Below Minimum: Netbook Gaming?

By Alec Meer on April 23rd, 2010 at 11:33 pm.

Suffering from an acute case of Old Man Shoulder due to schlepping around the country with a fully size laptop in my bag, I’ve invested in a netbook. I hope and pray I’ve done this in timely enough fashion to save myself from tragic hunchbackery. This is important and fascinating news to you all, I’m sure, but the reason for this post is an interest in where low-spec gaming is these days. I know, I know, netbooks are rubbish for games and by buying one I’m condemning myself to a lifetime of soullessly replaying Monkey Island and muttering about those damned kids and their good-for-nothing pixel-shaders. Oh, wait, that’s poppycock.

It’s eminently possible to construct a PC capable of playing pretty much any modern game for around £300, but it’s a very different state of affairs for netbooks, saddled as they are with Intel’s poxy GMA 950 integrated graphics. It shares system memory and it lacks the shader grunt to cope with most modern retail games. That doesn’t make it irrelevant.

From my own experience, that ubiquitous GMA 950 chip can, of course, handle any 2D stuff you throw at it (so a lifetime of Kongregate titles awaits, for instance), but couldn’t cope with the recently-released-on-PC P.B. Winterbottom due to pretty shader effects. At a pinch, I can make it run World of Warcraft, but not in a way which would be pleasant for me or anyone I was playing with. GTA Vice City, meanwhile, ran as smooth as butter, and Trackmania with all the settings minimised was rather a delight. There is some gold in them thar integrated hills.

It’s easy to scoff at these cheap, chuntering machines, but the rise and rise of undemanding 2D stuff like Maple Story, Dofus and Farmville is, like it or not, fundamental to modern PC gaming. It would be foolish to dismiss netbooks purely because they can’t play TF2.

So, really, I wanted to poll you lot to see what kind of gaming success you’re having with low-end machines. PC gaming is moving fascinatingly away from being about maximum graphicsosity – but is trying to be a habitual gamer on integrated graphics truly possible? Share!

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178 Comments »

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  1. robrob says:

    I’ve been laptop bound for a while now and this is what’s been occupying my time:

    Spelunky
    Dwarf Fortress
    Desktop Dungeons
    Freespace 2
    Outcast
    Flotilla
    Darklands
    X-COM
    Civ IV
    OpenTTD
    Sleep is Death
    Medieval 2: Total War

    And lots more. These have been the biggest recent timesinks though and all of them run fine on my rubbish integrated graphics so you should have no problems on something that copes with Trackmania. You start off lusting after games like Mass Effect 2 but once you accept your fate and adjust your expectations, it’s fine. Darklands is giving me a lot of enjoyment at the moment, I’ve found it far more engaging than a lot of other more recent RPGs. FPSs aren’t catered too so well but obviously if you can handle Source then there is a huge range of games you can play.

    • mandaya says:

      Dwarf Fortress? you’re kidding. apart from lacking a keypad, DF will reduce any netbook to heat death.
      what’s playable, of course, are the old bioware classics, Baldur’s Gate or Plabescape:Torment. combined with the high-res-patches, that’s lots of nostalgic gaming for any netbook.

    • robrob says:

      2010 chugs along but previous versions work fine for me until you start getting huge amounts of dwarves. I’ve never struggled without a keypad either, what does DF use the keypad for?

    • Alexander Norris says:

      apart from lacking a keypad, DF will reduce any netbook to heat death.

      That really isn’t what “heat death” means. :P

      (It means the exact opposite of overheating.)

    • Tei says:

      You can always disable some stuff, like framerate and “wheater effects”. I use to play normally with my EEPC, and now I have a much better netbook. So no.. DF is netbook friendly with a few changes.

    • Zyzzi says:

      My laptop only supports DX7 (so worse than most netbooks). The only game I play on it is RollerCoaster Tycoon :v

    • Snall says:

      Dwarf can be done on a crap laptop-..not the NEW one, but old GL 4d.

  2. Bryan says:

    I use Steam for all my games and the only thing I have played on my Acer Aspire One is Audiosurf. It seems to play just fine.

  3. Metalfish says:

    Popcap are obviously quite good for this sort of thing. Chris Sawyer’s games are also good. Diablo2, starcraft, theme hospital, red alert series. Though I’d quite like some turn-based stuff ‘cos touchpads are poo.

  4. CaptainHairy says:

    Netbook gaming experiences for me:

    Deus Ex runs like a champ, as does Half-Life.

    I’ve had Morrowind running at a playable framerate with everything turned off and the optimiser running in the background making sure that any time anything interesting is happening my view distance drops to about 5 feet so I can still move in non-bullet time.

    Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 works fantastically, and surprisingly for such an old game, even has the option to display in 1024×600. Reminds me, I should probably whack OpenTTD on the thing.

    Strangely, Popcap games tend to run poorly on it, even with the effects turned down Peggle doesn’t run at full speed.

    In addition, a lot of free games tend to run at full speed. I’ve got Every Extend and Spelunky on the it, and they both run well, although Spelunky’s Game Maker pedigree means it chugs a bit every now and then.

    And of course, anything turn based, such as Alpha Centauri and my recent favourite plaything Desktop Dungeons will not really get kicked in the pants a whole lot by poor computing performance, other that making a large number of NPC factions take more time than usual to take their turns.

    • CaptainHairy says:

      In addition, if I were to be buying a netbook right now instead of relying on the trust Eee 901 that I currently have, I’d look into getting the Dell Mini 311. One of the very few netbooks with the ION chipset, that packs quite a lot more punch than the puny GMA 950.

    • Rosti says:

      @CaptainHairy – Seconding the Deus Ex shout. Played it for the first time (sort of missed it, see..) on my Eee PC whilst zipping around the country. Lovely time, that.

      Old men…. ARE THE FUTURE!

    • Jesse says:

      Morrowind…optimiser?

      Thank you sir!

  5. Stark says:

    I keep meaning to try EVE on my netbook. I wonder if I can dial things down enough for it to work. It’d be super handy to be able to just lounge around doing low-impact EVE stuff, mining or easier missions, on the go or on the couch instead of at the desk.

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      You’ll be disappointed…I had to play Eve CLASSIC on Dual-Core 1.8GHz, 2GB of RAM and INTEL GM x3100 and it ran very very poor…I was so glad when I finally saved the money for 9600gt 512MB

    • Paul B says:

      If you have Nvidia Ion graphics in your netbook, then it’s very possible to run Eve. I used to run Eve Online at 1920×1080 on my old mac mini (with Ion 9400M GPU). There was a little bit of slowdown but it was playable. Play it on a smaller, lower res, netbook screen and I’m sure it will be quite a smooth experience.

  6. Larixk says:

    Just subtract 1 from the version of the latest released game in any great series, and it will run great:
    So Civilization 3, not 4. Age of Empires 2, not 3. Caesar 3, not 4. Half Life 1, not 2. etc.

    What I’m meaning to say is, there are plenty of good old games out there, that run smoothly on any netbook. Just don’t expect to run Crysis or GTA4. The older titles are also getting easier to get by, not only the budget bin, but also steam and gog.com offer plenty of games with low system requirements but high value.

  7. stuartfinlay says:

    Don’t bother with Dwarf Fortress on a netbook. The CPU just can’t cut it.

    • Will says:

      Unless your home PC is running remote desktop and dwarf fortress and then you log into it remotely… (Slightly) Complicated setup, but can play DF anywhere there is decent internet.

    • Zanchito says:

      I’m running DF40#d18 with Mayday tileset on an Asus 1.6Ghz +1.5GB RAM and it works rather nicely.

  8. Elyas says:

    SCUMMVM!

  9. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Once my oldest daughter kind of demanded me to get her a netbook and I acquiesced, I’ve been playing with it a little. I’m mildly curious about them, although my use of personal computers and especially how I use the internet have pretty much ruled them out as an option for me.

    Heavy mouse requirement games are pretty much NOT what you want. As metalfish says above, “touchpads are poo”. But turn mouse-centric based games are ok.

    I’m a sucker for emulators and old games. If you are too, you’ll be alright. I have her netbook installed with DOSBox and Spectaculator (or ZXSpin for a freeware alternative). Ran beautifully. I tried Mame, but that’s already too demanding, even on older arcade titles.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Malfernion says:

    I recently picked up an asus netbook with the intel gma3150 (a tiny amount better than the 950) and ive been using it to play games that i never got round to playing before, like planescape torment, outcast, ottd and various others. Also been using it for frozen synapse and sleep is death. I think ive been playing higher quality games on the netbook than on my desktop recently actually…

  11. darkripper says:

    I used to play Eve on my Samsung Nc10, due to my main pc being broken. All set to low res and graphic, and with the game zoomed as far off as possible (so the game doesn’t draw any ship model) or with the star map open. It’s not perfect, but you can do pretty much everything this way, maybe even pvp. As long as there aren’t too many things in the overview the game is responsive. If you don’t feel like playing without seeing your ship and your enemies, you can stay docked, set skillqueues and scam people in local.

  12. Znea says:

    I just spent three months traveling around SEA and NZ with an Acer Aspire 1410 and found my flights noticeably more enjoyable by the addition of Total Annihilation, Age of Empires 2, C-Evo (because the copy of Civ 2 I had was old enough not to run in 64-bit land), and Heroes of Might and Magic 3. All ran with nary a hiccup, and my back was only slightly askew.

  13. RazorBlade79 says:

    (I have the mini311 which has an Ion GPU so YMMV)
    I’ve played a lot of Civ4, SNES games (in full HD res no less, with my wireless adapter via 360 gamepad on tv), and half the games I got from gog.com. Just fired up Deus Ex (works good), WoW is good, WC3 works perfectly. Quake Live works great, Lord of Ultima is unplayable (Javascript kills atom cpus)

    there are also a ton of indie games on steam which work great, like Aquaria, Puzzle Quest (is it actually considered indie?don’t know) and I guess world of goo shoud work as well.

    with Flash RC2 on Ion most flash games work great, youtube 720p is no big deal either btw.

    • ascagnel says:

      What browser are you running?

      Seriously. Chrome (and by extension, Chromium) compiles JavaScript into native assembly (a la a normal compiler like GCC), while Firefox and IE 8 still interpret it on-the-fly (more similar to Java, but not the best example). If LoU runs in Chrome, try that, and see if it helps at all. The disadvantage is a slightly longer load time for the low-level compile.

      Remember: Chrome was built when Google decided that even Firefox didn’t have good enough JavaScript performance to run their web apps with desktop-style speed.

  14. Bennet says:

    Torchlight actually has a native netbook resolution. I was so excited when I saw that, even though I’ve so far refrained from actually installing it on my netbook for fear I’d never get any work done again…

    • RazorBlade79 says:

      ooh how could I forget Torchlight… The games works ok, nothing compared to desktop pc but playable. But the loading times kill my wish to play it on a netbook really fast. Still great game if you need to kill lots of time on trains or airports.

    • trjp says:

      Torchlight on Netbooks is a bit crap – that “Netbook mode” is an over-optimistic idea.

      Netbooks grind to a halt in busier areas and Torchlight as a whole has soul-crushingly-long loading times which make it unsuited here…

      Guild Wars – however – plays really well. There’s even a flag to make it run in DX8 mode which is even better in FPS terms…

  15. Premium User Badge

    Fede says:

    I’m rather happy of my notebook (eee 1005HA), I can run almost everything which doesn’t require resolutions over 1024*600 or 1024*768.

    Played recently:
    Dwarf Fortress (3*3 fortress, so CPU won’t be a problem)
    Constellation (if someone wants to buy it, send me a pm to get my referral)
    Within a Deep Forest / Knytt / Knytt Stories
    World of Goo
    Machinarium
    Sacrifice
    The Spirit Engine 2
    Death Rally
    Spelunky
    Roguelikes (FAAngband, Unangband, ToME)
    IFs
    and lots of older games running with Dosbox, for example:
    Floor 13 / Conflict: Middle East

  16. Monchberter says:

    Can I ask Alec what OS you are running? I have a nearly 2 year old MSI Wind (first ‘good’ 10″ netbook) that will run a few things, but having stuck Windows 7 on it, even the likes of Half-Life and Deus Ex start to struggle and i’ve often found that just plugging a mouse in will use a huge amount of memory and CPU.

  17. Springy says:

    Tooled up my Acer Aspire 1410 with Torchlight, World of Goo and Half-Life. Also, Good Old Games might not realise it, but they’ve got a beautiful archive of netbook-friendly gaming.

    • aDelicateBalance says:

      I also have the Acer Aspire 1410 and although it’s not going to run Portal or TF2 playably, it is a fine machine. I’m always looking for more games that will run on it, but I’ve already gone through Plants vs Zombies, World of Goo and Defence Grid: The Awakening as well as spending quite a bit of time playing Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe and Sim City 4. Just a shame Sim City 4 doesn’t do netbook resolutions.

  18. Lewis says:

    Alec, does this mean I can throw the Develop “you look like a war reporter” gag back at you now?

  19. Radiant says:

    As awful as it sounds I see the majority of pc users [ie the huge percent of the world not using apple or linux] as moving towards smaller nimble CHEAPER netbooks.
    Essentially people just want MIME: Movies, Internet, Music and Email.

    The major misconception being that to play games on a pc you need a £600-£700 beast of a desktop that you can upgrade or a £1000-£2000 [!] laptop that gets outdated in two years.

    That simply isn’t true any more.

    I just bought myself a shed load of components including a quad core 3.5 ghz [over clocked to quad core 4ghz] cpu and a dx11 capable card.

    Now I looked around to see what games to test the tiny god on and found that:

    – There are only SIX games that can take my pc to task
    – Two of which are the same game and are from 2007 [crysis + natural mod and warhead…it shat on both of them]
    – Three of them are set in the fucking jungle [Just cause 2]
    – The other 3 are mass effect 2, DOW2 and GRID [fucking LOVE GRID].

    Every other game I wanted to play and show off the new pc graphics on was a bloody xbox port that looked EXACTLY the same as the xbox version [Assassins Creed 2 I’m looking at you].

    All the netbook manufacturers need to do is put a TINY bit more effort into the graphics chip [GMA 950 doesn’t cut it] and I don’t think I’ll upgrade the desktop again.

    • 2ds says:

      The manufacturers have little to do with it, they’re stuck with intels crappy GMA950 too.

      In fact, it uses about 10x more power than the actual processor and runs like a dog, everyone hates it.

      Intels next gen integrated graphics is finally up to par with AMD’s 2 year old 3200 so this whole situation should start to improve with the next generation of netbooks which are coming out now.

      Also as mentioned by several people you can go for the ION.

      Also I tried torchlight and wasn’t impressed with the netbook mode, I still didn’t find it smooth enough on a GMA950

  20. EthZee says:

    I don’t have one of your fancy “netbooks”, but I do have a five-year-old Dell Latitude laptop that can’t run Source games. I get along fine; I’m playing through the older titles in my collection. I can play Q3 engine games fine (Jedi Knight II: Outcast runs almost perfectly), Operation Flashpoint runs quite well on high settings, Deus Ex runs beautifully, etc.

  21. Thants says:

    Roguelikes are always good, if that’s your kind of thing. Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is the best, clearly. Well, apart from Dwarf Fortress, which is a different type of thing. The tiles version is quite good as well.

    I haven’t actually tried running it on a netbook, but there’s no reason it wouldn’t work.

    • LionsPhil says:

      DCSS runs great on the EeePC 701—their interface reshuffles itself to fit perfectly in the 800×480 resolution.

  22. Radiant says:

    But to answer your question you can run Street fighter 4 turned all the way down fairly well [it’s a surprisingly demanding game to lock it at the steady 60fps it needs to be at].
    But then you’ll ALWAYS be carrying a couple of pads around with you too so it evens up. SF4 with a travelling companion on a long train/plain ride is an awesome experience.

    Actually pretty much the majority of pc games that are built on engines that spit out pc, xbox and ps3 code [unreal engine and capcoms wonderful mt-framework mostly] can run on the majority of netbooks with everything turned heartbreakingly down. Just be prepared for gaming at 800X600 – 640×480 and 15 fps.

    • Mr_Day says:

      You can use netbooks on planes? I thought they asked you to turn them off, along with Game Boys and Kindles.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Mr_Day

      Non-broadcasting electronic devices only have to be turned off on take-off and landing, while in flight you’re generally allowed to use them. My DS, MP3 player, and laptop have all served me very well on long trans-continental flights.

  23. Yanko says:

    Torchlight was a total winner when it did that “netbook mode” – i think it’s a really cool differential for an indie project.

    Let me ask you this: do you guys think that it’d be “too cheap” to sell DLC that turned a game into a viable netbook game? As in, you buy the full game and you have the option to buy a content pack that makes it runnable on low end computers. Obviously, it’d cost as much as a small content pack (so an extra question is: if you think that’d be alright, how much would you pay for that?)

  24. Devenger says:

    Got a netbook (eee 1005P – very good battery life!) a few months ago, and it’s been a joy playing games on it, often to the bemusement of my friends in my school’s sixth form common room. Done a whole lot of dying in Spelunky, a good deal of Audiosurfing, a bite of Deus Ex, as well as various wonderful little things RPS has linked in the past (ROM CHECK FAIL remains my favourite for confusing passers-by).

    Currently I’m playing blast-from-the-past Cave Story (very accessible with the wonderful translation pack). The short distance between save-points in the sidescrolling shooter makes it perfect for a 15-minute play during even a bus ride, and the clear and pleasant 8-bit music is great for getting away from the surroundings.

    Biggest disappointment? Defcon runs quite slowly. I can’t have an all AI game running at hyperspeed, and pretend I’m running nuclear war simulations. Maybe I should try Uplink for my netbook-Introversion fix…

  25. Ginger Yellow says:

    Here’s what’s on my netbook:

    Uplink
    World of Goo
    Plants vs Zombies
    Aquaria
    Planescape Torment
    Spelunky
    Visual Pinball
    Various LucasArts adventures

    I’ve been trying to get GalCiv 2 on it, but I’m having issues with my Impulse account. Similarly, I’d give Torchlight a go, but I don’t have much disk space left and I can’t imagine it being much fun with a trackpad. I just got MOO 1+2 from GOG and I’m definitely going to be installing that.

  26. Premium User Badge

    piphil says:

    My low-end laptop sports a 1.5 Ghz Celeron with 512 MB RAM and an ancient nVidia mobile graphics card (I think a Geforce 4 MX420 Go). I’m assuming most modern netbooks should be more powerful.

    Games I’ve played successfully include Civilization 2, Dungeon Keeper 2, Startopia, Rollercoaster Tycoon 2, The Settlers 3, Theme Hospital, Red Alert, and older versions of the Links golf games. The main problem with netbooks is the lack of DVD/CD drive, thus requiring either cracking or an external drive, which somewhat hamstrings the portable nature of the device.

    Personally, I’d go for a similarly priced (c. £400) ULV-processor 13-15″ laptop. You wouldn’t get quite the battery life, but a larger screen, better performance and the built-in optical drive would make up for it and allow a far larger number of retro games.

    • EthZee says:

      Urgh, external disc drives. This laptop apparently was made before they were commonplace, so I generally tend to avoid games which require a disc (unless I can produce a back-up image to work from). Luckily, most games have support for no-cd play.

  27. Jajusha says:

    Do not understimate the 950! I used to run Oblivion (with god know’s what i had to emulate) and i could reach 10fps in a non fight environment.

  28. Gwyn says:

    Don’t forget the Alienware M11x – it’s basically an ugly netbook with a mid-range dx10 nvidia chip for something like £700. It’s out of the netbook price range obviously, but if the intention is portable gaming then it’s unrivalled.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      It’s unrivalled until a year from now when it’s obsolete and you have a very pretty £700 paperweight.

      Gaming laptops are never worth it, ever. Get something small, light and with a good battery life that you can use for other purposes, then see if you can put games on it afterwards.

    • sleepygamer says:

      I was thinking that. I rather like the m11x, though. You have to shell out a bit extra to make it worth the while, mind you. Knock out that Pentium for a 1.3ghz C2D, drop in 4GB of DDR3 and a 7200rpm HDD (which, frankly, you are better off doing yourself instead of letting Dell handle it for you) and you are flying.

      Mind you, those little upgrades knock the price up to £1000 here, and $1000 in the US. And for £1000, you are seriously joking for something like that. I’d pay the $1000 for it, however, if I was in the US. Because they give me a snazzy laser etched nameplate.

      I WANT IT.

      Aside from that, I rather like Alienware’s bulky styling. The m11x isn’t exactly as vulgar as its bigger brothers, and at least looks a little unique.

      The good thing about the m11x is that it’ll probably outlive most gaming laptops by not falling into their traps. Gaming notebooks tend to be heavy, short on battery, massively compromised when it comes to gaming. The m11x isn’t massively heavier than a netbook, can run up to 8 hours (according to Dell) when not gaming, and while it’s not a HD5870, Core i7, 6GB RAM, SSD gaming beast, it can at least hold its own in modern titles. Mass Effect 2 at native res maxed out with over 50fps? Yus please.

      I’m pretty certain it would last longer when gaming than my 1st gen PSP, and be less annoying to use too.

    • Gwyn says:

      I’d disagree with it becoming obsolete, as the comparison we’re making is against other netbooks which aren’t even capable of running HL2 yet, let alone MW2. A gaming laptop with a quad core and SLI graphics will indeed always be a massive waste of money because it’s targeting the highest end, and thus guaranteeing its own obsolescence.

      The M11x doesn’t dazzle you with next-gen hi-res shaders – it just plays absolutely every game up to 2009 at above 30fps on the lowest settings, and fits into a rucksack. It can’t actually become obsolete, as it’ll always be good enough for that task. You’ll be waiting a long time for a netbook that performs similarly!

      The above is also why there’s no point fussing about the specs either. There’s just no point in upping the CPU speed or RAM because it won’t produce a material difference. Plus, you should avoid overspending on Alienware – they are ugly, ugly creations, and you will be embarrassed.

    • RedFred says:

      I dropped AU$3000 into a laptop this time last year and it hasn’t really let me down. I was doing alot of travelling and spending alot of time stuck in places with nothing to do.

      Now that I am having something that resembles a normal life I use my laptop as a desktop with kb/mouse/monitor/stereo all connected.

      Sure it was expensive but at least I could play GTAIV in a hotel room. :D

  29. boredgamer says:

    You could try nVidia ION powered netbooks. They’re actually pretty decent at playing some not-so-demanding modern games (COD4, for reference).

  30. jvempire says:

    You can play Torchlight really well with a low-res texture mod.

  31. Rohit says:

    Disappointed that my Asus 1000HE can barely run Half-Life.

  32. Nick says:

    Emulation of classic snes and megadrive games!

    Which you of course own the originals of.

    Yes.

    • Vinraith says:

      Further proving that many, though by no means all, of the neat gaming things you can do on a netbook you can also do on a DS with a flashcart.

    • Nick says:

      Ok then. GBA roms.

      HAH!

    • Vinraith says:

      @Nick

      OK, a flashcart and a memory adapter (barring the newer DSi and DSiXL models, which actually can’t emulate GBA games, which in turn is reason enough not to upgrade IMO).

    • Psychopomp says:

      What Nick said!

      It’s always a good time for Chrono Trigger

    • Radiant says:

      I don’t get chrono trigger at /all/.
      I mean it’s wonderfully made but I have no idea who is what and what the hell is happening anymore it’s so dense and complex.

      Also if you’re playing mega drive games then PLEASE get “Best Of The Best”
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ph7rUqqkQ4c

      It was called Panzer Kickboxing on the amiga and is AWESOME.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      @Vinraith: some of the newer carts are coming out bundled with a GBA-slot RAM expansion that allows the flashcart to run a GBA emulator, too.

      Flashcarts are awesome.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      Radiant:

      Panzer Kickboxing? YOU LIE.

      I wanted fighting WW2 tanks, damnit.

  33. LionsPhil says:

    Working fine on my EeePC 701—that’s the original one, so 800×480—running Win2K. Notable 3D successes:

    Unreal Tournament: GOTY — runs great, small notebook mouse can be helpful but some maps are sufficiently quiet in the Z axis to wind the bots down and play it DOOM-style.
    1NSANE — also runs great; there may be an issue with the main menu being rotated ninetey degrees, but the game proper is fine
    Spelunky — categorising this under “3D” because the damn thing does its upscaling via a shader (and thus also sucks battery, and has the odd performance dip). Goddamnit, people. This doesn’t actually run on my trusty non-gaming desktop with its GeForce 4Ti.
    Some others I can’t remember right now.

    And bunches of plain 2D stuff, like Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, Alpha Centauri (vertical scrolling required, but then I have a piddly resolution), OpenTTD, Fallout, Starcraft, ScummVM…

    Seriously, though, UT99. Hell, that runs playable on my Celery 500 with no 3D accelleration. Thing’s scalable.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Oh, and you can get a whacking great (third party) battery for the 7xx series which sticks out from the bottom a little, providing an excellent prop to correct the keyboard angle, a nice grip (the battery clamping design provides enough physical contact that I can trust this), and enough battery life to play away for hours, even with the GPU supping at the electron pool. Yeeesssss.

      There’s no point having mobile gaming that runs flat an hour into your flight, after all.

    • Smeghammer says:

      I’ve had luck with my 7 series Eee as well. I upgraded the ram to 2 gigs and clocked the cpu to 900mhz. With this setup the battery runs dry faster, but if you disable the webcam in the bios it pretty much evens out.

      I can successfully run anything q3 era and back at at least 30fps with some heavy config tweaking. Emulators work flawlessly up to the psx era. I can get 60 FPS out of Guilty Gear XX#Reload. There’s something special about being able to play NOLF on the go.

  34. M.P. says:

    I was gonna get a Skulltrail-based netbook too, but then I decided to spend a little bit more and get an Acer Ferrari instead. Still netbook-form factor (11.6″) and price range (a tad over £300), but it has a dual core AMD cpu and a discrete Nvidia gpu, so the idea was I would get to do some proper 3D gaming on it.

    In the 2 months since I got it, the only games I played on it were Time, Gentlemen, Please, Audiosurf, some old games on DOSbox and Solium Infernum, all of which would’ve run just fine on the GMA950… So yeah, that Nvidia chip is tapping its foot impatiently waiting for me to throw it something to chew at, but to no avail. :)

  35. glassjoe says:

    I betcha ReVolt would work pretty good on many of these. Seriously, prob the most fun racing game ever

    http://www.abandonia.com/en/games/908/Re-Volt.html

  36. Tei says:

    Nexuiz, Tremulous.. some FPS’s will work there. But I think on a netbook is better to use games that ask for very limited interaction, like roguelikes.

  37. Schyz says:

    Playable on my Aspire One (1,5GB RAM):
    Freelancer
    Infinity Engine (Planescape Troment, Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale)
    Fallout 1+2
    Arcanum
    Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption
    Anachronox
    Gothic
    Outcast
    Half-Life 1.6 engine (Team Fortress, CS)
    Silent Storm + Sentinels
    Combat Mission BO, AK
    Black & White
    Splinter Cell
    Mafia
    GTA 3, Vice City
    Morrowind
    Operation Flashpoint

  38. captain fitz says:

    Anything from GOG. Doesn’t require a CD drive and 90% of their catalogue runs on full setting on a netbook.

  39. nille says:

    Has anyone tried “Iji” (by Daniel Remar) on a netbook? ..one of my favourite games.

    • Grunt says:

      I love Iji. Would be great to have that running on my N110. :)

  40. Fatrat says:

    I’ve got the Asus 1005P, N450 1.66Ghz CPU and 3150 Intel graphics. I have to say i’m really chuffed as it runs stuff practically as good as my bulky Acer laptop (only a year old) would, really.

    I too managed to get WoW running on it as did Alec, though i haven’t played WoW in aaaages, i was just testing its limits.

    When i do game on it i tend to play older/less demanding titles on it, which all run perfectly on my Win 7 Pro setup, such as:

    Jagged Alliance 2
    Hitman – Codename 47
    Osmos
    Constructor
    Age of Empires series
    Theme Hospital
    World of Goo
    Postal

    I’m sure it could run quite a lot of less intense 3D titles at a decent rate, i just haven’t tried it out as i bought my netbook mainly for university, not gaming. It certainly copes with that task just fine though, as good as my mid-range laptop from 2008 did.

    Honestly, netbooks are great little things and the battery life is fantastic at least in mine (9-11 hours, easily 6-7+ while gaming/movie watching).

    Get a wireless mouse and you’re ready to rock. I recommend the Logitech M505 for its long battery life and *TINY* dongle.

    • Fatrat says:

      Oh and i’d like to add, if manufacturers can sort out a GOOD integrated graphics chip some day soon, i think netbooks could start to gain even more popularity as portable gaming devices. Easily. Once people can play more popular titles such as TF2 on them, off we go. IMO.

  41. wcaypahwat says:

    Well, here’s a list of all the games I have installed on my Acer Aspire One:

    Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic
    Alien Assault
    American McGee’s Alice
    Black and White
    Command & conquer (Red Alert 1&2&yuri’s revenge, TibSun)
    Crimson Skies
    Defcon
    Doom 1 &2
    Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2
    Icewind Dale 1 & 2
    Planscape: Torment
    Fallout 1 & 2
    Freelancer
    HoMM3
    Hostile Waters: Anteus Rising
    MechCommander 2
    Mechwarrior 3
    Metal Fatigue
    Nocturne
    Peggle
    Plants v Zombies
    Ricochet Infinity
    Serious Sam
    Shogo
    Starship troopers (The old squad based rts type one)
    System Shock 2
    UT99
    Uplink

    They all run fine, with pretty much no hiccups at all.

  42. Sev says:

    Sleep is Death, I think, is probably the best ultra-low spec game of all time. And considering how ludicrously cheap Deus Ex is on Steam right now, that would be incredible as well.

  43. malkav11 says:

    I honestly haven’t fiddled much with games on my netbook. My principle was that it didn’t matter if I could game on it as long as I could do non-gaming PC stuff with it, and it does all that. If I must game on the go, I have handhelds. My netbook is for portable computing. And my desktop is for full bells-and-whistles PC gaming.

  44. Nelson says:

    For those mentioning dwarf fortress, there’s a program called dfterm that lets you host a game on your home computer. Then, as long as your netbook has an internet connection and a telnet client you can log into your game and play. It will run as fast as your home computer could run it but use practically no resources on the netbook. There are even fonts made for it based on tilesets.

  45. bill says:

    GOG GOG GOG….
    A pretty fair number of the people buying games on GOG seem to be on netbooks, and they have a compatibility thread in their forum if you want to see what’s good.

    I really want to get a netbook… my laptop is too darn big to actually move. So it’s essentially just a really un-ergonomic desktop. Great for moving house and saving space though.

    • Wulf says:

      What kind of laptop do you use? I have a Dell Vostro and I lug it around with me all the time, it’s really not at all heavy and in a carry case it fits nicely under my arm.

  46. bill says:

    PS/ I thing the intel GMA chips get too much stick. For a netbook / integrated graphics solution they actually have a surprising amount of power. The old GMA cards were terrible, but some of the newer ones can manage reasonable (if not cutting edge) 3d graphics pretty well. And on small netbooks while on the train you can often turn off a lot of the bells and whistles and get even recent games running surprisingly smoothly.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah, and they’re improving at a steady rate. If they’re not careful, nVidia and ATi are going to find themselves marginalised to the “hardcore PC gamer” end of the spectrum, and that doesn’t seem to be a good place to be right now. Probably why ION exists.

  47. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    X-COM, totally. Really, anything DOSbox-based.

    Also, “Ben There, Dan That”, etc.

    I find the biggest problem for most games is actually the lack of a mouse, though. The touchpad just doesn’t cut it for me when you’re doing a ton of pointy-clicky, even in something like X-COM where you have a lot of time to do it in.

    Note that, for those of you who run Linux at home, Dwarf Fortress can now be run in plain ncurses mode there, letting you play it remotely without any sort of external program, aside from a typical SSH client. Though I’m sure you get more flexibility and possibly reduced bandwidth from things like dfterm (which I didn’t know about and shall have to try, thanks Nelson).

  48. Iain says:

    My laptop plays TF2 with an integrated graphics card full specs suck it

  49. Torbjorn says:

    Theres a booster your can get for GMAs. Its on the interwebs somewhere.
    I’ve mostly played what everyone else here has but I’m going to add:
    Torchlight – Yea the booster plus low rez helps
    Warcraft 3 – runs perfect
    Starcraft
    Diablo 2
    Halflife
    D&D Online

  50. artofwot says:

    I’m stuck on a very old, very crappy laptop that uses Intel Extreme Graphics 2.

    Hint: Extreme is a lie. But I’ve managed to run and enjoy the following:

    Diablo I + II
    Age of Empires I + II
    Fallout I + II + Tactics
    Sacred
    Sacrifice
    Giants
    Civilization III
    Command and Conquer (And Red Alert I + II)
    Half-Life (and expansions, although I did get occasionally frame rate dips)

    I generally try and avoid anything 3D. I’ve been kind of tempted to give Morrowind a go, but I’m unwilling to risk the resulting explosion that might occur. Audiosurf was a no-no, and I was barely able to get to the menu. Torchlight ran OK running around the city, but when entering the dungeons it started to crawl (no pun intended). I suppose I should probably give the low texture resolution mod a go. I’m just a little afraid my life will disappear.

    But, thankfully I’ll be returning to my gaming PC once school ends.

    • Tei says:

      “Torchlight ran OK running around the city, but when entering the dungeons it started to crawl”

      Tee heee….