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ARMs Race | Surface Pro X vs new 12.9-inch iPad Pro

Today Apple gave their iPad Pro models a substantial performance boost by replacing the already fast A14 Bionic with the Apple-made M1 chip. The most powerful ARM-powered PC is the Surface Pro X powered by a custom Snapdragon 8cs Gen2 called Microsoft SQ2. We will examine specs for both Apple’s new M1-powered iPad Pro and Microsoft’s SQ2-powered Surface Pro X.

Microsoft is developing Windows 10 for both x86 and ARM chips concurrently, which could maintain its dominance in enterprise and gaming but could deprive the oxygen Windows 10 on ARM needs to win over developers and prosumers alike. Now that Microsoft has added 64-bit legacy app support to Windows 10 on ARM in preview, Microsoft’s Surface Pro X has only one limitation left, the sheer lack of power of its SQ2 chip vs Apple’s M1 chip.

Apple shipped its M1-powerd Macs shipped without many limitations with legacy app translation and many of its developers releasing their desktop apps with support for M1. But with the iPad Pro, it does not ship with macOS, it instead ships with the tablet optimized iPadOS. Depending on your workflow iPadOS may not satisfy you work needs, whereas Windows 10 may. This is perhaps the biggest thing to consider between these two devices.

New 12.9″ iPad Pro vs Surface Pro X

Models12.9″-inch iPad ProSurface Pro X (SQ2)
Display13″ 2732 x 2048, 264 PPI, Multi-Touch, Pencil Support 13″ 2880×1920, 267 PPI, Multi-Touch, Pen Support
CPU8-core @ 3.2GHzSQ2 8-Core @ 3.15GHz
GPU8-core GPU

16-core Neural Engine
Adreno 690 GPU
RAM8GB

16GB
8GB

16GB
Storage128GB

256GB

512GB

1TB

2TB
128GB

256GB

512GB
Portsx1 Thunderbolt / USB-C 4 portx2 USB-C 3.2

x1 Surface Connect port

Surface Keyboard port

1 x nano SIM
Cellular5G, LTE $200 additionalBuilt in LTE
Wireless802.11ax Wi-Fi 6

Bluetooth 5.0
802.11ac Wi-Fi 5

Bluetooth 5.0
CoolingPassivePassive
Size & WeightHeight: 8.46 inch

Width: 11.04 inches

Depth: 0.25 inches

Weight: 1.5 pounds
Height: 8.2 inch

Width: 11.3 inches

Depth: 0.28 inches

Weight: 1.7 pounds
Keyboard$179 additional – Smart Keyboard

$299 additional – Magic Keyboard
$139 additional – Surface Pro X Keyboard no pen charging cradle

$269 additional – Surface Pro X Keyboard with slim pen and charging cradle
ColorGold, Silver & Space GrayBlack (SQ1 & SQ2), Platinum (SQ2 only)
Geekbench Best Single core1745 (M1 MacBook Air)802
Geekbench Best Multi core7645 (M1 MacBook Air) 3153
Starting Price$1099 (no LTE), $1299 (5G, LTE)$1499 (LTE included)

Apple’s M1 benchmarks

At the moment there are no M1-powered iPad Pro Benchmarks, but we have added the passively cooled M1-powered MacBook Air’s Geekbench score above for comparison.

Microsoft SQ2 Benchmarks

The Surface Pro X has something that none of the M1-powered Macs have, LTE. The Surface Pro X has LTE which means that even if you are not near Wi-Fi, you will still be connected. M1 outperforms the SQ2 in benchmarks. Microsoft and Qualcomm certainly have their work cut out for them, perhaps a variant of the Snapdragon 8280 or Snapdragon 8cx Gen3 will compete better with Apple’s M1.

One thing is for sure the ARMs Race is on! Ultra-powerful and efficient chips powering Macs and PCs are here and coming fast.

A former industry insider and tech industry enthusiast.

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