Apple’s M1 MacBook Air absolutely destroys Windows on ARM in new benchmarks

Apple’s M1 MacBook Air has absolutely destroyed Windows on ARM (WOA) in new benchmarks. After Apple released their very impressive M1 MacBook Air, M1 MacBook Pro, and M1 Mac mini, and Microsoft followed with its long-awaited 64-bit X86 emulator, PCWorld had just one question: How does Windows on Arm compare to MacOS on Arm? The answer, to quote PCWorld: “Badly. Very, very badly.”

MacBook Air with M1 is an absolute powerhouse of performance and thin-and-light portability.
MacBook Air with M1 is an absolute powerhouse of performance and thin-and-light portability.

Mark Hachman for PCWorld:

There are only two chips currently powering Windows on Arm machines: Qualcomm’s own processors, such as the Snapdragon 8cx and Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2, as well as the derivative SQ1 and SQ2 processors Microsoft co-designed with Qualcomm. The latter two processors both appear in Microsoft’s Surface Pro X tablet.

Our testbed was Microsoft’s Surface Pro X, running on a first-generation SQ1 chip, a more powerful version of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx… We used Apple’s MacBook Air (M1) as a comparison.

Windows on Arm lags so far behind the MacBook on M1 that it’s hard to believe further improvements will bring it significantly closer.

MacDailyNews Take: Ouch. PCWorld’s test results:

GeekBench 5
• M1 MacBook Air: 7454 (multi core), 1730 (single core)
• Surface Pro X: 2734 (multi core), 731 (single core)

Cinebench R23
• M1 MacBook Air: 6838 (multi core), 1496 (single core)
• Surface Pro X: 1604 (multi core), 371 (single core)

The MacBook Air M1 is more than six times faster than the Surface Pro X in video transcoding…

Microsoft’s 64-bit X86 emulator is still in beta, so we can’t make definitive statements about its success. But it’s hard to believe that further development will bridge the vast gulf of performance between Windows on Arm and Apple’s M1-based Macs. In six months, Microsoft may be able to boast that its emulation performance has improved by a significant amount. But without the combined miracle of a much better CPU from Qualcomm or another Arm chipmaker and continued improvements from Microsoft, the future of Windows on Arm looks grim.

MacDailyNews Take: Even by Microsoft’s embarrassingly low standards, these benchmarks are awful. Apple’s “slowest” M1 Mac, the MacBook Air, wreak absolute destruction on Windows on ARM machines!

Microsoft’s Surface Pro X. There’s nothing “Pro” about it.


  1. I hate to say, but I have to wait until December 24 to unpack my new MacBook Pro M1. It is already hear, I got it some days ago, like my wife’s new MacBook Air M1 as well. Just one week from now. Looking forward so much.

  2. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Expect a lot of work into ARM chips in the next year or two by the likes of Qualcomm.

    ARM and the M series have been good for Apple but now I hope they’ll be great for the industry. That’s good, in turn, for Apple and us as buyers.

    I’m wondering whether ARM chips will commodify to the point of them being available separately for DIY computer builds.

      1. It still is not competitive (by half) on the compute benchmarks done on GPU. I measured 45K on my Titan Xs.

        But it is time for a new build very soon, and Intel may be toast in favor of AMD for my main desktop.

  3. Microsoft should release a version of Windows for ARM for Apple Silicon although it might harm Microsoft’s partnerships with OEM x86 Windows PC makers and there would be a big stink over that. It’s not as though I really care if Windows 10 runs on M1 Macs, but it might help boost Mac laptop sales if it runs well. Then there would be no reason for enterprise companies to have to buy laptop x86 PCs except maybe for their lower cost. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

    1. The Surface Pro X is marketed as a $1499 Windows for ARM 2-in-1 laptop (with keyboard and pointing device extra). The MacBook Air is marketed as a $999 MacOS laptop with keyboard and pointing device included. Comparing their speed and capabilities seems fair enough.

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