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ARMs Race | Emulating x64 Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer on Surface Pro X

X64 App Emulation is here and its not bad. The only negative is that x64 app emulation eats into your battery. Here at Platform De.Central the team’s professional creative tools are Affinity Designer for graphic design and Affinity Photo for photo editing. Up until recently, we were not able to test the Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo apps on Surface Pro X. As part of our De.Central Review for Surface Pro X we finally tested x64 app emulation and we wanted to dive into the details a bit more for our readers.

Emulating Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer opens as quickly as it does on our 15″ Surface Book 3 with an Core-i7 and performs most functions fluidly. So far we have not run into any issues in our workflow at all. Opening up task manager, we can see how many resources are being used by Affinity Designer under emulation, which was 2708.6 mb of RAM. So if you are looking to use emulation on Surface Pro X, we would advise getting the SQ2-powered, 16GB of RAM model in either Matte or Platinum.

Emulating Affinity Photo

Testing Affinity Photo was also smooth, opening the app and loading in a photo was very smooth. Applying white balance adjustments to the photo was a simple affair even apply a Gaussian Blur worked well. Applying a Gaussian Blur to the photo utilized only 1.8% of the CPU while using under 1GB or RAM at 885.3 MB. If no one told you these apps were being emulated, we doubt you would know, except for the excessive battery drain of course.

How to set up x64-bit app emulation

Microsoft provides special drivers to unlock the GPU in the form of Qualcomm Adreno graphics drivers.

Additionally, to support running both ARM64 and x64 C++ applications at the same time, please install a preview version of the ARM64 C++ redistributable from https://aka.ms/arm64previewredist.

How to sideload Microsoft Store apps

Something we ran into was not being able to locate x64 apps from within the Microsoft Store, but there is a workaround.

  • Visit Microsoft.com and type the name of the app you want in the search bar, then select it
  • Once you are on the page of the app you want highlight and copy the website URL
  • Visit Adgaud.net, this site displays the available file from the URL you enter so that you can download the app manually.
  • Look for appx or appxbundle from the list with the highest version number.
  • Once downloaded you will be able to install the app from a built in App Installer app in Windows 10.
  • This method also allows you to update the app right from the Microsoft Store.

If the method above doesn’t work for you, purchase the apps from the Microsoft Store online or on a 64-bit PC. Once you have purchased the apps, they will be available in your purchased app library from within the Microsoft Store. To access past purchases in My Library you can simply go into the Microsoft Store, tap the three dots in the right hand corner, tap My Library and install the app from the list of your purchased apps.

A former industry insider and tech industry enthusiast.

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