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Surface Pro X vs MacBook Air M1 (2021): There’s A Clear Winner

Apple and Microsoft have met on the battlefield plenty of times but the rivalry grows even stronger now that they both have laptops with ARM-based chips. The MacBook Air M1 and the Surface Pro X, having ditched their predecessors’ Intel core processors, both boast of new architecture that make them extra powerful. You might be asking though–which one’s better? To help you answer that question, here’s an in-depth comparison that takes the two laptops’ design, display, specs, performance, battery, and connectivity into consideration.

Surface Pro X vs MacBook Air M1 Comparison Chart

ModelSurface Pro XMacBook Air M1
 Microsoft Surface Pro X – 13' Touch-Screen – SQ1 - 8GB Memory - 128GB Solid State Drive –...2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop: Apple M1 Chip, 13” Retina Display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage,...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Display Size13-inch PixelSense display13.3-inch Retina display
Display Resolution2,880 x 1,920 pixels2,560 x 1,600 pixels
ProcessorMicrosoft SQ1Apple M1 chip
RAM8GB or 16GB8GB or 16GB
Storage128, 256, or 512GB removable SSD256GB SSD
Ports2 x USB-C, 1 x Surface Connect port, and Surface Keyboard port2 x Thunderbolt ports and headphone jack
Battery Up to 15 hours of web browsingUp to 15 hours of web browsing
Dimensions11.3” x 8.2” x 0.28”11.97″ x 8.36″ x 8.36″
Weight1.7 lbs (without keyboard)2.8 lbs

Design and Display

The MacBook Air M1 boasts of a premium design while the 2-in-1 Surface Pro X impresses with its portability.

MacBook Air M1 vs Surface Pro X design
The Surface Pro X (left) has a display resolution of 2,880 x 1,920 pixels while the MacBook Air M1 (right) has 2,500 x 1,600 pixels.

The Surface Pro 7 isn’t the most stylish laptop from Microsoft, no thanks to its thick bezels and small screen. Fortunately, the Surface Pro X dons a much sleeker and modern look that helps it fit into the ideal aesthetics of 2021. The bezels are thinner and more discreet, the screen takes up more real estate, and it’s just less clunky overall. But of course, the Surface Pro X inherits the 2-in-1 design that we all love about its predecessor. The fact that it doubles up as a laptop gives it a huge advantage over MacBooks in terms of portability and ease of use.

Speaking of MacBooks, the MacBook Air M1 may not be a 2-in-1 but it’s everything you want your laptop to look and feel like. It’s an excellently built machine that can only be described as premium. It doesn’t look much different from its predecessor though, still with the same wedge-shaped aluminum chassis that we all know of. That’s a a pretty good move on Apple’s part though because as they ease users into the new M1 experience, at least there’s still some sort of familiarity looks and design-wise.

When it comes to display, both the Surface Pro X and MacBook Air M1 are out to impress. The former boasts of a display resolution of 2,880 x 1,920 pixels while the latter’s is slightly lower at 2,560 x 1,600 pixels. Nevertheless, you can expect both displays to be sharp, bright, high-contrast, and vibrant.

Specs and Performance

The MacBook Air M1 beats the Surface Pro X by a mile when it comes to performance.

MacBook Air M1 vs Surface Pro X performance
The MacBook Air M1 (right) has outperformed the Surface Pro X (left) in multiple benchmark process tests.

While both the Surface Pro X and the MacBook Air M1 run on ARM-based chips, they’re not quite equal in terms or performance. In fact, benchmark process test results came as a huge embarrassment to the Surface Pro X because the MacBook Air M1 fared so much better.

In PC World’s Cinebench, Handbrake, and Geekbench 5 tests, it’s undeniable how big the performance gap was between the two. Also, the fact that the M1 chip has shown that it can run Windows 10 (through emulator) better than the Surface Pro X just rubs more salt to Microsoft’s wound. Of course, it has to be noted that Microsoft’s emulation tool is still on trial but still, it’s obvious that the M1 chip is way ahead even though it hasn’t been long since it was first introduced.

To give you a better idea of how powerful the M1 chip is, it’s able to bring the MacBook Air to the level of the top-tier MacBook Pro. There used to be a huge difference between the two but the M1 chip was able to close the gap and these two models now have similar specs.

Battery and Connectivity

The MacBook Air M1 boasts of longer battery life but is at par with the Surface Pro X in terms of connectivity.

MacBook Air M1 vs Surface Pro X battery
The MacBook Air M1 (right) can deliver over 14 hours of web browsing while the Surface Pro X (left) can only manage around 9.

Both Apple and Microsoft have claimed that with the use of an efficient ARM-based chip, users should be able to experience prolonged battery life with the MacBook Air M1 and Surface Pro X respectively. Unfortunately, only the former is able to follow through on that promise. With the MacBook Air M1, you get over 14 hours of web browsing at 150 nits of brightness which is pretty epic. As for the Surface Pro X, Microsoft promises 15 hours but realistically, it’s only able to clock in around 9 hours of web browsing at 150 nits.

As for connectivity, both the MacBook Air M1 and Surface Pro X have fewer ports than most other laptops. On the MacBook Air M1, you’ll find two Thunderbolt 3 ports as well as a headphone jack while the Surface Pro X sports two USB-C ports as well as a Surface Connect port for charging. If you have external devices you’d like to connect, you’re probably going to have to make use of adapters for both of these models.

Verdict

The MacBook Air M1 wins for offering more power and a longer battery life for the same amount of money.

The fact that the MacBook Air M1 and the Surface Pro X are in the same price range makes it so much easier for us to recommend the former. For roughly the same amount of the money, the MacBook Air M1 will give you so much more power as well as a much longer battery life. It’s simply one of the best laptops you can get your hands on at the moment, thanks to Apple’s M1 chip. As for the Surface Pro X, it’s nowhere near as impressive but if portability, versatility, and ease of use are high up on your list, then it’s worth considering.

If you’re looking for more laptop options, take a look at our Surface Pro 7 vs MacBook Pro comparison.

FAQs

📌 Which one has better display, the Surface Pro X or the MacBook Air M1?

The Surface Pro X boasts of a display resolution of 2,880 x 1,920 pixels while the MacBook Air M1’s is slightly lower at 2,560 x 1600 pixels. However, you can expect both displays to be sharp, bright, high-contrast, and vibrant.

📌 Which one is more powerful, the Surface Pro X or the MacBook Air M1?

While both laptops use ARM-based chips, the MacBook Air M1 has greatly outperformed the Surface Pro X in multiple benchmark process tests.

📌 Which one has longer battery life, the Surface Pro X or the MacBook Air M1?

With the MacBook Air M1, you get over 14 hours of web browsing at 150 nits of brightness while the Surface Pro X can only manage a little over 9 hours battery life.

📌 Which one is better, the Surface Pro X or the MacBook Air M1?

The MacBook Air M1 is hands down the better laptop of the two. For roughly the same amount of money, it’s able to deliver a much more solid performance and a longer battery life.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Denise Jose

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Researcher and yoga teacher passionate about article writing, photography, wellness, and mindfulness.