First test results of laptops with Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite processors

Last week, Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon X Elite SoC for laptops – Snapdragon X Elite. Using its own processors with Oryon cores on the Arm architecture, the company aims to make Snapdragon X Elite a turning point for the Snapdragon brand, winning back a portion of the lucrative Windows laptop market, and paving the way for the generation of even more powerful smartphone SoC in 2024.

Qualcomm held a private event for press and analysts to further demonstrate the Snapdragon X Elite and its performance. During a separate benchmarking session, the company presented reference design laptops with Snapdragon X Elite processors, which were preloaded with popular benchmarking programs, the results of most of which the company used in its statements about the capabilities of the new platform.

Qualcomm has prepared two reference laptop models. The first (Config A) is more powerful. The model has a 16.5″ (3840×2160) screen diagonal and is equipped with a Snapdragon X Elite processor that operates in a mode with 2 cores accelerated to 4.3 GHz, with all computers loaded to 3.8 GHz.

The laptop is also equipped with LPDDR5X-8533 RAM, has a body thickness of 16.8 mm and an 87 Wh battery. The overall power consumption is 80 watts.

The second model (Config B) is more compact (14″, 2880×1800), thinner and lighter. This laptop was equipped with Snapdragon X Elite, which accelerates up to 4 GHz on two cores, or up to 3.4 GHz when all cores are loaded. The total TDP of the laptop is 23 watts.

The more compact model could have been formally satisfied with passive cooling. But, like the more powerful laptop, it is equipped with an active cooling system. Obviously, it was crucial for the developers to demonstrate maximum performance, so possible temperature trotting would be inappropriate here.

Press representatives were not allowed to use any third-party software, and all experiments were conducted exclusively within the framework of predefined benchmarks. In fact, this allowed the attendees to verify from their own experience that the performance results presented by Qualcomm during the official presentation were not exaggerated and were true.

The results obtained by Anandtech specialists fall within the ranges previously specified by the manufacturer. However, the list of tests is far from perfect, but rather is arranged in such a way as to demonstrate the strengths of Snapdragon X Elite. However, it would be surprising if it turned out otherwise.

For a direct comparison, the developers also provided the results of the Razer Blade 15 laptop equipped with the Core i7-13800H processor, the new Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 model based on the Ryzen 9 7940HS chip, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro based on M2.

In the new Cinebench R24 benchmark, even the slower Snapdragon X Elite modifications managed to outperform all other participants in single-threaded mode, demonstrating high IPC. At the same time, when loaded on all available computers, the younger model was on par with AMD and Intel chips, significantly outperforming the M2. The older chip modification turned out to be twice as powerful as Apple’s processor at this stage.

In the single-threaded mode of the combined GeekBench 6.2 test, all processors demonstrated close results, except for the older Snapdragon X Elite model, which was ~10% ahead of the group. In multi-threaded, the processor with “Config B” was second only to the Core i7-13800H, while the older one had a 50% advantage over the M2.

The next stage is GFXBench Aztec Ruins. This is perhaps the strangest choice from the laptop benchmark set, since, especially in “normal” mode, the Aztec Ruins graphics stage is designed to test smartphones. In such conditions, it is difficult to talk about the correctness of the comparison with classic PC chips; the most relevant comparison is with the M2.

The 3DMark Wildlife Extreme benchmark is more revealing, although it is also a cross-platform benchmark that runs on smartphones as well. The final results here are usually presented in points, but the presentation in fps is also suitable for evaluation. In general, the new Qualcomm processor has quite decent integrated graphics, which allows it to compete with solutions from PC opponents on the x86 platform, as well as Apple M2.

Qualcomm’s last slide is the UL Procyon AI benchmark. The displayed results can be misleading without additional context: only Qualcomm chips work with a hardware NPU accelerator. Intel and AMD chips use Windows ML CPU.

However, this situation is not Qualcomm’s fault – Intel’s chip does not have an equivalent NPU, and the corresponding unit in AMD’s processor is not involved in this benchmark. Therefore, the benchmark shows the advantages of using a specialized NPU compared to performing tasks on the CPU. By the time the Snapdragon X Elite is released, all major manufacturers will be supplying chips with NPUs.

The results provide a first glimpse of what we can expect from Qualcomm’s upcoming laptop SoC. Comparisons of capabilities with those of current competitors are not very relevant because Apple has already presented its M3 chips, and Intel is developing a new mobile platform with Meteor Lake processors. AMD also plans to update its range of laptop CPUs. So next year, Snapdragon X Elite will have to compete with these solutions. Nevertheless, the fact that Snapdragon X Elite is compared to M2 or Raptor Lake is a significant step for Qualcomm.

The architectural nuances of the Snapdragon X Elite and certain performance aspects (including in x86 emulation mode) remain behind the scenes. Nevertheless, Qualcomm has already made significant progress, and the Snapdragon X Elite deserves attention. The first devices based on the new SoC are expected in mid-2024, so next year promises a significant increase in competition in the mobile PC segment, and this is exactly what we have been missing for a long time.