Surface Pro 9 with ARM chip: performance is still not that

By unveiling the Surface Pro 9 last week, Microsoft again demonstrated that it takes ARM chips very seriously. The hybrid tablet is indeed offered in two flavors: an Intel model with 12th generation Intel processors, and a model equipped with an SQ3 chip developed by the publisher and Qualcomm.

@The Verge.

Microsoft has been offering versions of its high-end tablet for three years now, an adventure that began in 2019 with the SQ1 of the Surface Pro X. But yesterday as today there are still performance issues.

Surface Pro X: not great performance for Microsoft's gleaming ARM tablet

Surface Pro X: not great performance for Microsoft’s gleaming ARM tablet

The first tests of the Surface Pro 9 with SQ3 confirm that the chip, based on the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, does not perform miracles for applications that have not been optimized for ARM. Monica Chin from The Verge laments the long 11-second wait to get your hands on Spotify after launching the app, followed by another four seconds before you can hit play.

Text input in Chrome is also slow, causing typos. Videos in YouTube may freeze in place while audio playback continues. Annotating PDFs is a frustrating experience as the computer struggles to follow the pen stroke on the screen. Launching Lightroom is a nightmare, with multiple freezes and crashes.


Chez Tom’s HardwareAndrew Freedman qualifies by explaining that Windows 11 for ARM is “ much better than its predecessors, and that with x64 emulation, applications designed for x86 processors work whereas this was not the case on the Surface Pro X and Windows 10. In addition, native apps continue to tumble: Edge and Teams at Microsoft of course, but also Firefox, Photoshop, VLC, Netflix, Handbrake, Zoom…

Nevertheless, he recognizes that for users who are looking for a ” real professional experience “, it is better to turn to the Intel version of the tablet. In the small game of benches, the Surface Pro 9 ARM also has a hard time convincing. With Geekbench 5, which measures CPU capabilities, it is largely exceeded by the M2 of the MacBook Air.

The ThinkPad X13s, which runs a Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, gives similar scores to the Surface, while the Dell XPS 13 with its Core i5 tops Microsoft’s device by a good head.

The SQ3 model is all the more difficult for Microsoft to sell because the basic ARM version costs more (from €1,549) than its Intel equivalent (from €1,299), as written by Luke Larsen of DigitalTrends. « There’s still a lot of work to do to convince third-party developers to get on board, but emulation has improved significantly ».

Coincidence or not, Microsoft has just launched the marketing of the “Volterra project” announced in the spring. This is an SDK consisting of a Mac mini type box (who said DTK?) for developing ARM apps. The device features the same Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 chip, 32 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage. All for €699. Maybe we should have started with that…