Users are wondering if Microsoft Copilot+ PCs spell the end for regular computers. I’ll help you clear up the confusion.

OEMs will now work hard to release more Copilot+ PC-ready computers going forward, thanks to the buzz around the new devices. AI is the hottest thing in the tech market right now, and manufacturers would be selling their devices short without the new features from Microsoft.

But how do regular computers stack up against these Microsoft next-gen PCs? Will Microsoft drop support for non-Copilot+ PCs? 

I’ll be answering these questions and comparing both sets of computers.

What Is Copilot+ PC?

Copilot+ PC is Microsoft’s way of differentiating devices with certain integrated AI capabilities from others. Computers must meet specific requirements to join this new class of Windows systems.

The newly released Copilot+ PCs run on Qualcomm’s all-new Snapdragon X Elite and Plus processors. They are next-generation SoCs with NPUs that handle 40 trillion operations per second (TOPS). This capability is Microsoft’s main requirement to run features exclusive to Copilot+ PCs.

NPUs (neural processing units) are specialized processors designed to handle AI tasks. They are faster than regular CPUs and GPUs for these kinds of tasks. They can come as standalone chips or as part of systems on chips (SoCs), like the Snapdragon CPUs. Our NPU explainer contains detailed information about these processors.

These features include the following:

  • Cocreator: A new sidebar feature in Microsoft Paint where users can enter text prompts and use a creativity slider to enhance their sketches.
  • Recall: A standalone app for users to retrieve vaguely remembered information in seconds using related and contextual keywords.
The tech community and cybersecurity researchers heavily criticized Microsoft’s security and privacy claims about Recall when it was clear the feature was not as protected as advertised. The software giant has since withdrawn Recall from Copilot+ PCs to address those concerns. You’ll find more details about the situation in our discussion about Recall.
  • Live Captions: Microsoft improved the current Windows 11 transcription feature to add AI-aided translation. It can now translate 44 languages to English in real time.
  • Restyle Image: A new Photos feature with bleeding-edge AI editing capabilities. It allows users to change or remove backgrounds, apply special effects to existing photos, or completely recreate images.
  • Image Creator: Windows’ new image generator baked into apps like Photos and Paint.
  • Windows Studio Effects: A set of features for enhancing the video calling or conferencing experience. It allows users to change and blur backgrounds, add special effects, and focus their eyes to the camera.

Copilot+ PC users will also enjoy other features and capabilities. They include the new and improved Copilot application, the Voice Access feature, and upcoming AI integrations with third-party apps like Photoshop, DaVinci Resolve Studio, and CapCut.

Copilot+ PCs vs. Traditional PCs: Performance Comparison

As mentioned, the new Copilot+ PCs are currently powered by Snapdragon X processors, making the sample size for determining their performance quite limiting. For now, we can only compare how these computers perform against other regular PCs running Intel, AMD, and Apple CPUs.

It’s important to also note that while Microsoft’s requirements for Copilot Plus PC chipsets are not clear yet, we know they require NPUs with at least 40 TOPS capabilities. It should mean that any computer joining the Copilot family should be pretty capable.
So, keep an open mind. We’ll see more capable devices, including Copilot+ gaming rigs, as soon as 2025.

We’ll measure performance using different categories.

Regular CPU benchmarks

Per the benchmarks we’ve seen so far, the new Snapdragon X Elite chip performs quite well in multi-threaded tests. That’s mostly because they have 12 cores. Still, they can perform worse against top-tier chipsets, especially desktop CPUs.

As you would expect, benchmark scores will never be consistent across every Snapdragon X Elite laptop, as there are four different variants of the chip. The configuration of the laptop being tested (RAM size and technology, power settings, storage speed, and system optimization) can also influence test scores. That said, most of the scores we’ve seen hover around the same range.

This table shows multiple benchmark scores for different processors, according to folks at Notebookcheck:

GeekBench V6 (Single thread) GeekBench V6 (Multi-thread) Cinebench (Single thread) Cinebench (Multi-thread)
Microsoft Surface Pro 11 (Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite X1E-80-100) 2845 14458 123 893
Xiaomi RedmiBook Pro (Intel Core Ultra 7 155H) 2369 12499 102 878
Apple MacBook Air 13 (Apple M3) 3054 11982 141 601

 

The X Elite and X Plus processors also show incredible power efficiency, edging out the Apple M2 Pro, Intel Meteor Lake processors, and AMD Ryzen chipsets. However, they can still lag behind the M3 and M3 Max chips.

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Media processing and productivity performance

Microsoft partnered with Signal65, a third-party lab, to run different comparison tests against the Apple MacBook Air M3, older Surface devices, and the MSI Prestige 16 EVO AI (Intel Core Ultra 7 155H).

According to the tests, the X Elite chip was neck and neck with the Core Ultra 7 and MacBook Air in the Office 365 Performance results.

Office 365 performance
Source: Signal65

As for video transcoding, Laptopmag’s Rami Tabiri shared that results from their Handbrake benchmark showed the Microsoft Surface Laptop 7 beating the likes of Dell XPS 14, MacBook Pro 14 (M3), and MacBook Pro 14 (M3 Pro).

Handbrake 1.7
Source: Laptopmag

However, Signal65’s test results for media performance told a different story. While the Surface Laptop edged out the MacBook Air, the MSI Prestige 16 came out on top.

Handbrake 1.7.3
Source: Signal65

Graphics performance

The Snapdragon chips do pretty well with most games and produce playable frame rates even when running the most demanding titles in emulation mode. However, they are not ideal for intense gaming at high graphics settings, and users will experience the odd stutter every now and then.

Some x86 and x64 games and editing applications (especially Premier Pro) will not launch, even with the new Prism emulation layer.

That means you cannot compare them to powerful gaming rigs with powerful dedicated graphics cards, especially desktop PCs. Dedicated GPUs receive far more power and have better graphics processors. 

For context, let’s look at how the laptop version of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 blows the X Elite’s integrated Adreno GPU out of the water. I’ll also add scores for Intel’s Meteor Lake GPU for good measure.

GFXBench / Aztec Ruins Normal Tier Offscreen 3DMark Time Spy Geekbench (OpenCL)
Snapdragon X Elite Adreno GPU 356 FPS 1887 (Microsoft Surface Pro 11) 23618 (Samsung Galaxy Book4 Edge)
NVIDIA RTX 4070 (mobile) 736.2 FPS 8592 (Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra 16) 67671 (Samsung Galaxy Book3 Ultra 960XFH)
Intel Meteor Lake Arc 8-core 210 FPS 3827 (Acer Swift Go) 28050 (Samsung Galaxy Book4 Pro)

When it comes to integrated GPUs, the X Elite’s GPU holds its own but can still lag behind others in certain situations. Here’s how it performed against Apple M Series and Intel Meteor Lake GPUs in Notebookcheck’s 3DMark/WildLife Extreme Unlimited benchmark.

Notebookcheck’s 3DMark/WildLife Extreme Unlimited
Source: Notebookcheck

As I mentioned, benchmarks are not always consistent. Here’s how the chip performed against Intel’s Core Ultra 7 155H (Meteor Lake) Arc GPU in XDA’s 3D Mark WildLife Extreme benchmark.

Wildlife Extreme
Source: XDA

Copilot+ PCs vs. Traditional PCs: AI

For now, no other computer comes close to the current Copilot+ PC devices’ AI performance, thanks to their incredible NPUs. Per Signal65, the new Surface Laptop with the Snapdragon X Elite processor is two times better than the MacBook Air (M3) in NPU performance. The new Copilot+ chip also beats the Core Ultra 7 processor in AI computing handily.

NPU performance
Source: Signal65

Microsoft’s 40 TOPS requirement for Copilot+ PCs and the Snapdragon chips’ ability to surpass that are the real reasons behind the superior AI performance. Even the latest Apple M4 chip only boasts 38 TOPS.

You won’t also enjoy any of the Copilot+ PC AI features on your regular computer, even if you upgrade to the latest Windows 11 version (24H2). That leads us to our next segment.


Also read: AI and Beyond: Emerging Technology in Software [2024]


While Copilot+ PCs will receive feature updates and new capabilities, there’s a consensus that their current AI features are not groundbreaking enough to warrant an upgrade for now.

Copilot+ PCs vs. Traditional PCs: Ongoing Support and Windows 12

Microsoft will no doubt continue to ship more AI updates and new features to Copilot+ PCs, as the Copilot application and other functions still need some work. Not to mention that Recall is still being fixed.

However, that doesn’t mean that the company will completely abandon other users. We’ll continue receiving security and quality updates for the foreseeable future.

Additionally, rumors about Windows 12 have still not died down. There are still compelling reasons to believe Microsoft is gearing up for the new operating system, and it won’t be surprising if they are exclusive to Copilot+ PCs. While we do not know for sure, it’s worth keeping an eye out.

Copilot+ PCs vs. Traditional PCs: Security

I mentioned that Copilot+ PCs are regular Windows computers with NPUs and extra AI capabilities. That means they are just as secure as other Windows devices. Like Windows 11, Microsoft also requires security chips before a PC can join the Copilot+ brand. 

That said, the company is shipping more security controls into its AI features. Since Recall caused intense backlash, Microsoft delayed the feature’s release to significantly boost its security with baked-in Windows Hello and BitLocker encryption, protected user access, and other security policies to keep user data safe.

Still, most of these security processes are already available to other Windows 11 computers.


Also read: TOP-10 Cyber Security Threats: All You Need to Know


Copilot+ PCs vs. Traditional PCs: Battery Life

Battery life is another area where the new Arm-based Copilot+ PCs shine. It’s the first time we’re seeing Windows computers really compete with Apple MacBooks in this category.

While Qualcomm and Microsoft’s all-day battery life claims are quite lofty, users can achieve those numbers in the right conditions.
According to Signal65’s battery tests, the Microsoft Surface Laptop lasted 21 hours with video playback on a single charge. It beats the Apple MacBook Air by 16%.

The people at Tom’s Hardware performed their own battery tests by running web applications at 150-nits brightness over Wi-Fi. 

The results showed that the Surface Laptop 13.8 with a 54 Whr battery lasted 15 hours and 37 minutes, and the Surface Laptop 15 (66 Whr battery and a higher screen resolution) lasted 14 hours and 29 minutes. 

In comparison, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 (57 Whr battery) ran for 9 hours and 14 minutes, and the 66.5 Whr Apple MacBook Air lasted 14 hours and 48 minutes. You’ll also notice that other computers have larger batteries but barely perform as well or better than the Copilot+ PCs.

computer performance comparison table
Source: Tom’s Hardware

Another great thing about the new systems is their ability to pump out reliable processing power while running on battery, thanks to the Arm architecture. This has been an issue for most Windows devices, as users have to plug in their PCs to get better performance.

Copilot+ PCs vs. Traditional PCs: Cost Comparison

Copilot+ PCs offer great value, as computers with comparable performance and power cost significantly more. The value increases when you consider the advantages of AI, better battery life and power efficiency (than other Windows laptops), and longer Microsoft support.

Individuals can get laptops with the base Snapdragon X Plus chips from $999 and X Elite chips from around $1,199. However, prices can shoot past $2,000, depending on screen, storage, memory, and battery specifications.

Laptops such as the Apple MacBook M2 Pro, MacBook Air M3, and notebooks with the Intel Core Ultra 7 chips and AMD Ryzen processors are more expensive at the base level.

When it comes to long-term cost implications, the current Copilot+ PCs do not vary too much from the competition, as they possess similar offerings. However, the Snapdragon laptops are more power efficient than other Windows PCs, making them more durable.

They will also be relevant for longer, as Microsoft has made it no secret that Copilot+ PCs will be the future of Windows.

Copilot+ PCs vs. Traditional PCs: Overall Verdict

The current Copilot+ PCs can do just about anything, from regular web browsing and computing tasks to low-level gaming. However, you’ll be better off with your gaming PC or x86 chip if you want to continue high-end gaming or faster transcoding on x64 or x86 video editing platforms. Here’s a snapshot of what to expect between the two:

Copilot+ PCs Regular Windows computers
AI features Support full suite of Copilot+ PC AI features No Copilot+ PC AI features
X86 support Better emulation for x86 apps than previous Windows on Arm devices, but performance can be troublesome sometimes, and some games and apps will still not run. Better performance with x86 and x64 apps
Performance The current Copilot+ PC are excellent for everyday use as workstations Computers with dedicated GPUs are better for things like gaming, rendering, and transcoding
Power efficiency More power efficient with superior battery life Still grappling with battery life limitations
Convenience More compact, weighs less, and makes little to no fan noise More fan noise under heavy operation and typically weighs more

Copilot+ PCs are no doubt incredible, but they are still young and hold even more potential. For now, only Arm-based devices have the Copilot+ brand, which can put you in a tight spot considering the spotty emulation for x64 and x86 apps.

If you want to upgrade, I would 100% advise buying a Copilot+ PC. However, you don’t have to limit yourself to the current stock of devices.

More capable systems will enter the Copilot+ spectrum in the future. If you’re a gamer or someone who relies heavily on x86 and x64 apps, such as Premiere Pro, you can wait until OEMs start shipping AMD and Intel Copilot+ PCs or Arm64 begin to gain widespread developer support.

Microsoft Copilot+ PCs vs. Traditional PCs: Explained

Whether you should go for the current Copilot+ PCs, stick with your computer, or wait for better devices to ship depends on your use case. You’ll be getting a better Windows experience if you rely on apps with Arm64 support and believe the AI features will make your life easier.

Things like better battery life, faster performance on battery, and improved hardware offerings, such as enhanced graphics and camera quality, should be your main focus. That’s because the current AI offerings are largely features that you may end up not relying on for your day-to-day activities. It’ll be wise to wait and see how Recall’s roll out works out before deciding.

Head to the comments section to let us know if you’re still confused about what to do.

FAQ

What is the advantage of Copilot+ PCs vs. traditional PCs in gaming?
Copilot+ PCs are better than most traditional non-gaming computers, as they edge them out in most graphics performance benchmarks. Microsoft is also adding numerous AI features for gaming, which will be exclusive to Copilot+ PCs. However, they are not better than gaming computers with dedicated GPUs.
Does a Copilot+ PC overheat as a normal PC?
The current Copilot+ PCs are incredibly power efficient and do not generate as much heat as their Windows counterparts. They also generate less noise and consume less power.
What is the regular maintenance of a Copilot+ PC compared with a traditional PC?
They are basically the same, as you still have to update drivers, your operating system, and applications to keep your PC optimized. You also have to engage in hardware maintenance and care, such as avoiding rough impacts, dust, and other hazards.
Can you upgrade the hardware on a Microsoft Copilot+ PC like with a traditional PC?
It depends on the OEM. Some Copilot+ PCs come with soldered RAM and storage, while others ship with upgradable hardware, just like traditional PCs. You should also note that some modern non-Copilot+ PCs also offer fewer upgrade options.