Qualcomm claims its Snapdragon X Plus is an M3 beater, but is it really?

Qualcomm continues to challenge both Intel and Apple in the processor market, as the tech giant claims the mid-range model of its Snapdragon X series of chips outruns the M3 in performance. 

It’s a bold statement that could put its chips squarely in the running for the best processors you can get in a laptop, but does it really hold water? And what would that mean for its competitors?

Qualcomm recently announced a new lower-end model of its next laptop-grade SoC, the Snapdragon X Plus, which shares similarities with its flagship Snapdragon X Elite. There are a few key differences, however. 

The 4-nanometer process Snapdragon X Plus features 10 cores and is missing the dual-core boost found on the Snapdragon X Elite. The GPU performance has also been pulled back from the Elite’s 4.6 teraflops to 3.8 teraflops.

According to Qualcomm’s benchmarks for the Snapdragon X Plus, which runs at 3.4Ghz with 42MB of total cache, its performance matches the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H while still outperforming it on power efficiency by a claimed 54%. It also claims a 10% performance margin over Apple’s M3 processor, another large boast.

While it’s definitely important to take all these claims with a grain of salt since they come from Qualcomm and we haven’t tested any of this ourselves, if any of them turn out to be true, this could be serious news for both Intel and Apple — especially the former.

Snapdragon X Plus could be a game changer

The 10% claim concerning Apple’s M3 is a bit on the low side, but even if the Snapdragon X Plus turns out to be as or nearly as good as the M3 and not superior, that’s still major competition. Intel’s CPU market share as of 2024 is 75% for laptops and 64% for desktop PCs, a massive hold compared to AMD and Apple. 

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However, one of Intel’s current issues is the decreased battery life in its laptops. A Qualcomm chip netting performance levels around the incredibly powerful M3 while maintaining its current standard of battery life of around 20 hours would absolutely be an Intel killer and a major Apple challenger. We could be looking at a chip that could and probably would threaten Intel’s market hold.

This is further demonstrated by a new report that asserts the Surface Pro 10 will be outfitted with the Snapdragon X Plus. The Pro 10 is already set to be of higher quality with a brighter OLED screen and boosted front-facing webcam (including AI capabilities) as well as a Qualcomm chip that features superior performance and better battery life.

There’s also the fact that Baldur’s Gate 3 was playable — and played well — on the Snapdragon X Elite through emulation, which is even more impressive considering the technical issues in the past due to compatibility with Windows on Arm (WoA). If Qualcomm can achieve this with other AAA titles, Apple should be worried about its M3 MacBook gaming ambitions.

It remains to be seen how accurate Qualcomm’s benchmark boasts are in the long run, but if it’s close to what it claims, we could see a major shift in the laptop market away from Intel, and that level of emerging competition is always good for the consumer.

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