Snapdragon 855.which is basically a 2 year old chip made for mobile phones unlike apple m1 or apple's ax chips for iPads. Until Qualcomm doesn't design a proper laptop or tablet chip like apple m1 or AX , windows on arm devices like surface pro x just can't prove it's true value.
  • It's not clear from this report (maybe someone else knows the rest of the details), but this could be the MacBook Pro or Mac Mini, which are much beefier systems than the Pro X (and much less portable). Also, as an AWS VM, this could be an even more powerful system than those Apple is actually selling. So this isn't necessarily a strike against MS any more than showing a high-end Xeon Intel chip will outperform the latest Ryzen 5 series processors would be a strike against AMD or comparing an AMD Threadripper against an Intel Core i3. Based on this report, we just don't have enough information to draw any conclusions at all, except that the M1 chip is not a joke. This does demonstrate that it's at least a capable contender. But I think we already knew that.
  • Because it doesn't. It's a synthetic benchmark ran on a virtualised environment. It only tells you the numbers. People are getting fixated on numbers.
  • He actually did not "get it to run" he got it to kinda boot in a VM and kinda run some specific benchmarks that run native on ARM and don't reflect how the OS actually works.
    He could NOT get any windows drivers to load, or the GPU to work, or any Windows programs to run.
    So "it runs faster on M1" is not actually true.
    I have no doubt that the M1 is a stellar piece of kit, but this is just not a true statement as Apple's boot protections and hardware encryption means it is only virtualizing SOME of the functions of W10 and will never run "native" on the chip like W10 can on the Intel hardware.
    SQ1 and SQ2 are not optimized anyway and future ARM chips will work much, much better once native x64 support starts working on W10 for ARM.
    So, it's an "interesting Hack" but not really news.
  • Hopefully Qualcomm will come up with more powerful version of Snapdragon 888 instead of straight up using same chip as 8cx gen3. Ideally Snapdragon 888 should replace 8c chip & more powerful version of Snapdragon 888 with big cores should replace 8cx gen2 for premium devices like surface pro x.
  • May as well stuff 2-4 Cortex X1 cores in there ... But even then the preliminary X1 scores don't come close to the M1 albeit the X1 was not running at a very high clock rate. The 8cx & SQ1/2 seem to be just minor tweaks of the 855 though. Qualcomm will have to do better than the X1 to get into the ballpark of M1.
  • True. They need to come up with custom core designs if they want to compete with apple ax or m1 chips. But At least use of multiple x1 cores will give substantial performance boost that may be good enough for x86 emulation. Apart from apple's big cores even their small cores are much more powerful & according to anandtech's iPhone 12 pro review apple's efficient small cores offers performance that is 4 times superior of *** cores used in other big little chips like flagship Snapdragon.
  • Would be more interesting if he got Windows arm running on the M1 without virtualization.
  • That's much harder to do, because Apple locks down its platform tightly and you would have to create Windows 10 drivers for the M1 hardware as well.
  • Boot Camp for M1 should do the trick.
  • Even with Boot Camp, you still need Windows 10 drivers for the M1 hardware. It's not like with virtualization, where there are already drivers for the abstract "virtual machine" that an OS runs in.
  • But that's how Windows would be expected to run to get an accurate idea of how well Windows 10 runs on the M1. It's just a hack and has fanboys ran with it.
  • higher spec hardware runs software better. nice!
  • Predictable hot take: OMG APPLE IZ MAGIK
  • "the results are insane" Ah, OK, the author has already done that.
  • Not Windows Central too. Obviously it's going to get a higher score. It was already known the M1 is faster than the Qualcomm 8CX. It doesn't tell us how well Windows 10 works though. And it also makes people think the MacBook M1 runs Windows 10 better than a Surface Pro X which I doubt very much. Besides there's a lot more to the Surface Pro X than just power. MacBook M1 isn't better than Surface Pro X for heat dispersement, for no fans, for battery life. They're both the same. MacBook M1 is inferior to Surface Pro X if you want a Tablet PC too.
  • probably not conclusive... Not conclusive at all.
  • No one can beat Apple to ARM processors. Microsoft should stick to Amd’s CPU’s until something better comes along.
    They sell the Surface Pro X , which is a Demo device for a real product making users frustrated and keeping the Surface 7 , 8 intensionally ugly with big bezels to boost X’s sales.
    Panay and MS are failing hard on the Surface products , always delivering underperforming half baked and expensive devices.
  • Did you just come from Cult of Mac?
  • You clearly don't own a Pro X
  • Well if you do work only from a browser then I quests it’s ok , but is also ok a chrome book for that kind of work. Other than that , every user I ask is disappointed.
  • Surface (Pro) 8 is not released yet, only rumors. Smaller bezels can still happen.
    I do agree with you that AMD cpu's should be put into the Surface Pro series, that would actually provide competitive performance at somewhat similar power usage to the M1 cpu.
  • Clickbait title, "runs Windows 10 faster" in a VM / hack as Khaaannn pointed out here.
  • How is that relevant? How would the benchmark know that and why would it care?
  • It's not surprising, the the CPU on the 8cx is basically just an overclocked 2 year old 855 and the power consomption lower then Apple's M1. Fortunately I believe that the 8cx Gen 3 will be have a huge performance boost, an SoC with 4 Cortex X1 cores should close the gap significantly.
  • This comparison is like someone taking a truck body, putting it on a Ferrari frame and saying, "look Ferrari makes a faster truck than Ford can!" It's a useless comparison.
  • The main point is. Mac can now run Android apps. :)