How does the Apple M3 compare to the Snapdragon X Elite? The hell if we know [Updated]

The Apple M3 and Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite X logos
(Image credit: Windows Central)

Update November 2, 2023: Ahead of actual reviews of MacBooks with the M3 inside, an early Geekbench 6 benchmark has been spotted, as reported by our pals at iMore.

The short version is that the Snapdragon X Elite is still winning over the M3, albeit in all these early numbers, it loses out ever so slightly in single-core. But even the 23W Snapdragon X Elite scores around 2,300 higher in multicore performance, widening to over 3,400 when you step up to the 80W configuration. 

Obviously there's much more testing to be done, and it's conceivable that Qualcomm's chips may hit the market with even more to offer. The early signs are promising, though, and Windows-based ARM laptops are most definitely going to be competitive with the competition. 

Original story below. 

Just last week, Qualcomm debuted its all-new Snapdragon X Elite, the new hotness for ARM-powered Windows laptops. We were blown away. I've already said that I'm more excited for the future of laptops than in years. But the elephant in the room was Apple, due to announce its latest M3 chips, which has now happened.

Why does this matter at all? Apple is the benchmark for what ARM-based computers can achieve right now. Its platform is mature, and any bias aside, it's phenomenal. Nobody can deny that. Windows on ARM laptops have been lackluster in comparison, but the Oryon CPU-based Snapdragon X Elite will change that, and Apple is currently the best yardstick we have. 

At least, in theory. Where Qualcomm was stacking its claims against the Apple M2, Apple stacked its claims against the M1 and, bizarrely, a now four-year-old Intel MacBook Pro. There are reasons you could argue this would be useful, but it's absolutely crazy to ignore any gains over your previous generation hardware when showing off your new wares.

It also leaves us trying to decipher where the Snapdragon X Elite may sit against its actual competition when it launches. Remember that scene in The Hangover where Alan plays Blackjack with equations flying around his head? That's me this morning after the Apple event.

The Apple M2 is completely MIA 

Trying to understand Apple's graphs is like being Alan in The Hangover

This is too much to try and decipher before coffee. (Image credit: Warner Bros | Future)

What kind of company announces a new chip without comparing its performance to its direct predecessor? Can you imagine the flaming that Intel would have pretending the 13th Gen didn't exist when revealing the 14th Gen

Likewise, for AMD with Ryzen CPUs, and hell, NVIDIA wouldn't dream of not telling us why its latest GPUs are a bazillion percent better than its previous one. 

We always love having a giggle at Apple's graphs, and this event was absolutely no exception. I mean, look at this beauty:

Graph comparing the Apple M3 with the Apple M1

Where's the M2, Apple?! (Image credit: Apple)

Where's the M2?! You could argue, as I'm sure at least one Apple fan somewhere will, that folks are more likely to upgrade from an M1 to an M3. That's fair. But in what universe do people not also want to see where the previous generation chip sits on that graph that doesn't really tell us much as it is? 

For us, though, it also makes deciphering where the M3 and Snapdragon X Elite may compare to each other. Qualcomm stated, and subsequently backed up with a benchmarking session, that the Snapdragon X Elite offers 50% better multi-threaded performance than the Apple M2. Not only that, but it uses up to 30% less power than the M2. 

Our Editor-in-Chief, Daniel Rubino, was at the Qualcomm event and has seen the Snapdragon X Elite in action. And has as many questions as the rest of us. 

But it's OK, you guys. The new MacBook Pro is ELEVEN TIMES FASTER than the fastest Intel-powered MacBook Pro, that's about four years old at this point. So that's helpful. 

Apple will always only do what makes Apple look best on in-house graphs. But even then, this was a bit of a fiasco. 

Snapdragon X Elite is looking good against M3... we think(?)

Qualcomm's Oryon CPU debuting at the Snapdragon Summit

Qualcomm is coming.  (Image credit: Windows Central)

Since whatever laptops that run the Snapdragon X Elite will be hitting the market in mid-2024, the Apple M3 will be the comparison. Right now, we have some numbers from Qualcomm and the company's reference hardware. Soon, we'll have real-world figures from Apple M3 laptops as well. 

The important thing is that it looks as though Qualcomm has done so much with its first Oryon-based CPU that it will at least keep up and likely even surpass in areas, which isn't a bad attempt. 

For those not inclined to drink the Kool-Aid and buy a Mac, ARM computing is a very real future and a very real future where the compromises are shrinking every day. We don't really know how good Qualcomm's latest is going to fare compared to the M3, but we'll start to get an idea soon enough. More details on those graphs would have helped, though.

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at

  • Hunky Dory
    I think we all know how Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite stacks up to the M3. Apple did everything it could to avoid a direct comparison between the M2 and M3 chips (and by extension, Snapdragon X). Snapdragon X will almost certainly benchmark faster than the M3.

    The biggest question is whether Microsoft will improve the ARM64 build of Windows so x64 hardware drivers and app emulation will work flawlessly. My Surface Pro X with 16GB RAM is slow, doesn't work with a lot of peripherals, and many x64/x86 apps refuse to run.
  • maktaba
    Apple’s hardware and software are optimized for each other, unlike Intel/Qualcomm and Windows.
  • leo lozano
    Windows Central said:
    Apple has revealed its M3 as expected, and we were hoping to know how it would stack up next to the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite, but Apple gave out very little information.

    How does the Apple M3 compare to the Snapdragon X Elite? The hell if we know : Read more
    Well you still have a base in the M1, i'm sure apple used their famous graphs too when they presented the M2 sometime ago, so, though taking extra steps you could estimate that if the M2 was x% faster than the M1 and the M3 is y% faster than the M1 then M3 is z% faster/slower than the M2 which will make it j% (blank) than the Elite. See ? no complications here :P
  • naddy69
    I find it very telling that Qualcomm keeps comparing to the Apple M2 chip in the MacBook Pro 13”. Let’s inject some reality into this discussion. That is the low end chip which was introduced in June 2022!

    The M2 has only 8 cores. Of course the 12 core X Elite beats it. I just ran Geek Bench 6 on my 16” MacBook Pro. This has a 12 core M2 CPU running at 3.5 GHz. 2706 single thread and 14,915 multi thread. “By comparison, Qualcomm pulled off 2,940 ST, 15,130 MT “.

    So, when the X Elite arrives in mid 2024 (or even later) it will be very slightly faster than Apple’s then 1.5 year old chip.

    Meanwhile, the X Elite is vaporware at this point. The Apple M3 is real. Let’s see how those benchmarks look. I guarantee you that Qualcomm is already behind. By the time the X Elite is arriving in laptops late next year, the Apple M4 will have been announced.

    “Even if you factor in the lowest scores/benchmark runs of the Snapdragon X Elite, it still trounces the M2.”. Yes, because it has 4 more cores than the M2. It does not “trounce” the 12 core M2 Pro.

    You may want to hold off on popping those champagne corks.