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Microsoft claims that its latest Surface Laptops outperform the MacBook Air, but is this a fair comparison to make?

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The Arm advantage

In a recent unveiling, Microsoft introduced new Surface Pro and Surface Laptop devices that are said to rival and surpass Apple’s MacBook Air in terms of performance. These devices are equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite chips based on the Arm architecture, the same architecture as Apple’s latest M3 chips. Known for combining high performance with energy efficiency, these chips have allowed Microsoft’s laptops, referred to as Copilot+ PCs, to outperform the M3 MacBook Air in benchmarking tests measuring chip performance.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

However, one key aspect to consider is the cooling system. Microsoft’s new laptops come with fans, giving them an advantage in cooling over the fanless MacBook Air. While the Surface laptops boast impressive performance and battery life, the inclusion of fans suggests that they may always have an edge over Apple’s fanless devices.

When comparing these new offerings to previous Intel-based Microsoft Surface laptops, such as the Surface Laptop 5, the performance and battery life improvements are significant. The latest models with Snapdragon X Elite chips far surpass their Intel counterparts, with nearly double the battery life in web browsing tests.

If you are considering an upgrade from an Intel-based Surface laptop to the new Snapdragon model, you can expect notable enhancements in performance and battery efficiency. Microsoft has also made strides in app compatibility for its Arm-based chips, boasting a new emulator called Prism that is said to rival Apple’s Rosetta 2 in running non-native apps effectively.

The pricing for the new Surface Laptop starts at $1,000 for the 13-inch model with Snapdragon X Plus chip, while the Surface Pro starts at $1,049 for an LCD screen or $1,549 for an OLED display. Both models offer 16GB of memory and varying storage options depending on the display chosen.

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