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Developer manages to run Windows ARM64 on M1 MacBook; performance destroys Surface Pro X

Image via Apple and Microsoft (w/ edits).
Image via Apple and Microsoft (w/ edits).
An intrepid developer has successfully virtualized Windows 10 on ARM on an Apple M1 device. Others have also replicated the project and posted Geekbench scores from the virtualized environment. These scores put Microsoft's Surface Pro X, the company's current flagship ARM device, to shame.

One of the primary criticisms of Apple’s new M1 SoC is its current inability to adequately run Windows, even via Apple’s own Bootcamp. This was expected when the chip was announced, as Windows is built for x86 CPUs and the M1 is an ARM chip. However, an intrepid developer has successfully virtualized Windows 10 on ARM on his new M1 MacBook. Even better, the performance is very good.

Alexander Graf tweeted a picture of what he claims is Windows 10 on ARM running on an unspecified M1 machine. Graf managed to virtualize the Windows ARM64 Insider Preview through the system’s hypervisor. This method allows the virtual environment to execute ARM code directly through the M1 without the need for emulation or translation (e.g. Rosetta 2).

Graf utilized the open-source virtualizer QEMU and added some patches to get everything to run smoothly. The solution isn’t perfect, but Graf claims it allows for “near-native performance.” If the consequent Geekbench 5 scores are to be believed, this is indeed the case. 

After Graf open-sourced his patches, others took to the project and posted some benchmark scores, notably in Geekbench 4 and 5. The M1 holds its own in the virtualized Windows 10 on ARM environment, scoring roughly 1300 in the single-core test and about 5500 in the multi-core benchmark in Geekbench 5. 

Perhaps most interesting is how far ahead the M1 is compared to Microsoft’s current ARM device, the Surface Pro X. The Surface Pro X manages only about 800 and 3000 in single- and multi-core tests, respectively. That means the M1 is between 60-85% faster than the fastest Windows on ARM device. 

Considering the M1 is a newer piece of silicon, this isn’t terribly surprising. However, this shows promise for Windows performance on the new MacBooks and Mac Mini, albeit in Windows on ARM.

What do you think of Windows on ARM’s performance on the new Apple M1 SoC? Let us know in the comments. 

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Sam Medley
Sam Medley - Senior Tech Writer - 1171 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2016
I've been a computer geek my entire life. After graduating college with a degree in Mathematics, I worked in finance and banking a few years before taking a job as a database administrator. I started working with Notebookcheck in October of 2016 and have enjoyed writing news and reviews. I've also written for other outlets including UltrabookReview and GeeksWorldWide, focusing on consumer guidance and video gaming. My areas of interest include the business side of technology, retro gaming, Linux, and innovative gadgets. When I'm not writing on electronics or tinkering with a device, I'm either outside with my family, enjoying a decade-old video game, or playing drums or piano.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 11 > Developer manages to run Windows ARM64 on M1 MacBook; performance destroys Surface Pro X
Sam Medley, 2020-11-29 (Update: 2020-11-29)