June 16, 2024

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An $899 mini PC that puts the Snapdragon X Elite into a small desktop for developers

An $899 mini PC that puts the Snapdragon X Elite into a small desktop for developers
Zoom in / The Qualcomm Snapdragon Dev Kit for Windows fits the Snapdragon X Elite and 32GB of RAM into a small $899 desktop.

Qualcomm

Microsoft and Qualcomm are making a concerted effort to make Windows-on-Arm happen after years of slow progress and false starts. One thing companies have done to engage software developers is to offer mini PC development kits, which can plug into a software developer’s regular multi-monitor setup and don’t require the same cash outlay as a Surface tablet or laptop with equivalent specs.

Qualcomm announced Snapdragon Dev Kit for Windows, a black plastic mini PC with the same internals as the new wave of Copilot+ PCs with Snapdragon X Plus and Snapdragon X Elite processors. The box is fairly generously specified, with a slightly faster-than-usual version of the Snapdragon X Elite that can boost up to 4.3GHz, 32GB of RAM, and a 512GB NVMe SSD.

Unlike the Windows Dev Kit 2023, which looks like a repurposed Surface Pro 9 motherboard in a black plastic box, the Snapdragon Dev Kit appears to be purpose-built. It has one USB-C port on the front, two USB-C ports, an HDMI port, two USB-A ports, a headphone/speaker jack, and an Ethernet port on the back. This isn’t a huge complement of ports, but it’s in line with what Apple offers in the Mac mini.

Perhaps most importantly for developers hoping to play with Microsoft’s new wave of accelerated AI features and development tools, the Snapdragon Dev Kit includes the same NPU as all of the Copilot+ devices announced yesterday. Qualcomm says the NPU is capable of 45 trillion operations per second (TOPS), which is slightly more than the 40 operations per second that Microsoft has set as the minimum for Copilot+ PCs; This requirement means that no current generation Intel and AMD laptops and desktops are eligible for the label. x86 processors with more capable NPUs should arrive sometime this fall.

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The back of the box has two additional USB-C ports, as well as USB-A, HDMI, Ethernet, and audio.  There's a dedicated power socket, so you probably won't be able to power it from a USB-C charger or display.
Zoom in / The back of the box has two additional USB-C ports, as well as USB-A, HDMI, Ethernet, and audio. There’s a dedicated power socket, so you probably won’t be able to power it from a USB-C charger or display.

Qualcomm

The bad news is that this kit will cost you $899, which is $300 more than the Windows Dev Kit 2023 (which was released in 2022). It’s also $680 more than the old Snapdragon 7c-based ECS LIVA QC710, the first Arm developer box offered by Microsoft. Although this model was significantly under-spected, there seems to be room to offer a cheaper box (perhaps with a Snapdragon You don’t want to drop nearly $1,000 on your desktop.

Since a Surface Laptop with a Snapdragon You can Sign up to pre-order the box nowShipping begins on June 18.