Apple M3 Series Vs. Snapdragon X Elite
The Apple M3 Series and the Snapdragon X Elite processors are two of the foremost Windows-On-ARM processors at this moment. In this article, we're going to have both sets of processors go up against each other to see which one offers the best specs and performance.
There are currently two prominent series of ARM-based processors making waves in the PC domain—namely, Apple's M3 series and Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite. In this discourse, we will scrutinize these contenders to see which one has the best specs and offers value for money. This is the Apple M3 Series Vs. Snapdragon X Elite.
The Apple M3 series constitutes Apple's latest processor lineup tailored for use in their array of computers, the iMac and MacBook. These processors are designed to strike a fine balance between processing power and battery efficiency. The M series unfolds in three primary iterations: the entry-level Apple M3, the midrange Apple M3 Pro, and the flagship-grade Apple M3 Max. Furthermore, the anticipated advent of the Apple M3 Ultra adds another dimension to this lineup.
On the other hand, the Snapdragon X Elite marks Qualcomm's re-entry into the PC space. Qualcomm's previous endeavors in the PC space, exemplified by the Snapdragon Gen Cx processors, fell short of making any lasting impact. However, the introduction of the Snapdragon X Elite revitalizes Qualcomm's position, arming them with a robust contender to take on the PC market.
Both sets of processors operate on the Windows-on-ARM architecture and are destined for use in computers, such as laptops and desktops. While the Apple M3 series will be used in Apple's iMacs (desktops) and MacBooks (laptops), the Snapdragon X Elite emerges as a potential powerhouse for PCs manufactured by Microsoft, Samsung, HP, Toshiba, Acer, or Dell. This, however, will hinge on the willingness of these companies to embrace this Qualcomm innovation.
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Performance on The Apple M3 series Vs. Snapdragon X Elite
When most people evaluate computers and processors by extension, CPU performance is often given the highest importance. This is because it is a huge determinant of how the computer is going to handle apps and other tasks.
For this section of the comparison, we are going to rely on benchmark tests. These tests cover a range of tasks that are designed to simulate the varied real-world tasks encountered by a processor in day-to-day use. The resultant test scores should indicate how the processor should perform in real life. In this analysis, we draw upon GeekBench as the source of our benchmark scores.
Snapdragon X Elite (23W)
Apple M3 Pro
Snapdragon X Elite (80W)
Apple M3 Max
As per the GeekBench 6 evaluations, the Apple M3 emerges as the weakest processor in this comparison. Following closely is the Snapdragon X Elite (23W), which is on par with the Apple M3 Pro. Next up in this hierarchy is the Snapdragon X Elite (80W). The best processor in this comparison is by some distance the Apple M3 Max. It commands the best benchmark score by a considerable margin. If that's not enough, the eventual release of the Apple M3 Ultra will seek to further elevate the performance of the Apple M3 series.
In light of these results, it is clear that the Snapdragon X Elite is level with the Apple M3 Pro, surpassing the basic Apple M3 while lagging behind the superior Apple M3 Max.
Gaming on the Apple M3 series Vs. Snapdragon X Elite
Analyzing gaming performance poses a challenge here. This is due to the absence of specific benchmark tests that quantify the GPU performance of each SoC. However, it is pertinent to note that both GPUs support Ray Tracing and Mesh Shading. This indicates their capability to support gaming experiences that are close to console/PC standards.
Artificial Intelligence (NPU)
When it comes to AI, the Apple M3 series is no match for the Snapdragon X Elite. The Qualcomm Hexagon NPU on the Snapdragon X Elite can do 45 trillion operations per second (45 TOPS) whilst the Apple Neural Engine can only do a measly 18 trillion operations per second (16 TOPS).
RAM and Storage
The Snapdragon X Elite processor packs an LPDDR5X (4,266MHz) RAM which supports up to 64GB. The Apple M series on the other hand all supports a slower LPDDR5 (3200MHz) which supports 24GB (M3), 36GB (M3 Pro), 96GB, and 128GB (M3 Max). In addition to supporting massive amounts of RAM, the M3 Max also supports a lot of memory bandwidth for the RAM to play with. The M3 Max has the best RAM here. The Snapdragon X Elite comes second here whilst the M3 Pro and the M3 come third and fourth respectively. On the storage part of things, the Apple M3 series supports Apple’s NVMe whilst the Snapdragon X Elite supports UFS 4.0, SDv3.0, and NVMe SSD over PCIe Gen 4.
Camera, Video and Displays
This Snapdragon X Elite, unlike most processors, comes equipped with an Image Signal Processor (ISP), Video Processing Unit (VPU), and a Qualcomm Display Driver. This processor can handle cameras of up to 64MP and 4K HDR video. It can also support a 4K HDR display at 120Hz with an additional 2 or 3 external monitors. The Apple M series processors on the other hand are not equipped with any of these.
The Snapdragon X Elite is equipped with a Snapdragon X65 5G Modem and a Qualcomm FastConnect 7800 WiFi modem. WiFi 6, 6E, 7, Bluetooth 5.4, USB 4.0, 3G, 4G, and 5G are all supported natively on this processor. The Apple M3 does not support any of these natively. The connectivity options on the Apple M3 series are implemented on the computer's motherboard instead.
The battery life is going to slightly be in favor of the Apple M series here because it is built on a 3 nm TSMC process. The Snapdragon X Elite on the other hand is built on a capable but less efficient 4nm TSMC process.
In conclusion, if you are looking for an ultimate powerhouse, you are better served going for the Apple M3 Max. This is because except for the Apple M3 Max (and the M3 Ultra), the Snapdragon X Elite is better than the rest of Apple’s M series offerings. It supports on-chip camera support, video processing support (encoding/decoding), display chips, and modems for connectivity. The Apple M series on the other hand is not equipped with any of these tools. It is a fairly simple choice in this author’s opinion.