M1 MacBook Air vs. Snapdragon X Elite Surface Laptop 7

M1 MacBook Air vs. Snapdragon X Elite Surface Laptop 7

The launch of the M1 MacBook Air marked a revolutionary shift in the laptop industry, compelling competitors like Snapdragon and Microsoft to take ARM devices seriously. This change spurred the development of the Snapdragon X Elite, aimed squarely at challenging Apple’s dominance. Today, four years after the M1 MacBook Air’s release, we examine how the Snapdragon X Elite measures up against Apple’s celebrated machine. Does the X Elite truly surpass the M1 MacBook Air in all aspects, or are there areas where Apple’s device still reigns supreme? Let’s dive into the specifics, comparing everything from design to performance, battery life, and more.

Price and Specs Comparison

Currently, a brand-new M1 MacBook Air can be purchased for $699, whereas the Surface Laptop 7 with Snapdragon X Elite is almost double the price. The Surface Laptop 7, however, offers more RAM, a larger SSD, and newer technology. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of their specs:

M1 MacBook Air:

  • Price: $699
  • RAM: 8GB
  • SSD: 256GB
  • Battery: 49.9 Wh
  • Weight: 2.8 lbs

Snapdragon X Elite Surface Laptop 7:

  • Price: $1,299 (approximately)
  • RAM: 16GB
  • SSD: 512GB
  • Battery: 54 Wh
  • Weight: 3 lbs

Design and Build Quality

Both laptops exhibit similar design philosophies with their wedge-shaped bodies. The M1 MacBook Air features a gold finish with a black keyboard and a superb trackpad, praised for its magnetic feedback. The Surface Laptop 7, while slightly heavier and thicker, boasts a similarly excellent keyboard and trackpad experience.

Port Selection

The Surface Laptop 7 outshines the M1 MacBook Air in terms of ports. It includes:

  • 1 USB Type-A port
  • 2 USB 4 ports
  • 1 Surface Connect port for charging and accessories

In contrast, the M1 MacBook Air has:

  • 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports

Speakers and Audio Quality

The M1 MacBook Air set a high standard with its impressive speakers, which outperformed many Windows laptops of its time. Despite the advancements in the Surface Laptop 7, the M1 MacBook Air still offers superior bass and overall sound quality.

Display Comparison

The M1 MacBook Air’s display, while excellent in 2020, shows its age with thicker bezels compared to the Surface Laptop 7. The Surface Laptop 7 features:

  • Thinner bezels
  • Windows Hello facial recognition
  • 600 nits brightness
  • 120Hz dynamic refresh rate (adjustable to 24Hz for power saving)
  • Touchscreen capability

The M1 MacBook Air, on the other hand, offers:

  • 400 nits brightness
  • Higher contrast ratio
  • Better anti-reflective coating
  • Higher resolution

Webcam Quality

The M1 MacBook Air’s 720p webcam appears outdated next to the Surface Laptop 7’s 1080p webcam. The latter provides a wider field of view, better noise reduction, and superior HDR performance.

Performance Metrics

SSD Performance

Testing revealed surprising results. Despite its age, the M1 MacBook Air’s SSD performance held its ground:

  • M1 MacBook Air: 3389 MB/s read speed, 2567 MB/s write speed
  • Surface Laptop 7: 3625 MB/s read speed, 2500 MB/s write speed

CPU Performance

The Snapdragon X Elite outperforms the M1 MacBook Air in raw CPU power:

  • Geekbench Scores:
  • Single-Core: X Elite is 15% faster
  • Multi-Core: X Elite is 71% faster

Web Browsing Speed

In Speedometer 3.0, which measures web application performance, the M1 MacBook Air slightly edged out the X Elite:

  • M1 MacBook Air: 28.6
  • Surface Laptop 7: 27.6

Real-World Applications

In Figma, a design tool, the Surface Laptop 7’s higher refresh rate made it smoother and faster at handling high-resolution layers. However, in specific tasks like AI masking in Adobe Lightroom Classic, the M1 MacBook Air was significantly quicker.

Graphics Performance

The M1 MacBook Air’s base model features a 7-core GPU, which remains competitive:

3D Mark Test:

  • M1 MacBook Air: 13.3 FPS
  • Surface Laptop 7: 14.6 FPS

Despite a 4-year technology gap, the M1’s GPU still competes closely with the X Elite, indicating strong optimization on Apple’s part.

Creative Workflows

In Cinebench, which stresses the CPU, the X Elite excelled due to its active cooling system:

  • M1 MacBook Air: 428 points
  • Surface Laptop 7: 879 points


The Snapdragon X Elite Surface Laptop 7 exhibits significant improvements in CPU performance and modern features like a high-refresh-rate touchscreen and better port selection. However, the M1 MacBook Air still shines in several key areas, including battery life, audio quality, and specific creative workflows.

While the X Elite is a strong contender, especially for Windows users needing powerful CPU performance and modern design, the M1 MacBook Air remains a formidable option, especially given its price point and efficiency. For users focused on creative tasks and media performance, even the base M1 MacBook Air might be a better choice.

Ultimately, the choice depends on the user’s specific needs. For a blend of performance, efficiency, and price, the M1 MacBook Air still holds its ground remarkably well against newer competitors like the Snapdragon X Elite Surface Laptop 7.

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