The Snapdragon SQ3 chip has been confirmed for select Surface Pro 9 models.

But what is the Snapdragon SQ3 chip, and how does it differ from Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake processors, which are also available in the Surface Pro 9? Read on to find out everything you need to know.

What is the Snapdragon SQ3 chip?

The Snapdragon SQ3 chipset is a custom laptop processor from Microsoft based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 notebook processor family.

Microsoft hasn’t shared much information about the ARM-based chipset, although it does mention the Neural Processing Unit (NPU). It showed that the NPU accelerates various AI workloads, such as real-time noise reduction and background blur effects in Teams conversations.

Surface Pro 9
Microsoft Surface Pro 9. Image Credits (Microsoft)

The SQ3 chip featured in the Surface Pro 9 comes with 5G capabilities and looks set to be more power efficient than the Intel variant, with Microsoft claiming the ARM 5G laptop can last up to 19 hours, while Intel laptops sit at 15 ,5 hours.

Since we haven’t been able to review any Surface Pro 9 configurations yet, we can’t say for certain that the Snapdragon chip has better battery life than the Intel variations, though it’s something to consider when payment.

How does the Snapdragon SQ3 chip compare to Intel chips?

We can’t make any definitive statements about performance or power differences between these chips until we have them available for review.

However, we do know that the SQ3 chip includes 5G support for the Surface Pro 9, unlike the Intel variations. It may also have a longer battery life than Intel, if Microsoft’s quotes are to be believed.

However, as we noted in our Surface Pro X and Xiaomi Book S review, there may be compatibility issues between Snapdragon’s ARM architecture and the Windows operating system. This can cause some apps to run slowly or not at all, and can be off-putting for those who have had negative experiences with ARM chips in the past.

Previous Snapdragon chips in this vein have also struggled to offer a similar level of performance compared to their Intel counterparts. But we’ll have to wait for the final review to confirm if this will be the case with the SQ3.

All in all, we’ll know more about the SQ3 chip once we make it available for review. Right off the bat, we can’t say if it will outperform Intel, but it looks like it will offer other benefits like improved battery life, on-the-go internet connectivity, and accelerated AI features.

What is the Snapdragon SQ3 chip and how does it compare to Intel?