Qualcomm’s first look at the Snapdragon X Elite PC processor
Will this architectural design be enough to rival upcoming PC systems in 2024, given the company’s provision of official Geekbench, Cinebench, and 3DMark benchmarks?
Qualcomm recently lifted the embargo on performance data shared with journalists last week, showcasing their new Snapdragon X Elite chip tailored for lightweight laptops. The company boldly compared their chip to leading industry counterparts, such as the AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS, Intel Core i9-13800H, and Apple M2. The competition appears intense, and Qualcomm’s performance metrics may suggest it stands alongside the prominent brands.
As Anandtech noted, “seeing is believing.” To substantiate their claims, Qualcomm organized live demonstrations during a closed-door event, providing journalists and analysts with an early glimpse of new reference systems. These demos included System A with a 15.6-inch 4K display and a chip TDP set at 80W, as well as System B with a smaller 14.5-inch screen boasting 2.8K resolution and a lowered TDP of 23W. While differences existed in screen resolution and battery size, they remained irrelevant to the CPU’s synthetic tests.
The modification in TDP directly impacted the chip’s processing capabilities by fine-tuning the voltage frequency curve. This adjustment resulted in clock speeds of up to 3.8/4.3 GHz for the 80W system (for 2-core and all-core frequencies) and 3.4/4.0 GHz for the 23W system. It’s noteworthy that both systems utilized the same LPDDR5X-8533 memory.
For the GPU demo, rather than utilizing native Windows PC benchmarks to showcase Adreno’s GPU performance, the company opted for cross-platform and relatively dated tests, such as the Aztec Ruins benchmark. Notably, the 3DMark Wild Life Extreme, although not a high-end benchmark like 3DMark Speed Way, was chosen. This decision accommodates the inclusion of the Apple M2 benchmark, as the ARM architecture lacks Windows support.
Qualcomm’s Adreno GPU consistently delivers better performance in 3DMark Wild Life Extreme and GFXBench Aztec Ruins (1080p, Normal) when compared to the integrated GPUs from AMD and Intel in the Ryzen 9 7940HS and Core i7-13800H. The presentation demonstrated that the Adreno GPU surpasses all three comparable systems in performance, with only the M.2 chip outperforming Demo Config B, although it still falls short of the 80W system’s performance. There doesn’t appear to be a substantial performance gap between the 80W and 23W systems.
While the performance figures do seem noteworthy for an integrated GPU, the more important aspect revolves around gaming capabilities. On the Geekerwan YouTube channel, they conducted tests on a system running two games. The second game, which didn’t fully utilize the GPU, indicating some driver-related issues, was omitted from the comparison. Thus, the chosen game for comparison is Control.
Unfortunately, it appears that ray tracing support is currently unavailable on the SD X Elite chip. The comparison involved running Control at a low preset with a 1080p and 1440p resolution, where the Qualcomm CPU achieved approximately 53 FPS and 32 FPS respectively. Under these settings, the processor’s performance is comparable to the AMD Radeon 780M RDNA3 graphics and surpasses the Intel Xe-LP graphics in the i7-13700H system. However, it falls short of the Apple M2 Max and any discrete RTX GPU, with the 3050 being at least twice as fast.
Qualcomm also provided some synthetic benchmarks for the CPU cores, but those are not as interesting to GPU fans.
These performance metrics provide only a glimpse of the platform’s capabilities. However, there is a significant drawback with the X Elite chip – it won’t be available for around six months. This extended timeframe allows all three major companies to make architectural updates.
AMD is set to introduce their Strix Point series, featuring the newer Zen5 CPU architecture, while Intel is just 1.5 months away from the Meteor Lake launch. Apple also has an upcoming event, possibly to unveil the M3 chip. Consequently, while Qualcomm’s X Elite chip may currently make a strong impression, the PC market will have evolved considerably by the time it becomes available.