Microsoft Dev Kit 2023 review: Windows is not sufficiently ARMED

    Microsoft introduced their fixed PC. The latter is known as Windows Dev Kit 2023, and it was formerly known as Project Volterra.

    We got our hands on it since it is available in marketplace. Why ? It’s a stylish little box, similar to Apple’s Mac mini, that houses an ARM Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 CPU with Windows 11 Pro (Windows-on-Arm).

    Microsoft Dev Kit 2023
    Microsoft Dev Kit 2023

    As MacG points out, because this box has the same hardware as the Surface Pro 3, we could even argue it’s a Surface Pro 3 without a screen.


    On paper, this small PC appears to be appealing. Although it is intended for coders, you may easily project yourself using it. It is, of course, reminiscent of the Mac mini. It is, incidentally, the equal of Apple’s TDK (fitted with an Apple A12Z), the first Apple Silicon machine. As a result, one might see Microsoft making it a product for the broader public in a future edition.

    Microsoft Dev Kit 2023

    The Microsoft Dev Kit 2023 is equipped with 32 GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 512 GB of NVMe storage. It supports WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, as well as triple display through two USB-C and a small DisplayPort. It also includes three USB-A connectors and a Gigabit Ethernet port. As you can see, the links are rather thorough.

    Microsoft Dev Kit 2023

    All of this in a very small casing measuring 19.6 millimeters by 15.2 centimeters and standing only 2.76 cm tall. It’s smaller than the Mac mini, but with good cause. Which ? Unlike the Mac mini, it requires a 90-watt external power source.

    Furthermore, the left side only has three buttons: a Boot to USB button, a UEFI button, and a power button.

    Unfortunately, the casing is made of plastic. Despite this, the overall quality is superb, and the heating is highly regulated. The gadget is scarcely heated even after high loading.


    When compared to Apple’s M1 and M2 CPUs, the PC lags. As a result, the goal of this Microsoft Dev Kit 2023 is to serve as a resource for developers interested in ARM programming.

    It’s worth noting that this fixed PC arrives after the Surface Pro X and Surface Pro 9, two laptops that use a comparable ARM CPU and are available to the general market. We can surely claim that Microsoft has placed the wagon before the horse. Of course, it’s never too late to do things correctly.

    READ ALSO : Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is here 

    Let’s be direct and specific. Although we were ecstatic, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 processor is still too light for a Windows computer. The overall performance is immediately disappointing, as it is identical to the SQ3 of the current Surface Pro 9 5G. However, with four ARM Cortex-X1 cores and four Cortex-A78 cores, as well as an Adreno GPU, we are not shocked.

    Geekbench score is low, significantly behind an Apple M1 or an Intel Core i5/i7 CPU.

    We ran some preliminary testing using synthetic benchmarking tools in addition to tests with conventional apps, such as the Adobe suite, which typically works well. As you can see from the graphs above and below, performance remains dismal, much behind the competitors.

    You must have enough time to complete the Cinebench R23 tests.

    What disturbs us the most is the performance per watt, which is far lower than what we see at Apple and, above all, nearly identical to x86 computers. Basically, the efficiency of this computer is so low that we lose interest in having an ARM processor.

    On the other hand, one of the advantages to remember is that the Dev Kit 2023 is quiet. Furthermore, it generates relatively little heat. Despite the fact that it has an active cooling system, we only hear it softly.

    The SSD falls well short of the performance of standard PCs and Macs.

    The SSD’s performance is mediocre. This is not necessarily a flaw, but we are much behind the performance of PCs (Intel/AMD) and Macs (Apple Silicon). Furthermore, because the SSD is removable, you may add a larger one (size 2230 vs 2280).

    The video outputs were limited to 60 Hz, which we noticed. You will not be able to exceed 60 Hz refresh rate regardless of visual output. The mDP connector has a maximum resolution of 4K (4 lanes x 5.4 Gbps), whereas each USB-C port has a maximum resolution of 5120 x 2880 pixels (4 lanes x 8.1 Gbps). This is not always an issue for office automation. On our end, we were disappointed that we couldn’t take use of the 144 Hz screen that was attached.


    Apple is ready to finish its shift to ARM after nearly two years. A valuable lesson for Microsoft, who tested the ARM experience long before Apple.

    Even while things are improving, app support remains the most significant challenge that Microsoft faces. When we add raw performance below what we see at Intel, AMD, or even Apple, we get an evident average outcome.

    To completely comprehend Microsoft’s issue, keep in mind that we are discussing a distinct system design. In other words, applications written for the x86 system may not operate on ARM devices. There are two options: rebuild the software on ARM, which needs investment and research; or (hence the interest of this machine). Emulation, on the other hand, has performance and compatibility difficulties.

    Things are lot better now than they were previously. You don’t have to scratch your head to discover an application that works with your PC. Indeed, Windows 11 has a native program emulation, which is rather strong.

    As we discovered, Google Chrome and many other Win32 software operate for the majority of them. A novice will not see the difference here with an x86 PC. And it’s a performance, especially when we’ve seen Windows 7, Windows 10, and so on on ARM versions.

    The Windows Store is of course there and full of ARM apps

    However, the programs take a long time to load and there appear to be periodic delays. When scrolling, there are jerks. Forget about the video game. It’s simply not appropriate. Even the GPU benchmarks demonstrate that this system is not intended to run games.

    READ ALSO : GeForce RTX 4080 FULL Review

    If you intend to install a GNU/Linux distribution, keep in mind that Microsoft did not offer the drivers. As a result, you must employ the Windows Subsystem for Linux compatibility layer.

    Android apps are in their element

    There is also the Android Windows Subsystem (WSA). This will offer you complete access to a native Android environment. We’d also want to see an ARM-compatible Google Android Studio.


    The Microsoft Dev Kit 2023 is available for 599 dollars including VAT on the Microsoft Store. There is just one model with 32 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage.

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