Qualcomm is expanding its next-gen laptop chip line with the Snapdragon X Plus

It sits a tier below the X Elite while still featuring an NPU with up to 45 TOPS of performance.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Last fall, Qualcomm revealed a major upgrade for its laptop chips with the Snapdragon X Elite. And while we’re still waiting for those processors to make their way into retail devices, today Qualcomm is expanding the line with the Snapdragon X Plus, which I had a chance to test out ahead of its arrival on gadgets later this year.

Similar to the X Elite, the X Plus is based on the same 4nm process and Arm-based Oryon CPU architecture as its sibling. The difference is that the new chip is meant to be used in slightly more affordable mainstream laptops, and as such it only has 10 CPU cores (vs 12 for the X Elite) and reduced clock speeds (3.4Ghz vs 3.8Ghz for the X Elite). This positioning is a lot like what Qualcomm’s rivals have been doing for a while, with the X Elite serving as the flagship chip (like Intel’s Core Ultra 9 series) and the X Plus sitting just below that (which would be equivalent to the Core Ultra 7 line).

the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Plus supports features including a 10-core Oryon CPU, a Hexagon NPU with up to 45 TOPS of performance, 42MB of total cache and more.

However, one thing that hasn’t changed is that just like the X Elite, the X Plus’ Hexagon NPU puts out the same 45 TOPS of machine learning performance. This is particularly notable as Microsoft recently suggested that laptops would require at least 40 TOPS in order to run various elements of its Copilot AI service on-device. Qualcomm is also making some big claims regarding power efficiency, with the X Plus chip said to deliver 37 percent faster CPU performance compared to an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H when both chips are running at the same wattage. And when put up against other Arm-based chips, Qualcomm says the X Plus is 10 percent faster than Apple’s M3 processor in multi-threaded CPU tasks.

A photo of the Snapdragon X Plus hitting single-core and multi-core scores of 2,340 and 12,905 on a Qualcomm reference device.
Photo by Sam Rutherford

Unfortunately, the X Plus is not expected to show up in retail devices until sometime in the second half of 2024. That said, at a hands-on event, I was able to run a few benchmarks on some early Qualcomm-built reference devices. And to my pleasant surprise, the X Plus performed as expected with multi-core scores in Geekbench of 12,905 and multi-thread performance in Cinebench 2024 of 852. (Note: Because the processor has not been released yet, there’s an error in Cinebench that results in the chip’s GPU incorrectly being listed as from the X Elite instead of the X Plus.)

This is a promising showing for Qualcomm’s second and less expensive chip featuring its Oryon architecture. Though as always, the real test will come when the X Plus starts showing up in proper retail hardware. That’s because even if it boasts impressive benchmark figures, these processors will still need to play nicely with Windows, which has not had nearly as smooth a transition to Arm-based silicon as Apple’s macOS.

A photo of the Snapdragon X Plus hitting 852 on Cinebench 2024's multi-core CPU test.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

But with renewed support for Windows on Snapdragon PCs and Qualcomm recently working with major players like Google to bring “dramatic performance improvements” in Chrome for devices running its laptop chips, things may be smoother this time.