My latest review is of the new Lenovo ThinkPad X13s.
I was expecting another “betaish” feeling ARM on Windows experience with this one but was pleasantly surprised that Windows 11 is finally closing the performance and compatibility gaps of previous attempts.
Make no mistake: ARM on Windows is still nowhere near as seamless of an experience as ARM on the Mac is. The 3rd generation Snapdragon 8cx still lags far behind the Apple M1 in performance too.
But the performance on this new ThinkPad is now closer to a mid-range Intel or AMD laptop vs. the low end performance we saw before. And Windows 11 finally integrates support for both x86 and x64 apps in the current shipping version as opposed to having to install beta versions of Windows to get x64 compatibility.
And for the post part compatibility is pretty good. I ran a bunch of low impact x86 and x64 apps and all ran just fine with no complaints or crashes – a big improvement over my experiences with Windows 10 previously. But there are still some issues like Da Vinci Resolve (a video editing application) not identifying a GPU it can use.
Gaming of course is another story. Most games did not run for various reasons like anti-cheat code not recognizing the hardware and games written using the Vulkan API do not currently work on Windows ARM. I’ve found that games that rely on Microsoft’s DirectX architecture do better but performance lags behind current integrated graphics on Intel and AMD processors.
So why then would anyone consider an ARM Windows laptop? The answer is simple: battery life, battery life, and did I mention battery life? You won’t find a longer lasting Windows laptop anywhere else. This is the draw and the selling point right now – especially for executive types that mostly live inside of the Microsoft 365 / Office eco system.
Despite its remaining quirks ARM on Windows is beginning to feel a lot more like a new direction for Windows vs. a novelty. What it lacks now is performance vs. Apple’s M1/M2 architecture.