ARM Processor vs X86: Choosing the Right Architecture for Your PC

When it comes to choosing the architecture for your PC, the options were once limited to x86 from Intel or the x64 architecture from AMD. However, in recent years, a new contender has emerged – the ARM architecture. In this article, we will explore the key differences between ARM processors and x86 processors, and help you determine which one is ideal for your needs.


Understanding ARM and X86 Architectures

ARM stands for Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC) architecture, which means that its CPUs can execute a finite number of simple instructions, with each instruction completing one cycle. On the other hand, x86 processors follow the Complex Instruction Set Computing (CISC) architecture, which has a larger number of instructions. While x86-64 has at least 981 instructions, ARM has closer to 50 instructions.

The simplicity of ARM instructions allows them to execute tasks efficiently, but some instructions may require multiple cycles. In contrast, x86 processors use more registers and prioritize performance and high throughputs. This emphasis on performance, however, results in higher power consumption and heat generation.

Power Efficiency and Battery Life

One of the key advantages of ARM processors is their energy efficiency. Due to their RISC design, ARM devices are lightweight and generate less heat, making them ideal for mobile devices like smartphones. In fact, ARM processors are extensively used in the mobile industry, and many smartphones today are powered by ARM chips.

The energy efficiency of ARM processors translates to longer battery life for devices. For example, the Apple M1, which utilizes ARM architecture, has a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of around 10W, compared to the 15W to 45W power consumption range of x86 laptop CPUs. This significant difference in power consumption greatly enhances the effectiveness of ARM devices.

Performance and Application Compatibility

While ARM processors excel in power efficiency, x86 processors are known for their performance capabilities. With more registers and a focus on high throughputs, x86 processors can handle complex instructions in a single step. This makes them well-suited for demanding applications and tasks that require substantial computational power.

When it comes to software compatibility, x86 processors have an advantage. They are widely supported by operating systems like Windows, Unix, and Linux, making them a popular choice for desktops, laptops, and servers. ARM processors, on the other hand, primarily run on Android operating systems developed specifically for ARM architecture. While some interfacing software allows ARM devices to run other operating systems, compatibility may be limited.

Choosing the Right Architecture for Your Needs

The choice between ARM and x86 architecture largely depends on your specific requirements and priorities. If you primarily use a PC and rely on software that is optimized for x86 processors, such as Windows applications, then x86 is the recommended choice. While there is some support for ARM on Windows, it is still in development and may not offer the same level of performance or compatibility.

However, if you prioritize power efficiency and longer battery life, particularly for mobile devices, ARM processors are the way to go. ARM architecture has become the go-to choice for smartphones and tablets due to its energy-efficient design. Additionally, Apple has made a move to transition its laptops to ARM architecture, further highlighting its potential for enhancing battery life in portable devices.

It’s worth noting that the transition to ARM architecture for laptops is still ongoing, and the availability of native ARM applications may vary. If you choose to go with Apple and purchase a MacBook, you can take advantage of the benefits of ARM architecture as many of the apps you use regularly are already native or in the process of becoming native.


In conclusion, the choice between ARM and x86 architecture depends on your priorities and the platform you intend to use. ARM processors offer energy efficiency and longer battery life, making them ideal for mobile devices. On the other hand, x86 processors prioritize performance and are widely supported by operating systems, making them a popular choice for desktops, laptops, and servers.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to your specific needs and the compatibility of the software you rely on. As technology continues to evolve, ARM architecture may gain further traction in the PC market, but for now, x86 remains the dominant choice for traditional computing tasks.