Travels Without A GeForce

By Alec Meer on June 2nd, 2008 at 4:53 pm.

I’m a nightmare on holidays and press trips. Beforehand I’m plunged into panic – what if I get bored? However shall I cope with an idle moment? I suspect it’s a side-effect of that curiously modern condition Jim comments on – I spend so much of my every day so connected to this constant flow of information and entertainment that the idea of going without it for even a few hours is distressing.

So, on any trip, my hand-luggage is stuffed with more entertainment than I could possibly require – thee or four books, a magazine, an iPod heavy with music and video, a DS, a PSP and a laptop. Just barely enough to survive the flight – but what if it doesn’t get me through a week in a fascinating foreign city? For Chrissakes Meer, just go outside. What’s really ludicrous is that I don’t need this sack of technology. I just need the laptop.

Somehow though, I’ve never been able to entirely embrace the concept of gaming on a notebook. That I know most lack the grunt of my desktop PC, and that the ones with decent 3D cards inside are so monstrously expensive, has had me simply dismiss them ouright as a gaming platform. My idea of PC gaming seems unshakeably about the comfortable chair, the big monitor, the proper keyboard and pushing visual settings as high as they’ll go. So I’ve travelled with a hard drive empty of games. Oh, the wasted hours – time I could have spent with so very many neglected classics and curios.

My laptop’s an early-2007 Macbook, dual-booting OSX and Windows XP, as my sideline in tech-writing requires I keep my hand in with both OSes. While internally unexceptional, it’s a lovely-looking notebook, and the Core 2 Duo chip inside is reasonably meaty. There are, however, two enormous problems with it. Firstly, the 1280×800 screen is an utter turd, the vertical pixel count stifling for anything beyond simple web-browsing and word processing, and its backlight so puny that it’s unusable in any sort of outdoors daylight. Secondly, it uses integrated graphics – the Intel 950 GMA specifically, with a whopping 64-224Mb of memory purloined from the main system RAM. In other words, it’s a toothless old egg-sucking dog when it comes to gaming.

Except it’s clearly not. It’s a toothless old egg-sucking dog when it comes to pixel shader 3.0 Xbox 360 ports or whatever 3D card-munching new release I’m supposed to be reviewing for someone. It’s still a PC, though, more than capable of running tens of thousands of games. Since I realised and embraced that, it’s been a different machine to me – and a liberating one. Freed from the mindset of must play greatest/latest, I now become excited about what games I could load it up with and take with me on a trip away. Which also means I’ve spent far too much of today installing a load of favourites old and new to establish what does and doesn’t run. Here’s the fruits of my labours:

- Team Fortress 2. I actually expected this to work, as Source games historically scale down very well, but instead I get a menu without a background, and a game that crashes whenever I click on any option, even if it’s just Settings menu. Boo. Edit – possible fix here. Thanks, Ian.

- Doom 3.
Just about runs, but I wouldn’t be able to sit through much of it at that framerate. Plus, it looks like this:



- Beyond Good & Evil.
Infuriatingly, I can’t play my copy of this on my main PC, as its copy protection sneers at Vista 64. It silently and immediately deletes itself the second it finishes installing. With XP on the laptop, it’s just about playable – but a poor framerate does rip much of the joy from BG&E’s pretty world.

- GTA: Vice City.
Runs like an absolute treat, and is a perfect example of the kind of thing an underpowered laptop can do without blinking. Also, Vice City still offers one of gamingdom’s finest opening moments – moped, Billy Jean blaring, go. GTA IV’s got nothing to touch that.


- Sacrifice –
yesterday’s visual tour de force is today’s light snack – I can whack up the detail settings to ‘insane’ and it positively gallops along. It still looks remarkable, too.

- Sins of A Solar Empire – The video settings have to be dropped to rock bottom – the net result being a universe almost without textures – but the frame-rate is glorious. This is a best-selling game released just a few months ago, running smoothly on integrated graphics. Stardock place some emphasis on all their games scaling down well to low-end hardware, and its sales figures suggest that’s very much working out for ‘em.

- Neverwinter Nights 2. An interesting one – it won’t run out of the box, but if you get free app 3D-Analyze to emulate a certain facet of transform & lighting in software, NWN2 will load up cheerfully and be more or less playable (instructions here). Which rather suggests it’s very straightforward for the game to officially scale down this low, but for some reason it didn’t go that extra mile.

- Comparatively, Titan Quest flat-out refuses to load, not even attempting to run. I’ve read reports that others have gotten it running with 3D Analyze, but no such luck here. How much work would it have been to have an option to disable pixel shaders? I stress, I’ve no idea of the technicality involved, but I’m surprised that a game so transparently chasing the Diablo audience wouldn’t scale well.

- Planescape Torment – ah yes. The widescreen mod sparkles it up delightfully for the Macbook’s 1280×800 panel – and the text is a lot less squinty than at 1680×1050 on my desktop.



- Civilization IV
– has to stop and have a think occasionally, but for the most part it runs just fine. The nature of the game means it also doesn’t look significantly worse at low-detail settings. Again, it’s the kind of game you wouldn’t expect to run on such a feeble system, but knowing it does makes long journeys almost something to look forward to (so long as there’s a power socket to hand).

- Dawn of War: Soulstorm
– again, no problems, bar the low vertical resolution making the interface devour most of the screen.


- Dungeon Keeper 2.
Er. This is getting boring, innit? Yeah, ‘sfine.

- And Peggle, obv.

And so on and so on. There’s much it won’t play nice with, but so much more which it will. All-in the surprising capability of such feeble integrated 3D chips is yet another spit in the eye of that silly ‘the PC is do0med’ brigade. My laptop may have cost £600 because it’s got a fancy case and a picture of a fruit on the front, but it’s largely the same hardware that £200 PC World horrors make do with. When even the most lowly graphics hardware can chew through theoretically thousands of spectacular games, old and new, how could the PC possibly have anything to fear?

While obviously there’s still a lot of room for graphics-heavy AAA games, this is the kind of system that a dramatically larger mass of people own than do 360s and PS3s. I get the sense that once the industry turns towards it in earnest – as we’re seeing with stuff like Sins and Battlefield Heroes – the PC will finally prove itself invincible.

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49 Comments »

  1. Sideath says:

    Yeah, I have a Macbook laptop and a PC desktop too – although I’ve never been a fan of running Windows on it, thus I just tend to stick to games that have been natively programmed for Mac like Blizzard’s strategy melarky, which runs fine, obviously.

  2. Ben Abraham says:

    PEGGLE!!!!

    Also, I love how it starts out on such a downer… and finishes with awesome!

  3. phuzz says:

    So ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ won’t work on Vista x64 eh? Well, I suppose I’ve saved some money at that. (and given myself another reason to get an XP virtual machine running).

    I’ve had similar problems trying to run anything on my work laptop, fortunately I’m the geek who buys all the hardware so my next one will at least have some kind of discrete graphics.

  4. Rook says:

    My laptop may have cost £600 because it’s got a fancy case and a picture of a fruit on the front, but it’s largely the same hardware that £200 PC World horrors make do with.

    That’s pretty much the nail on the head there when you buy an apple branded product. Of course, you hope you get better build quality and customer service out of it, but it’s not always the case.

    I still think that just stepping up to an 8400M or 8600M is where you need to get to. I recently bought a dell XPS for £600 as well, and it copes very nicely with most of the games I like playing, TF2/CoD4 and even runs Crysis at an ok clip.

  5. Grue says:

    I must point out that the current MacBooks have (and have for a while now) the X3100 graphics chip, as opposed to the old GMA950 chip, and while it doens’t hold a candle to any sort of dedicated graphics chip such as a GeForce Go, it is far superior to the older GMA950, and I’d imagine that it fairs quite a bit better in running some of those games.

    Also, even if you can’t play the latest games, so what? There are so many classics of PC gaming that people have undoubtedly missed in their time, there are so many out there, not having the latest hardware is a great excuse to go back an visit some of these. Sure, the graphics might not be as pretty, but the games are still good, and you can probably pick them up for pretty much nothing.

  6. Alec Meer says:

    Grue – you may not have read all of the post, given your second paragraph.

    Phuzz – I believe the Steam version of BG&E is fine with Vista. It’s denied to us Eurofolk, sadly.

  7. Frymaster says:

    my laptop has a radeon x1250 (apparently 20% faster than intel’s latest and greatest mobile on-board) and it’s good enough (titan quest runs but jerks too much to play) for trackmania, popcap stuff, and nethack, so it’s OK with me :)

  8. Cargo Cult says:

    Should have got a MacBook Pro – mine’s one of the very first, is over two years old now, and ran Doom 3, Bioshock and loads of Source stuff just fine.

    Also, I built loads of MINERVA on it too – example screenshots from the aforementioned machine here.

    It’s been anything but a wart-free computer – but if it died tomorrow, I’d be more than happy to get another MacBook Pro to replace it. Plus the latest ones also have semi-respectable GPUs, but unlike many ‘desktop replacements’ they’re still pretty slim and lightweight. Obese compared with a (completely gutless) MacBook Air, but just about anything is…

    Plus, the gouges and scratches the aluminium case inevitably accumulates make you look like some kind of digital warrior. :-)

  9. Joe says:

    Hm – Beyond Good and Evil worked fine out of the box for me on Vista x64.

    I’d also say that Cave Story is an excellent little game for holidays.

    And, if like me you have a severely underpowered laptop like the EEE PC then the Fabled Lands java RPG promises limitless funs:

    http://au.geocities.com/jemann75/

    Runs fine on all systems and is spectacular low-tech RPG fun. I had the books the game is based on and its fascinating to see that the books were an early version of the persistent worlds all these MMOers are harping on abouts.

  10. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Look for a Zoom Mod for DOW. Some people claim it’s a cheat, but having a decent zoom range so you can hand out Earth Shakers without scrolling can’t be bad…

    By the way, do you have a favourite race/build for the Sisters in DOW? I still have my problems playing them.

  11. Ian says:

    Tragically, I spent a significant proportion of the weekend attempting to get my girlfriend’s laptop to work with Counter Strike Source, also thinking that the Source engine would be more than catered for by her machine’s newfangledness.

    This thread turned out to be incredibly useful, even though I finally proved to my gf that Samsung Q35s are not gaming machines:

    http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?s=ddc7893959b72f92496bae1067068e81&t=623213

  12. Chris says:

    My 750quid Dell laptop has a GeForce M8600GT in it. It plays Race Driver GRID pretty well. Just sayin’.

    (my most played game on my old underpowered laptop was Chris Sawyer’s Locomotion; I clocked up a shit-ton of hours on that, and it just about scraped through WoW too, until the Outworld too)

  13. Colthor says:

    My Intel Integrated Graphics-wielding “work” laptop has almost (but not quite) rendered my formerly-beastlike desktop redundant.

    Considering it must be cheaper to develop art and graphics engines for GMA950-level hardware, and there are so many more of them out there, it makes you wonder why more games aren’t developed with them in mind.

    The CPUs in laptops are still pretty powerful, so the underlying game mechanics, AI and whatnot still have plenty to work with.

  14. Alec Meer says:

    “Should have got a Macbook Pro.”
    Yes, and a hat made of gold.

  15. steve says:

    “Considering it must be cheaper to develop art and graphics engines for GMA950-level hardware, and there are so many more of them out there, it makes you wonder why more games aren’t developed with them in mind.”

    Because it really isn’t cheaper. You still need to build and texture X models, regardless of poly count. And you’re usually working from higher-resolution source, so lowering them and tweaking them to look good can actually take more time. And then you’ll have to suffer from everyone making fun of your graphics during every preview or screenshot release, and then every review doing the same.

  16. NateN says:

    @Alec Meer: “Yes, and a hat made of gold.”

    If you are using it for work, and your work includes games (bonus!) you could probably just write the whole thing off on your taxes. Of course if you are using it for both personal stuff and business you need to be careful on how you do the writeoff to keep it legal*, but it would still be quite possible I’d imagine.

    *You have to figure out the percentage of time it is used for business and the percentage of time it is used for personal, then only write off the business stuff. I think. Talk to an accountant before buying a new machine :-P.

  17. waffles says:

    hopefully i will be able to do the same, but with a laptop.
    personally id rather just buy a no name Chinese laptop with a decent GPU than one that has some “pizzaz”

  18. PaulMorel says:

    I have the same ‘constant connectivity’ problem. I went camping this weekend and I took my PDA, 2 books, a gaming magazine, and 2 DSes (one for the lady).

    You should get GameTap. It has a ton of good no-requirement games like Contra and Baldur’s Gate II. It also has some great last gen games that PC gamers may have missed, like the Prince of Persia series, for instance.

    I mocked GameTap when it first came out, but now, at only $10/month, there’s no good reason not to have a subscription. After all, doesn’t a decent sandwich cost nearly that much these days?

    Anyone know if GameTap runs when not connected to the internet?

  19. subedii says:

    Ah, I remember my laptop gaming days well.

    There’s something special about being able to play Fallout 1 and 2 on a Laptop. The scope of the games is so vast but they’ll happily chug along on pretty much any system you put it on.

    You could also try Freelancer. Relatively low system requirements, but the graphics hold up quite well (space based games tend to hold up better in the graphics department, doubly so since you’re not going to be gaming on ultra hi-res). Plus, all it needs is a mouse and keyboard.

    I also used to take the opportunity to play through my classic adventure games. Full Throttle, the Monkey Island games, Cave Story. Deus Ex and System Shock 2 when I was interested in something more in-depth.

    Good times. One of the wonderful things about PC gaming is that you can still drag out your 10 year old games and play them on a modern PC. You might sometimes need to tweak compatibility or get DOSBox out, but it’s something that’s still amazing to me. Over the years of gaming, almost my ENTIRE back catalogue is still available to me to play today on one cheapo machine. That’s got to count for something.

  20. Joe says:

    X-COM in DOSBOX – why would you need anything else? (Apart from the fact it has mad superspeed scrolling issues for me.. sigh)

  21. VVX says:

    Wow, you think that hifalutin’ core2duo is low-end? For most of last year my 600 MHz laptop with a 3D accelerator that’s actually slower than software mode was my main machine. I played some freeciv, TA, UT and CS, replayed HL1, finally tried out star control 2, monkey island, fallout and a lot of NES games. I did buy a PS2 so I’d have some new games and shiny things to look at, but I still used the PC a lot (probably more than the PS2 even, although that’s partly over competition for the tv) and enjoyed it. It made me appreciate having an oblivion-capable machine a lot more when I finally got a desktop together.

  22. Radiant says:

    The thing to remember when /people/ say that X game runs fine on their machine is that what constitutes as ‘fine’ varies from person to person.

    I used to get absolutely livid if my machine wasn’t pumping out 120 odd fps at the very least [constant ie not just when I'm staring at a wall] back in the dark ages.

    I get the feeling that pc users now [faced with the bullshit that "games are great cause they look nice"] are just happy that stuff installs and runs let alone moves at a consistent frame rate.

  23. whitebrice says:

    So that’s why BG&E wasn’t working for me when I tried installing it one week ago. I was going to try playing it with my girlfriend, too, and then we broke up two days ago.

    I can only conclude that copy protection ruined my relationship.

  24. eyemessiah says:

    “After all, doesn’t a decent sandwich cost nearly that much these days?”

    I can confirm, from thorough investigation on this subject, that this is in fact true.

    Unless you like the subway sandwich, or cheese salad rolls. If you want something with dill pickle, pastrami and swiss cheese in it then you are just going to have to pay for it.

  25. Sam says:

    Again, to underline the point of the article – the EEE PC owning community (and, yes, it really is quite community-ish) tried various games on the “old” EEE 701 – the smaller one, not the more pricey one with the bigger screen – and discovered that a surprising amount of stuff is really playable. The EEE 701 only has an Intel GMA 900, which is the 950′s slower, stupider brother, so…

  26. Meat Circus says:

    Two dimensions should be enough for anyone.

  27. Noc says:

    I’m actually playing Beyond Good and Evil on a Macbook RIGHT NOW. A little bit of fiddling (turning shadows off, low resolution) got the framerates into a manageable level without unduly affecting the prettiness.

    The only problem is that during cutscenes, the sound and visuals insist on running at different speeds – with admittedly hilarious consequences. Also the camera’s a bit jerky on the hovercraft. But still, it’s very pleasant, especially for my first run through the game.

    And I actually bought NWN2 for this thing, before discovering that it wouldn’t run . . . the fact that this is apparently now possible means that I’ve probably got to drag my copy out of it’s hiding place and have another go.

    Rome: Total War and Startopia also belong on the list of quality games I’ve got to run. Thief: DS works too, without a hitch, with UT2004 for shooty things. I also played through HL2 on this thing, but dodgy framerates made it less then what it could’ve been – I did a proper run through with EP1 on my roommate’s desktop, and did the rest of the Orange Box on a friend’s 360.

    But its definitely good to know that I’m not the only one wrestling with this particular, very specific headache. Also, this has given me something of anew perspective on things: when people complain about their FPS dropping below 60, I end up pointing out that CS:Source runs at LESS THAN ONE frame per second on my computer.

  28. JamesOf83 says:

    Well this article has inspired me to finally sort out my Bootcamp partition on my Macbook. When I created it, I set it to a paltry 10GB. Through a little jiggery pokery it’s not at 40GB and I’m filling it with Oldies But Goodies style games.

  29. Adam C says:

    I have a MacBookPro (2006 Vintage) with the Radeon 128mb X1600. It didn’t cost a whole lot more (about $800 more at the time) then the MacBook and is insanely good at playing pretty much anything I throw at it (Including Crysis). In fact, with Crossover Games I’m able to play most things, including Orange Box and City of Heroes, on OS X without dual-booting into XP.

  30. Iain says:

    I bought myself a decently-specced Medion laptop from Sainsbury’s a couple of months back. £500 for a 1.5GHz Centrino Duo, 2GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, a DVD-RW and a GeForce 8600GS seemed like pretty good value to me. And the 1280×800 screen is an absolute peach. Of course, it’s running Vista rather than XP, which is a bit of a pain, but it runs WoW beautifully (at the native res) and can handle Dawn of War at high settings, so no complaints from me. I’ve not tried any of the more recent titles, like Team Fortress 2 with it, but that’s what I have the SLI monster rig for.

    I’ve done a lot of gaming on older laptops – things like Baldur’s Gate and old shooters, such as Half-Life or Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight, so I’ve long thought of laptops as a viable gaming platform. And now, thanks to your linkage, I get to replay PS:T in widescreen. Cheers, Alec!

    [Edit: Except it doesn't seem to want to work... But it's the thought that counts. I'll keep an eye on it and try a later version.]

  31. Nathaniel says:

    Been playing high-end Windows games on my MacBook Pro for a year and a half now. No complaints whatsoever; it’s been the smoothest-running Windows computer I’ve ever used. I completely agree with the legacy game angle; My fiancée and I played about 5 hours of Alpha Centauri on it last night. Deus Ex, The Dig, Heroes III; ah, those were the days!

  32. Down Rodeo says:

    I have a fairly standard laptop, Intel dual core, integrated graphics etc. I bought this kind instead of a better one gaming-wise because I knew that given the opportunity I’d play games rather than work on my Uni-

    ANYWAY I managed to get CS:S working (an average of 12 fps) and HL2 working (as long as I looked at no more than one NPC at a time and only at geometry that was no more than a few game metres away. Not following those resulted in severe framerate death). I then tried TF2. I set up a developer commentary map with every setting at the lowest, running on DX 8.0, and the game ran very jerkily for 30 seconds then crashed. However a lot of older games run really nicely; I think this article along with comments is bang on the mark really.

  33. Pod says:

    People say the PC is dying for games. I say it only is because games like Cyrsis continue to be released. FUCK OFF. I’m not buying £400 worth of Hardware to play you, thanks.

    This, of course, means other games released alongside it “look shit”. Well, sod off. If games that appeal to 1% of all PC owners continue to be churned out, sell little and then whinge publicly then PC gaming will die. Perhaps if these stupidly demanding games were not out, comparisons between other, less demanding titles released around the same time might not be so hard.

    In short, people who bought Cyrsis are (ahem -ed).

  34. dishwasherlove says:

    You should be happy DKII runs. I get hilarious crash bugs under XP. You win this round Steve.

  35. Justin says:

    I too have an older, first-generation Macbook Pro. 2.0G CPU, not Duo, ATI x1750 video card? Valve games run very well, which is no surprise. It really is a nice laptop. I’d say a used one is not that expensive, but I can’t even find ones this old in a casual Ebay search.

    I’ll admit, my next purchase(s) will probably be a desktop system, so I can upgrade part by part, and a laptop that is as small as possible. If I buy two systems, I want both to be as specialized as possible for the task each needs to perform. Plus, even a cheesy small laptop can run good games, as this article shows.

  36. Cibbuano says:

    This is a great post – the entire industry is obsessed with dedicated graphics that it’s nice to know what CAN run on a work laptop.

    A forum thread on games that can run on integrated graphics

    And here’s what Intel has to say about the X3000 series

  37. NumbersAndNoise says:

    I have a Macbook of identical configuration, only a few months newer than the one in the article. It took a bit of fiddling, but TF2 runs fine on here, though it’s not pretty. Steady framerate, no slowdown.

  38. RichPowers says:

    Alec, you’ve inspired me to give Doom 3 another try using those settings; I might’ve enjoyed it the first time around had my graphics looked that hilariously awesome.

    Doom with Play-doh people? HELL YEAH!

  39. Frans Coehoorn says:

    Nice list Alec, but… you forgot Warcraft III, one of the best strategy games. Ever. How could you! :P Works like a charm on a laptop (and Mac!). But seriously, when on a (press) trip, go get drunk – you never get bored then! I do it all the time. ;)

  40. Talorc says:

    My work laptop has always invariably been some flavour of low end crap with integrated graphics. Woo Hoo 1024×768!!

    That hasn’t stop me having fun for ages when away on business trips. My essential laptop gaming list:

    Jagged Alliance 2
    X-com (dosbox)
    Master of Magic
    Stronghold crusader
    LOTRO (mostly for checking auctions at lunch time :-)

    I am sure there has been may more. Integrated graphics are no impediment to a great PC gaming time.

  41. itsallcrap says:

    Once you’re into the realms of DOSBox, there are just too many to mention.

    Trawl abandonia.com before you start your trip and you’ll be able to fill enough hours to fly to the sun.

  42. Eric says:

    When I play Civ IV on my laptop, it maxes out one of the cores which leads to quick battery death. AFAIK I have the latest patches to it, I would love to find that there is a fix for this as it makes long trips go by in a flash as long as the battery lasts.

  43. DosFreak says:

    I did some looking into BG&E last night. It looks like right after the install gets done combining a 2gb file in the BG&E directory then the installer errors out and deletes everything.

    Most likely the installer errors out and it’s set to delete everything on an error instead of continuing. I tried using my Altiris SVS installed BG&E but Altiris SVS isn’t supported in 64bit Windows.

    A also tried copying over BG&E from another install along with some registry entries but it keeps on erroring out with BG&E not being installed…..(I’m using the NOCD patch too BTW)

    I’ll have to look into other software virtualization products….preferabbly free. Unfortunately SandboxIE 64bit support stopped with Windows 2003.

    It may be possible to use BG&E with Vmware Workstation 6.5. Haven’t tried out the beta though.

  44. Matthew Blake says:

    Perfect timing on this article; the last three days I’ve been trying to find a half-decent graphics card for my five-year-old PC. The search was absolutely maddening- what do all of these numbers mean?!- and in the end I just went with a card some Dell Tech Support guy recommended, just so I have someone to blame if it doesn’t run Portal.

    To be honest, that Doom 3 pic didn’t look that bad to me- you can tell how long it’s been since I’ve upgraded, and I know I’m not the only one. Even the process of finding a graphics card that works is an absolute nightmare, since I don’t have the latest computer or 500 bucks to blow. I’m fine with okay graphics. You hear that? I don’t need Crysis-level graphics! I really don’t; all I care is that I can play the game. Then I’ll worry about how good the actual game is.

  45. Scandalon says:

    RE: XP on the macbook. Don’t forget to upgrade the windows video drivers! The ones that come with Bootcamp tend to be older anyway, so go visit http://downloadcenter.intel.com/ and have a looksee for your card. (And double-check your version of Bootcamp is updated too!)

    For getting newer games to run on older hardware, don’t forget to find someone that’s already gone through the pain and created a tweak guide! My favorite is/was http://www.tweakguides.com/. (Though he apparently isn’t doing any new ones.)

    Matthew – finding the best bang for the buck video card isn’t that difficult, go give ArsTechnica or Tomshardware a looksee at their systemguides… $50-$100 can get you a pretty decent vidcard these days, esp. if you keep an eye out on sites like dealnews or slickdeals. If your machine is older, $30 can make a huge difference. Just be sure you know your budget limit and stick to it, it gets really tempting to spend “just a little bit more”…

  46. Initialised says:

    Windows gaming seems to be split in two, there are the games aimed at high end PCs and those aimed at office type PCs and laptops. Trouble with laptops is that getting decent video means splashing the cash and little chance of upgrading. Hopefully this will change. Modern game engines are pretty good at detecting and setting image quality settings based on system specs. Surely there is a simple algorithm that could dynamically increase or decrease the image quality settings based on the distance from a target framerate. I believe that Giants (beautiful neglected classic btw) and possibly Sacrifice did this to a 30fps target. And finally a top tip for boosting gaming performance is to make a pair of batch files to kill unnecessary apps and services before and restart them after. On XP switching of windows explorer before benching/gaming gives a decent boost.

  47. Nallen says:

    Eve works well on crappy laptops, if you can sort your net connection out :)

  48. LilBlackDemon says:

    Deus Ex (the original, not IW) should work splendidly. I’m considering bringing my laptop on my commute, and I’m certain DX1 will be perfect.

    Also, it doesn’t hurt that the gameplay stands up 5+ years later.

  49. sean says:

    surely the lesson here is obvious to all PC gamers: don’t use a Mac for gaming. and i speak as an old-school Mac fanboi.

    my PC gaming is done exclusively via laptop (and i’m a 40+ hours per week PC gamer; the console gets around 10 hours a week, concurrent with the PC play); the laptop was purchased with game use in mind. it won’t ever play Crysis or Vanguard – but then again, who will? – but it has a dedicated GeForce 7400 with 512MB and a Core2duo, and it suits my needs perfectly. admittedly, battery life is woeful, particularly when i’m playing my current MMO-of-choice, but you can’t have everything.

    the larger point of the article, however – that laptop manufacturers skimp on proper video cards, Apple in particular – is valid. when i was purchasing my particular laptop, it took much searching to find one that suited my criteria, and they were only two: xp pre-installed and a half-decent video card.