View Full Version : Do gaming netbooks exist?

08-07-2011, 01:21 PM

I'm wondering what Netbook to get (if any). Tablets seem to the popular thing these days, but I want to run Windows 7 and be able to run Steam and play non-intensive games like Frozen Synapse, Terraria and Minecraft (as well as the usual web browsing, email and basic office stuff). So unless someone can make a compelling argument for them (the touch screen tech is cool, but I really need a WASD for the PC gaming), I'm not looking for a tablet.

Can anyone make any suggestions. I've had a google about but it's difficult to get a strong sense of what's the best compromise between the power to run games, and then the portability, weight and battery life of a netbook.

Current front runners are,




Any advice on these or other options are gratefully recieved.


08-07-2011, 02:08 PM
A further option is I just spend another few hunder and get a normal laptop. Is that a better option? Are netbooks still a reasonbale investment, or are they dieing out?

08-07-2011, 03:19 PM
Here's a good one. It's a lot better than tablets.


08-07-2011, 06:04 PM
I made the decision to go for a 15" laptop over a netbook. 300-350 will get you one that will run older and lower spec games much better than any netbook can, as even cheap laptops come with reasonable dual core processors as standard. You might have to shell out more if you want one with longer than 2-3 hours battery life, but I don't think a gaming netbook would do much better there. They only have such long battery times because they use low power components, I had a look at some slightly beefier netbooks designed for gaming and they only had around 3 hours battery while still performing worse than the laptop I ended up with for the same price.

Tiger Walts
08-07-2011, 06:28 PM
I have a netbook with a pretty poor IGP (Intel GMA 950 series) in it. I use it for gaming, although it's primarily non-3D stuff. It can do 3D, just not very well. Although old 3D games run like silk while new stuff that should be less intensive than the old run really badly. I put that down to newer graphics engines demanding more bandwidth from whatever system bus they use, even if they don't actually need it. So they bottleneck. Even if I overclock the GMA (Actually re-clocking as it's underclocked to save power) I get no discernable change but do with stuff like Unreal. Minecraft used to run fine until a particularly large update turned it into a slideshow. Terraria runs fine, even with a large world.

The card in the one you link is way better than my chipset but you may want to find out if the motherboard is any good if you want to play something 3D from the last 5 or 6 years. Also, it only seems to have 1GB of RAM which is pretty poor. Mine was 1GB but I upgraded it to 2GB. You'll want extra memory because you don't want the OS constantly paging to virtual memory on a low RPM HDD.

I would forget about getting a laptop though, just not worth it. That is until they start putting those snazzy chips with both CPU and GPU cores on the same bit of silicon.

08-07-2011, 07:50 PM
I have an HP Mini 311c that does ok. You can play Torchlight on it, which is good enough for me. They don't make them anymore, but you can pick up reconditioned ones on Ebay for 199, and that's a totaly bargain for the spec, imo.

08-07-2011, 09:20 PM
If I were to get a netbook today, I'd get one based on the AMD E-350 fusion chip. Specifically, I'd get the Thinkpad X120E since it hits all of my personal checkboxes. I just read an article not too long about on Tom's Hardware that compared the E-350 to an ION 2 platform, and the E-350 handily beat the ION 2 at pretty much everything until you bumped the resolution up to 1080. On a netbook that shouldn't be much of an issue.

09-07-2011, 03:54 PM
The E-350 is about the best of it and based on what you want shoud do the job.

What irritates me about all these netbook machines is how slow they are generally. The moment you are not using the hardware acceleration for a video they just can't cope. The basic CPU's in them are very slow and some of the indy games use more CPU to generate their effects than the actual graphics hardware and sometimes a netbook can't play it despite the game being graphically simple. Flash games are a great example of this as they don't accelerate well if at all.

Personally I'd lean more towards a low end laptop with a discrete graphics chip rather than a netbook as I find the low speed of the netbook CPU frustrating.

17-07-2011, 08:54 AM
I bought the recently released Lenovo S205 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lenovo-Ideapad-Notebook-Windows-Premium/dp/B004TQQCAS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1310888492&sr=8-1) for just over 300 (put an extra 2GB RAM in too) with the intention of gaming and it's reasonable.

Here are some of my Steam games that it'll run at what I consider a playable FPS:

Half Life 2
Portal 2 (all settings to lowest, puzzle rooms are good but complex inbetween scenes chug)
Gratuitous Space Battles
Minecraft (doesn't run great)
AaAaAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity
Civ 4
EVE Online (Runs surprisingly well)
World of Goo
Tales of Monkey Island
Super Meat Boy

It doubles as my work laptop and is very fast, and it has the bonus of an HDMI output. The 11 inch screen is glossy but a good quality and keyboard size is great. My main annoyance is that due to some software setup on it, when you use the keyboard it disables the trackpad and for the life of me I can't disable this. This makes gaming without a mouse very difficult in some games.

12-01-2012, 11:09 AM
I find comparisons like this helpful. You mentioned watching video a couple of times in your post. Without a disc drive, are DVDs (http://gadgetswebstore.blogspot.com/search/label/Portable-player) off the table, or is there a workaround for this? Something to do with the cloud, perhaps?

12-01-2012, 11:52 AM
Personally I'm not a fan of gaming laptops or netbooks. I Find its just not practical, short battery life, sun glare on a poor screen. Not having a decent mouse. Just make it massively impractical and not a very good experience imo.

As a general rule you will get more bang for you buck the less portable your device is. With netbooks being the worst and desktops being the best value for money.

My suggestion if you want a laptop for working on the train or taking notes in meetings/lecture then get a compact notebook and leave the gaming to you desktop. If you can't afford two machines you have a tough decision, there is no magic balance which works for everything and is still a reasonable price. Either you aspect you won't be gaming as comfortably or you get a desktop and take tokes teh old fashioned way.

I'd suggest the latter solution, really stuff like battery life hampers how portable a laptop can be.

12-01-2012, 12:42 PM
I have both a pretty good laptop and a netbook (netbook is traveling around Europe with me while the laptop stays at home). Now, the way I see it the netbook only has 2 things going for it - portability and battery life. My laptop can't really run a full 3D game for any decent length of time without being plugged in - battery life is probably 2 or 3 hours, but as soon as you start something like Portal 2 or Fallout: New Vegas that comes down a lot.
By portability I'm referring to weight as well as size. If you're going to be carrying it around a lot then I'd really recommend a netbook. I don't regret buying my laptop because I can still take it to my girlfriend's house to play any game I feel like whenever she's otherwise indisposed, and we can watch Blurays in bed at nearly-full-HD resolution, but I'm glad I'm not lugging that beast around Europe.

For the games you mentioned a high-end netbook (jeez, that's an oxymoron isn't it) will probably suffice - my Toshiba NB520 with 1.5Ghz processor and 1gig RAM can run Terraria and Frozen Synapse, though the FPS are lower than I'd like. I haven't tried Minecraft on it yet, but after revelationspace's post I don't like my chances.

Keep in mind that many (most? all?) netbooks have integrated graphics chips, and even if the specs should be high enough for a game some of them simply don't play nicely with integrated graphics.

So yeah, for the games you mentioned, other indie titles and most things on GOG a good netbook should suffice, and if you're going to be traveling with it then I think weight-wise you're much better off with a netbook. I don't have any recommendations on brands, etc, but check the specs, and look for reviews from people who actually game on it and don't just use it for word processing and internets.

12-01-2012, 03:40 PM
Just get an Ultrabook... lots of new ones announced at CES just recently. If you can't wait, Asus' UX21 seems to be the pick up the current litter.

13-01-2012, 03:18 AM
Just get an Ultrabook... lots of new ones announced at CES just recently. If you can't wait, Asus' UX21 seems to be the pick up the current litter.
Solid advice depending on GPU performance, the netbooks are dead in the water and are a useless form factor. "Gaming" and "Netbook" do not go together.

13-01-2012, 06:03 PM
As Kodeen and BrightCandle suggested, the E350 (customised name - don't ask) might be a good choice. Sure it is 13", but that's not that big and you'll probably appreciate the extra screen real estate.

As for the setup. I think there is an AMD Fusion option (E325) and either an i3 or i5 (E320) with an AMD HD 6630 GPU option. The Fusion will not have the best battery life overall, but will have better battery life for gaming (though it will be quite a bit less powerful than the AMD GPU). The Intel CPU with integrated graphics will have the best battery life for non-gaming, but with the discrete AMD GPU on the battery life will worse than the Fusion, but the HD6630 will be quite a bit more powerful.

If you want to game while away from a power supply, the Fusion option might be better, but if you plan to just play games when you get to a hotel etc, then the Intel/AMD combo would be better.


You could get the E420 at 14", which is still small and is claimed to have up to 7 hours battery life. That might be getting too big though. You also get a fingerprint reader and 2GB VRAM vs 1GB for the E350.

The E3xx in not available in the US as far as I know.

If you go for it, I'd read up on Fusion and switchable graphics for AMD cards.

17-01-2012, 10:30 AM
I’m finding that the majority of sites that I visit are detecting my iPad iphone (http://googletechtalks.blogspot.com/p/iphone.html)and substituting HTML5 for Flash video. Very few are coming up blank. YMMV, but I don’t feel I’m missing much.