Snapdragon X Elite PCs aren't built for gaming, but this Baldur's Gate 3 demo is impressive

Snapdragon X Elite logo
(Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

What you need to know

  • A recent video showed a reference PC with a Snapdragon X Elite running Baldur's Gate 3 at around 30 FPS.
  • Snapdragon X Elite PCs will start shipping later this year and will include devices from several of the biggest names in computing.
  • Devices running the Snapdragon X Elite are not gaming PCs, so the demo is more a chance to illustrate the power of the processor and the viability of running programs in emulation.

Could your next gaming PC run a Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite processor? Probably not. But a recent demo of the processor shows that it's a powerful chip that can run programs well in emulation. A video shared by Devin Arthur shows a reference device with a Snapdragon X Elite processor and an integrated Adreno GPU playing Baldur’s Gate 3.

Arthur, who is a Snapdragon Insider, filmed a laptop with a 1080p resolution running Baldur’s Gate 3 at around 30 FPS. That framerate won’t wow anyone on its own, but it shows a Snapdragon X Elite can run more demanding programs, even if those apps aren’t fully optimized for ARM.

As a quick refresher, game developers will have three options to have titles run on PCs running Windows 11 on ARM.

  • Port titles to run natively on ARM, which results in the best CPU performance and power usage
  • Use ARM64EC to create a hybrid application where Windows and Qualcomm drivers run natively but the rest of the app is emulated. This results in “near-native” performance.
  • Don’t optimize games at all for ARM and instead have then run in emulation. Games run through emulation should perform fine but are not as efficient as native or near-native apps.

We believe Baldur’s Gate 3 is running in emulation in the video shared by Arthur. That makes the performance much more impressive. In a perfect world, developers would optimize all of their apps and games for ARM-powered PCs, but that’s not realistic. Optimizing programs takes time, money, and effort, and a lot more of those things than developers can afford to dole out for every piece of software.

Importantly, Snapdragon X Elite PCs are not being marketed as gaming PCs. Running games like Baldur's Gate 3 demonstrates the power of the chip and the viability of emulation. No one should expect the Surface Pro 10 or other ARM-powered computers to compete with the best gaming laptops.

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Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite benchmarks

Snapdragon X Elite benchmarks

Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite processor delivers promising benchmark results, beating some of the most powerful laptops on the market. (Image credit: Future)

Qualcomm held a special benchmarking session for reporters late last year to demo the Snapdragon X Elite. There, the company backed its bold claims about the CPU competing with the likes of Apple's M2 and Intel’s best 13th-generation Core laptop CPUs. Our Editor-in-Chief broke down that event and some of the key takeaways of the plethora of tests Qualcomm ran on Snapdragon X Elite PCs.

RELATED: Snapdragon X Elite will run Windows games 'just fine' using emulation

The PCMark 10 results beat the best Windows laptops, and it wasn't especially close. The most powerful Windows laptop we've ever reviewed was the ASUS ROG Strix SCAR with an AMD R9 7945HX3D. That PC from ASUS hit just over 9,000 in the PCMark 10 test. Both configurations of Snapdragon X Elite-powered PCs hit over 13,000. Those same Snapdragon X Elite PCs also did well in Geekbench 6 and several other tests.

Of course, new chips come out regularly, so by the time the Snapdragon X Elite ships we'll have to stack it up against different processors from Apple, Intel, and AMD. But Qualcomm's benchmarks and demos of the Snapdragon X Elite in action show why the company is hyping up the processor. 

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.