Copilot+ PCs: All we know about the AI-ready laptops and exclusive Windows features

Microsoft branding for Copilot+ PC
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft announced a bold new direction for its laptops, based primarily on enabling bleeding-edge AI features that require a Neural Processing Unit (NPU). Copilot+ PCs are Microsoft's new badge for approved AI-ready PCs, which so far is limited to only laptops with Qualcomm Snapdragon X processors. Those laptops aren't available just yet, but there are plenty of them coming soon.

Efficiency, value, and a shiny new button on the keyboard are Microsoft's hallmarks for this new wave of computing. It's an effort to make AI PCs a real, substantive endeavor, and to give Windows on Arm its day in the sun. As previously rumored, Microsoft is putting its Copilot AI on computers locally. Here's everything we know from Microsoft's Copilot+ PC press conference and all that's come before.

Copilot+ PCs at a Glance

  • 40+ TOPs NPU
  • Contain NPU alongside CPU and GPU
  • Only on Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite or Plus PCs, for now
  • Laptops only, no desktop plans 
  • Releases from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft, and Samsung
  • Pre-orders available now, shipping from June 18th
  • Starting at $999
  • Copilot assistant with dedicated keyboard key
  • Unique features: Recall, Cocreate, Live Captions w/ translation, app-specific experiences

Copilot+ PC Specifications

To be considered a Copilot+ PC, a PC must have at least 16GB RAM, 256GB storage, and crucially an on-board NPU that's capable of 40 TOPS (trillions of operations per second, typically 8-bit integer instructions). NPUs are a different type of computing core that's separate from CPUs and GPUs. They're based exclusively around performing AI computations more efficiently than GPUs.

Microsoft is also focusing exclusively on laptops with the Copilot+ PC branding. NPUs are a key part of the Copilot+ PC identity, and no desktop processors containing NPUs yet exist. Microsoft has said in the past that its 40 TOPS performance level must be met on an NPU rather than with a GPU for the efficiency and power-savings on laptops, and declined to mention desktops in any way at its initial press conference, so Copilot+ is only for laptops now.

It's a bit of a curious decision, as it effectively restricts all of these features to new and future laptops. Nvidia's RTX 4050 laptop GPU might be more for graphics workloads like running games, but it's also a fairly potent AI processor. Depending on power, clock speeds, and whether or not sparse operations are used, the RTX 4050 provides anywhere from ~47 to ~194 TOPS of computational power. More potent GPUs like the RTX 4090 laptop GPU can provide up to 800 TOPS of compute. But sorry, Nvidia, none of those qualify for Copilot+ because they're not NPUs.

For now, the only mobile processor on the market with an NPU fast enough to meet Microsoft's muster is the Snapdragon X Elite and Plus, releasing for the first time in Copilot+ PCs. The Snapdragon X chips are built on Qualcomm's new Oryon cores and promise elite performance. Snapdragon X Elite will have 12 cores running up to 3.8 GHz, or up to 4.3 GHz using single- and dual-core boost. The Snapdragon X Plus has a 10-core CPU, running at up to 3.4 GHz on all cores. The GPU is a Qualcomm Adreno that promises up to 4.6 TFLOPS of FP32 compute, and the NPU, dubbed Hexagon, is rated for 45 TOPS.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella claimed that the first wave of Copilot+ PCs with Snapdragon X Elite are 58 percent faster than Apple’s new MacBook Air with M3 processor. But of course, as is often the case with these kinds of claims, specific details about where and how these PCs are faster than MacBooks are lacking. We've seen software optimizations more than double performance for certain AI-based tasks over the past year as well, so a tuned application running on one NPU versus an untuned implementation on a different NPU could make for questionable comparisons.

Coplilot+ PCs powered by Qualcomm, Intel, and AMD

All first-wave Copilot+ PCs will launch with Snapdragon X Elite or X Plus inside, notable because of their uniqueness as Arm processors. Qualcomm's closest current competition is AMD's Ryzen Hawk Point platform, with its NPU sporting 16 TOPS of compute, and Intel's Meteor Lake NPU running 10 TOPS. That means neither company currently offers a processor that can be branded as Copilot+ capable.

Microsoft has left its two largest processor partners in the dust with Copilot+'s first-wave, but its event made it clear that both Intel and AMD have x86 processors in the pipeline that will exceed the 40 TOPS benchmark and join the Copilot+ family in the future. AMD will have Zen 5 Strix Point processors in the coming months, and Intel will launch Lunar Lake CPUs this fall. In the meantime, Windows seems to be moving away from x86 and toward Arm64-based processors.

The Arm instruction set architecture (ISA) hasn't had the greatest history of support with Windows prior to now. Early attempts to get Windows running on Arm with the Surface RT cost Microsoft large amounts of money, though more recent ventures with Windows on Arm have seemingly been more successful. But the Windows team has seemingly made significant efforts in recent months in preparation for the Snapdragon X.

Arm is also the instruction set used for Apple's M-series silicon, and is preferred by many over x86 — the ISA that all Intel and AMD consumer processors run. Arm chip designs have focused intensely on portable computing over the years as previously they were the primary choice for smartphones and tablets. The gap between Arm and x86 has narrowed in recent years, both in terms of Arm performance and x86 efficiency, but this will be the first true proof of how competitive Arm devices can be with x86 alternatives.

Qualcomm is currently the biggest and only name in Windows on Arm computers, but this is due to change soon. Arm execs declared that multiple vendors are making chips for desktop and laptop PCs in the wake of Qualcomm's trailblazing efforts. Whether those will prove equally viable remains to be seen, but it's a brave new world for Windows PCs.

Copilot+ PC Laptops

At launch, seven manufacturers will release Copilot+ PCs, including Microsoft itself. The laptops start at between $999 to $1,699, depending on the vendor, with some models that can stretch to $2,499 and beyond. Most will launch on June 18, 2024, though some of the first wave of laptops may come a bit later. Here's a rundown of the various models and brands.

  • Acer: The Swift 14 AI will release with X Plus and X Elite variants, and come with up to 32GB RAM and 1TB of NVMe storage. The Swift 14 AI will start at $1,099 and launch in July in North America.
  • Asus: The ASUS Vivobook S15 will only release with an X Elite chip, with 16GB RAM and 1TB storage for the base model that starts at $1,299.
  • Dell: Dell will offer 5 Copilot+ PCs: the XPS 13, Inspiron 14 Plus, Inspiron 14, Latitude 7455, and Latitude 5455. The XPS 13 will use the X Elite chip and have a maximum 16GB RAM and 512GB storage. Latitude business models will also use X Elite, but potentially with higher specs. The Inspiron models will stick with the X Plus processors. The XPS 13 and Inspiron 14 Plus are set to cost $1,299 and $1,099, respectively, when they release with the rest of Copilot+ laptops. The Inspiron 14 and Latitude laptop prices and release dates are not yet finalized.
  • HP: HP's two offerings are the HP OmniBook X AI PC and HP EliteBook Ultra AI PC. Both are based on the Snapdragon X Elite and share a 14" 2.2K display. The OmniBook has customizable specs, with 16GB to 32GB of RAM and up to 1TB storage, while the EliteBook will be fixed at 16GB RAM and 512GB storage. The OmniBook starts at $1,199, with the EliteBook running $1,699. Both will ship on June 18.
  • Lenovo: Lenovo also has two products, the Yoga Slim 7x for consumers and the ThinkPad T14s Gen 6 for business use. The Yoga Slim 7x is notable for its great screen — a 14.5-inch 3K OLED Touch display — while the ThinkPad tops the specs chart with up to 64GB RAM. The pair will launch on June 18 starting at $1,199 and $1,699.
  • Samsung: Samsung's Galaxy Book4 Edge will launch in two form factors, 14-inch and 16-inch. The pair will both have a 2880x1800 120Hz AMOLED touch screen, on paper the best of the starting Copilot+ family. The storage and memory are non-upgradable but the 16-inch will have two variants of the X Elite to choose from. Samsung's Galaxy Book4 Edge will launch at $1,349 and $1,449. 
  • Microsoft Surface: Microsoft's twin offerings consist of the new Surface Laptop and Surface Pro, the cheapest possible ways to gain access to Copilot+. The Surface Laptop will have 13.8-inch and 15-inch displays to choose from, as well as a choice between the X Elite or X Plus processors. The Surface Pro will only have the one form factor but will also offer the choice between X Plus or X Elite. Both have base models with 16GB RAM/512GB storage and will start at $999, though the Surface Laptop can be configured at up to $2,499. The pair will launch on June 18, and you can check our hands-on first impressions from the launch event.

Copilot+ PC Unique Features

Copilot+ PCs have a few new tricks on offer to set them apart as AI PCs. Their primary accomplishment is running Microsoft's Copilot AI assistant locally — all other currently available PCs with Copilot run it via the cloud. The AI is activated with the Copilot key, which can only be re-mapped with third-party programs. Copilot+ brings with it a host of interesting features, including Recall and Cocreate.

Recall is a snapshot feature for Copilot+ PCs that remembers your work as you go, taking snapshots of applications and screens and remembering everything you've seen in case you forget where you saw it. Users can scrub on a timeline of the PC's recorded history, or search for keywords to find lost information or files. For safety, Recall can be disabled or paused for certain applications and programs, but likely not disabled completely as it's integrated into the OS on Copilot+ devices.

Cocreate is an AI imaging tool that attempts to AI-upgrade your art as you draw it, with varying levels of "imagination." From subtly adding shadows or reflections to a beach scene drawn in Paint, to fully Van Gogh-ifying your hand-drawn giraffe, Cocreate attempts to help out artists or artist-wannabes. With much fervor around AI art in particular, adding this tool is an interesting statement by Microsoft.

Windows Studio Effects is a series of webcam filters that allow you to blur your background or add special effects to any program that accesses your camera. This is not unlike Nvidia Broadcast or XSplit Vcam — except it will leverage your laptop NPU to do the heavy lifting.

Microsoft also showed off new updates to Live Captions, which allows it to translate live, attempting to one-up OpenAI's latest GPT-4o update and its live vocal translation. Creative apps including Adobe's Creative Cloud suite and DaVinci Resolve are including built-in AI upgrades that Copilot+ can use. And of course, the Copilot tool provides AI-powered web searches, AI-powered file searches, and other such tools which we've previously outlined here.

We'll update this page once we learn more about Copilot+ PCs and get more hands-on time with their new features. Whether this is going to revolutionize the portable PC world the way Microsoft and Qualcomm hope is still up for debate. But either way, this is clearly one of the biggest shakeups in the Windows world in the last several years.

MORE: Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite and X Plus: All We Know

MORE: Microsoft May 2024 Copilot+ PC announcement live blog

Freelance News Writer
  • 35below0
    Recall is a very big deal, and it's innovative. But... Cocreate is a paint plugin/assistant more or less, Studio Effects are webcam filters, and Live Captions is a translate tool.

    A whole new tier of technology, that leverages Artificial Intelligence?
    paintbrush effetcs
    webcam filters
    captions

    ?

    enhanced web and file search

    It's just minor improvements in fancy trousers, sold as cutting edge portable PCs. The hate and the hype are going to help sell these.

    Not that they're not useful products but if this is a revolution, it smells less like fire and violence and more like damp wood and cough syrup.
    Reply
  • RobBrownNZ
    I'm fully in favour of this, because it means there will be a period coming up where good laptops without Copilot+ are going to be discounted and I'll get a bargain. As for the AI features, it's not very useful to start with and Microsoft will screw it up further, so I'm happy to avoid it for a few more years.
    Reply
  • Colif
    35below0 said:
    Recall is a very big deal, and it's innovative.
    It is just a new version of timelines. We had that in 10. Difference appears to be it can track non Microsoft applications, as I see mention of Firefox

    At least you can control it
    You can turn on or off saving snapshots at any time by going to Settings > Privacy & security > Recall & snapshots. You can also pause snapshots temporarily by selecting the Recall icon in the system tray on your PC and selecting the pause option.
    https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/windows/privacy-and-control-over-your-recall-experience-d404f672-7647-41e5-886c-a3c59680af15
    I see lots of people not wanting this on their current PC... not realising you need a co pilot+ PC to see the feature and very few CPU have that ability now. So they worrying about something they won't see until they upgrade.
    Reply
  • Colif
    So far only 3 CPU announced that support this feature and yet 1000's of videos making people think they need to swap to linux now to avoid it.

    AMD 9000 Series doesn't support feature. I don't know what Intel plan for desktops but it would seem its just a laptop feature for a few more years... makes sense, they introduced Secure boot and TPM to them 5 years or so before they enforced it on desktop... need to have computers existing in market before you can demand it.

    AMD do have a licence to make ARM CPU, every Ryzen CPU has an ARM core in it now but its just used to store the TPM. They also make some ARM SOC for embedded systems. So no real reason they couldn't make them. Its just a matter of desire.

    So NO, You don't have to avoid 24H2 to not get recall. Its only available on brand new laptops and right now you need a Snapdragon one at that.
    Reply
  • 35below0
    Colif said:
    I don't know what Intel plan for desktops but it would seem its just a laptop feature for a few more years... makes sense, they introduced Secure boot and TPM to them 5 years or so before they enforced it on desktop... need to have computers existing in market before you can demand it.
    And people still misunderstand Secure Boot. The motherboard only needs to be Secure Boot capable, it doesn't have to be enabled.
    Every new motherboard will have it, so it's mostly a non-issue.
    Colif said:
    So NO, You don't have to avoid 24H2 to not get recall. Its only available on brand new laptops and right now you need a Snapdragon one at that.
    qft
    Reply