Snapdragon X Elite benchmarks spell danger for Apple's M3 chip — but can we really trust Qualcomm's marketing?

Snapdragon X Elite
(Image credit: Qualcomm)

Following recent reports that Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X Elite will allegedly trounce Apple’s M3 silicon chip in CPU and AI performance, new benchmark data appears to back up that claim. At least according to Qualcomm. 

At an event in London recently, Qualcomm took to the stage to give “an interim update” ahead of the Snapdragon X notebook launch in June. Marketing material shared by the company at the event appears to indicate that in certain tests, the Snapdragon X Elite does indeed best Apple’s base model chip. 

The figures, shared by Notebookcheck, reveal Geekbench 6 scores for multi-threaded CPU performance, as well as power efficiency figures, and some impressive Cinebench 2024 scores. 

Snapdragon X Elite vs Apple M3 

Snapdragon X Elite

(Image credit: Qualcomm / Notebookcheck)

Out of the gate, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X boasts a couple of clear advantages over Apple’s M3 chip. While both are designed to be efficient, mobile chips primary powering laptops, the Elite boasts 12 CPU cores over the M3’s 8. According to Qualcomm’s figures, Snapdragon X Elite is good for a multi-threaded CPU Geekbench score of 15,610, compared to just 12,154 for the M3. That’s an almost 30 percent performance gap and one that could turn heads at Cupertino. 

The other direct comparison between M3 and Apple silicon is the aforementioned Cinebench scores. While the Snapdragon X Elite lost out to Apple’s best MacBook, the M3 MacBook Air with a single-core score of 126 to Apple’s 142, it shined in the multi-core test, beating Apple’s M3, M3 Pro, and even AMD’s Ryzen 9 8945HS.

The company also shared some telling performance graphs revealing significant advantages in power consumption over several Windows rivals including Itenl’s Core Ultra 9, Core Ultra 7, and another AMD Ryzen 9. Qualcomm also revealed the X Elite is faster than Intel’s Ultra 7 when it comes to loading web browsers, and offers a big GPU boost in 3D Mark’s WildLife Extreme tests. 

However, Apple’s M3 chip absence from these comparisons is telling. That’s not necessarily unexpected, Qualcomm is tackling a Windows market Apple doesn’t operate in, so comparing it to other processors in that space makes more sense. Yet Qualcomm seems happy to show M3 comparisons where it outperforms M3. Clearly, a more comprehensive look and testing will be required once Snapdragon X Elite laptops are available to the public. 

Not that Apple will be too worried about its M3 chip losing its crown. The company is reportedly already working on the development of its M4 chip, and targeting a release of some M4 Macs by the end of the year. 

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

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